San Jose is about an hours drive from Monterey, but if you and your family happen to be in San Francisco, its only about an hour from there, too, traffic permitting. And of course you can fly directly into San Jose International Airport (SJC) from New York, Atlanta, Dallas, and other cities.
As a family vacation spot San Jose has flown only slightly above the radar. It deserves to fly higher. When Rosemarie mentioned that her grandchildren were not only 10 and 12 but were also bright (of course what grandma wouldnt say that?) I got excited about the idea of her potentially taking them to San Joses Tech Museum, which has a limited engagement Genghis Khan exhibit opening May 22, an IMAX Hubble telescope movie running through June thats nothing short of thrilling, and permanent galleries thatll engage brainy kids and grandkids everywhere.
If as a grandma or parent you have the fortitude, I also wouldnt miss taking a pre-teen or teen to the Winchester Mystery House, which runs daily tours through a circuitous mansion. That Mrs. Winchester evidently enacted a nightly séance to help with her building plans and for protection from bad spirits ought to clue you in to how eclectically this house is constructed.
San Jose also has a decent art museum and other cultural attractions, but if you want to give your brain a slight break (though not a huge one) you and your brood can take a turn on Guinness World Record-certified worlds largest Monopoly board (see photo above), carved in granite in a park in San Joses Discovery Meadow, also not far from the Childrens Discovery Museum, ideal if youre traveling with younger kids.
So, Rosemarie, my short answer is to find your way to San Jose. And to show your grandkids youre with it, suggest they check out a well-maintained Facebook page that might help them and you get excited about a trip to this oft-overlooked family destination.