Travel & Outdoors

Best Day Trips For Under $100 In The South Bay Area

June 29, 2013 5:00 AM

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www.webbranchinc.com
We all know that good entertainment and fascinating adventures don’t have to be expensive, nor far away, to be worthwhile. That’s especially important for budget-minded families. Widely varied suggestions on activities in and around the South Bay that go beyond the usual museum mentions are worth noting. Here are several that will get you plenty of change from $100 and which might be new to your list of free or affordable things to do. 


Hakone Estate And Gardens
21000 Big Basin Way
Saratoga, CA 95070
(408) 741-4994
www.hakone.com

The oldest Japanese and Asian estate garden in the Western Hemisphere is on our doorstep. Established in 1915 to mirror the look and feel of a wealthy samurai’s manicured grounds, the peaceful and fragrant 18 acres of woodland is sprinkled with harmoniously positioned waterfalls, koi ponds, bamboo, a Moon Bridge and a replica of a 19th century teahouse. Experience the power of ancient aesthetic forms, meditate in the zen garden and learn the art of the tea ceremony at the next Chakai held on October 27. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students and free for children four and under. Remember a camera.  


Rodin Sculpture Garden
Cantor Arts Center
328 Lomita Drive 
Stanford, CA 94305
(650) 723-4177
www.museum.stanford.edu

On the campus of Stanford University, this is the largest collection of Auguste Rodin’s work outside of Paris. Lit for nighttime viewing, 20 open-air bronzes include some of large proportions and enormous repute, “The Gates of Hell” and “The Burghers of Calais” among them. Inside the admission-free museum, see 170 additional pieces, including “The Thinker” by one of the 20th century’s foremost sculptors. Rain or shine, free docent-led tours of the Rodin Collection take place every Wednesday at 2 p.m., Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. A full outdoor sculpture walk around the campus takes place Sundays at 2 p.m. Find your window of free time, as the museum contains a vast collection covering 5,000 years. 


Lick Observatory
7281 Mt. Hamilton Road
Mt. Hamilton, CA 95140
(408) 274-5061
www.ucolick.org/public

Atop Mt. Hamilton, 20 miles east of San Jose, drive up slowly via Alum Rock, with an emphasis on slowly. It’s 4,209 feet up a narrow and sharply twisted road, unlit at night, but worth it to arrive at the summit for awesome views. The Great Lick Refractor, 57 feet long, astonished the world when it was used to discover Jupiter’s fifth moon in 1892. The 20th century Shane and Nickel telescopes are used for teaching and observation by the University of California. Free public tours, including James Lick’s burial place beneath the telescope, begin at 1 p.m. weekdays and 12:30 p.m. weekends, continuing half-hourly until 4:30 p.m. Have a look through the telescopes during a twice-monthly Friday Night Program with expert talks at $9.50 per person through late September. For the 125th anniversary of the Great Refractor, the Music of the Spheres concert series takes place twice monthly on Saturday nights from $40 per person.    

Related: Best Travel Agents Near The Peninsula


Webb Ranch
2720 Alpine Road
Portola Valley, CA 94028
(650) 854-7755
www.webbranchinc.com

Family owned and operated since 1922, the Webb Family is ready to provide a good time for you and yours in the patches at its pick-your-own farm. Wear sunscreen, a hat and grubby shoes, plunk down $3 in return for a basket and you’re on your way. What you eat in the fields is free, and for what you weigh, you pay at $4.50 per pound. A California Certified Organic Farmer, “We add nothing to our berries but love,” farmer Dean assures, pointing out that thorn-free varietals are perfect for kids. The blackberries, boysenberries, loganberries, raspberries and olallieberries season through summer are followed by pumpkins in early autumn. 


Winchester Mystery House
525 S. Winchester Blvd.
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 247-2101
www.winchestermysteryhouse.com

Basically a weird and wonderful monument to a widow’s paranoia, the survivor of the Winchester Rifle fortune built this mansion with her virtually unlimited fortune. It’s uncertain whether Sarah Winchester intended to escape or confront her own demons. She kept builders hammering — literally — around the clock for 38 years, seeking to satisfy revengeful spirits of rifle victims on advice from her psychic. The 40,000-square-foot result includes 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, false doors and walls and 40 staircases which sometimes lead nowhere at all. The house is said to be haunted. Book well ahead for the flashlight tour when it falls on Friday the 13th, as in September and December 2013. Other tours are available from $24 for kids ages six to 12. Admission to the Winchester Historic Firearms Museum is free.  

Related: Tips For Keeping Your Kids Active From A South Bay Fitness Professional

Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. A transplanted New Yorker, she has traveled throughout the world as the Big Apple’s official tourism representative. She served as organizer for three Royal Visits to America. As an international relocation consultant, Laurie assisted more than 400 families with overseas moves and is a proud mother of two, thoroughly bi-cultural children. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.

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