Hotspots in San Jose, CA
The Red and White Fleet offers cruises around the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and more during the winter season, dubbed the City Lights Cruise. This two-hour cruise offers spectacular views of the city skyline at night, while a hearty buffet, drinks, and live music keep the ambiance enjoyable. You can cozy up indoors to take advantage of the heat and still scope out the view through large windows, but if you plan to venture out to outdoor viewing decks, be sure to dress warm. There are also plenty of discounts on the web, so do some surfing before you purchase your tickets.
Regardless of whether or not you have kids in tow, grab the nearest scrap of cardboard you can get your hands on and get ready for the ride of your life! But, before you experience the community park cement slides on Seward Street hidden amongst the trees, be sure to wear pants and long sleeve shirts to minimize the souvenir wounds you can easily end up with if you're not prepared. For a faster journey down the slides, grab a handful of sand on your way up to sprinkle under your cardboard, but be sure to close your eyes towards the bottom or you'll end up with an eyeful of sand. Even if you make an impromptu trip to this family-friendly hidden gem, scraps of cardboard are easy to find however parking can be difficult. Note that the slide hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and that the park is closed Mondays.
Complete with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and a good chance you will spot a dolphin or two, Baker Beach offers dog-friendly surf and sand for you and your pup. Off-leash play is permitted for you and your dog north of Losbos Creek, but four-legged friends must remain leashed south of Lobos Creek. Families and dogs alike can be seen romping along the clean, calm beach, but you can also head to the beach during the week to have the place virtually to yourself. Don’t forget to prepare for chilly weather with the fog that is common to this city by the bay.
Prepare to have fun with your favorite four-legged friend at the Alta Plaza Park! Although the off-leash area is located at the south side of the park, do not be surprised to see well-behaved dogs without leashes throughout the park. Doggie water bowls are also located at the park for thirsty pups. If you visit during the winter or rainy season, avoid the puddles of stagnant water; dogs tend to get sick when eating this polluted mud. And, be sure that your canine can be controlled off the leash; the dog area is not fenced.
When traveling with older kids, finding those hotspots that are fun for the tweens and teens in your family can be tough. But, with places like Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Museum in San Francisco, the scientific pieces on display, Mirror Maze and shooting range make this oddity-filled museum a great stop for the whole family. Although a trip through this museum typically takes a couple of hours, be sure to allow yourself enough time to read the exhibits so you can understand why they are in the museum to truly appreciate it.
Although there is no entrance fee to visit Alcatraz, to get to the Island you must hop aboard one of the National Park Services’ approved ferry companies. Planning ahead is your best bet, because tickets are often sold out the day of the tour if you plan on picking up tickets when you arrive, so visit Alcatraz Cruises, the official source of tickets and reservations to ensure you’re guaranteed a spot. A multi-lingual audio tour of the cell house can be heard via headphones and is included in the ferry price. Note that this family activity is best suited for older kids and adults, and strollers are not permitted.
Whether you’re looking for time on the ice or to take in the stunning views of the city, the Yerba Buena Gardens Ice Skating and Bowling Center offers year-round access to ice skating, regardless of the season. It’s free to watch ice skaters, figure skaters, and hockey players take the ice, but, skate rentals are available for those wanting to get in on the fun. If you’re a beginner and are worried about getting stuck on the ice, plenty of openings allow you to take a break when you need it. The Gardens also feature bowling, a performing arts center, a playground, a carousel, and a water park.
This newer ball park is not only home to the San Francisco Giants Major League Baseball organization, but also host to many birthday parties, concerts, and events. With a minimum group of 10 eager tour-goers, you can opt for the private “behind the scenes” tour and stand on the field, sit in the dug out, explore the visiting team locker rooms and training facility, and possibly hold Barry Bonds’ bat. For an extra fee, you can meet Lou Seal, the Giant’s mascot, and take pictures in the Giants dug out before you end the tour with a boxed lunch. During off season, tickets for public tours aren’t as likely to sell out, but purchasing in advance is recommended.
Whether you are looking to challenge yourself physically, mentally and emotionally or are just a competitive girl by nature, the ropes courses at Fort Miley Adventure Challenge Course are just what the doctor ordered. High ladders, tight rope walking and zip lines will push you to the limit, but courses vary in levels of challenge. The view of the ocean beach and rolling waves are reason enough to take the challenge, but when you're through, your hands may be sore and your nerves shot but the adrenaline-pumping accomplishments will leave you clarified and more confident. Be sure to dress in layers, including a beanie hat and gloves, because it can be freezing cold even though you break a sweat!
Pack up your pooch for a day of fun at the baseball park! Annually at the end of August, the Giants fans can catch a game at AT&T Park with their best dog pal. Pets and their owners are positioned in the bleacher seats during the game, but you and your doggie can join the dog parade on the field prior to the game. Be sure to order your special tickets in advance and to arrive early to score your pup a doggie goodie bag. It only happens one game per year, so check out the San Francisco Giants’ website before it passes you by!