Theme Park Thrills

It's a 10-minute drive from downtown San Jose to California's Great America, 100 acres of family entertainment on the Great America Parkway (off U.S. 101), in Santa Clara (tel. 408/988-1776; A pretty cool place to lose your lunch, the park includes such favorites as the Flight Deck suspended jet coaster; the 3-acre Nickelodeon Central and KidZville for children; and their latest addition, FireFall, where riders are spun into 360-degree vertical arcs through fire and water effects. Check for concerts and special events too. Boomerang Bay Beach Club, a 3-acre water park with 11 slides and a "lazy river," is included in the general admission; it's $55 for adults and children ages 3 to 61, $25 for seniors age 62 and over and anyone under 48 inches tall. Kids 2 and under are free. Check the website for discounted tickets. It's open daily from Memorial Day to October but may vary according to weather, so call for details. From San Francisco, take U.S. 101 south for about 45 miles to the Great America Parkway exit.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.