Fremont: Where history intersects hiking and hockey
By Tom Hayes

(Ed. note: Tech writer Tom Hayes wants readers to know Fremont is more than an East Bay bedroom community. This is a thriving city with so many services, parks, and activities that families can pursue virtually any interest. In this listing, Hayes has unmined the jewels that make Fremont a great place to live as well as visit).

FSJ-Mission.jpg Grandparents or history buffs visiting? Little kids like animals or trains? Here's where you can take 'em:

Mission San Jose
Mission Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94538

Mission San Jose is the only California mission east of San Francisco Bay. Built in 1809, it has undergone a complete restoration, although the original settlement included over 100 other structures, now long gone. A museum on the grounds provides a glimpse of life when the padres lived among the native Ohlone tribe.

James Shinn House
1251 Peralta Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94538

Built in 1876 by a pioneer in the nursery business, this authentically furnished Victorian home is surrounded by several acres of beautiful gardens. See a preserved slice of a time long gone at the Shinn House and Park.

Niles: antique shops and special events

The quaint Niles district of Fremont has many events to draw visitors throughout the warm summer months. The well-known Niles Antique Show brings hordes of people who comb the booths of vendors before the sun comes up. Niles Blvd. is lined with antique shops and small cafes. If you like browsing, come and take a look in Niles.

Once home to an infant film industry, Niles remembers its colorful past each year at the Bronco Billy Film Festival. View silent films, impersonate Charlie Chaplin, or be a part of an old-fashioned pie-throwing contest.

Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94555

Visit a working farm with a difference. Ardenwood Farm is run just as George Washington Patterson, Ardenwood’s original owner, farmed. See how farming was done in the 1870s. You can also take home fresh, organic produce from the farm’s vegetable stand.

Where to go for indoor action? Consider the following:

City Beach
4020 Technology Place
Fremont, CA 94538

City Beach is a fitness and entertainment center that’s unlike any other. One popular feature is the 16,000 sq.-ft. rock-climbing wall. You can try it on your own, take a climbing lesson, or even join the City Beach Rock Club. Novices and experienced climbers are welcome. City Beach also offers plenty of other activities for family enjoyment, such as foosball, bocce ball, basketball, badminton, and ping-pong.

Sharks Ice
44388 Old Warm Springs Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94538

Sharks Ice is a "cool" place for family fun. Public skating sessions are available daily at this just-remodeled 40,000 sq.-ft. facility. You can rent skates if you don’t have your own, and they offer lessons for the blade-challenged. If you enjoy hockey or figure skating, this is the place for you. Join a hockey league or play broomball at Sharks Ice.

When you must go outside, burn off energy at one or more of these locations:

Coyote HillsFremontpark.jpg
8000 Patterson Ranch Road
Fremont, CA 94555

A wealth of historical information is available at the Coyote Hills visitor center. Preserved here are remnants of Ohlone Indian settlement. The natural bay wetlands surrounding the hills are part of the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (see below). Hikers can enjoy the easy trek along the Alameda Creek Trail, which connects Coyote Hills and Niles Canyon, a 12-mile stretch. Picnickers, hikers, bicyclists, and campers all share the facilities of this East Bay Regional Park.

Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Marshlands Road, off Thornton Avenue (near Dumbarton Bridge)

A trip to the Don Edwards Wildlife refuge starts at the visitors’ center, where you can enjoy a view of the bay wetlands from the observation deck. Wildlife exhibits introduce you to the local flora and fauna, and a self-guided tour outside the center will familiarize you with the local environment. Learn more about the San Francisco Bay and its denizens through the programs activities available here.

Quarry Lakes Regional Park
2100 Isherwood Way
Fremont, CA 94535

You and your family can enjoy swimming, fishing, and boating (no gasoline-powered motors) at this new water-focused park. Also available at Quarry Lakes are picnic areas, horseshoe pits, and lots of open space. This park is perhaps the best-kept secret in the East Bay.

Central Park and Lake Elizabeth
40000 Paseo Padre Parkway
Fremont, CA

Central Park and Lake Elizabeth have been a favorite place among locals for outdoor activities since the early 60’s. The park covers some 450 acres at Paseo Padre Parkway and Stevenson Blvd. The kids will enjoy the four playground areas. Reserve a group picnic site or just come and claim one of the many barbecue grills, but get there early if you want a particular spot.

Lake Elizabeth, with its 2-mile perimeter trail, is a popular spot for runners and walkers, and is home to many waterfowl. Rent a boat or bring your own and enjoy the 83 acres of water. Paddleboats, sailboats, kayaks and canoes are welcome, but no motorboats may be used on Lake Elizabeth.

Fremont Park Golf Center
39751 Stevenson Place
Fremont, CA 94539

Fremont Park Golf Center, adjacent to Central Park’s tennis center, includes a driving range, 9-hole golf course, putting green, pro shop and snack bar. Group and private lessons are available, and regular golfers can get discounts and special offers by joining the golf club. This is a great facility for beginners, as the course is short and affordable. Professional instructors can offer assistance to players of any level.

Fremonthike.jpg Mission Peak
East of Mission Blvd.
Fremont, CA

Hikers from all over the Bay Area come to Fremont to climb Mission Peak. There are several trails that can take you and your family to the summit. Whether you choose the Stanford Avenue access for a steep ascent or the gradual climb from Ohlone College, you are sure to enjoy breathtaking views from high above the valley. Start early, as it can take several hours to hike to the top. The Ohlone Wilderness Trail, for hikers and horseback riders, is also accessible from the Stanford Avenue trailhead.

Tom Hayes is a technical writer and a part-time educator who has lived in Fremont for the past 17 years. He can be reached at .

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