San Jose’s first city park, it is also the first municipal park in California. Alum Rock Park was founded in 1872 and is 720 acres large. It reminds me of a county park in that it is so large with so many trails and has a visitor center. It also has a Youth Science Institute that opened in 1953 and continues to offer programs for school aged children.
This place used to be a nationally known destination as people would come to soak in the mineral baths for what they believed to be its curative properties. Most of the natural mineral springs have dried up to a trickle or completely. The park stresses nature now so many of the old structures are gone such as the restaurant, mineral baths, and indoor public swimming pool with a two story pool slide. The old stone bridges remain, as do some of the other stone structures and train supports. With train service gone for many years now, the people of San Jose could at one time get on a train in downtown and come to Alum Rock Park to enjoy what was essentially a resort.
When it was realized that over use of the land was causing damage, the decision was made to return the area to a more natural state for people to enjoy. And so, today, it is a great mix of interesting history, stone structures, barbecue gatherings, kids in playgrounds, people, and the nature of the canyon along the Penitencia Creek that make up Alum Rock Park.