A Pretty Day at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

The weather has been so ideal lately that it should be a crime not to go out and enjoy it. So yesterday, after breakfast, we took our children Happy Hollow Park and Zoo. We’ve been going there since Neil was a baby and it’s the near-ideal place to bring young children in San Jose. It’s a zoo, playgrounds, grassy hills, kiddie rides and entertainment all in one. Oh, yeah, it’s kind of a science museum, too, with quizzes and information on the animals within.

As we usually do, we started out with the zoo. The animals at Happy Hollow are all fairly small: a jaguar is the largest they have. But they’re all rich in kid-entertainment value. Neil and Kelly laughed at the lemurs and a meerkat who seemed to be practicing poses for his National Geographic magazine cover. The most popular place in the zoo is the goat corral, where the children can run around with some really tame goats and feed them. It used to be a hit-and-miss activity with Kelly. The first time there, she was frightened of the goats. The second time there, she tried to eat the food meant to be fed to the goats. The third time, she threw down the food, and tried to ride one of the goats. This time, I think she had an idea of what she was supposed to do, but the goats were already too full to eat anything more–so a greedy burro licked the food out of Kelly’s hand, much to her delight.

After some obligatory time in several of Happy Hollow’s many playgrounds, we went to the snack bar to get some lunch. While Peter waited in line, Kelly took a few rides on the small carousel. After lunch, the children played on another playground, and went to one of the mutual favorites, the maze:


We finally managed to get Neil and Kelly out for a ride on the park’s Danny the Dragon ride. It’s a small, dragon-shaped train that winds through fairy tale scenery and a bridge. It may not be the most exciting ride in the world, but it hits the spot for preschoolers.

Eventually, via a firehouse and a mirror funhouse that’s only tall enough for children, we got to the puppet show in a castle-shaped stage. I never used to go to the puppet shows, but after being pulled into one once, they’re one of my favorite things about a visit to Happy Hollow. The story is always (as long as I’ve been going there) based on a folk tale, like Little Red Riding Hood or Anasazi the Spider. But to keep things entertaining for the adults, as well as for children who may very well be familiar with the story already, Happy Hollow always throws in a few funny twists. Today’s show was based on Rumpelstilskin:


At the end, instead of angrily ripping himself apart, Rumpelstilskin just falls through a rotten board in the floor, and the king puts a cute orange cone of top of it. After the curtain call, Rumpelstilskin and the queen did an Irish jig as the audience exited.

Kelly was looking snoozy in the heat, so we took her home and enjoyed the rest of the day by our pool.

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