Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Fun (and inexpensive) things to do with children in the SF Bay Area

Fun (and inexpensive) things to do with children in the SF Bay Area

Mar 22nd, 2007, 01:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,108
Fun (and inexpensive) things to do with children in the SF Bay Area

As the title says, I am brainstorming fun and inexpensive things to do with children in the Bay Area. We are in San Jose, so I would like to focus on the south bay, but ideas for other areas are very much appreciated as well.

I have 2 nephews - ages 7 and 4. Their parents (my brother and his wife) are in need of some time together sans children. So my husband and I have offered to take the kids for an afternoon here and there, an overnight once in awhile, and so forth to give my brother and his wife a break.

So, I am brainstorming ideas for fun things to do when we have the kids. We've already thought of the Children's Discovery Museum, SF Giants game, playing sports in the park, hiking at Big Basin, beachcombing at Pescadero state beach. I'd like to have a bunch of ideas in my back pocket.

J_Correa is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 01:22 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 19,419
Would a drive to Berkeley be too far? Scharffen-Berger chocolate factory has free tours with chocolate tasting.

I suspect you woun't appreciate me saying the sake factory is just around the corner

Oakland museum is very interesting for any age - and it's free... forgot which Sunday, probably 1st Sunday of the month

Of course a day in the Golden Gate park - bisons pad, turtles in the lakes closer to the ocean, children's playground - all free. And there is an island on the Stowe lake, and maybe you can rent a boat to go around that island?
FainaAgain is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,227
There is a guide book on things to do in SF with children. My copy seems to have disapeared, so I can't give you the exact title. But any book store in the Bay area should carry it.
kleroux is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 19,419
J, this thread may give you some ideas:

FainaAgain is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 488
Hi JCorrea,
Vasona Park in Los Gatos and it's next door neighbor, Oak Meadow are great for kids that age. Lots of play structures, including a train and fire truck, and a nice little trail around the lake, plus on weekends there is the train and merry go round there. The Childrens Discovery Museum is so great for that age, you can take them there multiple times since you usually don't have time to cover everything in one visit. We like to go berry picking in Watsonville, about 45 min south of Watsonville. We like Gizdich Ranch. Great pie there, too.
ellenbw is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 03:29 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 8,218
I believe the Exploratorium is free on the first Wednesday of the month.
abram is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 03:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,108
Great stuff! I like the diversity of ideas too. I will definitely look up that book about things to do with kids - that sounds like a gold mine.
J_Correa is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 09:46 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,528
Kids that age love Happy Hollow. Also, the SF Zoo is not that far. We like to take the kids to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it;s nice on the weekdays (not so inexpensive I suppose but we have a membership). Also, don't forget Great America and Bonfante Gardens. With season passes they can be a lot of fun for you as well as them.
MonicaRichards is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 10:05 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 67
Hi, I suggest you check out the activities on home and abroad (google it) They are free and are geared to children.

Good Luck


pippy4tao is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 02:40 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,305
Tide pools - there's a small state park 15min N of Half Moon Bay. I don' recall the name but you can look on google maps.

J62 is online now  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 06:42 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 129

Certainly Happy Hollow, especialy on a sunny day becasue the shade there is wonderful. The beach at Half Moon Bay is another winner.

Unless they are spoied, at that age everything is fun for them. Try a minor league or college game instead of the Giants, hike someplace that's free.

Monterrey Bay Aquarium would be my recommended splurge but they might have just as much fun in Monterrey riding on the canopied 4 person bikes, watching the scuba divers, feeding the pelicans and taking kayaks out on the bay.

Another cool day trip would be the Children's Museum just north of the Golden Gate bridge (assuming it's still there).

What you are doing is great. Have fun.

ChiDad is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:02 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 488
I forgot about Happy Hollow, absolutely perfect for this age group. Little rides, climbing structures, a tiny zoo where you can buy pellets and feed the goats and donkeys. Very exciting! Try the SJ Giants games ... minor league, cost about $6 each, sometimes Costco has free tickets for certain games. They have a great bbq lunch/dinner on site that is very reasonable....goofy things like a bagel toss and 'the horse race', really fun. Remember, too, that kids don't always have to be 'going somewhere', they are also happy if you have 'movie night' at home with popcorn, play card or board games or bake cookies together.
ellenbw is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:14 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,108

The kids are sort of spoiled and sort of not - their parents take them to a lot of amusement park type things - Disney and all that and they have nice video game systems and spend a lot of time at home playing video games. On the otherhand, they have a blast at grandma's house pulling snails out of the garden because they just don't do stuff like that at home. So I sort of figured that we could build on their natural curiosity and use the novelty of non-packaged outings to show them interesting things than they don't normally get to do. Maybe round them out a bit
J_Correa is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:35 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 747
You might keep an eye out for any of the Civil War buff encampments; I've seen them use various regional parks, as well as Roaring Camp.

The Jelly Belly factory up in Fairfield used to do tours, I expect they still do.

Watching the hang gliders at Fort Funston, south of SF, is fun; probably tied in with other SF activity like the slides and carousel at Golden Gate park.

Another vote for SJ Giants over SF ones. Much less hassle, and you don't mind so much leaving early if the kids get bored.

Shoreline park in Mt View has a nice lake with rental boats, playgrounds, cafe, etc. Alum Rock park in SJ has more the canyon feel, with nice hiking along the creek. There are a couple of "farm parks" in the area; I think one in SJ and one in Fremont.

Sometimes a combined activity is good; have the kids help prepare the picnic lunch, or do some sort of craft activity when you are there.
curmudgeon is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 10:13 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
The JellyBelly Factory does have tours J_Correa, here is their website.

Children (well adults also) love going there but it is a bit of a drive for you.
LoveItaly is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
United States
Jun 30th, 2016 02:53 PM
United States
Apr 29th, 2013 07:51 PM
United States
Mar 8th, 2008 08:28 AM
United States
Apr 17th, 2005 06:31 AM
United States
Oct 15th, 2004 12:53 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:03 PM.