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Ainsley House
An English Tudor-style home constructed in 1925 for canning king J.C. Ainsley and his wife, Alcinda, now serves as a companion to the Campbell Historical Museum across the street. The surrounding English gardens are as much a draw as the house. Current Exhibit: Accessorizing at the Ainsley House, featuring fashion accessories from the turn of the century through the early 1960s.

Hours: Thu-Sun, noon-4pm. Admission: $2.50/$6
300 Grant St., Campbell; 408.866.2118

Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum
A sprinkling of historic buildings and houses at the New Almaden Quicksilver County Park provides a glimpse into the heyday of quicksilver mining in the South Bay. The museum proper is inside La Casa Grande, where visitors can see photographs and artifacts of mining days.

Hours: Fri-Sun, 10am-4pm. Admission: Free
21350 Almaden Rd., New Almaden; 408.323.1107

Ardenwood Historic Farm
The Patterson country estate, a working 19th-century ranch, is the centerpiece of this rural preserve just off the freeway.

Hours: Tue-Sun, 10am-4pm. Admission: Free
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont; 510.562.PARK

Bonfante Gardens Family Theme Park
This new park is notable for its grove of strange "circus trees," originally a tourist attraction in the 1940s and '50s in Santa Cruz. The park is open seasonally; check the website for opening dates.

3050 Hecker Pass Hwy., Gilroy; 408.840.7100

Campbell Historical Museum
Artifacts relating to the evolution of laundry, toys and games, school life and agriculture in the Santa Clara Valley.

Hours: Thu-Sun, noon-4pm. Admission: $2.50/$4
51 N. Central Ave., Campbell; 408.866.2119

Children's Discovery Museum
A big purple museum devoted to displays about everything from spings to bubbles for kids and wannabe kids.

Hours: Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, noon-5pm.
Admission: $6/$7, infants free
180 Woz Way, San Jose; 408.298.5437

Chinese Cultural Garden
A 30-foot-high bronze and marble statue of big-thinker Confucius forms the centerpiece of the Chinese Cultural Gardens inside Overfelt Gardens.

Hours: Daily, 10am-sunset. Admission: Free.
2145 McKee Rd., San Jose; 408.251.3323

Computer History Museum
Feeling nostalgic about that Apple II? The museum contains a massive collection of artifacts, images and documents relating to the history of the computer. A permanent home at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, is coming online in May, which means that tours may not be available after March--so, call ahead. In the meantime, the displays are housed at Moffett Field.

Hours: Tours on Wednesdays and Fridays, 1pm;
call 650.810.1013 for details
Moffett Field, Mountain View

Cupertino Historical Society and Museum
The area's development is traced through a collection of objects, furniture, photographs and documents. A monthly lecture series called Gathering at the Crossroads highlights experts on local history.

Hours: Wed-Sat, 10am-4pm. Admission: Free.
10185 N. Stelling Rd., Cupertino; 408.973.1495

Filoli Gardens
They don't build them like they used to. This grand country estate, constructed by William Bowers Bourn, owner of the Empire gold mine and president of the San Francisco Gas Company, weighs in at 36,000 square feet on 654 acres. The mansion displays antiques and decorative arts; the formal gardens are used for a seasonally adjusted series of horticultural classes and demonstrations.

Hours: Tue-Sat, 10am-3:30pm, with more limited
days during late fall and winter. Admission: $5/$10
86 Cañada Rd., Woodside; 650.364.8300

Hakone Gardens
Visitors can experience the serenity and aesthetic balance of a traditional Japanese garden, including a bamboo park and a reproduction of a 19th-century tea merchant's home. Inside the home (which was made the old-fashioned Japanese way--no nails) is a tea museum.

Hours: 10am-5pm Mon-Fri, 11am-5pm Sat-Sun.
Admission: Free, but $7 per vehicle (Saratogans free) to park. 2100 Big Basin Way, Saratoga; 408.741.4994; www.hakone.com

Harris Lass Historic Museum
The last farm site in the city of Santa Clara. A large Italianate home, barn, summer kitchen and tank house are featured.

Hours: Sat-Sun, noon-4pm; during the week
by arrangement.
1889 Market St., Santa Clara; 408.249.7905

Hiller Aviation Museum
Atherton product Stanley Hiller Jr. pioneered the helicopter and other oddities of the air. The museum displays both vintage equipment and models for future flight. Visitors can watch work onging in the restoration shops.

Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm. Admission: $5/$8
601 Skyway Rd., San Carlos; 650.654.0200

History Museum of Los Gatos
Located inside the old Forbes Mill, the museum collects the artifacts of Los Gatos history. Currently, the museum is hosting an exhibit about local architecture.

Hours: Wed-Sun, noon-4pm
75 Church St., Los Gatos; 408.395.7375

History San José
A 14-acre complex of historic buildings inside Kelley Park acts as a time machine showing visitors what San Jose was like in the clapboard and picket fence era. The history park includes the Trolley Barn (with historic trolleys and streetcars under restoration), a turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor, a print shop, an early gas station, the circa 1888 Ng Shing Gung, a Chinese-American community center, and the Portuguese Historical Museum and the Hellenic Heritage Museum. Current Exhibit: Valley of the Heart's Delight: From Orchards to Suburbs in Santa Clara Valley.

Hours: The grounds are open Tue-Fri noon-5pm; exhibits and grounds open Sat-Sun noon-5pm; guided tours at 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2pm and 3pm. Admission: Tue-Fri free; Sat-Sun $4/$6; parking $4 on weekend. 1650 Senter Rd., San Jose; 408.287.2290

Intel Museum
Intel Yesterday and Today. Technology 10, 20 and 30 Years Past. Ongoing.

Hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm, Sat, 10am-5pm
Robert Noyce Building, 2200 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara, 408.765.0503

Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies
Medical Mysteries: The Guevara Lock of Beethoven's Hair. Ongoing.

Mon-Fri, 1-5pm. Modular Building A, Room 100,
San Jose State University, San Jose, 408.924.4590.

Iron Man Museum
In 1856, Joshua Hendy started his Iron Works in San Francisco to provide equipment for gold mining. After the 1906 earthquake, the works moved to Sunnyvale, eventually to be bought by Westinghouse. The museum contains displays about the wide range of products (including gates and valves for Hoover and Grand Coulee dams) produced by the Iron Works. Tours only; phone for details.

401 E. Hendy Ave. (inside Northrop Grumman Marine Systems Plant), Sunnyvale; 408.735.2020

Japanese Friendship Garden
Take some time to relax in a Japanese garden modeled after Korakuen Park in Okayama. The koi are large enough already, but they won't turn down a handful of fish pellets from the coin-operated dispensers at the edge of their pond.

Hours: 10am-sunset daily. Admission: Free;
parking $4 on weekends
Kelley Park, 1300 Senter Rd., San Jose; 408.277.2757

Lace Museum
Craft Exhibits. Docents lead visitors through exhibits of antique lace and lacemaking supplies. Ongoing. Lace and All That Jazz. Lace-trimmed dresses and accessories from the 1920s into the 30s. Ends Apr 27.

Hours: Tue-Sat, 11am-4pm.
552 S. Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, 408.730.4695

Los Altos History Museum
The museum includes the J. Gilbert Smith House, an old-time farmhouse with displays of the valley's agricultural past. Stop a moment and wonder at the genuine apricot orchard, a reminder of when this area was devoted to fruit, not chips. Current Exhibit: Toys and Pastimes, a display of 20th-century playthings. Runs through May 4.

Hours: Thu-Sun, noon-4pm. Admission: Free
51 S. San Antonio Rd., Los Altos; 650.948.9427

Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies
In addition to a marvelous collection of books by and about the author of The Grapes of Wrath, the center also displays letters, manuscripts, artwork and other memorabilia about Steinbeck. The museum will be moving in May to its permanent home in the new joint city/university library, with an official reopening scheduled for August.

Hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm; Admission: Free
Modular A, 10th and San Fernando streets, SJSU; 408.924.4588

Moffett Field Historical Society Museum
Memorabilia, artifacts, photos of the history of Moffett Field, blimps and dirigibles. The museum is temporarily closed for repairs.

Hours: Wed-Sat, 10am-2pm. Call a day in advance for passes. Picture ID needed.
Moffett Field, Mountain View; 650.603.9827

Museum of American Heritage
A taste of what life in Palo Alto was like in the early years of the 20th century, before real estate prices went through the roof. Exhibits include a fully stocked general store and a 1920s-era kitchen. Current Exhibit: It's on the House: Architecture and Artifacts. Runs through May 25.

Hours: Fri-Sun, 11am-4pm. Admission: Free
351 Homer Ave., Palo Alto; 650.321.1004

Museum of Local History
A look at life in Washington Township (Fremont, Union City and Newark). Includes exhibits about the early days of filmmaking in Niles.

Hours: Wed-Fri, 10am-4pm; and Sat-Sun, 10am-4pm, on the second weekend of each month
190 Anza St., Fremont; 510.623.7907

Museum of Pez Memorabilia
Display of rare and unusual Pez dispensers. Ongoing. Call for times.

214 California Dr., Burlingame, 650.347.2301.

NASA Ames Visitors Center
A showcase for NASA Ames' advances in research and technology. Exhibits include a moon rock, a one-third scale model of the space shuttle and the like.

Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-4:30pm. Admission: Free
Moffett Field, Mountain View; 650.604.6274

Peralta Adobe and Fallon House Historic Site
San Jose's Spanish and Mexican heritage are on display at the adobe, built in the late 18th century. The Fallon House, from 1855, showcases Victorian architecture and décor.

Hours: Sat-Sun noon-5pm; guided tours start at 12:15pm, run till 3:30pm. Admission: $4-$6
175 West St. John St., San Jose; 408.287.2290

Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo
Current Exhibit: 149 Cubic Meters of San Francisquito Creek. The display re-creates a local coastal stream habitat. For ages 2-12.

Hours: Tue-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, 1-4pm.
Admission: Free
1451 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto; 650.329.2111

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
Step back in time, way back in time. The museum re-creates the tombs of the Pharoahs and contains an extensive collection of Egyptian artifacts, from scarabs to funeral urns. Also look for the current exhibit (ends April 30) about the history of the Rosicrucians, who are celebrating 75 years in San Jose. Ends Apr 30.

Hours: Tue-Fri, 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun, 11am-6pm. Admission: $5-$9
1342 Naglee Ave., San Jose; 408.947.3636

San Jose Heritage Rose Garden
Don't tell the deer. The gardens contains thousands of varieties of roses, including rare heirloom beauties.

Hours: Daily, dawn-dusk. Admission: Free
Spring and Taylor streets, San Jose

San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
Both traditional and contemporary quilts are featured at "America's first quilt museum." Current Exhibit: Language Arts: Text as Imagery. The exhibit looks at the use of written language in visual artists. Ends Mar 16.

Hours: Tue-Wed, Fri-Sat, 10am-5pm; Thu, 10am-8pm. The museum will be closed March 17-21. Admission: $3/$4, free first Thursday of the month
110 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose; 408.971.0323

San Mateo County History Museum
Artifacts, documents and oral history of the region.

Hours: Tue-Sun, 10am-4pm. Admission: $2
777 Hamilton St., Redwood City; 650.299.0104

Saratoga Historical Museum
Inside an old drugstore building, local-history buffs can find relics of Saratoga's early days. Docent-led tours of nearby historic buildings are available.

Hours: Wed-Sun, 1-4pm. Admission: Free
20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Rd., Saratoga; 408.867.4311

South Bay Railroad Historical Society Museum
The old Santa Clara Depot, circa the 1860s, has been converted into a monument to rail transportation. The collection encompasses signal lights, lanterns, track-control machines, an operational wigwag sign and some fascinating vintage railroad right-of-way maps. A library of train reference books and a large operating layout of HO and N-scale model trains rounds out the experience. Special Event: The Spring 2003 Model Train Show and Open House takes place April 5-6 and 12-13, 10am-5pm; $1/$3.50.

Hours: Tue, 6-9pm; Sat, 10am-3pm.
Admission: Free.
1005 Railroad Ave., Santa Clara; 408.243.3969

Sunnyvale Historical Museum
Dedicated to the past of the community, all the way back to 1844 when Martin Murphy Jr. bought the
Pastoria de las Borregas rancho.

Hours: Tue, Thu, noon-3pm; Sun, 1-4pm. Admission: Free
Murphy Jr. Park, Sunnyvale and California streets, Sunnyvale; 408.749.0220

Tech Museum of Innovation
A museum showcasing a variety of exhibits relating to technology and featuring an IMAX theater. Current Exhibit: Zap! Surgery Beyond the Cutting Edge. Children and adults alike become surgeons for a day, using the latest technologies. Ends Sept. 1.

Hours: Tue-Sun, 10am-5pm; closed Mon.
Admission: $7-$9
201 S. Market St., San Jose; 408.294.TECH

Wings of History Air Museum
Antique Aircraft Museum. Features more than 20 aircraft, photographs and exhibits. Ongoing.

Hours: Tue and Thu, 10am-3pm, Sat-Sun, 11am-4pm.
12777 Murphy Ave, San Martin, 408.683.2290.

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From the March 13-19, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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