Do you ever feel like you are choosing between outdoor activities and high-brow entertainment? Lucky you! You can have BOTH at Sanborn County Park in the summer!
Sanborn County Park is located just outside of Saratoga, so it’s a good Bay Area weekend destination. There are several miles of trails lined with towering trees, which means that in the summer, even if it’s hot in San Jose, it feels cooler at Sanborn. (In the winter, it means that it will be shady all day.)
Sanborn County Park is also home to the Silicon Valley Shakespeare Company. While the name suggests that it might be swanky and/or full of coders, the theater performs in a low-key, very cute outdoor theater located in the middle of Sanborn County Park. They put on two plays every summer– last year, we saw a production of The Three Musketeers that the then-four year old loved. This year, they did an all-female version of Hamlet that was excellent, if not totally kid-friendly, and Sherlock Holmes and the Suicide Club, which turned out to be too wordy and talky for the younger crew, but one of the middle schoolers who came along with us loved it. So, you know, it’s not necessarily going to be a good fit for every kid– but I have enjoyed all the productions I’ve seen so far (especially the all-female Hamlet!) and if you have older kids, it might be a real hit. I appreciate being able to wander out of my campsite with a glass of wine and the dog, and then go see theater without having to drive, surrounded by redwoods. If this sounds good to you, then book a campsite and get some tickets.
Sanborn has two sections for camping– the first is the RV camping area. It’s not cute. It’s pretty much a parking lot. However, the walk-in campground is beautiful. Tents are nestled under huge trees, and being a Santa Clara County Park, the bathrooms are clean and well-stocked. Be forewarned– the walk-in campground is on a fairly steep hill. If you reserve one of the higher numbered campsites, know that you will be a good 1/4 to 1/2 a mile away from the car, following a steep uphill path. There are carts provided to help you schlep stuff to your site, but you might want to pack on the light side rather than make multiple trips. We manage to get all our stuff into one cart trip and it seems fine–but the two times we’ve been to this park, we see people who look like the hike/schlepping uphill was a bit of a surprise for them. Don’t be surprised.
The campsites at Sanborn are fairly close together. This is an ideal location for camping with another couple of families. This year, we organized and claimed three campsites next to each other, and it was perfect, but if you didn’t know the campers next to you, it could seem snug. If you are camping as a single family/group, then campsite #9 is probably the best bet– it’s separate from other campsites (and beautiful). Campsite #30 is also great for a single campsite, but it’s one of the sites further up the hill.
If you are camping with several families, sites #1-3 are perfect together, or #4-6. We stayed at #17-19, which were also three good sites for groups that know each other. If you went really crazy, you could rent sites #1-8, with site #10 (which is inexplicably totally close to site #1, rather than being after site #9).
Hiking trails aplenty await you in Sanborn as well. With very tiny hikers, there is a <0.5 mile nature trail that has big trees and lots of beauty. If you have hikers ready to attack some uphill, the San Andreas trail winds up and up and up until you eventually reach Skyline Boulevard/Skyline trail. From here, you could hook up with Castle Rock State Park and pretty much add as much mileage as your little heart desired.
In all, Sanborn is a great local summer camping choice. Dogs are welcome (even at the theater!) when on leash.
Follow us on Facebook (Bay Area Families Outside), Twitter (@bafamilyoutside) and Instagram.