Family days are so important but sometimes life gets busy and we forget to stop to take a break. I am so happy we were able to surprise our little one with a small road trip to a family friendly place. Its such a struggle to find such places in northern California, especially coming from southern California where we had them everywhere. Northern California is set up more for the young, hip generations or the techies so when we moved back after being away for more than 5 years it was a big shock to not be able to find places to explore with my toddler. We went from having literally hundreds of places to go to none. The cold weather kept us from visiting too many playgrounds so I searched for more options. I found lots of hidden gems that can really be fun for the whole family. Number one on my list is Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. It gets an all around A+ from Millennial Momee. If you are located in San Francisco it is a drive but totally worth it.
1. Buy tickets online plus the parking pass. You won't have to stand in line to buy tickets and can go straight to the gate.
2. Bring lots of water, especially if you are going during the summer
3. Bring swim wear & towels if going during the summer up to September 24. You don't need a life jacket if your little one can stand in 1.5 feet of water because that's the deepest it goes.
4. Do the rides first and then venture to the swim area because you won't be able to get your little ones out of the splash zones. They have two zones. I felt like the first one that we visited was for more bigger kids called Bonfante's Splash Garden. They had a really big slide that my toddler was too little for so we stayed a little bit and splashed around in the fountains before venturing to the water oasis. The water oasis is perfect for little ones equipped with two water slides and a very shallow pool it was the perfect break from the heat!
9. All of the rides are free inside except the farm animals and of course its right next to the entrance so your little ones can't miss it. It's only $5 per child plus 25 cents to feed the goats and its totally worth it. They have a pony, goats, and chickens. You can actually pet and hold the chickens!
10. There are clean bathrooms along the park equipped with changing tables for the little babes and guess what? Even the men's restroom has them too.
Overall it was very family friendly and such a beautiful place. It is definitely on our list of places to visit again. For dinner before we drove back we stopped by Garlic City and had amazing pasta there. My picky toddler said it was delicious! Also, if you have a couple of hours left and some energy stop by the Gilroy outlets for some fun shopping!
What are your favorite places to visit in Northern California? Share in the comments below!