.Society & Family | Reader Picks

Great America is the kind of theme park that knows how to entertain the entire family.

Best Theme Park

Great America
4200 Great America Pkwy., Santa Clara; 408.235.8900. A good theme park can entertain an entire family. And that’s what makes Great America, well, great. Daredevils can get their fix with the terrifying speed of Drop Tower and the corkscrews and loops of Flight Deck. Children can splash around in Boomerang Bay and play with their favorite costumed friends in KidZville. People who tremble from the G-Forces of roller coasters can attend several themed shows and go on mellow rides such as Whitewater Falls and Loggers Run.

2. Happy Hollow Park and Zoo
1300 Senter Road, San Jose; 408.794.6400

3. Gilroy Gardens
3050 Hecker Pass Hwy., Gilroy; 408.840.7100

Best Family Restaurant

Sonoma Chicken
Multiple locations. Quick, easy, home-style dining for the budget-conscious is what makes Sonoma Chicken a great spot for a family meal. Not only does the restaurant serve comfort food, but the atmosphere is casual, so the chance of a waiter or fellow diner sneering at you because your kid is crying over spilled milk is practically nil. Speaking of milk: sure, that’s available, but there’s also a full bar. It’s kind of like how Disney can take a family film and throw in a little adult humor that flies right over the kids’ heads, creating fun for all ages.

2. Aqui
Multiple locations

3. Willow Street Pizza
20 S. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, 408.354.5566; 1554 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, 408.871.0400; 1072 Willow St., San Jose, 408.971.7080

Best Organization Making a Difference

Second Harvest Food Bank
Santa Clara and San Mateo counties; www.shfb.org. The numbers tell the story for Second Harvest: 45.5 million pounds of food distributed to 231,311 hungry people from Daly City to Gilroy, through a network of 326 nonprofit agencies operating at 700 distribution sites. Unfortunately, all of those numbers are growing—by 11 percent just since 2008-09. Most of the agency’s clients are seniors and low-income families with children. There is no more basic human need than food, and Second Harvest delivers it.

2. Humane Society Silicon Valley
901 Ames Ave., Milpitas; 408.262.2133

3. Planned Parenthood
1691 The Alameda, San Jose; 408.795.3600

Best Alternative Medicine Dispensary

Holistic Pain Management Institute and Cannabis Buyers Collective
1850 S. 10th St. #10, San Jose; 408.220.3553. The Holistic Pain Management Institute includes in its mission statement a commitment to “alternative holistic healing modalities,” Toward that end, they offer their members donation-only yoga and meditation classes three or four times per week. If that’s not enough to ease the pain, they also have Jasmine Goo, White Widow and Purple Urkle.

2. Holistic Healthcare Co-op
88 Tully Road, San Jose; 408.294.6973

3. Santa Cruz Naturally
3248 Mission Dr., Santa Cruz; 831.588.9158

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