From Dance Dance Revolution Extreme and Mario Kart to skeeball, the more than 100 video and redemption games housed at Nickel City only cost one nickel per play. Additionally, more 30 arcade classics are playable for free—such as Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter—during which gamers battle evildoers trying to prevent them from repaving the road. Once players accrue enough tickets, they can swap their stubs at the redemption counter for prizes such as army men, stuffed animals, and electronics. In between the virtual action, guests can reenergize with a bite from the snack bar or join friends for celebrations in the party room.
Inside Line Racing gives RC enthusiasts a venue to pit their mechanical monsters against radio-controlled rivals in tests of speed and skill. A large, winding foam track provides the arena upon which glory will be won and reputations will be shattered as motor-powered autos careen toward the finish line. Rentals are fully able to hold their own, even against home-brewed speed machines, ensuring a fun and fair hour of competition for beginners and Mario Andrettis alike.
Golfland debuted its first putt-putt green in 1953 and has since expanded to seven locations across California and Arizona. Each location features one to three 18-hole courses, replete with colorful castles, windmills, and fountains. After navigating the obstacle-filled fairways, guests can try their hands at an array of arcade games, whether felling foes in fighting games, stocking up on tickets to win prizes, or following the spellbinding plotline of a pinball game. At the San Jose location, visitors can cool off in the warmer months with a trip down parallel outdoor waterslides.
Lead-footed motorists can experience unlimited access to Redwood City Malibu's high-performance rides and attractions. Go-karts zip around hairpin turns, pick up speed on straightaways, and fly across banked curves with a passenger in tow aboard Redwood's safe and speedy four-wheeled chariots. After an afternoon of speed, slow down with the thoughtful zen-like meditation that is miniature golf on the park’s whimsically appointed links, or calmly crash into someone else's vessel on the bumper-boat battlefield. Speed demons can contemplate déjà vu on the circular grand prix course while leaving opponents as confused and defeated as the English after UFOs helped America achieve independence.
Managing 27 grocery stores and more than 2,500 employees is a stressful task. Nob Hill Foods owner Michael Bonfante learned that the best way for him to manage that stress was to retreat to a shady, secluded spot surrounded by majestic trees. These occasional escapes into nature inspired Bonfante to found a park dedicated to teaching visitors of all ages—but especially children—how to appreciate horticulture, wildlife, and trees in particular. Along with his wife, Claudia, Bonfante eventually sold his grocery stores and committed all of his efforts to educating the public and spreading his love for nature.
Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park receives virtually all of the Bonfantes' attention now, and it attracts visitors with combination of educational exhibits, carnival games, and amusement-park rides. The map features more than 40 possible destinations where guests can learn something new about local horticulture, enjoy an adrenaline-pumping joy ride, or simply enjoy the scenery. With family-friendly attractions available for all ages, the park includes everything from carousels to paddleboats to a mine-cart roller coaster that takes passengers through a thrilling series of dips and speedy turns.
Even while visitors are standing in line or buckled into a ride, they are still surrounded by nature at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. Five waterfalls—representing the five major styles of waterfalls that occur in nature—gush with torrents of water. The grounds also feature 19 of Axel Erlandson's famous Circus Trees, which he created by grafting saplings so that they grew to form shapes such as hearts, lightning bolts, and basket weaves. In addition to touting the importance of animals such as monarch butterflies and honeybees, the park features six distinctive gardens brimming with informative displays and everything from conifers to tropical and subtropical flowers.
Pump It Up's indoor inflatable arenas launch socked striplings into the air with a plethora of kid-friendly bounce pads. Staffers supervise fun-filled visits, during which adult counterparts leap around with their kids through gargantuan bounce houses, skip down air-filled slides, and slither like snakes covered in bacon grease through an inflated obstacle course. Occasionally, the staffers switch off the lights, arming the roomful of players with glow sticks and bracelets as they navigate the air-cushioned obstaclescape.
The colorful venue also hosts custom birthday parties and private team parties, each themed to please the partygoers in question. These soirees immerse children in a schedule of interactive activities befitting a pirate or a superhero while melting off youthful energy faster than ice cubes thrown into a running DVD player. The birthday boy or girl even gets to blow out the candles on their cake seated in their blow-up throne. Relying on the staffers' vigilant, watchful eyes, guardians can rest assured that their charges will stay safe, and each piece of the inflatable playground is held to the wall by a complex series of anchors installed according to strict safety standards.