The Tech, in Downtown San Jose, has a bunch of hands-on exhibits and experiences interesting to parents and kids alike. It makes perfect sense that the Silicon Valley has a giant museum geared toward STEAM. If you’ve got a range of ages in your house, learn from our experience and leave the smallest ones at home, so the rest of you can play!
Bringing kids to the Tech Interactive Museum in San Jose
First to know – the museum itself does not have a parking garage but you can get a discount off many of the nearby lots with validation at the museum. The museum does have a café with a decent array of choices, but we only grabbed fresh popcorn from the front counter since we got there right after breakfast. Another pro tip – if you go when they open just after 10 there is no line and only a handful of visitors, giving you freedom to roam without needing to wait too long (if at all) for any of the experiences.
The IMAX theater has a rotating array of documentary films roughly an hour long that take a deep dive on a variety of subjects. When we went, they were showing “Superpower Dogs” which taught my kids about real life hero dogs and how they’re trained to assist and rescue humans. Access to the IMAX theater is extra, and only worth it for your kids that will sit through the entire movie. My 4th grader loved it, my Kindergartener made it about 30 minutes.
Start your visit upstairs
There is a LOT to see at The Tech, with most of it self-guided. We spent nearly three hours there and saw just about everything. The exhibits that are truly geared toward all ages were upstairs, so I’d start there if you have a wide range of kids to entertain. Body Worlds Decoded features real cadavers posed in a variety of ways to let you truly understand how all body functions work. There are touch screens for further explanation and free iPads to rent to see “hidden exhibits” in the air, one allowed us to walk through the layers of the human eye! There is some nudity on a few of the bodies so you might just want to prep for that.
The Exploration Gallery rocks with an earthquake simulation, a chance to ride in a jet pack and other astronaut experiences. The Creature Creation Station in the BioDesign Studio was also a huge hit for all of us – both kids could make creatures and control them just by standing in front of the screen and dancing or moving their arms in patterns.
Bottom line: I would definitely go back with my oldest so she could explore more of the exhibits downstairs, which are definitely geared to her. You can build your own robot, learn the basics of coding and internet safety. The only thing my younger kid liked downstairs was the massive table of building blocks.
While it is billed as activity for all ages, The Tech is best suited for 3rd grade and up.
Plan your visit to The Tech in San Jose
Address: The Tech Interactive at 201 S. Market St., San Jose
Rates: $20 for children, students, and seniors; $25 for adults; Under-three FREE; IMAX tickets are extra
Membership perks: Family Members of The Tech Interactive receive discounted admission to other ASTC institutions like The Lawrence Hall of Science (University of California, Berkeley), Chabot Space and Science Center (Oakland), Lindsay Wildlife Experience (Walnut Creek); and members of these places will save half* at The Tech.
* You'll want to double-check these discounts before you go; they can change.