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What is There to Do in San Jose, California With Children?

Paramount's Great America, a large amusement park, is located near San Jose.
San Jose lies an hour south of San Francisco.
San Jose is an hour south of San Francisco.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2014
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If you’re traveling in San Jose with children, there are plenty of ways to keep kids entertained. Just an hour south of San Francisco, San Jose, California, boasts many features worth visiting. Some of these are a bit costly, but others provide free or low-cost enjoyment for the whole family.

Near San Jose is Santa Clara, where you can find Paramount’s Great America, a large amusement park with lots of rides for kids of all ages. This is one of the costlier forms of entertainment. A family of four will pay about $160-200 US dollars (USD) for park admission. Food inside the park can also come at a hefty price. People planning to visit San Jose with children should note the park is only open from late March to October.

Another popular attraction if you’re visiting San Jose with children is the Winchester Mystery House. The explanation for the house may be a bit scary for young children. Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester Rifle fortune, built the home. Sarah believed that the ghosts of those killed by Winchester guns haunted her. To avoid malignant spirits, Sarah built a home with a number of confusing features: dead-ends, doors that don’t open and stairs that lead to nothing. Even without the history, children may enjoy possibly one of the strangest homes ever built. Admission is free for children under 5, and is less than $15 USD for kids 6-12 and less than $20 USD for people 13 and up.

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If you’re looking for a cheap alternative while you’re in San Jose with children, consider the beautiful Japanese Friendship garden, with no admission price. The garden is a replica of one built in Okayama, Japan, featuring beautiful and peaceful bridges, large koi ponds, and winding paths. Especially designed for visiting San Jose with children is the Children’s Discovery Museum, less than $40 USD for a family of four and offering two floors of exhibits, and hands on exploring opportunities for kids.

Visiting San Jose with children who are young should definitely mean a trip to the San Jose Happy Hollow Park and Zoo. Though the zoo is relatively small as compared to the larger San Francisco Zoo, it’s definitely inexpensive at less than $30 USD admission price for a family of four. There are a few kids' rides and an extensive petting zoo.

When you’re in San Jose with children who are animal lovers, consider a visit to the 47-acre Emma Prusch Farm Park. This is yet another free way to spend some time with the family. The farm offers tours, lots of interaction with a variety of farm animals, including several breeds of rabbits, and traditional farm fare attractions like hay and tractor rides.

Because San Jose was designed for families, you’ll find an array of other activities from children’s theater productions to a huge number of parks and a few museums. It would be almost impossible to run out of things to do in San Jose with children. Yet, if you want to add more flair to your trip, consider at least a day trip to San Francisco, where you can visit zoos, museums, parks, and aquariums, or take a trip an hour south to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, or two hours south from San Jose to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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