5 Top Things to Do in Kelley Park, San Jose

Kelley Park in San Jose

Dalian Artanian / Getty Images

California's Silicon Valley is home to a number of lovely urban parks and public open spaces. One of the region's largest is Kelley Park, a 163-acre green space 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, who inherited the land from her father, Judge Lawrence Archer, then mayor of the City of San Jose. Today, Kelley Park offers plenty of things to do that are fun for history buffs, culture seekers, and kids young and old.

As for logistics, all Kelley Park parking lots accept the City of San Jose Regional Park parking pass. Kelley Park and Happy Hollow are both accessible by public transportation. VTA bus #73 and #25 stop near Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, while the VTA Light Rail and Caltrain rail lines stop at the nearby 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 as well as in all city parking lots.

01 of 05

Play a Round of Disc Golf

Kelley Park Disc Golf Course

paule858 / Getty Images

Phelan Ave, San Jose, CA 95112, USA

Blow off some steam after a long day of sightseeing by playing a round of disc golf at Kelley Park. With no course fees, you'll just have to pay $6 for parking, then you'll have access to a whole 18-hole course, located in the back of the park. Start by warming up by the practice baskets, then impress your friends and family with those smooth disc golf moves.

02 of 05

Go For a Stroll in the Japanese Friendship Garden

Japanese Friendship Garden at Kelley Park, San Jose

By Maya Visvanathan / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

1300 Senter Rd, San Jose, CA 95112-2520, USA
Phone +1 408-794-7275

The Japanese Friendship Garden looks and feels like a little piece of Japan tucked into San Jose, California. The six-acre park was modeled after Korakuen Garden, a famous green space in Okayama, Japan—Okayama also happens to be one of San Jose's sister cities.

The park's three interconnected ponds are stocked with koi fish that date back to the original family of fish that was sent over from Okayama in 1966. The most scenic section of the park is also a popular spot for wedding and engagement photos.

03 of 05

Visit History Park

Train on display at history park

Grey3k / Wikimedia Commons / CC 3.0

635 Phelan Ave, San Jose, CA 95112, USA
Phone +1 408-287-2290

History Park offers a chance to take a step back in time and learn more about what the Santa Clara Valley's agricultural past was like at the turn of the 20th century. The 14-acre park features several historic homes and commercial structures, paved streets, and a working cafe, and is operated by the 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. You'll also want to check out the Arbuckle Gallery at the Pacific Hotel and the Leonard and David McKay Gallery at the Pasetta House, which both house rotating exhibits highlighting local history and culture. 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.

History Park is home to two local museums where you can learn about the cultural heritage of the different immigrant groups who settled in Santa Clara Valley. Visit the Viet Museum, located in the Greenwalt House, to learn about the experience of Vietnamese Americans in San Jose. Then, stop by the Portuguese Historical Museum to learn about the history of Portuguese and Azorean Island immigration to Santa Clara Valley, as well as Portuguese traditional dress, music, festivals, and culture. The building itself is a replica of the first Portuguese império (Chapel to the Holy Spirit) that was built in San Jose in 1915.

04 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

748 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95112-2626, USA
Phone +1 408-794-6400

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo is popular with local families and is home to an assortment of animals from all around the world, including jaguars, red pandas, parma wallabies, lemurs, macaws, meerkats, European honey bees, African tortoises, capybaras, and American alligators, among other creatures great and small.

There's a petting zoo, while frequent animal encounters are available to entertain and intrigue guests of all ages. The small zoo also offers a variety of entertainment options, puppet theatre productions, and playgrounds. Those traveling with little ones who like dinosaurs should check out the Dino Dig attraction, which lets you hunt for fossils in the sand like a real paleontologist. The Crooked House, Miner's Maze, Leaping Lemur Trail, and various story stations are also worth a look.

Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05

Ride a Vintage Streetcar

Trolley Barn

Trolley Barn

635 Phelan Ave, San Jose, CA 95112-2508, USA
Phone +1 408-293-2276

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 visit Kelley Park, see the historic vehicles in the museum, and ride through the park on one of these historic rail cars.


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5 Top Things to Do in Kelley Park, San Jose