Get the scoop on the best family activities in San Francisco.

San Jose’s Coolest Discovery Museum

In search of somewhere new to spend a fun-filled day that’s just an hour’s drive from San Francisco?  Look no further than San Jose’s fantastic Children’s Discovery Museum. In addition to a fun trip to this museum, your family can also explore downtown with its variety of family-friendly eateries and great parks and playgrounds. There’s even an old-fashioned carousel!

When to go: During the week is best when the museum is less crowded.

Travel time:  San Jose is located 45 miles south of San Francisco.

What to see and do: The museum has a whopping 150 hands-on exhibits to explore, so we’ve dug up a sampling of the activities that await your little ones.

Your kiddos can splash balls along streams and down fountains at ‘Waterways’, learn how animals see the world at ‘Animal Secrets’, make a pretend pizza from start to finish at the ‘Rainbow Pizza and Market’, visit the ‘Art Loft’ for a cool art project to take home, or play in the ‘Wonder Cabinet’, which is an interactive, early-learning space designed for kiddos four and under and their parents.

The museum’s newest exhibit ‘Mammoth Discovery!’ is sure to bring out everyone’s inner archaeologist. Your kids can dig for bones, compare specimens, and marvel at a 16-foot replica of a woolly mammoth! Your little ones will be in awe as they learn about the kinds of creatures that roamed San Jose during the Ice Age.

For outdoor fun, walk over to nearby Arena Green, with its playground full of ropes to climb for the five and up crew, and a cute tot lot, too.  You’ll find the Children’s Carousel a few steps away (as well as restrooms).

Tip: The Children’s Carousel’s hours vary, so call 408-298.7657 before your trip.

Lunch Spots: Enjoy a home-made picnic on the steps of the museum’s outdoor amphitheater, or buy lunch at the museum’s Kid’s Cafe, which offers yummy food at reasonable prices.  Like the idea of eating downtown? Check out Santana Row–you’ll find a long list of restaurants with kid’s menus, such as Left Bank Brasserie and Pizza Antica.

What to Wear: Bring extra changes of clothes should your little ones decide on getting wet in the WaterWays exhibit or a little messy painting on the communal mural.

Cost of trip: Moderate.  Museum admission is $10 for both adults and kids.  Babies 1 and under are FREE.  Carousel rides are $1.

Bonus:  Looking for more activities in San Jose?  Check out Willow Glen and Happy Hollow Park & Zoo for another great day trip idea.

- Annie Sheldon

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