Top Things to Do in Kelley Park, San Jose

Family fun, local history, and culture

Silicon Valley is home to a number of lovely urban parks and public open spaces. One of the region's largest city parks is Kelley Park, a 163-acre green oasis running along Coyote Creek, just south of Downtown San Jose. The property, like many in Silicon Valley, was once home to fruit orchards and a farm owned by Louise Kelley. Mrs. Kelley inherited the land from her father, Judge Lawrence Archer, then mayor of the City of San Jose. today, Kelley Park has lots of things to do that are fun for history buffs, culture seekers, and kids young and old.

All Kelley Park lots accept the City of San Jose Regional Park parking pass.

Kelley Park and Happy Hollow are accessible by public transportation. VTA bus #73 and #25 stop near Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, and the VTA Light Rail and Caltrain rail lines stop at the Tamien Station with regular VTA bus connections (take bus #82, then transfer to bus #25). Bike racks are available near the entrance to Happy Hollow and in all city parking lots.

01 of 05

Stroll the Japanese Friendship Garden

Japanese Friendship Garden at Kelley Park, San Jose
By Maya Visvanathan /Wikimedia Commons/ CC by 3.0
Address
1300 Senter Rd, San Jose, CA 95112-2520, USA
Phone
+1 408-794-7275

The Japanese Friendship Garden is a little experience of Japan tucked into San Jose. The six-acre park was modeled after the Korakuen Garden, a famous garden in Okayama, Japan -- Okayama is one of San Jose's sister cities. The parks three interconnected ponds are stocked with koi who date back to fish sent over from Okayama in 1966. The scenic part of the park is popular for wedding and engagement photos.

Admission is free and the park is open from 10 am to sunset.

02 of 05

Visit History Park

Train on display at history park
Grey3k /Wikimedia Commons/CC 3.0
Address
1650 Senter Rd, San Jose, CA 95112, USA
Phone
+1 408-287-2290

History Park offers a chance to take a step back in time and explore the Santa Clara Valley's agricultural past. This 14-acre park depicts life as it was in the Santa Clara Valley at the turn of the 20th century and includes several historic homes and commercial structures, paved streets, and a working cafe. The park is operated by nonprofit History San Jose, an organization dedicated to preserving local history of San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley.

Visit the O’Brien Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Shop for lunch and locally-made Treat Ice Cream. This small cafe in the Pacific Hotel is a recreation of a much-loved San Jose business that operated from 1868 to the mid-1900s.

Check out the Arbuckle Gallery at the Pacific Hotel and the Leonard and David McKay Gallery at the Pasetta House. Both galleries include rotating exhibits on local history and culture.

The park includes two local museums where you can learn about the cultural heritage of different immigrant groups to the Santa Clara Valley.Visit the Viet Museum (Museum of the Boat People & the Republic of Vietnam ) to learn about the experience of Vietnamese Americans in San Jose. This museum is located in the Greenwalt House. Stop by the Portuguese Historical Museum to learn about the history of Portuguese and Azorean Island immigration to the Santa Clara Valley, Portuguese traditional dress, music, festivals, and culture. The building is a replica of the first Portuguese império (Chapel to the Holy Spirit) built in San Jose at about 1915.

Don't miss the Electric Light Tower, a replica of a turn of the century landmark that, as legend has it, inspired Paris' Eiffel Tower.

Admission: Free year round, except during "Hands on History" days and special events (check the website for more information).

Hours: Weekdays: 12 pm to 5 pm, Weekends: 11 am to 5 pm

03 of 05

Get Up Close to Wildlife at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

Meercats at Happy Hollow Park
Oleg Alexandrov/Wikimedia Commons/CC 3.0
Address
748 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95112-2626, USA
Phone
+1 408-794-6400

The small zoo is popular with local families and has an assortment of animals from around the world. There is a petting zoo and frequent animal encounters available. Happy Hollow Park also offers a variety of entertainment options, puppet theatre productions, and playgrounds.

Hours change seasonally. Check their website or call for current hours and ticket prices.

04 of 05

Ride a Vintage Streetcar

In the early days of San Jose's urban history, local residents primarily got around the Bay Area using a network of electric trolleys. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, in cooperation with the California Trolley and Railroad Corporation, and History San Jose, built the Trolley Barn in the 1980's to display, restore, and service these historic streetcars. Today you can visits you can visit Kelley Park, see the historic vehicles in the museum, and ride through the park on one of these historic rail cars.

Admission is free. The museum is open Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 am to 4 pm.

The Trolley Barn, 1600 Senter Road, San Jose

 

Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05

Have A Picnic

Kelley Park Amphitheater
Harshlight/Flickr/CC 2.0

Plan a picnic or party in the park. There are several picnic areas throughout Kelley Park that can accommodate groups of all sizes. There is a Greek-style amphitheater that sometimes hosts bands and performances. ​

Most picnic tables are available on a first come, first served basis. Note, one adult may save only one table. Designated picnic areas can be reserved for a fee. For more information and to make reservations, call 408-794-7275

Back to List

Top Things to Do in Kelley Park, San Jose