South Bay parents have been eagerly awaiting the re-opening of Park Valencia— the kids’ play area that makes shopping with the shorties at Santana Row an enjoyable experience. Well, the wait is over! The renovations are done, new shops have moved in (including our new favorite ice cream spot, Smitten) and you will love what they have done with the area. We stopped by to check it out and you should too.
Most parents will agree that shopping with the under 10 crew is something to be avoided at all cost. Park Valencia solves that problem by providing an oasis of fun and green space for kids to run around at Santana Row. Faux grass to roll around on, tables where you can eat your lunch and some giant reptiles to climb aboard are just a few of the features that will make you want to stop here with the kids.
Just outside of the burger shop, The Counter, is a climbing structure complete with soft lizard-skin turf. This spot is perfect for the 4 and unders as it is fully gated and small enough for them to stay out of trouble. Grab one of the tables that surround this area and enjoy a few moments of peace while the kids play.
One of the most unique features of the new Park Valencia is the “Chameleon Oasis” water feature. These four massive sculptures are meant to be touched and played on. They are the designs of local artist Ron Holthuysen who is well-known for creating the giant catcher’s mitt and Coca-Cola bottle at AT&T Park. The bench area around the chameleons also provides a great spot for parents to sit while kids play on the turf.
Photo courtesy of Smitten Ice Cream
Get Your Sweet On
If you haven’t checked out the newcomer on the ice cream block, Smitten, then you are missing out. Santana Row is the 8th store to open for this artisanal ice cream shop that makes your ice cream on-demand in their techie-friendly liquid nitrogen machines. Six flavors are available at any time including two seasonal flavors like creme fraiche with pear caramel and Earl Grey with milk chocolate chips. Each flavor contains no more than five ingredients and nothing artificial goes into the scoops. Kids are drawn to the cookie dough with pretzels and chocolate chips as well as the traditional vanilla. The Tcho 60.5% chocolate is probably the most decadent chocolate you have ever tasted as it doesn’t use just cocoa powder but instead combines melted Tcho chocolate for an out-of-this-world chocolate experience.
Photo courtesy of Dandelion Chocolate
Eat Here Now
If you want to grab a bite to eat before you indulge in some Smitten Ice Cream, there are tons of food spots surrounding Park Valencia. The Counter, Veggie Grill, Pluto’s, Roots and Rye and Maggiano’s with its expanded outdoor seating area are just a few of the options. Coming in late November is Poke Bar, perfect when you are missing your last vacation on the Big Island.
Just in time for your holiday shopping, Dandelion Chocolate will launch a pop-up shop and hot chocolate stand that will be open November 7 – December 24 next to Z Gallerie. Stop by to meet the chocolate makers and see if the kids can guess the two ingredients that make up their single-origin chocolate bars. While you are there, grab a gingerbread hot chocolate or a frozen hot chocolate on that fluke 80-degree December day.
Check out the events schedule for all sorts of fun activities at The Row, including the almost-monthly free Mommy & Me Kids Club for preschoolers and their parents (dads are welcome too!) that includes entertainment, crafts and educational activites.
Winchester and Stevens Creek Blvds.
San Jose, Ca
Park Valencia: located off Olin Ave. and Winchester Blvd.
Have you been to the new Park Valencia? What’s your favorite feature? Let us know in the comments.
Photos by the author except where noted.