Silicon Valley is jam packed with things to do with kids if you just know where to look. This list of things to do in Silicon Valley with kids will help point you in the right direction.
At the center of the Bay Area’s top attractions is California’s Great America theme park. Rated Northern California’s best choice for family fun and adventure, and home of the most family rides in the area, it’s a Silicon Valley must-visit when you’re in town.
Spend a day or two thrill seeking and exploring. Dare to ride the incredible Flight Deck, the breathtaking FireFall and the fierce Delirium, or slow down the pace a bit with the Carousel Columbia and the Barney Oldfield Speedway.
If your group includes little ones, explore Planet Snoopy where they will fly, whirl, and dive with iconic Peanuts characters.
Enjoy daily live entertainment and special headline shows as well as plenty of dining choices that include healthy options for the entire family.
Should your visit take place in the summer months, cool off and relax at Boomerang Bay, California’s only onsite water park that’s included with theme park admission. The water park offers a great way to cool down after a hot day waiting in line for Great America’s coasters and other rides. Boomerang Bay Beach Club offers more than 12-acres of water park fun. The water park includes a 355,000-gallon wave pool, a heated lagoon, the area’s longest lazy river, thirteen body water slides, changing facilities and exclusive poolside cabanas.
Visiting the area with a soon-to-be high school graduate? Silicon Valley is home to Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Catholic Jesuit University. It provides over 8,000 students with a rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts, sciences, business, and engineering. With the fourth-highest graduation rate among all U.S. Masters’ universities, students are educated with an emphasis on core values including ethics and social justice.
Join a campus tour, where prospective students and parents have the ability to experience the University’s excellence first hand. View smaller class sizes that allow more personal interaction between students and the world renowned faculty. See first-hand how students are surrounded by more than 6,500 high-tech companies in their Silicon Valley backyard, as well as recognized museums, and much more that inspire research and vision. Santa Clara University is truly a unique collegiate experience by design.
Children’s Discovery Museum
The Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, California is a true stand out…literally! This bright purple building, designed by Mexico City-based architect Ricardo Legorreta, is home to over 150 interactive exhibits and attractions, geared towards educating children and families. The museum’s goal is to provide a place of discovery that’s warm and inviting, where learning can be seen through the eyes of children. It’s open weekly from Tuesday to Saturday between 10am and 5pm.
Welcoming over 5 million visitors since 1990, it’s the ideal experience for families looking to explore, understand and be inspired by the world they live in. The facility has now expanded by 20%, and exhibits are focused around themes of community, connections, and creativity.
Your kiddos can splash balls along streams and down fountains at ‘Waterways’, learn how animals see the world at ‘Animal Secrets’, make a pretend pizza from start to finish at the ‘Rainbow Pizza and Market’, visit the ‘Art Loft’ for a cool art project to take home, or play in the ‘Wonder Cabinet’, an interactive, early-learning space designed for kids four and under and their parents.
Sure to be a hit with any family, the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose immerses guests in both self-directed explorations and fascinating programs led by Discovery Museum staff.
From its humble beginnings as a theatre arts workshop for teenagers and college students, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has emerged as a nationally acclaimed nonprofit organization with a reputation for innovation, diversity, and artistic excellence. Offering a year-round schedule full of musical, comedy, and dramatic world and regional premieres; it’s a fantastic family-centered activity to add to your exploration agenda.
Theatre Works also offers seasonal classes geared toward children and their families. If you’re in town for an extended Silicon Valley visit, these activities may be just what you’re looking for. Saturplays classes allow the young actor, clown, dancer or playwright in your house the chance to star in their own original play. Sampler Sundays offer families a chance to explore and meet with the artists and actors from the current main stage productions. Offering the opportunity to awaken the artist within, these amazing programs are designed to inspire and engage the entire family.
Hiller Aviation Museum
Dedicated to the dreams of flight, the Hiller Aviation History Museum and Institute offers an educational and entertaining experience into the world of aircraft technology. Located in nearby San Carlos, California, features of the Hiller Museum include over 100 years of aviation history with over forty aircraft and numerous exhibits, films and interactive displays. The Flight Sim Zone on the Museum’s Mezzanine provides an opportunity to take flight with numerous aircraft using high-fidelity desktop flight simulation software, realistic aircraft controls and multi-monitor displays, sure to inspire future aviation pioneers.
Each June, the Hiller Aircraft Museum sponsors the Vertical Challenge Airshow, a helicopter-centered airshow billed as the West Coast’s most exciting demonstration of vertical flight. Vertical Challenge features a unique aircraft showcasing the different capabilities of helicopters. From firefighting to Search and Rescue, Vertical Challenge pairs gourmet food trucks and Bay Area microbrews with a Kids Fun Zone for an event the whole family will love.
One of the few remaining oceanside amusement parks, complete with its famous antique 1924 wooden roller coaster, The Giant Dipper and Looff Carousel’s, which boasts a unique riding ring toss, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk truly has something for everyone. Parents, grandparents, children and teenagers all are sure to enjoy this unique California experience. Attractions include thrilling rides, old-fashioned carnival games, indoor arcades with the largest selection of games in Northern California, a two-story miniature golf course and laser tag arena. Snack booths are plentiful and many visitors stop in just for the food…from secret family recipe corn dogs, deep fried artichokes to chocolate covered bacon…the options are endless.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk spans a wide sandy beach along Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary where it’s not unusual to see otters, dolphins, sea lions, and even whales swimming just offshore. There is always the option to take a break from all the Boardwalk’s bustling action and relax with a dip in the ocean and snooze on the sand.
For a truly unique adventure, try an excursion with Roaring Camp Railroads in nearby Felton, California.
The tracks run up steep grades, over magnificent trussels and through towering scenic Redwood trees, carrying passengers on steam engines dating from the 1890’s.
These are the oldest and most authentically preserved narrow gauge steam engines still providing regular passenger service in the U.S. Tours run daily with varying schedules and often include seasonal special events.
The original Jelly Belly in Fairfield California offers daily tours sure to bring out the kid in you! Weekday tours are the highlight, when the factory is working and visitors have the opportunity to view live action from enclosed walkways above the factory floor.
Jelly Belly guides lead guests above a rainbow-colored sea of trays and bins as they share Jelly Belly information and trivia. Did you know that it takes more than a week to make a single bean? The tour’s sweetest part is at the end, where samples are shared and shopping for “Belly Flops”- discounted Jelly Bellies that didn’t pass inspection are offered. Tours run daily from 9am to 4pm and reservations are required.
Take in the beauty and breathtaking view of the San Francisco Bay at Pier 39 in San Francisco, California. Being one of the most iconic locations of the West Coast, there’s so much to do that one day may not be enough to experience it all.
Perhaps the most memorable highlight of Pier 39 is the thousands of sea lions that have made this location their home since 1990. Thanks to a plentiful herring supply, their population increases by 900 each winter, making it a spectacular viewing spot for the amazing creatures. There is a Marine Mammal Center Kiosk located nearby that is eager to educate those who are interested in the species and their journey there.
As you walk along the pier, you’ll find world famous street performers, fantastic shopping, and great spots for dining. Be sure to try one of the area’s famous chowder bread bowls and take a ride on the double-decker Venetian San Francisco Carousel.
If your heart is set on being on the water, there are boat rentals, whale tours, and the Blue & Gold fleet ferry service available year round. Bike rentals and tours are also available.
Also consider a stop in at the Aquarium of the Bay. Located at the water’s edge on Pier 39, 20,000 local sea creatures await you. Have an eye-to-eye meeting with a Sevengill shark, be mesmerized by moon jellies, and touch a bat ray’s wing. Enjoy a walk through huge crystal clear tunnels and watch San Francisco Bay’s most amazing animals swim right overhead. Daily events include animal feedings, naturalist presentations and behind-the-scenes tours.
With all this and the amazing views of The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, a visit to the Bay Area is not complete without a stop at Pier 39.