CuriOdyssey (credit: Randy Yagi)
The San Francisco Peninsula is well known for Stanford University, the San Francisco International Airport and several high-profile technology companies such as Google, Oracle and Facebook. Even though Bay Area workers often work long hours, they also need to take time to spend with their spouses and children. Fortunately for Bay Area families and out-of-town visitors with children, they need not travel far for a fun-filled day of activities. The following are five of the best attractions for kids in the San Francisco Peninsula.
1651 Coyote Point Drive
San Mateo, CA 94401
Formerly known as the Coyote Point Museum, CuriOdyssey is a science and wildlife center designed to help children understand the changing world in a manner that’s both educational and fun. Located within the 149-acre Coyote Point Recreation Area just south of San Francisco International Airport, the center features science and wildlife exhibits, a beautiful garden and native animal zoo. Parking inside Coyote Point Recreation Area is $6. Among the 100 animals housed at CuriOdyssey are river otters, bobcats and raccoons. The center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with admission prices ranging from $6 for children ages two 12 to $9 for adults. Visitors can also enjoy the Magic Mountain Playground, featuring six slides, swings and picnic tables.
4701 Great America Parkway
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Great America is a one of the major amusement parks operating within the San Francisco Bay Area and the only one in the Silicon Valley. The 100-acre theme park features live family entertainment and more than 50 rides, including its latest addition, the Gold Striker, the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Northern California. For younger children, there are plenty of fun options, such as the Woodstock Express and Snoopy’s Splash Dance at Planet Snoopy and Taxi Jam at Kidzville. Boomerang Bay Water Park is also popular for children, with water rides, a cabana village and a spacious heated lagoon perfect for younger children. Great America is open March through October, with expanded hours during the summer.
Hiller Aviation Museum
601 Skyway Road
San Carlos, CA 94070
Visible from Highway 101, the Hiller Aviation Museum is just one of two museums in the Bay Area devoted to aviation. Open seven days a week, the Aviation Museum features nearly 50 vintage aircraft, including a 1910 Black Diamond, Curtiss Pusher, a 1914 Lincoln Beachey and replicas of the 1903 Wright Brothers airplane and 1911 Curtis Pusher, the first plane to land on a shift. Of particular interest for kids is the Flight Sim Zone, allowing visitors to perform flying skills through the use of a flight simulator. The Hiller Aviation Museum offers a number of programs for kids, including After-School Aviators for grades K-5, school field trips for grades K-12, scout programs and Aviation Camp for grades K-8.
12320 San Mateo Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Lemos Farm is a third-generation family ranch featuring train and pony rides, a petting zoo and laser tag. Located a few miles from downtown Half Moon Bay off Highway 92, the very popular farm is open weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. From September through Halloween, the farm hosts a Halloween on the Farm pumpkin patch, a Scare Zone and hay rides. Lemos Farm is also available for field trips and birthday parties with discounted rides and snacks.
1451 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Especially popular amongst younger children, the Palo Alto Junior Museum is conveniently located in Rinconada Park, home to the Lucie Stern Community Center and the municipal swimming pool. The junior museum is filled with a number of interactive exhibits, such as a hydropower machine and solar machine that’s designed to make science education a delightful experience for students. The zoo is home to more than 50 species of animals, including bobcats, jungle bats, snakes, fish, birds and turtles. School and group classroom instruction are offered for preschoolers and after-school programs, in addition to field trips and birthday parties. The Junior Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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.