Whether you are trying to beat the heat or just want to get the kids out of the house, a mall is a nice climate controlled outing. Many malls in the San Jose, California area boast they are “family friendly,” but these three are a cut above the rest.
Small but Fun
1600 Saratoga Avenue
San Jose, CA 95129
Hours: Mon – Fri (10am to 9pm), Sat (10am to 8pm), Sun (11am to 7pm)
Westgate Mall has grown over the years, but most of the expansion has been with free standing buildings located around the actual mall. The mall itself remains fairly small and quiet in comparison to other local malls-but that’s not what makes it a great mall for families.
Westgate has kid-friendly stores, like Justice Just for Girls and Carter’s. There is also a Gymboree Play Music and Art location and the Dance Zone Studio for all your tumbling needs.
When it comes to food, the whole area is saturated with restaurants, so there are many to choose from. However, the options located in the mall are very fun for the whole family. For a blast from your childhood, check out the Orange Julius. For more retro fun, there is Johnny Rockets and their juke boxes of endless amusement. If you are in the mood for Japanese, Sushi Boat even has a play area for children while the adults sit at the sushi bar
Beyond the great stores and restaurants, Westgate mall also hosts many fun events. On the second Wednesday of every month, Westgate hold their Mommy & Me and Daddy Too program. The program runs from 10am to 12pm and is located near the Ross store. There is always something cool to enjoy like puppet shows and face painting. As an added bonus, if you bring in $300 in receipts from at least 2 merchants at the mall that are dated in the past month, you will get a free gift.
My favorite part of Westgate Mall is the mechanical kiddie rides throughout the mall. I love that they are spread out and not all on one platform, like at other malls. The rides are a great way to end a nice family trip to Westgate Mall and they are a lot less expensive than a trip to any of the local family entertainment centers.
Something for Everyone
Westfield Valley Fair Mall
2855 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA 95050
Hours: Mon – Fri (10am to 9:30pm), Sat (10am to 9pm), Sun (11am to 7pm)
This is a very big mall with many stores and restaurants. There is definitely something for everyone here, whether you are looking for casual dining, specialty shops, food court fare, or the typical mall merchants.
Valley Fair highlights 3 of their restaurants as offering food and activities that work for the whole family. California Pizza Kitchen is probably the best on the list. First off-pizza-what kid does not like pizza. We have taken our children here numerous times, even when our youngest was only a few months old. The service is great, the food is delicious, and there are no rude glares at noisy kids.
Once the kids are fed, there are many great stores to visit. My son’s favorite is the Lego Store. It is the only one in the area and is full of every kind of Lego product possible. They even have some great Lego merchandise like cake pans and key chains. The mall is also home to Build-A-Bear Workshop, Disney Store, Children’s Place, Sanrio, and other kid’s stores. Check the mall directory for a current list of retailers.
Aside from yummy food and fun stores, the mall has some great family services available like stroller rentals and family parking. The best family amenity has got to be the comfy family lounges, which offer areas to nurse your baby in private, changing tables, bottle warmers, microwaves, and TVs.
If your kids are ready to get out of the stroller and work off some energy, the Play Space is the place for them. It is located near the Build-A-Bear Workshop and has many great structures and puzzles for kids to enjoy. For tired parents, there is plenty of cushy seating inside the play area.
Valley Fair also has a WFamily program. The free program comes with some nice perks like special offers from mall retailers. The program also holds Family Fun Fridays on the second Friday of the month. For a complete schedule, view the Family Events & Promotion Calendar. You can join the WFamily program online or at the mall.
Great Mall of the Bay Area
447 Great Mall Drive
Milpitas, CA 95035
Hours: Mon – Sat (10am to 9pm), Sun (11am to 8pm)
The Great Mall has lots for the whole family to do. There are toy stores, like Sanrio Surprises and Toys R’ Us Express, and clothing stores, like Osh Gosh and Stride Rite. This mall has a great mix of regular merchants and outlet stores like the Gymboree Outlet and the Reebok Outlet. For a full listing of current stores, check out Great Mall’s directory.
My family loves to come to the Great Mall for Bounce-A-Rama. This is an indoor jump house play area for kids. It is great for burning of their energy and giving adults a chance to sit for a little while. There is also a Lunar Golf location, where the whole mini golf course is lit with black light. For families that enjoy R/C car racing, you want to visit this Inside Line Racing location. For a place that combines family fun and adult beverages, check out Dave & Busters in the Great Mall.
Great Mall also has a kids program called the Simon Kidgits Club. There is a $5 annual fee to join, but the kids will get a free t-shirt and membership card. Other benefits include a free birthday gift, free stuff at mall events, and the chance to spin a prize wheel every time they visit the mall. You can register online or at the mall.