The Museum of American Heritage
351 Homer Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
In the historic Williams House and Gardens, the Museum of American Heritage features a wide collection of artifacts from America’s past. Enjoy exciting exhibits every month as well as a variety of workshops for children 10 years and older, designed to teach science in a way kids willingly gobble up. Kids learn everything from quilting to electronics here. Where this place really excels, however, is in teaching those curious monsters — who will inevitably disassemble some necessary household appliance — how to build short-wave radios, solid-state electronics and integrated circuits.
CuriOdyssey At Coyote Point
1651 Coyote Point Dr.
San Mateo, CA 94401
Price: free on bimonthly community days/$8 adults/$4 children 2 to 12 otherwise
CuriOdyssey’s nature center at Coyote Point includes more than 100 animals in its natural habitat on 1.5 acres. These animals, all of whom can’t be released into the wild, are permanent residents of CuriOdyssey. Animal ambassadors roaming the area with wildlife experts include everything from predatory birds to a blue-tongued skink. Rotating kid-friendly exhibits, summer day camps and workshops mean a full day of fun for the whole family no matter the occasion.
1000 Linda Mar Blvd.
The Sanchez Adobe House was constructed in the 1840s by Francisco Sanchez, the man who led Mexican volunteers against United States forces at the Battle of Santa Clara. The adobe home is the second oldest building in San Mateo County. Artifacts from archeological digs offer evidence of the house’s history as a speakeasy and hotel. Kids here are encouraged to indulge in fun crafts, demonstrations and activities illustrating California’s history.
The Woodside Store
3300 Tripp Rd.
Woodside, CA 93602
In 1849, men from Massachusetts settled in Woodside where they worked as shingle makers and lumberers, creating a convenient location for Matthias Alfred Parkhurst to found the Woodside Store. Today, the San Mateo County Historical Association maintains the site as a house museum filled with historical artifacts. On the first Sunday in May, Old Woodside Store Day features demonstrations and hands-on activities for families to really get a feel for life in Parkhurst’s time. Keep an eye on the kids outside of the store here as staff here works to protect the land around the store, prohibiting collecting firewood, picking flowers and otherwise altering the natural environment of its historic redwood and oak trees.
Peninsula Art Museum
10 Twin Pines Ln.
Belmont, CA 94002
The Peninsula Art Museum is a small but sophisticated museum displaying the work of contemporary artists. Work on display ranges from videos to paintings and sculptures. The museum includes a collections room, formal gallery, and a reference library of more than 1,200 art-related books. This tiny museum is an excellent place to introduce children to art and museums as a visit here doesn’t take long, but always includes myriad artistic offerings.