We were on holiday in the States recently and stayed in San Jose for a few weeks, visiting friends. As we tried to combine quality indoor time (hiding from the heat) and lots of outdoor fun, we came across the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose. If you’re ever around and have a small child to entertain, don’t hesitate to pop by. It’s conveniently located next to a big parking facility if you arrive by car, and though public transportation is not great in the city, the tram has a stop nearby. It’s hard to miss it: a bright purple building (hence it’s nick name: Purple Museum).
The museum is suitable for smaller and bigger children equally, even our 15 month old little girl had great fun. Our 3 year old just simply had a blast.
These were our favourite (we visited twice!):
1. Water Ways
He enjoyed exploring water physics by playing with simple plastic balls and tubes using water pressure, gravity, water ways and streams. It is designed very cleverly to catch the attention of the children: water squirting high and lifting up balls or stream changing direction and pulling the ball. Or just sit down and enjoy the sound of the rain for a while.
2. Thomas The Tank Engine Playroom (temporary exhibition)
I think we could have left them both in the playroom for hours and they’d have still screamed upon announcing leaving. The big hit was the train table: both of them played with, sharing the little trains nicely and occasionally fighting over the favourite characters. Everybody wants to play wit Thomas! There are also benches placed strategically around the train table for parents, as they surely have to spend a long time in there. Apart from that, there was a big Thomas and a Percy train to climb on, drive it and fix its wheels. Fantastic fun. Photo opportunity for #instaparents: dress your child as a ticket controller and pose with Thomas in the background. (Both mine refused to do it. Duh.)
3. Secrets Of Circles
This exhibition combines the science of the circles (experimenting with symmetry, 2D and 3D versions of a circular form, problem solving and drawing) with how we use them in real life (how does a wheel or a clock work, circular sensory objects for small children like a fruits, even a Vietnamese circular boat). I did like the way this exhibition tries to mix in the local, diverse Silicon Valley culture.
Which child doesn’t like bubbles from early age? In fact, I think “bubble” was one of the first words of both of mines.
With these very hands-on bubble making experiments they can try different ways to create bubbles: blowing, stretching a film or waving a wand. The water is very soapy, so the good quality bubbles are guaranteed. And this is suitable for very small children too. Babi was absolutely mesmerised and kept shouting “bubbles, bubbles!” Las loved creating them as he loves playing with water anyway.
So, where do I begin here… there is a REAL fire truck. An ambulance car. You can hop on them, explore what’s inside, put white robes on to pretend you’re a doctor. Or a firemen’s hat. Pretend to drive them. Make noises. It’s even fascinating for a grown up, let alone a 3 year old, who loves all sorts of vehicles. We explored a small version of a city with traffic lights, zebra crossings, etc. Bigger children can also learn how do these things work, when and why is the traffic light changes colour or how the power is being generated which operates them.
6. Wonder Cabinet
This part of the museum is designed specifically for young children from 0-4 years. There’s crawling and climbing space for the littles, basic sensory games to play, story telling, even a child size kaleidoscope. Our biggest enjoyed sending balls through tunnels and building with big blocks whilst our little girl was fascinated by the kaleidoscope.
There’s a few more exhibits like the Mammoth Discovery and the Rainbow Market which both worth a visit too.
Since you’re probably going to spend a good few hours in the museum (just saying), you will need to grab something to eat and drink. The Foodshed (it has to be pronounced as Füdshed for some hipster reason) provides very good options. The food is fresh, organic and locally sourced. They have a lot of healthy options as well as treats. There’s a bit of a queue around classic lunch time hours and there’s only bad filtered coffee available unfortunately.
Adult and child tickets are $15, special discounts available.
Another great place to visit with the children around here: Palo Alto Junior Museum And Zoo