As the mercury rises and the days get longer, opportunities to spend a day with the family in South Bay abound. Enjoy great indoor and outdoor options for family summer fun from furry critters to a day at the ballpark. Pack up the car, the kids and the sunscreen and head out for a summer-day adventure the whole family will love.
Happy Hollow Park and Zoo
1300 Senter Road
San Jose, CA 95112
Price: $12.95 ages 2 to 69/free younger than 2/$9.95 ages 70 and older/$10 parking
Happy Hollow, a family oriented park and zoo focused on conservation and sustainability, is geared toward younger children. The park contains a number of play areas for school-aged kids that are large enough for adults to join in the fun, such as a tree house, sand pit and climbing ropes. Little ones may enjoy a number of rides including a small roller coaster and carousel. All rides are included with park admission. Wildlife in the zoo area includes meerkats, lemurs and a jaguar. Be sure to bring quarters for the kids to feed the goats in the petting zoo. The Picnic Basket Restaurant on-site offers the typical kid-friendly amusement park fare of chicken nuggets, pizza, burgers and fries. For a more economical approach, pack a picnic lunch for the family to enjoy inside the park. Other activities include face-painting, puppet shows and shopping in the Explore & More Retail Shop.
Children’s Discovery Museum
180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110
Price: $12 ages 1 to 60/$11 age 60 and older/free infants younger than 1
The Children’s Discovery Museum, located in downtown San Jose, is a great spot to hide indoors and escape the summer heat. The museum’s varied interactive exhibits will keep kids entertained for hours. For the creatively bent, the museum also offers an Art Gallery and Art Loft. The Loft, geared toward 4 to 10 year olds, offers the opportunity to create works of visual art ranging from sculpture to printmaking. In the Kids’ Garden, kids may participate in gardening chores such as watering plants and planting seeds. Other exhibits include a mammoth experience, and a traffic zone with an ambulance and fire truck. If the kids visit the popular Waterways exhibit, make sure to pack a change of clothes as it will be nearly impossible for them to avoid getting soaked. On-site food and beverages are available for purchase at the café, or plan to pack a picnic to enjoy in the surrounding Guadeloupe River Park.
California’s Great America
4701 Great America Pkwy.
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Price: $55.99 adult/$35.99 juniors and seniors/$15 parking
Long-standing South Bay amusement park Great America is great for families with middle- and high-school aged children. It boasts an extensive number of rides, including several roller coasters and a double-decker carousel. For those with littler ones, the stroller-friendly park also offers KidZville with rides for kids shorter than 54 inches. If the summer heat gets too much for the family, head over to Boomerang Bay Water Park for water slide fun. No outside food or drink is allowed into the park, and purchased refreshments are expensive, so pack a picnic to toss in the car.
Related: How to Stay Safe in the Summer Sun
3050 Hecker Pass Road
Gilroy, CA 955020
Price: $29.99 ages 3 and older/$10 parking
More shaded than Great America, Gilroy Gardens is a botanical-themed amusement park best for the 10 and under set. This stroller-friendly park includes rides, a water park and a playground. There is a wider variety of food offerings than might be found at other amusement parks, and meals may be purchased for under $10 per person. Outside food is not allowed in the park, but ins and outs are allowed, and there are picnic tables outside of the entrance for those that have packed their own lunch.
San Jose Giants
588 E. Alma Ave.
San Jose, CA 95112
Price: from $10 for adults
San Jose Giants games provide a small-town, family fun feel major league teams just don’t offer anymore. Game attendees have a rare opportunity to see upcoming Giants stars before they make the big-time, as well as current San Francisco Giants on the disabled list. Non-game highlights include between inning entertainment, the kids zone and batting cages. The venue boasts a nice variety of affordable food and beverage options. See the game schedule for specific dates and times.
Related: Enjoy the Best of the South Bay
Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.