Bay Area

Weekend Adventure: San Jose’s Happy Hollow Kiddy Amusement Park & Zoo

Thursday October 27, 2016

Well, wasn’t this place an absolute surprise.

Located just a few blocks off I-280 in San Jose’s Leninger Park, Happy Hollow is pretty much the most perfect place for kids between 36 and 48 inches tall. You may be thinking “that is a tall order!” or “that is a highly specific height range!” and you would be correct on both counts.

We hadn’t yet considered taking Bean to an amusement park. Rides are fun, obviously, but they’re often accompanied by basically a coliseum’s worth of annoying loud blinky toys. I’m not sure who decided that what kids really love are bullhorns, strobe lights, sirens, and loud dance music. You’d think the rides would be entertainment enough.

This is what Happy Hollow absolutely nails. It’s all the kiddy rides your preschooler will LOVE, but — get this — all the rides are pleasantly built into rolling hills with trees and gardens and absolute quiet.

And then also: no lines! NO LINES. Maybe we got lucky last weekend, but Bean would have to wait at most one turn before she could go.

And then once she was on the ride? She could ride it as many times as she wanted. She didn’t even need to leave her seat, and you don’t need tickets for each ride.

What is this Shangri-La that is perfectly catered to my 3-5 year old, right?





To say that Bean was out of her mind excited would be an understatement. We’ve actually never seen her face do the things it did.

The rides are mostly typical little kid rides: cars that go in a circle, swings that go in a circle, flying dragons that go in a circle, etc. There is a small wooden roller coaster, which Dave and I found a little jarring, literally, but Bean adored.

The park includes a small zoo and even a farm animal petting zoo. Our kid was too focused on all the rides for all that, though. (Here’s a map of all the attractions.)

If you go, do make sure your kid is over 36 inches tall. We saw a family with a little girl who was maybe 35 inches tall, and she wasn’t allowed on many rides. Just one more inch and she’d get everything! It’s worth waiting a few months. If your child is under 48 inches, someone will have to accompany her on some of the rides, not that you probably won’t want to ride them yourself anyway.

Lastly, if you are a member at the San Francisco Zoo, you’ll also get 50% off admission if you show this card.

I know. I know! This place really exists and it’s right here in San Jose.


Happy Hollow Park & Zoo

1300 Senter Rd, San Jose, CA

Open 10am to 4pm weekdays, 10am to 5pm weekends (extended hours in summer)

$14.25 for ages 2-59/$11.25 for ages 60+/free for kids 0-1 (and discounted 50% with SF Zoo membership)


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