In 2005, Roger Castillo's dog found a bone beside the Guadalupe River. But it wasn't just any bone—it was the skull of a young Columbian mammoth. Paleontologists from UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology joined Roger on the scene, where they excavated a thigh bone and the pelvis of the ancient creature. The fossils were assembled into a full-scale replica of the baby mammoth, affectionately named "Lupe," and moved into the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose. This happy accident became a permanent exhibit—and created a fitting unofficial mascot for an institution celebrating curiosity and wonder.
Today, visitors can stop by the museum's Mammoth Discovery! hall to see Lupe's towering frame, housed alongside 20 other hands-on activities that spark the scientific minds of little visitors. This sense of exploration is at the core of the museum's 150 exhibits. And while it may be a while before kids discover their own extinct animals, the museum's 52,000 square feet help build foundations in math, science, and art. The colorful WaterWays room, for example, uses pulleys and tunnels to teach youngsters about the properties of rivers or flooded bathrooms, while the Rainbow Market helps kids learn more about healthy fruits and veggies. Most exhibits stay on permanent display, but the museum also hosts special exhibits and events throughout the year, such as interactive storytelling performances.
Its name may contain the word "museum," but The Tech Museum of Innovation prefers not to wallow in the past. Since its earliest days in 1978, it has exhibited the timeless principles of science while also celebrating the latest in technological achievement. In doing so, the institution inspires visitors to apply that same spirit of creative problem-solving to all aspects of life.
Size: the mango-and-azure domed building fills 132,000 square feet with hundreds of interactive exhibits and six labs
Hands-On Experiments: ride in a jet-pack chair worthy of NASA, feel what it's like to experience an earthquake, grow jellyfish DNA in a lab, learn about internet security in Cyber Detectives, and use wearable technology that measures physical and emotional states in Body Metrics.
Eye-Catchers: the creations inside Social Robots,
where visitors design and build robots before dressing them up in hats that a human could never pull off
Permanent Mainstay: The Tech Awards Gallery, a showcase of past inventions and inventors from the museum's annual Tech Awards
Don't Miss: The Tech Studio, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the prototypes and fabrication of upcoming exhibits—and lets visitors be among the first to test them
Since 1969, the San Jose Museum of Art has acquired works that define the art of the time. Over the decades, that has included abstract paintings from the mid-20th century, sculptures from Bay Area artists, and new media works that echo the rise of Silicon Valley. Many have been drawn to the museum's artistic cause; in fact, more than 95% of the permanent collection has come from donations.
Inside the Rotating Collection:
Exhibitions include the immersive video and light installation Beta Space: Diana Thater (through September 13) and Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknowns (opens August 29), in which 13 international artists explore issues of surveillance and privacy in a post-9/11 world.
Hands-On Activities: Visitor photography encouraged; free Art Packs filled with gallery activities; sketching and poem-writing activities
The Building: a 19th-century library with a new wing added in 1991 to accommodate the growing collection
Pro Tip: the museum stays open late (until 8 p.m.) on the third Thursday of every month
Special Programs: free guided tours, artist interviews, and a kids' art camp
Staff Size: 25–50 people
Pro Tip: Feel free to stop by for a tour anytime. No appointment necessary.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Quality childcare
Recommended Age Group: Kids
Q&A with Marc Lariz, Administrator
What special training do you or your staff have?
All staff has an educational background specific to Early Childhood Education. They are all CPR and First-Aid Certified and they all have Background checks performed on them.
What is the one feature of your business that you're most proud of?
Our family-run atmosphere has allowed us the flexibility to create fun and unique classrooms and play yards. Custom made play structures and huge outdoor areas separate us from our competition.
What is the experience customers can expect, and how do you make it special?
You can expect to deal with teachers that genuinely care about your child and an administrative staff that genuinely care about you. It is more than a job to us, it is a calling.
Build an electric powered roller coaster. Create a superhero mobile. Design and battle a team of robots. Launch rockets to new speeds and heights. The children who engage in these once-in-a-lifetime activities at Destination Science camps aren't just having fun—they're learning science. At over 130 camp locations in six states, counselors lead campers ages 5 to 11 through a full week of hands-on exploration in various disciplines. Aided by kid-friendly tools, entertaining demonstrations, and inventive lesson plans, they teach campers the basics of scientific inquiry through the fun of exploration and experimentation. The four main camps focus on topics ranging from human and marine biology to astronomy, engineering, and physics, often with engaging games and hands-on projects. All of Destination Science's instructors are experienced educators and university students, each focused in the sciences and chosen for their ability to relate to children and build an effective baking-soda volcano.
For more than three decades, ABC Tree Farms have provided the Bay Area with seasonal fun September through December. Summer inspires the first round of recreation in the form of Summer Fun Zones packed with inflatable bounce houses masquerading as castles and slides and fresh harvests of pumpkins of every size. During September, they run 20 pumpkin-themed locations, some of which also feature inflatable bounce houses and other attractions. Once Thanksgiving passes, groves of Christmas trees spring up, having made their way south from Oregon and Washington. There they will stand until Christmas Eve, hoping to decorate homes or become the model that inspires a revamped line of evergreen air fresheners.