Happy Hollow Park and Zoo - Places For Kids

Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

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1300 Senter Rd.
San Jose, CA 95112

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(408) 794-6400
Varies, mostly 10 am – 4 pm
$12.95 (Ages 2 - 69)
$9.95 (Senior 70+)
Free (Ages 0 - 1)
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DESCRIPTION FOR Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

Happy Hollow is definitely the sort of place that kids love, and parents love that it's quite affordable. Many of the rides are quite young, and quite tame when compared to the thrills of Magic Mountain, but they are definitely suitable to the seven-year-olds and younger set. Parents may be underwhelmed by the Danny the Dragon ride featuring fairytale statues and a small dark tunnel, but small children seem fascinated and will probably insist on 'Danny again'. Since Danny is currently under a construction makeover, they may have to wait a while until he's ready to thrill them all over again.
The carousel and Pacific Fruit Express roller coaster are also a quiet sort of fun, but the bumper cars and Frog Hopper may satisfy...

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BIRTHDAY PARTY AT Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

Party Time at Happy Hollow

Telephone: (408) 794-6449

Email: hhparty@sanjoseca.gov

Time: 2 hours between 10 am – 5 pm (Mon – Fri) – Check Calendar

Party price: $125 - $600+

Included: 2-Hour Reserved Space, Birthday Child Admission Ticket, Cake Cutting Kit, Water

Themes: Simple Fun, The Big Bash, Danny's Favorite, Extraordinary Celebration

Membership: Allows free admission for Happy Hollow members + 10% off food and drinks

Website Link: www.hhpz.org/index.cfm/id/4/Plan-a-Party

Customizable: Yes

Bring Your Own: Food

Remember when you were a kid, and you really wanted to go to a place with rides, and slides, and animals? Sometimes it's a mystery to adults why children get so excited about things that seem a little smaller than the thrills of screaming down fifty-foot drops and getting splashed by...

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REVIEWS FOR Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

0 Places For Kids review


Oakland Zoo

9777 Golf Links Rd.
Oakland, CA 94605

Animals and kids go together, especially at the Oakland Zoo. As a parent, it's important to have that 'magical' place in your back pocket, with plenty of activities, that isn't as pricey as Disneyland. (Parents in the Bay area should think about getting a membership, which includes free admission, parking, guest tickets, and 8 ride vouchers.) For parents without a car, the 511 Trip Planner can save a lot of time on public transport. Since the Zoo is spread across more than 500 acres with hills, parents with toddlers should definitely remember the backpack or stroller. What's great about the Zoo is that there's more than just waiting for the lions to roll over, or reading up on monkey grooming habits. If your kids are of the 'do everything' type, you'll want to check out the train, carousel, and rollercoaster. If your kids are of the 'observer' type, there are 650+ animals to watch, and Monday through Friday feeding times - from alligators to elephants to sun bears. If your kids are of the 'up close and personal' type, scrambling through the meerkat tunnel or the reptile cave is always a good idea, along with the play areas. (Don't forget to take a bathroom break after all that crawling – restrooms are right next to the meerkats, the Bug House, the picnic area, and the goat and sheep barn.) The lack of a 'concrete jungle' at Oakland is what sets it apart from the Los Angeles Zoo. Kids and parents who want to see animals in a naturalistic environment can't go wrong here. It's also more interactive, from the bat house to the goat petting area, and the cable car allows you to see the Bay area while peeking into animal cages.

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0 reviews

Gilroy Gardens

3050 Hecker Pass Hwy.
Gilroy, CA 95020

When the Gilroy Garden Park reopens on March 30th, the child world and plant world will again collide for good. The Garden Park is a good mix of education and fun, and can help kids think through conservation issues – especially if they're looking at the living Circus Trees that look like sculptures. During the summer, you can even go down a water slide through one of the trees, and pretend you're on a Jungle Book adventure with Mowgli. The rock maze is also a cool retreat from the sun, and there are shady trees all around the complex. Bring your bathing suit for walking behind the waterfalls, and tipping buckets onto the kids' heads at the Splash Garden. This is one of the best features of the park, not just because of the huge treehouse and twisty slide, but also because the kids can either shoot water at each other with super soakers, or use a water pump as a see-saw. The spinning water wheel may be as close as a city kid can get to seeing wheels and water other than in a movie. However, if you and the kids prefer to observe the beauty of water rather than interact with it, watching ducks while imitating them on paddle boats can be a lot of fun. The second great feature is not the rides, which are definitely mild to moderate on the thrill scale. The teacups, flying mushrooms, and little fire engines will probably thrill the toddler to four-year-old crowd. It's the gardens that are truly amazing. One of the really worthwhile rides is when you get to meander down a backroads area on a motorized antique car, going past a barn and a small pond with a tiny dock. You can see the Rainbow Gardens on a boat ride that goes around a small lazy river, and chase butterflies through the Monarch Garden greenhouse. Claudia's Carousel is especially good for toddlers, because then you get to slowly look at the amazing trees in all their twisty shapes – this could be a horticulture session for the older kids.

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0 reviews

Lemos Farm

12320 San Mateo Rd.
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

If you're inspired by a local farmers market, or your kids wonder what it would be like to ride a pony, choo-choo train and a tractor, Lemos Farm is the weekend place to go. The goats can't be ridden, but for $1 per cup they can be fed, and so can the ducks and the wishing well – you have to cross its lip with silver. The train has gotten decorated with festive scenes over the years, so you may see Christmas decorations mixed with Western scenes. Christmas trees and pumpkins can also be chosen here instead of at a local lot. You can come on a weekend, park the kids on ponies and wear them out in laser tag, and then wander around finding the perfect fir that will house all of the kids' art projects and glittery ornaments all through December, or the perfect scary jack-o-lantern. While Lemos Farm is agriculturally themed, there are some unique offerings besides the Pumpkin Patch and the hay ride. From September through the end of October, kids can be entertained in the haunted house. No reservations are needed for zapping each other in laser tag, though it does cost $10 for 20 minutes. That may be one of the few drawbacks, that there are a few items not covered in the price of admission – laser tag is one, and operating a tractor in the Dig Zone is another. Otherwise, you do have the choice of just paying single tickets for items like Playtown and the hay ride – or you can get unlimited rides on the train and ponies and everything else by getting a day pass. Playtown is not to be missed for its mix of bouncy houses and rocking horses. This strange blend of activities goes back to the history of Lemos Farm, in which the current owner's city-dwelling grandfather was offered a cow as a debt payment. Since the cow was in the family way, a few more cows were bought and put on a farm to create a working dairy, but all that work required a tractor that still chugs around the grounds today. The pony rides and haunted house came in after the owners started thinking about expanding their Christmas tree side business with pumpkins. Lemos Farm is the place where anything can happen.

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Tilden Regional Park

2501 Grizzly Peak Blvd.
Orinda, CA 94563

If your kids don't know what a working farm looks like, Little Farm would be the perfect place to take them after it re-opens on March 2014. Toddlers will especially be fascinated by the various noises of the animals, which of course they'll want to imitate when you get home. The chickens will cluck, the ducks will quack – and the goats and cows will cluster around to be fed your wilted leftover lettuce and celery from the back of the fridge. (They are not picky about food quality.) The ducks have their own luxury pool with a sunning deck, so on the right day, you can catch them sunbathing as well as swimming. The pigs and rabbits are also good watching and observing value, though the pigs can get insistent about their right to snacks. The horses and sheep tend to be a bit more wary, so it's a good opportunity to teach the kids about the right way and the wrong way to approach different types of animals. Some parents and kids have been able to use their horse and sheep-whispering skills here, so try and see what works through the bars of the gates. There is a small playground complete with water fountains, which might be necessary for the kids to burn up any excess energy in minding their manners around the critters. There's plenty of room for strollers, but remember to strap on sturdy shoes or sneakers if there has been recent rain, as the puddles and mud can take some navigation. Also remember to bring along sack lunches or a picnic basket for the grassy area, just in case hunger calls as well as nature (bathrooms are also free). Especially because everything is free here, including an Environmental Educational Center, there are fewer crowds on the weekdays than on weekends. If your kids are clamoring for more than just animal interaction, Tilden Park also has an antique merry-go-round and a steam train railroad. Lake Anza is also good for swimming if you come in the summer, but can be visually enjoyed at any time. If your kids are budding horticulturalists, definitely do not miss the Botanic Gardens, which hosts a sale of native California plants every Thursday morning from May through December.

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Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110

Crawl space for babies – check. Fire engine and ambulance if the San Francisco Fire Department Museum is too far away to visit – check. Interactive displays to keep kids' attention – definitely. Have the kids been asking questions about electricity and wind power, or do you want them to start asking questions? Get them to the Power Girl exhibit so they can generate enough power to convert into playhouse electricity and toy engine movement. More energy gets created if they use teamwork with their siblings, especially on the treadle. Since it takes some effort to get the electricity going, this display is also good for pointing out how much work is involved when kids leave the lights on and water running in the sink. Perhaps your kids are too old for the crawl space and are more interested in earth history. No problem, there are the excavated bones and a replica of a small mammoth that was discovered near the Guadalupe River in San Jose itself. If they're more interested in the gardening element of earth history, take them out to the garden, complete with a beehive. If you come in the first hour, the kids can learn while they help with the morning chores, or they can water the garden on the last open hour before they leave. However, if the touchscreens and videos are delivering too much information, the bubble room will let them stretch out bubbles larger, or investigate the colors, more than they can do with a small bubble blower at home. They can read about surface tension and iridescent colors if they want, move on to the music room to inspire their inner artist, or even create cornhusk dolls by hand. Also, the WaterWays area can inspire anyone to play and explore the properties of H2O as the colored plastic balls move down tunnels, wobble around the water wheel, and get pumped high in the air. The Wonder Cabinet is a good in-between spot for the toddler to five-year-old age range. The puppets go well with the books, the Sand Laboratory is good for kids discovering what their hands can make, and the kaleidescope can add some depth to color exploration from the bubble room. If they've had to scrub off their own artwork from the walls recently, they'll be delighted with the ongoing work of the Paint Wall, where they can splash on color with available pots and brushes. For Bob the Builder types, go out with them to the foam playground and see what they can create.

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