Bucket List: 15 Best Places to Visit in Fremont, California
Fremont sits close to Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, combining the rich railroad history of the city and entertaining things to do. To experience this history, the Tri-City Area of Fremont and local history organizations have set up a program for students and visitors to become a “Passport to Adventure Historian.” This requires anyone to visit historical sites and have their passport postcard stamped from each location. Completers will gain a certificate and officially become a “Passport to Adventure Historian.” These sites are the Children’s Natural History Museum, Niles Canyon Railway, Niles Depot Historical Foundation, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Mission San Jose, Olive Hyde Art Center, and Gallery, Pacific Bus Museum, Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum, Patterson House Museum and the Washington Township Museum of Local History.
Children’s Natural History Museum
The Children’s Natural History Museum focuses on teaching geology to young children. The main exhibits of the museum are the Wes Gordon Fossil Hall and Boy Paleontologist room, named after Wes Gordon, a teacher and a couple of young boys who uncovered tens of thousands of fossils, most of which went to UC Berkeley, Ohlone College, Fremont’s Museum of Local History and the San Lorenzo School District where Wes Gordon worked. The museum has several activities for children. These include the Sabertooth Cat Headband, Mammoth Headband, Irvington Fossil Guide, Ruler of Time, and Mary Mammoth.
Location: 4074 Eggers Drive, Fremont, CA 94536
Niles Canyon Railway
The Niles Canyon Railway is a living history museum aiming to preserve the Pacific Coast’s railroad culture. The museum has a collection of train cars that visitors can see, including steam locomotives, diesel locomotives, motorcars, passenger cars, cabooses, freight cars, and maintenance cars. The main attraction, however, is the train rides offered through the Niles Canyon. There are specialty train rides like Moonlight Train Rides, Romance on the Rails, and an annual Train of Lights that lasts for an hour.
Location: 37029 Mission Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94536
Niles Depot Historical Foundation
The non-profit Niles Depot Historical Foundation runs the Niles Depot Museum intending to provide its guests with the history of Fremont through museum exhibits and model railroads. The museum contains local artifacts and railroad models of nearby communities with Niles as the center. The museum is located right across from the Niles Canyon Railway.
Location: 37592 Niles Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94536
Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum preserves and displays artifacts from the silent-film era. The museum offers silent movie screenings, most of which were movies starring Charlie Chaplin. The building which the museum occupies is historic itself as it once belonged to the Niles Essanay Studios.
Location: 37417 Niles Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94536
Mission San Jose and Museum
The Mission San Jose was founded in 1797 by Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen and was constructed on land inhabited by indigenous Ohlone people. Every year, thousands of 4th-grade students visit Mission San Jose as part of their regional education program. Visitors can either take guided tours or self-guided tours of the Museum, Church, Historic Cemetery, and Garden.
Location: 43300 Mission Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94539
Olive Hyde Art Center and Gallery
Organized and operated by The Olive Hyde Art Guild, Olive Hyde Art Center and Gallery aim to promote interest in the visual arts by supporting art education in local schools and programs offered at the Art Center and Gallery. It was named after Olive Hyde, an avid historian, and conservationist. According to Cecilia Weed in her book In Memoriam, Ms. Hyde “organized the Mission San Jose Women’s Association, which was instrumental in saving the hill lands for Ohlone College.” Ms. Hyde was also the owner of multiple properties in the city, which she donated, “asking only that the buildings be used for educational and cultural purposes,”
Location: 123 Washington Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94539
Pacific Bus Museum
The Pacific Bus Museum is run by volunteers, bus enthusiasts, and preservationists. Formed in the 1990s, the museum collection includes 20 coaches. Many displayed buses underwent restorations, although some are still ongoing, as bus restorations can take years. Visitors can climb in and explore the old-school buses and mass transit buses.
Location: 37974 Shinn Street, Fremont, CA 94536
Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum
In 1962, a portion of the Historic Shinn Ranch was donated by Florence Shinn. Twenty years later, the property was turned into a park and renamed the Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum. Before the ranch was transferred to the Shinn’s, it was a nursery operated in the 1850s by Dr. Joseph Clark. All the historical artifacts relating to the Shinn Ranch can be seen within the park. Visitors can take a guided tour inside the house and see furnishings that date back to the 1850s.
Location: 1251 Peralta Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94536
The Patterson House Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and exhibits the local Victorian life of the 1900s. The 19-room Queen Anne Victorian farmhouse was once the personal residence of George and Clara Patterson and is located in the Ardenwood Historic Farm.
Location: 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94555\
Washington Township Museum of Local History
Washington Township Museum of Local History was built by volunteer firefighters in 1954 and served as the Mission San Jose Fire District Fire Station #4. It wasn’t until 1994, when artifacts of more than 100 years were donated by The Mission Peak Heritage Foundation and The Washington Township Historical Society, that the Museum of Local History was established. The museum displays the Tri-City Area’s history from a farming and ranching community into a suburban community.
Location: 190 Anza Street, Fremont, CA 94539
Exposed Hayward Fault Zone
The Hayward Fault stretches for 37 miles along eastern San Francisco Bay hills. The fault runs through Fremont, El Cerrito, San Leandro, Richmond, Hayward, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Jose. The Hayward Fault is one of the most dangerous faults because of its close proximity to population centers. Visitors can take guided tours to study the fault line or take the pedestrian trails to view the exposed fault.
Central Park was established in 1960. The park, occupying 450 acres of land, is centered around the 83-acre Lake Elizabeth. Lake Elizabeth was dedicated to Fremont’s Sister City, Elizabeth, Australia, in 1969. The park has playground areas, softball fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, a cricket field, picnic areas, Aqua Adventure Waterpark, Stivers Lagoon Nature Area, and rental facilities such as the Teen Center, Fremont Community Center, Central Park Visitor Center and Performance Pavilion.
Location: 40000 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont, CA 94538
Mission Peak Regional Preserve
Mission Peak Regional Preserve covers 3,000 acres of land and is a popular destination amongst picnickers and hikers. The regional preserve is home to diverse wildlife and has a network of trails that can be taken on foot or by bicycle. The most popular trail in the preserve is the Hidden Valley Trail. This moderate-level hike leads to the summit of Mission Peak at 2,100 feet above elevation. From the summit, hikers can see San Francisco, Oakland, and Silicon Valley. Besides hiking, locals and visitors can bring their BMX, dog, or horse and stroll around the preserve.
Location: 43600 Mission Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94539
Coyote Hills Regional Park
Coyote Hills Regional Park encompasses over 1,200 acres of wetland and marshland. Visitors can explore the regional park by hiking or cycling and watch the migratory birds that stop over the park. The Coyote Hills Visitor Center offers guided tours to the recreated Tuibun Ohlone Village Site within the park. The springtime brings out the wildflowers and poppies that dot the park in color, making anyone’s hike a more relaxing activity.
Location: 8000 Patterson Ranch Road, Fremont, CA 94555
Ardenwood Historic Farm
The Ardenwood Historic Farm lets guests step back in time to see the remnants of the lives of George and Clara Patterson in the 1900s. The Patterson family has farmed the land for over 100 years and has been a working farm since the East Bay Regional Park District acquired farm ownership in 1985. The Ardenwood today aims to show guests the vital role of farms in providing essential resources, bringing communities together, and driving an economy towards growth. Grounds within the farm are The Patterson House, a Victorian garden, an Animal Farm, the Farmyard Café, and the Arden Station and Deer Park Station.
Location: 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94555
How to get there
The Tri-City Area includes Union City (Decoto and Alvarado), Newark, and Fremont (Niles, Centerville, Irvington, Mission San Jose, Warm Springs). Accessible public transportation in the city includes nearby airports, buses, paratransit, and trains.
The closest airports to Fremont are Oakland International Airport (OAK), San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC). The Alameda-Contra Costa Transportation District (AC Transit) and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) have bus routes along Fremont. East Bay Paratransit and the City of Fremont Paratransit provide Paratransit services. Altamont Commuter Express (ACE), Amtrak, and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Railroad services stop at Fremont.
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