Hmm...what to do today?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

SV Toddler's 4th of July Planner

Toddler X and pals enjoying the 2014 Rose, White and Blue Parade

Every holiday has its strong points, but it's hard to argue that the 4th of July is an all-around winner. Parades and patriotism, flags and fireworks, hot dogs and burgers on the grill, and red, white and blue everywhere you look. Silicon Valley celebrates the 4th in a big way -- here are some great options for your family to wish America a very happy birthday!

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San Jose
  • The Rose, White and Blue Parade, Rose Garden area of San Jose, 10:00 a.m., July 4th. This parade is our traditional 4th of July event -- this will be our 5th year going, and our 4th with Toddler X. It feels like a small town parade, with fire trucks (toddler favorites!), music and dancers, neighborhood floats and more. If you arrive at the start early with a stroller, wagon or bike, you can even walk (or roll) yourselves down the parade route. (Check the link for more details.) Bring some chairs (or a willingness to sit on the curb), find a spot in the shade (my favorite thing about the Rose Garden neighborhood), and enjoy this fun event!
  • The Rose, White and Blue Picnic, The Alameda, San Jose, 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., July 4th. If you still have some energy after the parade, head over to the community picnic at its conclusion point on the Alameda for music (we caught a fantastic mariachi band a few years ago) and food from local restaurants.
  • Children's Discovery Museum, 10:00-5:00, July 4th. Though the special 4th of July offerings at the CDM are limited (red, white and blue friendship bracelets from 12:00-3:00 p.m.), the museum is open for the 4th, and may be less crowded than a normal weekend day because of all the other events going on. 
  • July 4th Family Fun Festival and FireworksAlmaden Lake Park, 2:00 - 10:00 p.m., July 4th. This FREE event looks fantastic! Music, games, food trucks, a kids' parade, and, at around 9:15 p.m., fireworks! Check out the link for more details.
  • San Jose Giants 4th of July Celebration, Municipal Stadium, 6:30 p.m. on both Saturday (the 4th) and Sunday (the 5th). The Giants will be taking on Visalia at 6:30 p.m. on both nights of 4th of July weekend, and both games will feature various promotions (and special stars and stripes jerseys), as well as fireworks afterwards. A fun, inexpensive way to celebrate the 4th!
  • Rotary Centennial Fireworks, Discovery Meadow in Downtown SJ, approx. 9:30 p.m., July 4th. San Jose used to have a fireworks show every year but it fizzled out (yep, pun intended), until the Rotary Club stepped up last year to rekindle the fun (uh-huh, intended again) with a fantastic show, which they're putting on again this year. The main viewing area will be Discovery Meadow (that large field in front of the CDM), but I'm sure there will be lots of other spots on the perimeter of downtown where the fireworks can be enjoyed as well. If you check the link, you'll also see that you can purchase tickets to several viewing parties, where for a bit of money, you'll avoid having to fight for seating.

Santa Clara
  • All City Picnic, Central Park, 12:00-5:00 p.m., July 4th. Live music for dancing, food trucks, carnival games, face painting, swimming at the International Swim Center and more.
  • Evening Celebration/Fireworks, Lawn area adjacent to the Community Recreation Center, 5:00-10:00 p.m. (fireworks start at 9:30), July 4th. Get there early for music, vendors and food trucks, then stay for the fireworks extravaganza.
  • Fireworks at Great America, July 4th. A BBQ during the day, military vehicles at the entrance, and a fireworks show at 9:50 p.m.

Saratoga
  • Independence Day Celebration, Kevin Moran Park, 9:30 - 11:00 a.m., July 4th. A celebration that will probably be on a great scale for toddlers and their families, this small-ish event will take place at one of our very favorite parks (which has an excellent playground, if the 4th of July festivities aren't too enticing for your little one). There will be music, a family parade, flags and popsicles -- simple, old-fashioned, all-American fun.

Los Gatos
  • Los Gatos Celebrates the 4th of July, Oak Meadow Park, 11:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., July 4th. BBQ, picnic and games in the early part of the day, then a banjo band and later a wind symphony playing patriotic songs. Oak Meadow is one of our favorite venues for a picnic or event, so this one should be a hit! Note that the Oak Meadow parking lot is tiny, so if you'd like to park in a lot, park in Vasona, as close as possible to the bridge over to Oak Meadow (there is a $6 charge for parking). Or, if you're like us, find street parking on University, or father afield along the Los Gatos Creek Trail, and walk in. You can burn off some of the BBQ calories you're about to eat.

Cupertino
  • Pancake Breakfast, Quinlan Community Center, 7:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m., July 4th. This is exactly what it sounds like, and what it sounds like is delicious.
  • Morning Celebration at Memorial Park, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., July 4th. The festivities will kick off with the flag-raising at 9:30, followed by a children's parade at 10:00 (decorate those balance bikes and scooters!) and a concert by rock band OTR from 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the amphitheater.
  • Afternoon Celebration at Blackberry Farm, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., July 4th. Free swimming from 10:00-4:00 and food trucks from 12:00-2:00.
  • No fireworks this year.

Campbell
  • First Friday, Downtown, 6:00 p.m., July 3rd. Campbell doesn't seem to have any major 4th of July celebration, but its monthly first Friday the night before the 4th should be pretty festive!

Morgan Hill
As with many celebrations and holidays, Morgan Hill proves to be uber-family-friendly with its 4th of July "Freedom Fest" lineup -- check out all these events!
  • Patriotic Sing, Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center Amphitheater, 6:00 p.m., July 3rd. A chance to get together with other families and sing patriotic songs with your kids (I love patriotic songs!) kicks off Morgan Hill's Freedom Fest weekend.
  • Freedom Run, Downtown Morgan Hill, July 4th. Start the holiday with some healthy exercise for the whole family! Check the link for details.
  • Car Cruise and Show, Downtown Morgan Hill, 9:30 a.m. (cruise, then the show later in the day), July 4th. If you're a classic car fan, this will be a great addition to your 4th of July. Check out the link for the specific route, and combine it with the parade for a toddler-friendly morning.
  • 4th of July Parade, Downtown Morgan Hill, 9:00 a.m. (entertainment begins), 10:00 a.m. (parade begins), July 4th. 4th of July parades are awesome. Enough said.
  • Fireworks on the Green, Downtown Morgan Hill, 5:00 p.m. (entertainment begins), 9:30 p.m. (fireworks), July 4th. Morgan Hill seriously has a FULL day of celebration planned for you!

Mountain View
  • San Francisco Symphony and Fireworks, Shoreline Amphitheater, 8:00 p.m., July 4th. Mr. X and I went to this annual event several years ago, well before Toddler X entered the picture, and while we had a great time at the show and fireworks, we also sat in the parking lot for well over an hour waiting to get out of the insane gridlock afterwards. I've been to many, many Shoreline shows in my day, and this was by far the worst experience I've had. While it may have just been an isolated event, I can't even begin to imagine what it would've been like if we had a toddler in the car. Anyhow, I'm including this because it's a neat event, and a big draw from all over the South Bay and Peninsula, but be forewarned of the traffic nightmare that might face you afterwards. Those of you who work at Google or other Mountain View companies probably have some great ideas for spots to watch the fireworks outside of the amphitheater, but I'm guessing you'd rather keep those to yourselves. :)

Los Altos
  • First Friday, Downtown Los Altos, July 3rd, 6:30 p.m. Food, entertainment and red, white and blue crafts.
  • Glorious 4th of July Celebration, Shoup Park, 10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., July 4th. Music, games, food, songs, and an all-around great park for the venue. Another nice option for the 4th!

Los Altos Hills
  • 4th of July Parade, Town Hall to Gardner Bullis School, 10:00 a.m. (parade stages at 9:30 a.m.), July 4th. This is a classic, small-town 4th of July parade, where everyone decorates bikes, trikes, wagons and themselves and walks down the street for a while. Lots of fun if it's your small town, maybe not as much if you don't know everyone. Anyhow, wanted to include it for my readers lucky enough to live in Los Altos Hills. 

Palo Alto
  • 34rd Annual Summer Festival and Chili Cook-Off (and Ice Cream Taste-Off!), Mitchell Park, 12:00-5:00 p.m. (chili tasting starts at 1:30 p.m.). This popular festival features music, dancing, kids' activities, of course chili and ice cream tasting -- plus a great opportunity to check out Magical Bridge Playground! Admission to the festival is free, and chili or ice cream tasting kits are available for a small fee. Fun!

Menlo Park
  • 4th of July Parade and Celebration, Downtown to Burgess Park, 11:45 a.m. (parade start) - 3:00 p.m. Decorate your balance bikes and wagons to participate in this low key parade, then continue the celebration at Burgess Park with music, games and food.

Milpitas

Fremont
  • Independence Day Celebration at Ardenwood Farm, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., July 4th. Ardenwood is one of our family's favorite places to visit, and seems like an ideal venue for an old-fashioned 4th of July picnic (bring your own), with lots of old-timey games and patriotic music for your enjoyment. 

Felton
  • 4th of July Celebration, Roaring Camp Railroads, July 4th. Games, live music, and a traditional BBQ. Festival is free, charge for rides on the steam trains (consider buying tickets in advance).

Redwood City

San Francisco
  • Red, White and Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., July 4th-5th. Special events with some of the zoo's patriotically-hued animals (red panda, polar bear, blue-tongued skink, for example), live animal shows, concerts, face painting and more. Free with zoo admission.

There are more celebrations to be found in nearly every city in the Bay Area, but these are the ones that are closest to home or jumped out to me. If you have any you'd like me to add, just let me know.

Happy Independence Day, toddler friends! Have fun and toddle safely!

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