Despite its corporate reputation, Silicon Valley isn't all work and no play. There are plenty of things to do in this little sliver of San Francisco Bay that doesn't involve being behind a computer all day, including a slew of activities the kids will enjoy, too.
The Bay Area is overflowing with opportunities for biking, hiking, and spending time outside. There are thousands of acres of park space and hundreds of miles of trails to enjoy and thanks to California's always-mild climate, you can explore the outdoors all year long. Castle Rock State Park, Mission Peak Regional Park, and Big Basin Redwoods State Park are a few popular hiking destinations.
Learn About Science and Technology
Kids love hands-on science and technology exhibits and there's of course no shortage of them in the tech capital of America. The Children’s Discovery Museum, The Tech Interactive (commonly known as The Tech), the Computer History Museum, the NASA Ames Visitor Center, and the Intel Museum should keep the little ones busy for a while.
Visit With Animals
Young animal lovers and budding naturalists will adore CuriOdyssey (part zoo, part science museum) at Coyote Point, Happy Hollow Park & Zoo (which has amusement park attractions, too), and the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo.
Learn How Cheese Is Made
Schedule a group tour at Harley Farms to learn how goat milk is churned into cheese. This working dairy is home to a herd of goats and llamas that kids can mingle with while the adults delve deeper into the art of making top-quality cheeses. There are also baby goats if you happen to swing by during springtime.
Meet a Famous Donkey
Palo Alto's Bol Park is where Perry and Niner live. These two famous goats—named after the San Francisco 49ers—are like local celebrities. Perry even modeled for the animator who sketched Donkey for the movie “Shrek."
Go to Ardenwood Historic Farm
Ardenwood Farm was built in the 1850s and it’s been preserved by the City of Fremont as a historic park. Tours of the complex feature Victorian-dressed interpreters and from December to mid-February, the thousands of Monarch butterflies who overwinter here.
See What San Jose Looked Like 100 Years Ago
San Jose's History Park offers a glimpse of what life was like in this coastal California town a century ago. There are 32 original and replica homes, businesses, and landmarks in this section of Kelley Park. There are even running trolleys and a café.
Get Spooked at the Winchester Mystery House
Visit the quirky, sprawling home where wealthy Winchester Rifle heiress Sarah Winchester famously went on a nonstop building spree to appease the evil spirits she believed were haunting her.
Delve Into Ancient Egyptian Artifacts
History buffs won't want to miss The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, seeing as it has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in Western North America.
Take a Ride on the Roaring Camp Railroad
For the kids who love locomotives, Felton has a steam train from the 19th century that you can actually ride on. Roaring Camp railroads will take you on one of two routes: through the redwoods or along the shore of Santa Cruz.
Catch a Show at the Palo Alto Children's Theater
By kids, for kids, the Palo Alto Children's Theater is as entertaining for adults as it is for their little ones, rest assured. The performing arts center is always hosting puppet shows, musicals, and the like in its playhouse. It offers acting classes for aspiring thespians, too.
Watch a Ballgame
Baseball games are fun for all ages—sports fans and not—because everyone knows it's as much about the popcorn and hot dogs as it is about the home runs. The San Jose Giants are one of San Francisco's Minor League teams and they play at Memorial Park in San Jose. Be sure to meet Gigante, the Giants' cuddly ape mascot.
Bounce Off the Walls
The bouncy floors and ceilings of Sky High Sports are enough to bring out the kid in everyone. Trampoline parks are so trendy and this one even has a foam pit, a dodgeball room, and a daily toddlers-only session.
Ride Roller Coasters and Water Slides
Silicon Valley is a long way from Disney Land, but it is near to Santa Clarita's 100-acre amusement park, California's Great America. There are a dozen twisty roller coasters and thrill rides and a labyrinth of water slides at the sister Boomerang Bay. Gilroy Gardens might be a better bet for younger kids and toddlers.
Go Shopping at the San Jose Flea Market
Consignment shopping isn't just for vintage-obsessed adults, especially at the San Jose Flea Market. This al fresco emporium is not your average drab gathering of old, musty stuff. There are plenty of cool finds here that even the kids will like, plus live music and a beer garden for the grownups.