Located in the southern region of Northern California’s San Francisco Bay, the Silicon Valley is a top vacation destination due to its wealth of activities for families and people of all ages to experience.
Since so many technology companies operate there, it has become a mecca where people visit from all over the world. The year round pleasant weather allows the region to host many fine restaurants, outdoor theme parks and other family friendly attractions. Below are just some of the more popular attractions for adults and kids of all ages to enjoy in the Silicon Valley area.
1. Airship Ventures, Mountain View. Based in the NASA Research Park, Airship Ventures uses the historic Moffett Federal Airfield. Kids of all ages are sure to enjoy the authentic feel of the 12 passenger Zeppelin NT. Expert guides will explain the technology history of airships during the intimate flight on this vessel from the World War II U.S. Navy hangar. Passengers are treated to a luxury air cruise at 1200ft, 35 mph on the only airship of its type in the U.S. Everyone will enjoy the expansive panoramic views. Windows may also be opened and there is a restroom on board. From early flights to evening, many passengers have enjoyed the beautiful sunsets on late afternoon flights.
2. Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad (BJWRR), Los Gatos. Named for the steam era seasoned veteran, the BJWRR has been operating at Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks, 50 miles south of San Francisco, since 1970. Over 100,000 riders have enjoyed the two diesel trains during weekdays in summer and weekends during early spring and winter. Kids will also enjoy the historic Savage carousel that the BJWRR operates, located next to the depot. Summer operation is from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m for both the train and carousel. This budget friendly attraction also offers occasional special events, such as the end of summer dinner special.
3. California’s Great America, Santa Clara. This massive, world renowned amusement park features activities for the entire family to enjoy. From thrill rides to kids rides, there are rides for every age group. Kids will appreciate that this park is the only one in northern California that also has water rides, which can be enjoyed year round due to the mild weather. They also feature special events and live entertainment. Also adjacent is the new San Francisco 49ers stadium, another destination to enjoy with its many great dining establishments, such as the Stadium Club.
4. Gilroy Gardens, Gilroy. Axel Erlandson’s world renowned Circus Trees are sure to delight the whole family. This tree haven features six gardens, with 19 rides and 27 different attractions to enjoy. The duck shaped paddle boats are particularly popular, as well as the Timber Twister Rattlesnake junior roller coaster and the mine themed Quicksilver Express. There are also more relaxing rides, such as the raft and train excursions. The park also features annual holiday celebrations with a fantastical display of the Gilroy Gardens Holiday Lights.
5. Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, Willow Glen. Opened in San Jose in 1961, this small, 16 acre zoo features over 140 animals and a petting zoo. The amusement park includes rides and attractions designed for toddlers and children, such as slides, a carousel, ropes, swings, many climbing areas and a roller coaster. There is also a puppet theater and an education center with classes for kids and adults, on a year round basis. They host many special events and field trips that the whole family may participate in.
6. Raging Waters, East San Jose. Located in Lake Cunningham Park, this water wonderland includes a wide variety of invigorating voyages for the whole family. From the Amazon Adventure to Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror, there is something for everyone. Various special features include rides such as the Water Cove’s million gallon pool and the FlowRider boogie boards. The Bermuda Triangle is considered one of the fastest slides of its kind in the U.S., at 50 miles an hour. Kids of all ages can enjoy the tropical themed Splash Island Adventure with an assortment of 75 activities: four slides, web crawl tunnels, water cannons, swinging bridges and spiral cargo nets.
7. Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad, Santa Cruz Mountains. Train enthusiasts will appreciate this tourist railroad’s authentic and preserved steam engines dating back to the 1890s. Visitors will enjoy the beautiful redwood forest scenic views from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Santa Cruz Beach. Traveling from the Felton Roaring Camp depot, the train runs along steep grades all the way to Bear Mountain’s top. They also offer a number of special events throughout the year for kids and families to enjoy.
In addition to the above, there are plenty of museums to explore, such as the Children’s Discovery Museum, San Jose Museum of Art and The Tech Museum. The San Jose State University campus, as well as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library can offer a respite after participating in the vast array of lively experiences the region has to offer. Whatever you choose to do in Silicon Valley is sure to be an enriching experience.
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