Time for a family holiday throwback again! Who’d have thought? There’s so much to do with children in Central California. Palo Alto is famous for two things: Stanford University and the being the melting pot of Silicon Valley. About 35 miles south of San Francisco and if you drive, take lots of snacks, drinks and entertainment options for the kids in case you get stuck in traffic jam. Not joking, seriously, select your travel window carefully. We wanted to pop around for a visit, since we were around, it’s a very pretty town.
When we’re doing a day out with the kids visiting a new city, we normally plan some fun time for them and for ourselves too. In Palo Alto it had to be Junior Museum And Zoo for them.
We planned our visit around the heat wave, which hit the valley in those days, so we tried to spend the warmest hours playing indoors.
I say playing, because this is a special museum, where they can learn a lot about science and nature just by playing. It’s very cleverly designed to grab their attention and totally hands-on.
Both our small children were fully engaged and entertained for more than two hours and they didn’t want to leave.
It’s a small place and the first thing what strikes you, is the “niceness” of the place. It’s actually nearly 80 years old! Old and new items mixed up, some installations seemingly has been been around for a while but still loved and cared for. Cute vintage, vibrant fabrics. I loved that they used a lot of recycled and upcycled materials and items: like old tennis balls and left over fabrics. (I just noticed on their homepage that they have won a project and some money, so the museum is going to be rebuilt. I hope they will keep some parts of the old exhibition.)
It’s suitable for even babies and children up to nine years old, but I think all ages will find something fun there. I personally fell in love with the place and just as much fun as the kids.
The children can solve problems, let their imagination fly and learn more about the local wild life too.
Our favourites were:
- Clean Energy Machines. Children can explore how renewable energy (wind, solar and water) is being created.
- Baby’s Bramble. Very cute design and toys to play with for the tiny ones complete with a colourful giant monarch butterfly chrysalis.
- “Kid-Power” Machine. This one was the big favourite for our children, sending tennis balls through different tubes to make the machines work.
- Insect Cabinet In The Buzzzzz Exhibition. They both loved hiding in there watching the glowing stars.
- Giant Spider Web Climber. Bobcat really enjoyed climbing right up to the ceiling on this big rope climbing web.
6. Insect Dress Up Costumes. Rather realistic ones. Just look at Babi wearing that ladybird costume! Such a cute idea.
7. Terrariums. One with a big tarantula, which kept fascinated Bobcat for a long time.
8. Zoo Animals. Some local wild animals like bobcats and raccoons (which has been rescued and has one eye only, so he won’t survive in the wild), and some exotic birds plus an old African spurred tortoise.
9. Solar Power Fountain. A movable solar panel, to explore how the flow of the water is affected by the power of the sunlight and without it.
The garden is beautiful too.
The museum is free, they only ask for donations, the suggested donation amount is $5.
Another great attraction for children nearby: Gilroy Gardens Review