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Best Outdoor and Free Family Attractions in San Jose

Published Jun 5, 2019 | Updated Feb 19, 2020

Summer is here San Jose! We live in one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world. To make the most of what the beautiful outdoors have to offer, here's a list of some of the best outdoor parks, trails, and gardens that you and the family should put on your summer bucket list. 

Pack up your picnic baskets for fun family afternoon or day activity in San Jose's beautiful outdoors. We've listed 9 of the best gardens, playgrounds, hikes, and outdoor activities for you and the family to explore this summer. 

1. San Jose Municipal Rose Garden

Stop and smell the roses on a sunny afternoon at the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden! It has 5.5 acres of 189 different varieties of roses and trails that wind through the garden. It's one of the most attractive and visited rose gardens in the world. There's lots of picnic tables and a bbq area. We recommend packing a picnic lunch or dinner and spending a couple of hours here one afternoon or evening. Let the kids run around the garden while you relax in one of the most stunning parks in California. 

Location: Naglee Avenue & Dana Ave, San Jose, CA 95216

2. Japanese Friendship Garden

The JFG is a local favorite. Whether you want to relax and enjoy the garden's beauty and tranquility or explore and feed the fish in the koi ponds, this is a great place to visit in the neighborhood of Little Saigon. 

Location: Senter Road, San Jose, CA 95112

3. Almaden Quicksilver County Park

If you're a nature lover or a history buff, you have to visit Almaden Quicksilver County Park! It was once home to over 1,800 miners and their families and has a 135 year history of mining activities. Guided nature and history tours are available upon request, just call (408) 918-7770. From the park, you'll get many stunning views of Silicon Valley. There's over 37 miles of hiking trails, 30 miles of equestrian trails, and 16.6 miles of bike trails. Dogs are welcome on all trails if they are kept on their leash. And picnic tables are scattered throughout the park. 

The park is open from around 8 a.m. until sunset year-round. 

Location: 21785 Almaden Rd San Jose, CA 95120

4. Emma Prusch Farm Park

Emma Prusch, who donated her 43.5-acre land located in East, wanted to create and maintain a rural country atmosphere here at San Jose. It became popular as a beautiful escape in the middle of the city. It's a great place to visit with children, and there are no fees required to enter the park. The park's big, red animal barn is open to public during certain park hours and visitors are allowed to see the livestock up-close, but no feeding and petting the animals is allowed. Come here to stroll through the lovely gardens, visit the rare fruit orchard, and let the kids run and play freely on the big, open, green lawns and in the playground.

Location: 647 S King Rd, San Jose, CA 95116-3557

5. Alum Rock Park

Alum Rock Park, founded in 1872, is one of the oldest municipal parks in California. There are many outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, sand volleyball, and bird watching. There are approximately 13 miles of trails, including 6 miles of equestrian trails, and 3 miles of the bicycle trail. Hikers are welcome on all trails, but keep an eye on for horses and mountain bikers! Picnic tables and BBQ pits are located throughout the park, and there's a playground in the mid-canyon area. 

Location: 16240 Alum Rock Ave, San Jose, CA 95127-1307

6. Guadalupe River Park

This 3-mile-long park runs along the Guadalupe River and is the best park in the city to spend some quality time with your family. Enjoy the nature at its best while walking, biking, or playing! Let the kids romp around in the playground. Walk, bike, or skate along the 2.6-mile park trail. 

Location: 345 W San Carlos Street

7. Rotary PlayGarden

The Rotary PlayGarden is the Rotary Club of San Jose’s centennial gift to the community and is one of the best playgrounds in the city. The PlayGarden was designed with children with special needs in mind. It features adaptive 5 slides, swings, a wheelchair-accessible merry go round, kinetic art, sensory experiences, and more! It's an inviting place for children with special needs to play alongside their siblings and friends. The park is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6:30pm. 

Location: 438 Coleman Ave, San Jose, CA 95110 

Photo Credit: Rotary Garden Facebook page 

8. Cataldi Park

Cataldi Park is the place to visit if you and the family want to be active. There's tennis courts, multi-use turf areas (use by permit only), a half basketball court, sand volleyball court, handball court, play areas and an exercise course. There's also a jogging and biking route around the entire park. Did we mention that there's 3 playground for kids ages 2 to 5 and two playground for ages 5 to 12?! There's no doubt that your kids will go to bed early if you bring them to Cataldi Park for an afternoon! 

Location: Cataldi Drive & Morril Avenue, San Jose, CA 95132

Photo Credit: Kenny Odetallah

9. Fowler Creek Park

Fowler Creek Park is a fun neighborhood park featuring bocce ball courts, tennis courts and a water play area. There are two playgrounds, one designed for kids ages 2 to 5 and the other for ages 5 to 12. There's a sheltered picnic area with lots of benches and picnic tables so parents and caregivers can relax while keeping an eye on their kids. 

Location: Cortona Drive & Altia Avenue, San Jose, CA 95135

Photo Credit: Pinterest

We hope that this list of outdoor activities encourages you to get outside and stay active this summer. And if you're looking for more ideas of what to do in the city, ChatterBlock's got you covered with our Things To Do listings

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