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Fun in the Bay Area Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

San_Jose_Japan_Town_celebration_drumsEntertaining guests from out of town or parents visiting the USA can be costly, but with little effort you can find many free and low cost activities. Initially I had long term guests in mind when I compiled this list, but these events and places are great for everybody!

Museums to visit

After catching up on news from the family, an art, science, or history museum can provide topics for discussion, so you can reconnect with your family members or friends on a deeper level and share a new experience together. Bay Area museums frequently have a published FREE admission day, so plan a visit on a FREE day and save some money.

Some art museums have FREE exhibits all the time:

Natural history and science museums that offer FREE admission days:

  • California Academy of Sciences has few FREE days each year. It’s an awesome place and worth the planning to get in for FREE!
  • Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton has stunning views of the valley and is FREE every day.
  • Youth Science Institute in Alum Rock Park and Vasona Park offer animal-based programs for children. They also host evening hikes with experienced volunteer guides. Check their hours at the bottom of their website home page.

Musical events

If museums are not your thing, take everyone to a FREE music concert:


The Bay Area has all kinds of festivals, and many are FREE! Use the Far Out City list as a guide for search terms. Browse the list, select some key words and enter the name of the city closest to you in your favorite browser. See what you find!
The Bay Area is home to many unique festivals, such as the Indian Market and World Peace Festival and the Gourdfest (October 10 and 11, 2015).
Another local annual favorite is Nikkei Matsuri held in San Jose Japantown, one of the last three Japan towns in the USA. I always go with the intent of just going for the exhibits, demonstrations, and music, but then the food smells call to me. The food is very delicious—sushi, gyoza, tempura, chicken teriyaki straight off the grill, and more. All proceeds go to local non-profits.

2015 Nikkei Matsuri Festival at San Jose Japan Town


Got kids?

Enter “kid friendly” in the browser and search for activities that everyone in the family can enjoy or visit the Bay Area Parent calendar!

Part 2 of this article coming next week.

Fly Confident!