Silicon Valley's Top 10 Destinations for Families
For a cultural experience, head to downtown San Jose and check out the city's many museums and art galleries. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the many walking trails around the city, such as the popular Los Gatos Creek trail, plus outdoor attractions like the Japanese Friendship Garden and History Park. There are also many kids' activities all around the city. A popular one is the Children's Discovery Museum.
Children’s Discovery Museum: The Children's Museum, a contemporary structure whose purple façade is fairly easy to spot, was designed with three concepts in mind: Community, Connections and Creativity. Indeed, kids and their parents are invited to participate in various interactive exhibits, ranging from technology to the arts. Many of the patrons' favorite exhibit is "WaterWays," an exhibit that teaches about the properties of water and includes a working canal system.
San Jose Museum of Art: This marvelous art museum focuses on contemporary California art. The museum's collection includes paintings, photography, glasswork, and sculptures. Special exhibits by the likes of Dale Chihuly, whose chandeliers adorn the museum's main entranceway, are quite common. The museum also hosts poetry readings, seminars, and opera recitals. Patrons will find jewelry, books, and unique gift items at the Museum Store.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph: This multi-domed basilica dates to the 1870s, although it's actually the fifth incarnation of the church. Furthermore, the cathedral basilica stands on the former site of the city's first church, St. Joseph Church, an adobe structure dating to 1803. Inside the building are stunning stained glass windows and a unique pipe organ. Open, airy, and elegant, the cathedral basilica is a lovely place to worship and to marvel at art, history, and architecture.
Tech Museum of Innovation: The noisy Tech Museum of Innovation, located on the Cesar Chavez Plaza, isn't too hard to find for its bright orange exterior tends to capture the eye. This is a great place for kids to be kids and adults to follow suit. Here, you can hop behind the wheel of a remote control Martin or do a test run on the same virtual simulator that the U.S. bobsled team used during their training. Other exhibits include laser technology, robotics, and space exploration.
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium: If you're entranced by the culture, technology, and philosophy of ancient peoples, you'll definitely want to visit this museum, which boasts one of California's most extensive collections of ancient Egyptian art and artifacts. Tour a replica of a tomb, see a garden of palms and papyrus, and marvel at a few mummies. The museum's planetarium shows films that coincide with the era, seeking to elucidate how people thought and responded to the world in their day.
San Jose Heritage Rose Garden: In the heart of San Jose, nestled between Taylor and Spring Streets, is this five-acre rose garden. Dedicated in 1995, it's maintained by volunteers and features more than 5,000 rose bushes and 3700 varieties. If you're looking for a peaceful place to enjoy a lunch break or just to stare in awe at spectacular, fragrant specimens, then scout out one of the benches and do just that. Heritage, modern, and miniature roses are all on display.
SAP Center: SAP Center at San Jose, also known as the "Shark Tank," is home to the city's NHL franchise, the Sharks. The arena also plays host to other sporting events, including both professional and collegiate basketball games and arena football matches. Furthermore, the multipurpose complex frequently schedules major concerts. Past performers have included the Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks, and Bob Dylan.
Winchester Mystery House: Sarah Winchester, heiress of the famous rifle family, began this Victorian mansion in 1884. She firmly believed that, if construction ever stopped on her home, spirits would harm her, so she had carpenters work on the house for the rest of her life until 1922. The result was this 160-room behemoth located in downtown San Jose. All of the antiques and oddities inspired locals to dub the home "The Mystery House." When you tour the home, you'll see silver and gold chandeliers, forty-seven fireplaces, Tiffany windows, and numerous dead-ends and stairs that lead nowhere.
Raging Waters: A 23-acre assortment of wild slides, Raging Waters has definite appeal for more mature audiences. You'll find darkened tube slides, a vast 350,000-gallon wave pool, and even a 10-story flume. Little ones aren't left out though - Splash Island Adventure is a fabulous multi-level water playground with water cannons, tunnels, slides and dozens of other fun features.
Paramount's Great America: Paramount's Great America, located just north of San Jose, offers some of the best family-oriented fun in the South Bay area. The park is a great place to spend an afternoon, and you'll find a wide range of entertainment from rides and play areas to games and shows. Great America is the home of such rides as the "Demon," the "Drop Zone," a James Bond ride called "License to Thrill," "Stealth," the world's first flying roller coaster; and an IMAX theater.
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Lagunitas Petaluma TapRoom & Beer Sanctuary, 1280 North McDowell Blvd., Petaluma
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Lincoln Theater, 100 California Drive, Yountville
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Lake Chalet, 1520 Lakeside Drive, Oakland