SAN JOSE TOURISM GUIDE
Children's Discovery Museum
Here the kids will find more than 150 interactive exhibits, as well as shows and workshops, which explore science, humanities, arts, and technology. ZoomZone consists of science and art activities designed by kids for kids; Bubbalogna, an exhibit that explores the whimsical and scientifically intriguing world of bubbles, draws rave reviews. Smaller kids enjoy dressing up in costumes and playing on the fire truck.
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium
The Rosicrucian is associated with an educational organization that traces its origins back to the ancient Egyptians, who strongly believed in the afterlife and reincarnation. On display are human and animal mummies, funerary boats, and canopic jars, as well as jewelry, pottery, and bronze tools. There's also a replica of a noble Egyptian's tomb.
San Jose Historical Museum
Twenty-six original and replica buildings on 25 acres in Kelley Park have been restored to represent life in 1880s San Jose. The usual cast of characters is here--the doctor, the printer, the postmaster--with an occasional local surprise, such as the 1888 Chinese temple and the original Stevens fruit barn.
San Jose Museum of Art
This contemporary art museum features revolving exhibitions, post-1980 works as well as older contemporary art from its permanent collection. The renovated Historic Wing now includes a cafe, bookstore, and education center. Public tours of exhibitions are offered every day at 12:30 and 2:30pm. On the second Saturday of each month at 12:30pm, the public gallery tour is signed for deaf and hearing-impaired visitors.
Tech Museum of Innovation
Now housed in a 132,000-square-foot facility, the Tech Museum allows visitors to grapple with the latest in modern technology. You can create your own virtual roller-coaster ride, survive an earthquake on a giant shake table, operate an underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) ÃƒÂ la Titanic, and play with tons of other cool high-tech stuff. There's also an IMAX Dome Theater, Jet Pack simulator, and Virtual Bobsled ride, the same used to train Olympic competitors.
A Theme Park
Paramount's Great America, Great America Parkway (off U.S. 101), Santa Clara (tel. 408/988-1776; www.pgathrills.com), provides 100 acres of family entertainment. A pretty cool place to lose your lunch, the park includes such favourites as the Top Gun suspended jet coaster, the Seventh Portal, a 3-D motion-simulator adventure, a 3-acre Nickelodeon Center for children, "Drop Zone" (the world's tallest free-fall ride), the Xtreme Skyflyer, which combines skydiving with hang gliding, and the new Pyscho Mouse roller coaster and go-carts. Be sure to check for concerts and special events. Admission is $44 for adults and children ages 7 to 17, $38 for seniors age 60 and over, and $34 for children 3 to 6. Parking is $10 per vehicle. Seasonal hours and open days vary, but it's open daily June through August. Call for more information and note the schedule is subject to change due to weather, so be sure to call ahead. From San Francisco, take U.S. 101 south for about 45 miles to the Great America Parkway exit.
A Mystery House
Begun in 1884, the Winchester Mystery House, 525 S. Winchester Blvd., at the intersection of I-280 and Highway 17, San Jose (tel. 408/247-2101, www.winchestermysteryhouse.com), is the legacy of Sarah L. Winchester, widow of the son of the famous rifle magnate. After the deaths of her husband and baby daughter, Mrs. Winchester consulted with a seer, who proclaimed that the family had been targeted by the evil spirits of those killed with Winchester repeaters, who would only be appeased by perpetual construction on the Winchester mansion. Convinced that she'd live as long as the building continued, the widow used much of her $20-million inheritance to finance the construction, which went on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for 38 years. (Ricki Lake would love to have her as a guest.)
As you can probably guess, this is no ordinary home. With 160 rooms, it sprawls across a half-dozen acres. And it's full of disturbing features: a staircase leading nowhere, a Tiffany window with a spider's web design, and doors that open onto blank walls. There are 13 bathrooms, 13 windows and doors in the old sewing room, 13 palms lining the main driveway, 13 hooks in the sÃƒÂ©ance room, and chandeliers with 13 lights. Such schemes were designed to confound the spirits that seemed to plague the heiress.
Tours of the house and grounds are $17 for adults, $14 for seniors age 65 and over, $11 for children 6 to 12, and free for kids under 6; a behind-the-scenes tour is also offered for guests over 12. Tours leave about every 20 to 30 minutes and last around 65 minutes. The house is open daily from 9am to 8pm in the summer; winter hours vary, so call ahead.