California’s Great America

Bay Area’s Premier Amusement Park

For some folks, the idea of willfully getting on a roller coaster, log plume or other type of thrill ride is pretty far-fetched. Others, though, cannot get enough of g-force inducing, hair-mussing, pulse-racing and exhilarating amusement park rides. When Bay Area residents and visitors want to get their thrill on, there’s only one place to go: California’s Great America in Santa Clara. This world-class theme park is located in the heart of Silicon Valley and is easily accessible from anywhere in the Bay Area. From late March through October each year, thousands of people flock to Great America to eat, drink and ride cutting-edge roller coasters such as:

  • Gold Striker
    The tallest and faster wooden roller coaster in Northern California, the Gold Striker made its debut in May 2013 to rave reviews. Taking riders up to 108 feet off the ground and hurtling them at speeds up to 54 mph, this is a must-ride for coaster enthusiasts.
  • Flight Deck
    On this “jet coaster,” riders sit on bench-style seats with their legs swinging freely to the forces of a 360-degree vertical loop, two different 270-degree afterburn turns, a zero-gravity roll and other thrilling maneuvers.
  • The Grizzly
    This updated version of a classic wooden roller coaster is more family-friendly than others at the park but still packs a lot of fun.
  • The Demon
    As the name suggests, this coaster is aggressive, with plenty of loops and airtime for intrepid riders willing to subject their bodies to punishment!

There are lots of other types of thrill rides at California’s Great America, many with punishing turns, loops and twists, but the roller coasters are always the main attractions.

Speaking of attractions, Great America also has other types of entertainment as well. Park guests with younger children can linger in Planet Snoopy and meet Peanuts characters, enjoy bumper cars and other age-appropriate rides in KidZville, get wet and wild in the Boomerang Bay water park and many other parks within the park. There are also plenty of places to grab a bite, get something to drink and shop for fun and goofy theme park merchandise.

California’s Great America is fairly easy to get to from anywhere in the Bay Area by driving (if you want to deal with traffic) and very easy to get to via public transportation. Hours and ticket prices vary somewhat depending on the time of year, special events and other factors, so your best bet is to visit the park’s Hours and Directions page at for more information. So if your kids (or the kid in you) are clamoring for some big fun at a world-class theme park, head to Santa Clara and get ready to have a blast!