Castle Rock State Park with kids, outside of San Jose, California, is a playground where everyone can hike and climb in the gorgeous Santa Cruz coastal mountains. It’s where the young at heart can score a walking stick just by showing up, and claim their place in Hobbit-land.
This is a pretty easy place to get out of the cool Santa Cruz basin and up into the sunshine. It can be hot-cold, overcast-sunny in the spring, so dress with jackets that can tie around the kids’ waists (so that you don’t end up carrying everybody’s).
Castle Rock State Park is a great day trip out of San Jose that showcases some of the best views of the mountains you have only seen in spirituality magazines. Stop at the corner parking lot at the intersection of Highways 9 and 35 for a warm-up trail and a stick to borrow.
Then venture down 35 to Castle Rock State Park, sticking to the shoulder for free parking when you arrive.
At only 20 miles and 33 minutes away from the Winchester Mystery House (for travelers with cars), we thought it was an incredible place to have a picnic lunch and let off some steam.
As part of a longer car trip that wound up that evening in Santa Cruz, Castle Rock State Park offered the best possible afternoon kid-land excursion to curb car boredom. And right on the way!