When guests are in town for the Thanksgiving holiday, chances are they’ll want to visit some South Bay attractions, particularly if the extra piece of pumpkin pie or second helping of mashed potatoes is a concern. It’s all but certain a good portion of residents and their guests may choose to take advantage of Black Friday sales at South Bay shopping malls. But others may simply wish to stay away from the massive crowds and the associated parking nightmares that coincide with arguably the busiest shopping weekend of the year. The following is a guide of suggested attractions to visit for Thanksgiving weekend visitors to the South Bay.
Computer History Museum
1401 N. Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043
Considered to be the world’s largest history museum devoted to the preservation and presentation of stories and artifacts from the information age, the Computer History Museum is a must see for anyone interested in the history of Silicon Valley. Although museum exhibits are limited to the first floor, visitors can marvel at virtually every significant historical contribution during the early days of computing, from primitive calculating tools and punch card systems to an Engima machine used during World War II, massive computer mainframes and the world’s first personal computers. Among other highlights at this museum are John Blankenbaker’s Kenbak-1, widely believed to be the world’s first PC, IBM’s first personal computer, the Altair 8800 equipped with the BASIC programming language and a priceless prototype of the Steve Wozniak’s Apple 1. Current temporary exhibitions include the original IBM Watson Jeopardy! stage, a Google Street View car and a difference engine, described as the world’s first automatic computing engine, created from the original 19th century design by Charles Babbage, often referred to as a “father of the computer.”
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Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
1660 Park Ave.
San Jose, CA 95191
Located just minutes from the heart of downtown San Jose, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is noted for having the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in western North America. This museum is relatively small in comparison to other local museums such as the San Jose Museum of Art or the Tech Museum, but the opportunity to see four authentic Egyptian mummies and mummified animals make this worth a visit while in Silicon Valley. In addition to the more than 4,000 authentic artifacts, the museum is an educational institution featuring a number of programs, curriculum resources for classroom instruction and field trips and a planetarium. Some exhibits are labeled as replica, but of particular interest is an impressive recreation King Tutankhamen’s coffin, based upon one of the most famous archaeological finds in history.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
400 Beach St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Less than an hour’s drive from downtown San Jose is the beautiful coastal city of Santa Cruz and historic Beach Boardwalk. Founded in 1907, the Boardwalk is California’s oldest surviving amusement park, a California Historical Landmark and recently honored as “World’s Best Seaside Park” by Amusement Today. Featuring over 30 amusement park rides, an enormous video arcade and other attractions, the Boardwalk has two rides on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places – the 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and 1911 Looff Carousel. Visitors to the Boardwalk may also wish to visit Santa Cruz Wharf, less than a mile away, to see huge sea lions perched upon wooden pilings or a chance to go whale watching on the beautfiul Monterey Bay.
328 Lomita Drive
Stanford, CA 94305
Formally known as the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, the Stanford Museum is unquestionably the best art museum in Silicon Valley. No other local museum comes close to its priceless collection, which includes an extensive selection of Auguste Rodin sculptures and paintings and personal artifacts from the Leland Stanford Family, who founded Stanford University in 1891. The Rodin Collection, comprised of 200 bronzes, showcases his most famous sculpture, “The Thinker,” housed separately in the Susan and John Diekman Gallery, as well as his famous “The Gates of Hell” located outside in the Rodin Sculpture Garden. Other famous artists whose works are on display at the museum include Ansel Adams, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Roy Lichenstein, Pablo Picasso and Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.
Winchester Mystery House
525 S. Winchester Blvd.
San Jose, CA 95128
The world famous Winchester Mystery House is a lavish Victorian mansion once occupied by the widow of the Winchester rifle fortune, Sarah Winchester. When construction first began in 1884, Winchester believed her property and home was haunted by ghosts of people killed by Winchester rifles, the legendary 19th century rifle historically referred to as the “Gun that won the West.” In order to ward off evil spirits that lurked within the residence, Winchester ordered continuous construction of the home until her death in 1922. Today, the Winchester Mystery House is one of the South Bay’s most famous attractions and one of the country’s most famous haunted houses.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.