Summer Road trip: Family Friendly things to do in the San Jose Bay Area

Summer is the perfect time to hit the open road: School’s out, the weather’s warm, and the possibilities are endless. The only dilemmas? Deciding on a destination and somehow affording everything you want to pack into your itinerary. My author pals and I have decided to team up and share about where we live, and take you on a 2018 road trip with us! Check out the links listed at the bottom of this week’s blog, and explore some hidden gems all over the US, the UK, and Australia! First stop, The Bay Area!

Welcome to San Jose/Silicon Valley 

We do know the way to San Jose-it’s at the heart of Silicon Valley.  The area is growing at the speed of new technology (idea today, IPO tomorrow). Like Steve Jobs, the Valley believes in the culture of possibility-all the better to make your visit a fun, successful venture. What is so great about San Jose is it’s only 55 miles from San Fransico. In good traffic (non-rush hour), you can make the drive in just under an hour. So you can stay where it’s cheaper to room and visit the city during the day. Living in the Bay Area offers excellent opportunities. You are only a five-hour drive to the snow in the winter, or even just a short drive to the beach in the summer. The entire Bay Area is a giant melting pot. No matter what you are craving, or looking to do, the Bay has you covered.

With so many things to do and see in San Jose and the Bay Area, the options are infinite. But let’s say, you only have 48 hours to spend in SJ? It’s easy to plan your trip with these suggested itineraries and trip ideas for you to explore and uncover the best of San Jose. If you have more time, I’ll share a few spots outside of San Jose that you might also enjoy visiting.

Day 1

If you are staying in the downtown area, then I’ve got you covered. Start the morning with a leisurely stroll down Paseo de San Antonio and fuel up with a cup of coffee at Philz Coffee, a Bay Area institution. I promise, if you enjoy a good cup of joe, then this is the place for you! Choose your brew from a selection of over 30 unique blends (my favorite is philtersoul made sweet and creamy) and watch as the baristas work their magic. Just next door, get breakfast at La Lune Sucree and choose from savory crepes, buttery croissants, and tasty pastries, made from scratch.

Are you here with your kids? Well, then there are two really awesome places you can take them to.  The Tech Museum of Innovation and prepare for a hands-on experience with the latest and greatest technology in Silicon Valley, not yet available to consumers. Design a real robot using sensors and controllers at Social Robots, understand your physical and emotional state with wearable technology at Body Metrics and experience a simulated earthquake on the Shake Platform with varying magnitudes from actual earthquakes. This place is ideal for older children around middle school age is perfect! If you have younger ones, then might I suggest the Children’s Discovery Museum. It’s wopping52,000 sq.ft. Purple building, designed by Mexico City-based architect Ricardo Legorreta, signals the Museum’s purpose: to serve the needs of children, families, and schools as a center for learning and discovery. Recent expansion outdoors adds another half-acre filled with activities designed to be a bridge to nature for the community’s children and families.

Walk to the Convention Center light rail stop, pay $4 for an eight-hour pass, and hop on any northbound rail car for a short trip up North 1st Street to explore one of three remaining historical Japantowns in the U.S. While you are there, you can eat at one of the locally own restaurants in the community, or if you prefer something quicker, there are fast food options as well.


San Jose is fortunate to have warm evening weather, so don’t bundle up, but bring a light sweater when you head out to eat. San Pedro Square Market is a lively evening in a social dining atmosphere. Choose the cuisine that suits your mood from hefty tri-tip sandwiches at Bray Butcher Block & Bistro, sushi tacos at Blush Raw Bar Lounge, mouthwatering burgers with an Asia Pacific influence at Konjoe Burger Bar or fresh banh mi at On a Roll. Once you’ve made your entrée selection head to the outdoor patio and have a seat next to the Peralta Adobe to admire San Jose’s oldest building.

Insider tip: Hit up The Market on a Friday or Saturday night for live music from local bands and check their event calendar for other fun activities happening regularly.

Day 2

A great local chain restaurant is Bills Cafe.  This is a great brunch place that is good for kids. I love their bread pudding french toast, yum! Be warned, they get VERY crowded and are only open until 2 pm. There are many locations all over the San Jose area. They even have patio seating so you can bring your furry friends with you.

After you’ve eaten, you might want to either take a walk or sit while the kids play a bit. I would be remiss if I did not include Emma Prusch Park. This is a free park and farm that is a must see. I take my little guy here regularly, and it’s an excellent opportunity to learn about farm animals up close and personal.

Emma Prusch cherished her dairy farm, which initially was an 86 acre site. In her generosity, she deeded the property to the City of San José in 1962 to be enjoyed as an agriculturally based park in the center of a busy city. Miss Prusch specifically requested that the land keep its country feeling, preserving the quality of the Santa Clara Valley that she remembered when trees and animals were more prominent than houses, freeways, and shopping centers.


Are you hungry again? Take a lunch break at casual and walk-up-to-order food at Falafel’s Drive-In, a San Jose institution and featured on the Food Network’s Diner, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Be sure to pair your gyro or falafels with their signature banana milkshake. If you’re still feeling full, you can save this place for dinner. San Jose is home to two locations featured on Tripple D. The other restaurant is Naglee Park Garage. Be aware though. They are only open from 4:00- 9:30 pm and is a small location that fills up fast, so there might be a wait.


Next up, head to the beautiful Rose Garden neighborhood for a visit to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum where you can view the most extensive collection of Egyptian artifacts on exhibit in western North America. Among the 4,000 exhibits on display see authentic objects from pre-dynastic times through Egypt’s early Islamic era. Step outside and wander through the replica 18th dynasty Rosicrucian Peace Garden. Just one block from the museum, smell the beautiful rose blooms at America’s Best Rose Garden, the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, a 5½ acre park with 4,000 roses and over 250 different rose varieties.

Insider tip: Your ticket also gets you into a show at the Rosicrucian Planetarium, with showings every day at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

There you have it! You’ve just explored San Jose in two days. You were able to pack a punch into such a short visit. If you have more time, you can check out things like the Computer History Museum, or some outlet shopping at the Great Mall. Hope you enjoyed the inside scoop. Be sure to check out these other great blogs to know where to go when you visit their hometowns. Or, you can enjoy a virtual stroll through their side of the world.

Do you have any tips to share for the San Jose/Bay Area? I would love to hear them and check them out myself!


K. Lamb – California

Julie Gorges – Southern California

Cat Michaels – North Carolina

Rosie Russell – Kansas City, Missouri

Rhonda Paglia – Western Pennsylvania 

Rebecca Lindsey – West Virginia

Sandra Bennett – Canberra, Australia

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

7 thoughts on “Summer Road trip: Family Friendly things to do in the San Jose Bay Area

  • K. Lamb

    As a fellow Bay Area resident, thanks for giving me a few tips on things to do and places to see when I am next in the San Jose area. First on my list will be to grab a cuppa tea or a mocha coffee with my author pal! 😉

    I am definitely overdue for a visit to the Winchester Mystery House; one of my favorite childhood road trip memories with my grandparents. Those cherished memories keep me coming back time and again.

    You are so right that the Bay area offers such a plethora of opportunities. I love the diversity of our community and all it has to offer!

    Thank you for your insight into your backyard of the Bay Area.

  • Julie Gorges

    Next time I’m on my way to San Jose, I’ll be sure and drop by some of the places you mentioned. I know my grandkids would love the museums and dairy farm. Sounds fun! Thanks for sharing your insider tips.

  • Rosie Russell

    Wow, I just went on the best two day trip ever! I like how you made this so real to all of us.
    I’ll have to hire you as our tour guide if we ever make it that way.

    The museums sound like a ton of fun, along with all the great restaurants. Ooooh, and that rose garden sounds heavenly!

    Thanks for your great post on your part of the world Carmela!

    Best wishes on your new book!
    Have a wonderful weekend,

  • Rebecca Lyndsey

    I don’t have kids but I would still love to visit the Technology and Discovery Museums. Seeing the Egyptian artifacts would be so cool too! Plus, the Winchester Mystery house is there and that would be a must see for me!!

  • Sandra Bennett

    Hi Camela, I admit I didn’t know the way to San José, thank you for sharing that with me. I have always wanted to visit San Francisco, now I will add the bay area to my wish list as well. It was interesting to read about your science and technology museum too, it sounds very similar to ours here in Canberra. Hands on experiences to teach kids key concepts is the best way to learn, love it. Great to have the inside scoop on all the best places to eat as well, I didn’t mention any of that on mine. If I ever get to visit San Fran, I’ll be sure to stop by the bay.

  • Cat Michaels

    You got my attention with all the delicious places to eat, Carmela. Love going behind typical tourist stops to live like a local! The Egyptian Rose gardens sounds yummy, too. What a brilliant place to visit and smell the roses . Thanks for the tour!

  • Rhonda L. Paglia

    Well done, Carmela! You jam-packed a tour of San Jose & the San Fran Bay area into 48 hours. I would not want to miss the highlights you shared! My grandkids (me too) would definitely want to design a robot at The Tech Museum of Innovations. I’d enjoy a visit to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, and I’d savor every taste of the local and international cuisine. I could smell the Bread Pudding French Toast from your page all the way to Pennsylvania!! Yum! Thanks for sharing your lovely hometown area! <3