What do you do with kids in Silicon Valley? When we moved out back to the bay area, I really wondered. This part of the country is full of recent graduates who are working in high-tech start-ups, as well as more established businesses. Moving here was a huge change from our fairly rural Massachusetts town, and not only because we traded our ranch on a half-acre lot for a condo with a small concrete patio. Fortunately, local weather is stunning and there are plenty of fun things to do if you know where to look!
Silicon Valley Family Day Trips: Kid-friendly California Adventures in the Bay Area
Between Nature destinations, museums, and events, there is something for everyone in the Bay Area. Local traffic and parking can be a bit of a nightmare, so plan your trips accordingly – or take public transportation.
These locations are outside the immediate Silicon Valley circle, but you can drive to them and back in a day, and they are worth a visit! These also make for wonderful mini-vacation destinations – stay a night or two, and then head home.
- Muir Woods is home to incredible trees and wonderful hiking paths. I recommend getting there as close to opening time as possible so that you don’t have to take a shuttle – the parking lot fills up quickly and the park does get crowded.
- The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a wonderful place to visit tide pools!
- Huddart Park has a few redwood trees and several hiking trails without the crowds you typically find in Silicon Valley.
- The San Francisco Botanical Garden is home to 55 acres of stunning nature.
- I love driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, and when my kids are a little bit older I plan for us to take a day to walk across. Be aware that this is often a windy and chilly walk!
- A Ride the Ducks tour is an easy way to see San Francisco with small children! This ride takes you through Chinatown and into the bay. I recommend pairing this outing with a cable car ride, preferably one that will take you to the Cable Car Museum.
- I have heard good things about San Jose’s Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, but we haven’t gone there yet.
- Hidden Villa is an organic farm, wilderness, and community set on over 1600 acres open space in Los Altos Hills.
- Find all sorts of exciting trails on this map of California’s Redwood Parks.
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey is on our to-visit list. I hear only wonderful things about this aquarium.
- The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose is another destination on our to-visit list. Great hands-on technology fun for all ages.
- The Computer History Museum in Mountain View is a great destination for computer geeks. My kids like this museum in spite of the fact that it really targets adults. They particularly enjoy taking turns sitting in one of Google’s self-driving cars.
- We love San Mateo’s CuriOdyssey. Membership also gives you free entry into Coyote Point, which has a wonderful playground and an incredible view of the bay.
- San Mateo’s Japanese Tea Garden. We need to go on the weekend so that we can ride the mini train that is in the same central park.
- I remember visiting the Exploratorium in San Francisco as a college student. I need to take my kids!
- The San Francisco Zoo is home to a wonderful assortment of animals.
- The California Academy of Sciences gets rave reviews and is on my to-visit list.
- Maker Faire is full of incredible inventions that will inspire any child to explore STEM and STEAM. This event always has a children’s section with activities your child can try while you visit. Plan your visit carefully – parking can be difficult and there are usually large crowds.
- We were lucky enough to visit the teamLab: Living Digital Space and Future Parks exhibit at Pace Art + Technology as part of a writing assignment for Mommy Nearest. I’ll update this post with that link once the article goes live, but in the meantime, this video clip provides a sneak peak at this incredible interactive digital art exhibit. My kids didn’t want to leave!
Today we are joining with other California bloggers to share favorite family destinations in the Golden State! Find great resources in this list, plus link up your own below!