Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

The perfect blend of amusement park and accredited zoo, this San Jose favorite has been entertaining and educating families since 1961.

Happy Hollow Park and Zoo may not be the world’s largest zoo, but it sure has a big heart. First opened in 1961 and revamped in 2010, the zoo features more than 140 animal species, a petting zoo, thrill rides, playgrounds and a puppet theater.

The zoo is divided into three main sections: Zoo on the Hill, Zoo in the Hollow and the Five Point Forest. Explore the hill and hollow sections to see family favorites such as wallabies, monkeys and turtles. Kids can pet some animals and even play alongside endangered lemurs on the “parallel playground.” For budding zoologists there are workshops and classes at the L.O.D.G.E. learning center. There’s also an animal hospital with indoor and outdoor areas where animals recover and relax.

Once you’ve visited the animals, head over to the Five Point Forest where rides and playgrounds are designed for kids and families. Toddlers will have a ball on the Granny Bugs and Mini Putt car ride. Older kids can whirl around on a carousel or jump aboard the Pacific Fruit Express Roller Coaster. Redwood Lookout is an adventure playground modeled on a ranger’s station. Drop by the Puppet Castle Theater for the latest fairytale-inspired production.

For lunch, the Picnic Basket Restaurant offers plenty of healthy options. The park also has picnic tables just outside the entrance for self-caterers.

Admission is paid, and tickets can be bought either online or at the gate. The zoo is in Kelly Park, close to central San Jose. The park’s opening hours vary according to season, so it’s best to check the website before planning your visit. The zoo has metered parking, is accessible by bus and has bike racks out front.