Bay Area Hiking
Bay Area Biking
San Francisco Bay Area Overview
||These are places that
fun and educational. More are listed on my "Places
to Take School Age Kids" Page.
- South Bay
- Children's Discovery
The Bay Area is fortunate to have two world-class children's museums.
of them is the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose. Built with
of dollars in private and public funds, its large distinctive modern
building is one of the highlights of downtown San Jose's renaissance.
the pre-school counterpart to the nearby Tech Museum of Innovation.
children can exercise their imagination as they pretend they're driving
a fire engine, living on a valley farm, working in a doctor's office,
a traffic signal, running a switchboard, and sorting mail in a post
They can explore exhibits on giant bubbles, electricity, springs, ham radio, running
a bank, tending
a pizza kitchen, and learn
about water. There's a new 3,000 square-foot area for toddlers and
preschoolers called the "Wonder
Cabinet." Here for young children is the Woodland Puppet Forest,
Dragon, Sand Science Laboratory, Crawl-Through Tunnel, Child-Sized
Park and Zoo,
San Jose: This park is located in the heart of San Jose at the
of Story and Senter Roads. It is part of Kelley
Park on Coyote Creek. The park has rides, storyland play
and a small children's zoo.
- Youth Science Institute:
This organization has 3 science discovery centers in San Jose's Alum
Rock Park, Vasona
Lake County Park in Los Gatos, and Sanborn
County Park in Saratoga. They offer school and after-school
programs, summer camps, and family classes. They have hands-on science
and nature exhibits.
Ranch, San Jose: This is in Santa
Teresa County Park in South San Jose. It is a restored ranch and
historic area whose history dates back to the first Spanish settlers of
the Bay Area. The ranch offers special interpretive programs for
schools and groups during the week. It is open for visitors on Saturday
afternoons. The ranch house is restored to look like it was at the
turn-of-the century. The barn has a timeline showing the area's history
and has audio-visual presentations. Outside are antique farm equipment.
At Santa Teresa Spring is an ever-flowing spring flowing out of a
hillside stone font feeding a pond that was the first swimming pool in
the Santa Clara County.
Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum: This is next to 4000-acre Almaden
Quicksilver County Park in the tiny Gold Rush-era village of New
Almaden, south of San Jose. For 135 years, the mines in these hills
produced mercury, which among other uses, was essential to extracting
gold from the mines in the motherlode. It was the oldest and most
productive mercury mine in the United States. The mining
museum is housed in a building built in 1954, which served as the
office and residence of the superintendents of the nearby mercury
mines. It has exhibits on mercury mining and the life of the miners and
settlers in the area.
Prush Farm Park, San Jose: What was once part of a dairy farm in
the heart of San Jose is now a 47-acre park dedicated to the city's
farming past. It has farm animals, farm equipment, gardens, and
orchards. It has educational programs for kids.
Adams Heritage County Park, Gilroy: This park is only 4.3 acres,
which is tiny for a County Park, but it is full of history and scenery.
It located on the banks of Uvas Creek on a former school site. It is
full of huge sandstone rocks and boulders which are covered with Indian
petroglyphs and grinding mortars. There is an intepretive center there
that has exhibits on the area's Indians and more recent past. Its small
size and wheelchair-accessible walkways make it an easy place to take
small children to enjoy nature and history.
Alto Junior Museum and Zoo: This museum has changing exhibits
for young children to play and learn. It has a nicely-landscaped zoo
over 50 animals, many of which are used for classroom demonstrations.
has a large aquarium that represents a cross-section of San
Creek. It has a new shark exhibit in a 500-gallon aquarium tank. For
information about the Palo Alto Junior Museum call (650) 329-2111.
- Peninsula, Santa Cruz
- North Bay
- Bay Area Discovery
This is the other great children's museum in the Bay Area. This is much
like San Francisco's Exploratorium in that it is housed in old public
that have been transformed into a great museum by the efforts of
It's in a spectacular location--near the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge
at East Fort Baker. It has several permanent exhibits. One of the most
unique is a crawl-through simulated underwater tunnel, complete with
fish. There's also a realistic fishing boat where kids can pretend
salmon fisherman, and a fisherman's wharf where kids can pretend
selling fish. In another area, kids can build their own bridges and
on a model of the Golden Gate Bridge. There is also a science lab, art
room, and ceramics studio.
Rosa: Located next to the larger Spring
Lake Regional Park in Santa Rosa, this 150-acre city park has an
park with a carousel, pony rides, petting zoo, and miniature train
(see the Trains section). There is a
lake there, which has fishing and boating.
Santa Rosa: Charles Schulz, probably the most famous cartoonist in the
world, lived in Santa Rosa and played hockey regularly at his Redwood
Arena. Nearby was Snoopy's Gallery and Gift Shop, which had exhibits on
the cartoonist's art and gifts for sale. After Schulz' death, a shiny,
impressive new museum opened next door. The museum has permanent and
exhibits on cartoon art. Outdoors are fanciful sculptures featuring the
- San Francisco
- East Bay
- Habitot Children's
This is a new hands-on children's museum for infants through school-age
kids. It has interactive exhibits, play areas, an art studio, stage,
- The Little
Park, Berkeley: Tilden Park is the East Bay's answer to Golden Gate
Park. It has a huge variety of facilities and attractions. For young
is has a carousel, pony rides, train rides (see the Trains
section), swimming lake, and playgrounds. There are shady picnic areas
and miles of trails. The Little Farm and Environmental Education Center
are in the Tilden Nature
Study Area, which have exhibits and nature
- Oakland Zoo:
Located high up in
the Oakland Hills in 525-acre Knowland Park, the Oakland Zoo has a
and warmer environment than its coastside counterpart in San Francisco.
It has over 440 species of animals in naturalistic habitats. It also
a children's zoo, zoo train, play area, sky ride, and amusement park
- Children's Fairyland
Nature Center, Lakeside
Park, Oakland: These are located on Lake Merritt in Oakland.
is a colorful 10-acre park, started in 1950. It has been undergoing
It has exhibits, play structures, shows, and rides based on storyland
The Rotary Nature Center was constructed in 1953 and has exhibits and
about the wildlife in the area. The Wildlife Refuge in Lake Merritt was
established in 1870 and is the oldest wildlife refuge in the United
- Museum of
Children's Art, Oakland: This instititution was founded in 1988 to
encourage hands-on learning in the arts for children of all ages. It
offers exhibits, classes, workshops, camps, field trips, and drop-in
studios where children can learn about and create art.
Historic Farm, Fremont: This is a 205-acre restored 19th century
farm and mansion. It has exhibits and educational programs on
turn-of-the-century farming and farm life. Visitors can participate in
farm activities and ride a horse-drawn railroad. This is a working farm
with organically-grown crops that are sold on the site.
Walnut Creek. This is a large wildlife rehabilitation center that
treats about 6,000 injured or orphaned animals yearly. They have over
50 native animals on display that cannot be released into the wild.
They also have a theater and hands-on exhibits on animals.
- Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay
Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Laboratory, Santa Cruz: This
educational center on the coast is run by UC Santa Cruz as part of the
Long Marine Laboratory, run by the Institute
of Marine Sciences. The center has exhibit halls, aquariums, touch
tanks, and educational programs.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium,
Monterey: On Cannery Row in Monterey is one of the largest and most
famous aquariums in the world. It has innovative exhibits and enormous
aquarium tanks allowing visitors to experience life in the oceans. It
has exhibits and programs for all ages. Young children will enjoy the
touch tanks where they can touch tidepool plants and animals, including
- Central Valley
Zoo, William Land Park, Sacramento: Located in the heart of
Land Park has a number of facilities. It includes Fairytale Town,
is a 2.5 acre park with fairytale-themed play structures. Nearby, the
Sacramento Zoo has over 350 rare and exotic animals from around the
Zoo: In the
small city of Folsom, east of Sacramento is the Folsom Zoo. It has
animals that were injured or abandoned, including bears, wolves, foxes,
coyotes, and mountain lions. Next to the zoo is a miniature train ride.
(See the Trains section.)
Grove Park and Zoo, Lodi: Micke Grove Regional Park is a large
tree-shaded park in the Central Valley city of Lodi. It has a wide
of attractions, including the Micke Park Zoo and the Funderwoods
Woods, Stockton: South of Lodi is the larger city of Stockton,
has Pixie Woods, a fairyland amusement park. The city also has the Children's
Museum of Stockton, which has educational play-based exhibits.
Created by Ronald Horii 10/97
Updated 7/20/07, 5/31/12
Places to Take