Silicon Valley may be the place where future trends and technologies are born, but it's also a place where the past comes alive, thanks to the numeous historical sites and museums around the area. Here are five ways you and your family can take a trip back in time, and learn something new by visiting someplace old:
The Spanish Missions
Established by Spanish Catholic priests between 1769 and 1823 to spread the Christian faith, the Spanish missions are an integral part of California's history and culture. There are no less than six California Missions within an easy drive from anywhere in the Bay Area. From Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma, down to Mission Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, each one is open to visitors and offers a glimpse of life in a bygone era.
Young landlubbers will find themselves turning into pirates and scallywags when they step aboard the Balclutha, a three-masted, steel-hulled square-rigged ship straight out of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. First launched in 1886, this majestic vessel is now moored at San Francisco's Hyde Street Pier; it's one of several historic ships open to visitors. Guided ranger tours by the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park let visitors explore the deck and learn about what life at sea was like in the 1880s. Once your child helps raise the Balclutha's staysail and sings a sea chanty or two, it won't be long before he's imagining he's on board the Hispaniola and part of Long John Silver's merry crew.
The Woodside Store
The Woodside Store is a shopper's paradise—for an 1800's teamster, wagon maker, lumberman or blacksmith, that is! This fully restored wooden structure was once used as a general store, post office and dental office, and is now a house museum stocked with period items. Volunteers operate the store on Sundays, and visitors and get a glimpse of trading life during the heyday of Woodside's lumber industry.
Located in the heart of downtown San Jose, the Peralta Adobe is the city's oldest building. Visitors can see the Adobe's outdoor horno (oven) as well as the house's interior, furnished in the late 1700's style. Afterwards, travel forward a century to Fallon House, just a few meters away. Built in 1855 by Thomas Fallon, one of San Jose's earliest mayors, this beautiful mansion showcases the best of Victorian-era style. Tours are limited so don't miss their Public Archeology Day tours, held approximately once a month with Stanford's Public Archaeology Class.
Ardenwood History Farm
Time stops when you enter Ardenwood Historic Farm. Located just off the Dumbarton Bridge in Fremont, this fully functioning farm recreates rural life in the 1890s. Visitors can visit cows, sheep, chickens and other farm animals, ride a horse-drawn railroad, and tour a fully restored Victorian farmhouse. On special occasions volunteers don period costumes and engage in period activities for even more turn-of-the-century fun. Visitors can watch blacksmiths shape iron the old-fashioned way, watch seamstresses hand-sewing quilts, help with farm chores, sample cookies and treats hot out of a wood-burning stove, take turns cranking the ice cream bucket...and line up for the finished product when it's done!
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