Rosemarie Axton was kind enough to write us the other day asking where she might take her Monterey-based grandkids for about a week. Some days my knee-jerk response to that question would be San Francisco, but for some reason Dionne Warwick’s lovely singing voice popped into my head asking if I knew the way to San Jose, and that was that.
San Jose is about an hour’s drive from Monterey, but if you and your family happen to be in San Francisco, it’s only about an hour from there, too, traffic permitting. And of course you can fly directly into San Jose International Airport (SJC) from New York, Atlanta, Dallas, and other cities.
As a family vacation spot San Jose has flown only slightly above the radar. It deserves to fly higher. When Rosemarie mentioned that her grandchildren were not only 10 and 12 but were also bright (of course what grandma wouldn’t say that?) I got excited about the idea of her potentially taking them to San Jose’s Tech Museum, which has a limited engagement Genghis Khan exhibit opening May 22, an IMAX Hubble telescope movie running through June that’s nothing short of thrilling, and permanent galleries that’ll engage brainy kids and grandkids everywhere.
If as a grandma or parent you have the fortitude, I also wouldn’t miss taking a pre-teen or teen to the Winchester Mystery House, which runs daily tours through a circuitous mansion. That Mrs. Winchester evidently “enacted a nightly séance to help with her building plans and for protection from ‘bad’ spirits” ought to clue you in to how eclectically this house is constructed.
San Jose also has a decent art museum and other cultural attractions, but if you want to give your brain a slight break (though not a huge one) you and your brood can take a turn on Guinness World Record-certified world’s largest Monopoly board (see photo above), carved in granite in a park in San Jose’s Discovery Meadow, also not far from the Children’s Discovery Museum, ideal if you’re traveling with younger kids.
So, Rosemarie, my short answer is to find your way to San Jose. And to show your grandkids you’re with it, suggest they check out a well-maintained Facebook page that might help them and you get excited about a trip to this oft-overlooked family destination.