A family-favorite attraction in Santa Clara since 1976, California’s Great America is a combination amusement-and-water park that offers fun thrills for every age. Older kids and adventure seekers can head for Gold Striker, the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Northern California, with high-speed twists, turns, and drops at you’re-gonna-scream speeds of up to 54 miles/87 kilometers per hour. There’s also Flight Deck, a jet coaster that includes zero-gravity barrel rolls (probably best to do this one before lunch), and The Demon, which hurtles riders through two 360-degree loops.
Once you have used up every ounce of adrenaline, or if you have little ones who want a tamer experience, take in the low-key rides in Planet Snoopy, with tot-friendly rides and attractions. Another relaxing option? Watch one of the daily live shows that feature dancing, singing, and sometimes even members of the Peanuts gang.
When temperatures rise during summer, head over to South Bay Shores (formerly Boomerang Bay), a massive waterpark with a swimming lagoon, a long and lazy river for inner tube lounging, the state-of-the-art Pacific Surge waterslide complex, a wave pool, and WiFi-enabled poolside cabanas for rent.
The holidays are a great time for a Great America getaway, with special celebrations and events like the Easter Egg-stravaganza, Carnivale at Orleans Place, the Red, White, & Brews food festival over July 4th, and more.