Historical, educational and fun, Los Altos museums offer an enjoyable outing for both visitors and residents to learn about the area’s past and the histories of different technologies, from locks to trains to computers. While Los Altos is relatively small, the city and the surrounding areas’ rich history and local culture provide some fun choices for going out with you and your family.
The Los Altos History Museum
51 N San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022
With a constantly changing exhibits gallery that features diverse topics, from social issues and land development to local artists and philanthropists, The Los Altos History Museum is a great way for both residents and visitors to learn about the city’s history. Whether covering the Southern Pacific Railroad’s impact on the town or the story of the California Grizzly Bear, the museum works to educate the community about Los Altos’ rich history. The museum even presents educational programs along with its exhibits for local students.
Adjacent to the museum is the J. Gilbert Smith History House, built in the Craftsman style and on one of the last active apricot orchards in the county. Furnished as a typical valley farmhouse would have been in the 1930’s, the house provides visitors with a unique look into the period. Outside the house is an antique farm equipment exhibit, an outhouse for three people and a 1915 tank house. Admission to the museum and house is free. They are open Thursday through Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m. They are closed New Year’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.
Computer History Museum
1401 N Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA 94043
To learn about the 2,000 year history of the computer, head to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. If you didn’t know that the computer had even been around that long, you’ll find this museum fascinating. Great for kids and adults alike, the exhibitions here will teach you all about the invention’s game-changing developments over the years. Exhibits allow you to play games, including Pong and Space war, and learn from computer pioneers stories. Admission is free for members and children 12 years old and younger. For adults, admission is $15 or $12 for students, seniors and active military. The museum also offers special packages that include collectibles along with admission. The Computer History Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Monday and Tuesday.
Barron Park Garden Railway
748 Kendall, Palo Alto, CA 94306
All ages are welcome to this charming model train park. Open from April 16 to Nov. 25 on weekends, this little park allows you to view G-scale model trains in all their glory. Constructed in 1981 by Member Bay Area Garden Railway Society, the museum is available for special viewings during the week for groups and school. Call for hours.
The Jehning Family Lock Museum
175 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041
Let the Jehning Family Lock Museum open your eyes to the mystery and magic of keys and locks through the centuries. Carrying many artifacts, from house keys to escutcheons and intricate locks to safes and handcuffs of old, this museum is fun for groups and families. Exhibits change regularly, offering new and exciting things to view. Admission is free. The museum is open Wednesdays, from noon to 5 p.m., Thursdays, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.