Things to Do in San Jose with Kids – 10 Ideas to Keep Your Kids Entertained
September 16, 2019

With a booming tech industry, San Jose may seem like a place for grown-ups. But surprisingly, there are plenty of things to do in San Jose with kids to keep them entertained.

Home to the well-known Silicon Valley, the biggest city in Santa Clara County is one of the tech giants in the industry. This beautiful city is full of attractions rich in history, culture and technological innovation. Whether you are living in San Jose or just visiting the city, there are so many things to do in San Jose with kids and the whole family to enjoy.

As parents, perhaps you’re more focused on your kid’s school works and activities. But that doesn’t mean you can’t expand their mind and creativity outside home and school. San Jose offers a wide variety of outdoor adventures and must-see places that children of all ages can be entertained, educate, exercise and engage. The sprawling metropolis is not just about the heavy tech atmosphere, the abundance of parks, museums, landmarks and other attractions within the city makes it a kid-friendly place.

And if you’re looking for exciting and fun ideas on where to bring your kids for a family day’s out, then you’re in for endless options with its wide territory. To make it easier for you to decide, we have narrowed down the list to our top 10 things to do in San Jose with kids for a weekend getaway, holiday, or just a regular family day trip.

1. Play and learn at the museum.

It’s always a good idea to expose your kids to arts and culture and uncover their creativity and curiosity. There are a number of museums in San Jose that are worth visiting particularly for kids. It is a great way to teach your children to learn more outside of school.

In downtown San Jose, your kids can appreciate the diversity at the San Jose Museum of Art‘s collection which promises to deliver vibrant art scene – from modern arts, sculptures, and paintings, to their live exhibits. You can also expose your kids to the complex world of textile art at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, the first American museum dedicated to the craft. Right next door, you can find three rotating galleries display exhibits from all corners of the visual arts at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

The fun never stops as you let your kids play and roam free and dig for dinosaur bones, blow enormous soap bubbles, hop aboard a full-size fire truck, or just fully enjoy 150 interactive exhibits at the Children’s Discovery Museum. Take them to a different kind of adventure at the New Almaden Quick Silver Mining Museum with an interesting array of exhibits about the history of mercury mining and the lifestyles of mining communities at New Almaden. Whatever it is that you want them to learn and discover, there is always a lot of things to do in San Jose with kids to pique their interest.

Other museums to visit:

Girls Days at The Tech - things to do in San Jose with kids
Girls Days at The Tech offer hands-on activities for girls age 7-14, along with their families, and highlight the achievements of women in STEM fields.
Image Source: The Tech Interactive

2. Open your kid’s mind to the world of technology.

In a world where kids are growing up digital, it’s a good thing to expose them to the world of technology at an early age. Take your kids to one of Silicon Valley’s multiple world-class science and technology venues. Let them catch a glimpse into the future at The Tech Interactive as they experience hands-on exhibits and unique floor programs that will spark the imagination of your little ones. It also has the largest IMAX dome screen in the West that shows both blockbusters and educational documentaries.

At the Computer History Museum, your kids can explore more than 2,000 years of history related to computing, hardware, and software. And to make your day trip fully-packed, take your kids to a Silicon Valley Tech Tour. Visit some of the most famous tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Intel, Adobe, Netflix, eBay, PayPal, and TiVo. With so many interactive San Jose kids events, their exposure to technological innovations is endless. This is definitely one of the best things to do in San Jose with kids.

3. Enjoy the outdoors and make a splash.

Kids love the outdoors and on a sunny day, take them to a water park. Good thing San Jose has Raging Waters with 23 acres of water slides, wave pools and a lot of aquatic-filled rides and activities. Pile your little ones onto a raft and float down the Endless River. Or let them loose at Wacky Water Works, where they can explore a water play area with an interactive-themed water fort. There’s also Little Dipper, a spot comprised of various junior-size water slides. Raging Waters-San Jose offers scenic views of Lake Cunningham and the San Jose Foothills. Over a million gallons of water slides, rides, and attractions await your kids and the whole family!

Other water parks to enjoy:

4. Catch some animal love at the zoo.

Get those little ones up-close-and-personal with live animals at the zoo. Your young animal lovers and budding naturalists will surely have a fun day at Happy Hollow and Zoo. This 16-acre amusement park and animal sanctuary is home to a variety of species from around the world including lemurs, meerkats, capybara, a giant anteater, miniature horses,  and their newest addition, a male jaguar named Kianto. The park also features multiple playgrounds and popular attractions such as a carousel, roller coaster, puppet theater, and more things for kids to do in San Jose.

History San Jose - things to do in San Jose with kids
Students step back in time and learn about family and community life in San Jose over 150 years ago. Inside the exquisite old home students investigate and explore the lifestyles of both domestic servants and Fallon family members.
Image Source: History San Jose

5. Step back in time and see the historic landmarks.

Take a detour with your kids and the whole family to San Jose’s rich past. Visit the 14-acres Kelley Park and see a neighborhood of 32 Victorian-era homes, businesses, and local landmarks preserved in a small town that make up History San Jose. Aside from the historic structures, kids can participate in the inner workings of an early print shop, enjoy a cone at O’Brien’s Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Shop, and take a look inside Peralta Adobe-Fallon House built in 1797 by San Jose’s first resident and second mayor, Manuel Gonzalez.

If you want something spooky and quirky, Winchester Mystery House should be on your list too. The sprawling home built in 1886 by the wealthy Winchester Rifle heiress Sarah Winchester is for the mysterious adventurers. It was once an eight-room cottage that was developed into 200 rooms, 10,000 windows, 47 fireplaces, and 2,000 doors, spy holes, and dozens of staircases leading to nowhere.

Put your little one’s archaeologist hat on and be the little Indiana Jones or mini Lara Croft at The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. Architecturally inspired by the Temple of Amon at Karnak, this historical museum houses the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on display in Western North America.

6. Go for a hike, ride a bike and hit the trails.

San Jose has several public parks ideal for walking, biking, and other outdoor activities for your kids. There are tens of thousands of acres of wilderness and open spaces to explore. You can hit the trails that wind through the preserves allowing hikers to enjoy a variety of terrains – from bayside marshlands to hills with oak trees and redwood forests.

While there are so many hiking spots around San Jose, Alum Rock Park is particularly great for kids because of the variety of the expansive terrain with 13 miles of trails and the potential to see wildlife. This is the oldest municipal park in California and was once known as a health spa because of its 27 natural mineral springs that are still existing until now. The park also has a small museum, picnic areas, playgrounds, lawns, and kids can have occasional group camping. And as for bikers, the  Calabazas Park is the place to hangout. They provides BMX bike facilities challenging enough for kids where they can roar up over the dirt mounds to their heart’s content. Make sure to ready their helmets!

Other park and trail to explore:

7. Stroll through a garden and enjoy nature.

Strolling is one of the fantastic things to do in San Jose with Kids. Your little ones can be free, spontaneous, and it’s a great way to spend quality time together. Have a refreshing change in your family day out by visiting San Jose Heritage Rose Garden delighting you with a world-class collection of over 3,000 plants with 2,800 varieties of heritage, antique and modern roses, initially planted by more than 750 volunteers back in March 1995. Kids will love exploring the fountains and learn to prune roses in this expansive 5.5 acres city garden.

Another perfect setting for deep breathing is the 6-acre Japanese Friendship Garden in Kelley Park. It is a living symbol of friendship between Okayama, Japan, and San Jose and is patterned after the world-famous Korakuen Garden in Okayama. This garden features picturesque Japanese bridges, manicured landscape, bonsai plants, waterfalls, and egrets can be seen occasionally at the koi ponds.

Other city gardens to stroll:

Rockin' Jump San Jose - things to do in San Jose with kids
Open Jump Arena is the main jumping and fun zone where friends jump together and perform acrobatics while Rockin’ Jump staff monitor safe play from all angles.
Image Source: Rockin’ Jump

8. Jump, climb and bounce off the walls and have fun indoors.

Playing indoors is a perfect alternative for any seasons and provides good off-screen entertainment. It is a great exercise for kids as it will help develop their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being. There are several family-friendly, kid-pleasing indoor play spaces in San Jose to burn a little energy. Hop in at The Jungle Island Fun and Adventure to have fun in their jungle-inspired giant play structure, run in foam forests, jump and slide on dozens of trampolines, and soar through the air on track glides. They also have rock climbing, indoor paintball but with soft foam balls, fun-packed arcade arena with the latest games, and more!

Another kid’s favorite hangout is the Rockin’ Jump San Jose. This premier indoor trampoline park offers different San Jose kids activities such as open jump arena. dodgeball arena, slamdunk zone, vertical ops, x-beam, and stunt bag arena. This is the perfect things to do in San Jose with kids to have fun and meet new friends.

Other indoor play facilities to try:

9. Watch theater play or movies outdoor.

Re-create the excitement for your kids by watching movies together under the stars. It will make your movie nights more fun and entertaining while keeping your kids interested time and time again. Spend the night at the West Wind Capitol Drive-In and enjoy a unique movie-going experience from a wide variety of kiddie movies. They have fun arcades and a fantastic playground to entertain kids before the movie starts. You can also catch live Silicon Valley Shakespeare performances at Willow Street Park. Kids will love the atmosphere, costumes, and actors’ portrayal of these classic characters that will keep everyone engaged and entertained.

10. Wander through space and explore the universe.

Kids are just as eager to better understand the solar system. Take them on a journey around the world and beyond our planet. The NASA Ames Research Center will give your kids an idea about their past space missions and see what it’s like for an astronaut to live and work in space. For a glimpse beyond the universe, wander through space at the Lick Observatory and learn about astronomy. Take a closer look at the stars through its historic observatory’s two powerful telescopes. It’s hard to believe that the world’s first mountain-top observatory constructed in 1888 is still working and provides scientists with valuable information.

Things to do in San Jose with kids is limitless. There are just so many activities for kids and the whole family to explore the outdoors and engage in fun learning filled with cutting-edge technology. Let your kids be a modern-day explorer and see an incredible blend of art, culture, and history that San Jose has to offer.

Find even more things to do in San Jose with kids by checking out our Things To Do category.


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About SantaClara4kids

SantaClara4Kids is a FREE online resource guide for families with kids in the Santa Clara County. We believe in building & supporting the community that finding the resources and things to do in Santa Clara County for your kids should be easy. You can find Events, Things To Do, Schools & Kids Activities, Birthday Parties, Summer Camps, Child Care, Classes, Deals & Discounts, Field Trips, Health Providers, Kids Eat Free venues, Places To Go, Sports, and resources for Special Needs children.

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