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15 FREE Things To Do in San Jose with Kids
July 27, 2021

Having fun doesn’t have to cost a thing. And San Jose area’s year-round good weather makes keeping kids entertained with many fun and free things to do with kids that won’t break the bank.

San Jose has something unique and spectacular to offer your little ones and the whole family all year round. It has diverse historical places, outdoor adventures, and scientific innovations ready to be explored. As home to the well-known Silicon Valley and the third-largest city in California, it may be costly to engage in any kid-friendly activities around San Jose. Fortunately for you, there are tons of FREE things to do in San Jose with kids that will cost nothing but time.

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As the Bay Area re-opens, there are more opportunities for your family to enjoy outside your home. And if you look hard enough, there’s a seemingly endless list of places to go offering free admission year-round or on special free days. From exciting museums, kid-friendly activities and art exhibitions, bustling recreation centers, fun-filled parks, and fascinating landmarks in San Jose, kids of all ages can have fun, play, learn, and engage with other kids, all for free!

Are you looking for fun things to do in San Jose to amuse your kids for free? Don’t worry! We take the hard work of covering your free family time planning. Here’s our list of the most entertaining things to do and places to go with kids in San Jose that are truly exciting, and most of all, keep the bucks in your wallet!

Explore the Museums and Art Galleries

San Jose Museum of Art - kid-friendly activities

San Jose Museum of Art

110 S. Market St., San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 271-6840

It’s always a good idea to expose kids to a bit of culture, but it’s even better when there’s something you know they’ll enjoy. The diversity in the San Jose Museum of Art’s collection promises to deliver something for everyone — from DIY art on Summer Sundays, unique sculptures and paintings to their live exhibits, there’s guaranteed to be something to pique your child’s interest.

The SJMA celebrates new ideas, stimulates creativity, and inspires connections with every visit. Welcoming and thought-provoking, the museum rejects stuffiness and delights visitors with its surprising and playful perspective on the art and artists of our time. Students with valid IDs will receive free entry to the museum. And beginning August 6, all visitors after 5 pm on the first Friday of the month will also receive free admission.

Japanese American Museum of San Jose

535 North Fifth St., San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 294-3138

One of the best free things to do with kids in San Jose is visiting the Japanese American Museum. It showcases a unique collection of permanent and rotating exhibits chronicling more than a century of Japanese American history. Visitors will learn about the early immigration of Japanese to America, their leadership in the agricultural community, their incarceration during World War II, and the challenges they faced while adapting and contributing to West Coast communities.

JAMsj provides a historical forum that stimulates present-day discussions on civil liberties, race relations, discrimination, and American identity. Admission is free to JAMsj members, active military and family, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, and kids below five years old.

San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

560 South 1st St., San Jose, CA 95113
Phone Number: (408) 283-8155

The ICA San José is an energetic art space located in downtown San Jose dedicated to making contemporary art accessible and exciting to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. It is one of the free things to do in San Jose with kids. It offers a free-admission contemporary art gallery that presents 10 – 12 visual art exhibitions that feature drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, and digital works addressing a range of subjects and themes.

The ICA Lounge is a contemporary art library located at the gallery entrance that provides access to materials that directly complement their exhibitions and programs, including international art journals, exhibition catalogs, artists’ monographs, and multimedia educational resources. The Lounge also features video interviews with exhibiting artists and recorded footage of ICA workshops and discussions.

Go to Gorgeous Parks

History Park San Jose - free things to do with kids

History Park San Jose

1650 Senter Road, San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 287-2290

History Park is located at the south end of Kelley Park at the corner of Senter Road and Phelan Avenue. Through 32 original and reproduction homes, businesses, and landmarks, History Park reveals Santa Clara Valley’s past. Complete with paved streets, running trolleys, and an old-fashioned ice cream shop, this 14-acre site offers the charm and ambiance of times gone by.

Walking into History Park is literally like taking a step back in time. The historical and cultural campus features 19 partner organizations who each tell their history in their own words, capturing San Jose’s beginnings in a fresh, fun, authentic, educational and fascinating way. The park is open for outdoor enjoyment, except for the listed public holidays. Admission is free year-round, except during special events and programs.

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Rosicrucian Park

1660 Park Ave., San Jose, CA 95191
Phone: (408) 47-3635

Rosicrucian Park is a five-acre public park and museum complex that serves as the headquarters for the American branch of the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, a philanthropic and cultural organization similar to Freemasonry. It is home to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, Rosicrucian Research Library, Rosicrucian Planetarium, and the Rosicrucian Peace Garden!

Visitors can explore the park’s grounds for free daily during daylight hours, including its beautiful Peace Garden, which is constructed according to Egyptian tradition and showcases plants that can be used for food and medicinal purposes. Visitors should note that while the park and peace garden is free to explore, other attractions may require a ticketed upcharge.

Guadalupe River Park

438 Coleman Ave., San José, CA 95110
Phone: (408) 298-7657

The Guadalupe River Park offers diverse and accessible opportunities to spend your day with your family, friends, and community. In the dense urban environment of downtown San Jose, the trails, parks, and plazas of the Guadalupe River Park & Gardens do not only serve to enjoy and preserve natural ecology. But they also offer residents and visitors a multitude of ways to recreate, relax, discover, and enjoy.

Large open spaces create urban oases and allow the region’s natural ecology to flourish, including the expansive Discovery Meadow, the Arena Green, and Confluence East. More than 3,700 varieties of beautiful roses are showcased at the park’s Heritage Rose Garden, while drought-tolerant landscaping is displayed at the Courtyard Garden. The park is also home to the world’s largest Monopoly game board, allowing groups to rent tokens and play communal Monopoly games within the park. Visiting the Guadalupe River Park is always free and open to all!

Visit the Library

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library - kid-friendly activities

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library 

150 East San Fernando St., San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 808-2000

In 2003 San Jose State University and the City of San Jose came together to form a unique partnership to offer joint library services to citizens of San Jose and SJSU students and faculty, spanning 475,000 square feet across eight floors. Public computer workstations are available for free use, with exceptional art, literature, and history collections housed on its fifth floor.

This library is home to 30 award-winning art installations and hosts weekly events from book fairs and author signings to poetry readings and musical performances. Special research collections are available to everyone at the King Library, including the Beethoven Center, the Steinbeck Center, and the Cultural Heritage Center.

Dr. Roberto Cruz Alum Rock Branch Library

3090 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose, CA 95127
Phone: (408) 808-3090

There are many free things to do in San Jose with kids, and one is visiting the Alum Rock Branch Library. It offers complete public library services for kids, and its collection includes books, magazines, audio, video cassettes, CDs, and various computer information services. Materials are available in many languages, mainly Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese.

They also have special programs for children and a Family Learning Center. The library provides educational resources and recreational opportunities serving the needs and interests of the local community, including family-oriented services. Free WiFi and Internet access are available during library hours. Refreshments may be purchased at the on-site café.

Bascom Branch Library

1000 South Bascom Ave., San Jose, CA 95128
Phone: (408) 808-3077

A branch of the San Jose Public Library, Bascom Branch Library, opened in 2013 to serve the community by providing educational and leisure programs, kid-friendly activities, and access to a wealth of information and tech resources in San Jose. This 20,000-square-foot library features a living room with a fireplace, Tech Center, group study rooms, a sizeable Quiet Study Room, Teen Room, and a Family Learning Center.

Bascom Branch is your number one provider of access to free tech devices, learning materials and support, streaming services, and so much more. They aim to enrich lives by fostering lifelong learning and ensuring that every community member has access to a vast array of ideas and information.

Grow Some Fun at the Farm

Emma Prucsh Farm Park - free things to do in San Jose with kids

Emma Prucsh Farm Park

647 S King Rd., San Jose, CA 95116
Phone: (408) 794-6262

Emma Prucsh Farm Park offers kids opportunities for both recreation and learning about San Jose’s agricultural past. Visitors can view a variety of farm-grown fruits and vegetables and live farm animals such as chickens, pigs, goats, and more. Apart from that, picnic tables, BBQs, and meeting halls are also available for use.

Other attractions include the Veggielution community farm, which strives to create sustainable urban agricultural solutions for the San José region. In October, visitors can attend the park’s annual Harvest Festival, which features multicultural dance presentations, hay wagon rides, and a 4-H animal exposition.

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Spina Farms

Santa Teresa Blvd & Bailey Ave., San Jose, CA 95141
Phone: (408) 763-1093

There is fun in store for the whole family at Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch. Get ready for a spectacular sight as you wander through thousands of Spina-grown pumpkins. You will find plenty of kid-friendly activities in San Jose, from your traditional orange pumpkin to stripes, warts, colors, shapes, and sizes, to name a few characteristics of its 25 varieties.

Enjoy a scenic tour on a tractor-pulled hayride. Their plentiful sunflower fields reveal a unique beauty. The scenery and fresh scent of the fields will capture the old-time farm feeling for all ages. And just suitable for the little ones, the Barrel Train ride will twist and turn down the hay-lined trails of the natural, colorful Pumpkin Patch paths. You’ll get free admission with a paid parking pass.

Take a Hike or Ride a Bike

Alum Rock Park

Alum Rock Park

15350 Penitencia Creek Road, San Jose, CA 95127
Phone: (408) 794-7275

While there are endless hiking spots around San Jose, Alum Rock is particularly great for kids because of the variety of the expansive terrain and the potential to see wildlife. There are other free things to do with kids: horseback riding, bicycling, exploring creek waters, bird watching, and more recreational kid-friendly activities in San Jose. The park has approximately 13 miles of trails, including six miles of horse trails and three miles of bicycle trails. Hikers are welcome on all trails, while equestrians and cyclists are required to use designated trails only.

There’s also a wide variety of plant life along the trails, a creek bed, mineral springs, and a place to picnic. Picnic tables, barbecue pits, water, and restrooms are available in most picnic areas, with lawns and a children’s playground in the mid-canyon area. Free parking is available at the park’s Eagle Rock and Rustic Lands parking lots.

Calabazas Park

Rainbow Drive & Blaney Ave., San Jose, CA 95129
Phone: (408) 794-6504

Calabazas is a unique park that provides BMX bike facilities challenging enough for kids and adults. Here, cyclists can roar up over the dirt mounds to their heart’s content. The park and the BMX course are open one hour after sunrise and closes one hour after sunset. However, the course will remain closed if the ground is deemed too wet for usage.

More things to do with kids in San Jose are up in its nature-inspired playground. Log Steppers of varying sizes are lined up to create a challenging path of balance and skill — or kids can use them as a gathering spot for planning and sharing. There are climbing cables that help kids build upper-body and core strength as they make their way up, over, and down. This playground also features a Log Crawl Tunnel and “fossils” to be found.

Splash into Some Water Fun

Plaza de Cesar Chavez - free things to do in San Jose with kids

Plaza de Cesar Chavez

194 S. Market St., San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 794-6504

This park in the middle of downtown San Jose has a fun water feature that little ones love. Watch them be shocked as the water shoots up right from the ground. It features sprinklers and sprayers for kids of all ages and heights that get kids good and soaked. When kids tire of the spray, dry off on the nearby playground, stick around for musical performances, and even open-air theater for families.

Plaza de Cesar Chavez is a popular place to hang out as it is located near museums such as The Tech Interactive and the illustrious San Jose Museum of Art. They host several notable kid-friendly activities in San Jose, including the Park’s San Jose Jazz Festival and Christmas in the Park. A stroll through the park is complemented by beautiful water fountains, flower beds, and more!

Hellyer County Park

985 Hellyer Ave San Jose, CA 95111
Phone: (408) 225-0225

The Hellyer Park & Coyote Creek Trail is a 178-acre urban park located in the heart of Santa Clara County’s regional park system. Kids can enjoy the improved playground featuring a splash pad and waterfall arch for those warm days at the park. You can find a spot in the shade to hang out while the kids cool off in the water. After they dry off, the kids will love climbing the two 30-foot towers and the massive log climbing structure and spinning on the merry-go-round.

Hikers, runners, bicyclists, and skaters can also enjoy the multiple-use paved trail following Coyote Creek south for fifteen miles to Anderson Lake County Park. This asphalt path is relatively flat and meanders along the creek underneath Oak, Cottonwood, and Sycamore trees. This is a popular trail, frequented by visitors of all ages.

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Silicon Valley city has been pumping out diversity, culture, history, and technological innovation long before you could say startup. Sometimes, it’s nice to give your wallet a break and opt for a couple of free things to do in San Jose with kids. A handful of kid-friendly activities in San Jose are waiting for you if you know where to look. Stick to this list, and you’ll be saving more bucks in no time.

San Jose offers so many opportunities for kids to enjoy and have fun all year round! Check out our list of resources, or browse through our things to do in San Jose with kids. Still looking for more activities for kids in San Jose? No problem! Check out our comprehensive listing of places to go in the region and our highly recommended things to do blog posts.

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Troy A. View All Posts