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Is San Jose Fun? Here's What You Need to Know

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 6, 2023

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Tourists sometimes overlook San Jose in favor of neighboring cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. However, San Jose has a lot to offer visitors, from its bustling downtown core to its beautiful parks and gardens. So, is San Jose fun? The answer is a resounding yes! Here are some fun things you can do in this vibrant city.

Top 10 Attractions & Things To Do in San Jose

When it comes to things to do, San Jose has plenty to offer visitors. Here are some of the top attractions and activities in the city:

1. Stroll through Downtown San Jose

Downtown San Jose, California

Downtown San Jose is a happening place with sidewalk cafes, fabulous boutiques, and plenty of community institutions. The downtown district is also home to great education spaces, like The Tech Interactive and the San Jose Museum of Art. These innovative institutions are next to Plaza de Cesar Chavez - a two-acre public square in the heart of downtown and are covered individually throughout this article.

The pedestrian-only San Pedro Square, located in the city's center, is one of the oldest and most fashionable districts in New York. It's home to outdoor seating, live music, and many restaurants. The San Pedro Square Market is a contemporary public food hall with over a hundred diverse eating options. On top of all that, there's also a weekly farmers' market every Friday.


2. Visit The Tech Interactive

Water Fountains in Downtown San Jose with The Tech Interactive in the background

The Tech Interactive museum is fun for all ages to explore technology and learn about its history. With interactive exhibits and award-winning displays, a wide range of education programs, and an IMAX theatre are available for children and adults, this is a must-see while you're in downtown San Jose. Whether you want to learn about technology or just have a fun day out, The Tech Interactive is the perfect place to go.

3. Get outdoors at Alum Rock Park

Old Bridge in Alum Rock Park, San Jose

Alum Rock Park is a beautiful, sprawling park in the northeast part of San Jose. It's one of the oldest municipal parks in California and has a rich history dating back to 1872. Initially, the park was a health spa with mineral springs - but today, it's a popular spot for hiking, picnicking, and simply exploring nature. There are plenty of designated picnic areas throughout the park and 13 miles of trails for hikers, bicyclists, and horse riders to enjoy. You can't help but feel peaceful and surrounded by beauty when you're in Alum Rock Park - a truly special place.

4. Watch a Sharks game at the SAP Center

SAP Center indoor arena exterior

The SAP Center in San Jose is the perfect place to attend a sports game. Not only does the San Jose Sharks NHL Hockey Team play there, but the SAP Center is also home to other concerts and events. In 2012 and 2016, the USA Olympic Gymnastics Trials took place at the SAP Center. You can also find several Mixed Martial Arts events regularly taking place there. Check the calendar before your trip to see which blockbuster concerts might be scheduled during your stay. SAP Center always has something going on, so it's a great place to include in your plans when visiting San Jose, California.

5. Visit the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in Ancient Egyptian history and culture. It features the most extensive collection of authentic Ancient Egyptian artifacts in Western North America, and its rotating exhibits are always fascinating. The museum is located in Rosicrucian Park, which is also worth exploring. The park has the Rosicrucian Temple, the historic Rosicrucian Planetarium, and other historic structures. The planetarium offers scheduled shows, and the museum hosts regular events, workshops, and other special programs. The mummification workshop is not to be missed!

6. Shop at Santana Row

Santana Row buildings in San Jose, California

San Jose is a great place to spend your free time. There are plenty of things to do in the city, whether looking for a relaxing day at the park or a night out on the town. The Santana Row shopping and dining district is a great place to start, with plenty of name-brand stores and well-reviewed restaurants. Santana Park is a great central location with manicured grassland and a local ice cream shop nearby if you want something more athletic.

The Summer Music Series at Santana Row is a popular event that features local lineups. Other community celebrations include free yoga and an end-of-summer Children's Bash. The Hotel Valencia is a boutique hotel with beautiful rooms and suites that overlook the commercial and culinary area of Los Angeles.

7. Take a tour of the Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California

The Winchester Mystery House is a popular tourist attraction in San Jose, California. The house was the past residence of Sara Winchester, widow of William Winchester and heiress to the Winchester fortune. After the death of her husband and infant child, Sara Winchester moved to San Jose and began a renovation project on an eight-room farmhouse.

Over the course of five decades, she expanded the home into what is now known as the Winchester Mystery House. The house has 160 different rooms and is known for its false stairs, misleading doors, and intricate gardens. Local lore attributes the unusual features of the house to Winchester's attempt to evade paranormal spirits. Guided tours of the house are available seven days a week.

8. Visit the Municipal Rose Garden

Municipal Rose Gardens, San Jose, California

For anyone looking for a stunning and fragrant place to spend an afternoon, the Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose is a must-see. With over 5,000 rose bushes and hundreds of varieties, the garden is in full bloom during May and is a popular spot for strolling, picnicking, and family photoshoots.

While photography permits are required for any commercial photography, the picturesque setting makes the garden popular for weddings. In addition to the roses, the manicured green space and natural stage surrounded by redwood trees make the garden a truly unique and special place.

9. Admire Exhibits at the San Jose Museum of Art

San Jose Museum of Art, California

The San Jose Museum of Art is excellent for seeing modern and contemporary art. Located near Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park in the heart of downtown, there's always something new to see at this art institution. They have a permanent collection of 2,500 pieces, plus rotating exhibits offering diverse styles. Plus, they have lots of great programs and events. Facebook First Fridays take place on the first Friday of every month and offer free admission with extended nighttime hours and live music. There's always something fun happening at the San Jose Museum of Art!

10. Explore Plaza de Cesar Chavez

Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose, California

The heart of downtown San Jose is Plaza de Cesar Chavez, better known as Cesar Chavez Park. It's a two-acre oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle, with shady trees, park benches, and a constant buzz of activity. What makes Cesar Chavez Park so popular? It's right in the heart of downtown and within walking distance of some of the city's top museums, like The Tech Interactive.

Across the street from the park, you'll find the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, and just one block away is the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. There's always something going on at the Center for the Performing Arts, whether it's a Broadway show or a regional performance.

Top 5 Day Trip Ideas from San Jose

The San Francisco Bay Area is full of unique exploring places, and San Jose is the perfect jumping-off point. Here are five excellent day trip ideas, whether you're looking for a dose of nature or a change of pace from the city.

1. Yosemite and Giant Sequoias Day Tour

Yosemite Falls

A guided tour of Yosemite National Park is the perfect way to see everything the park offers without losing or missing the best bits. You'll be taken on a tour of Yosemite Valley and the giant sequoia trees of Tuolumne Grove, followed by a hike to Sequoia Grove for great views and some exercise. Then, you'll have some free time to explore the park. National park entrance fees are included, making this tour ideal for active, nature-loving travelers who want to see and do a lot in one day.

2. Big Sur Monterey California Pacific Coast Tour

Bixby Bridge on the California Coastline

This private tour of California's Pacific Coast is perfect for those who love the convenience of guided tours and the freedom to explore independently. Your driver guide will act as your guide, but you can tailor the itinerary to fit your needs and interests. Focus on the views rather than the road when traveling along one of the most scenic routes in the country. Stop at Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, and more on this unforgettable journey. Return transfers from San Jose are included, so all you have to worry about is enjoying the views!

3. Redwood Forest Steam Train and Santa Cruz Harbor Day Trip

Roaring Camp' Dixiana Shay Steam Train over Trestle Crossing Redwoods in Felton, California

The Redwood Forest Steam Train and Santa Cruz Harbor Day Trip will take you on a fantastic journey! You'll start by traveling to the Redwood Forest Steam Train, where you'll enjoy a scenic ride through the forest. Then, you'll head to Santa Cruz Harbor, where you can explore the beauty of the beach and learn about local marine life at American Abalone Farms. Finally, you'll cap off the day with some time at Capitola Beach. With so much to see and do, this trip will surely be unforgettable!

4. San Francisco Full-day City Tour

Aerial View of Lombard Street

The full-day San Francisco city tour is a great way to explore everything this fantastic city offers! You'll see the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street, Civic Center, Twin Peaks, and Chinatown. This is an excellent tour for those who want to see as much of San Francisco as possible in one day!

5. Napa Valley, Yountville, and Sausalito Day Trip

Napa Valley Vineyards

If you're looking for a fun day trip, why not check out Napa Valley, Yountville, and Sausalito? You can taste some of the world's best wines in Napa Valley and then explore the beautiful Sausalito overlooking the waters of San Francisco. In Yountville, you can visit famous wine estates like Inglenook and Sutter Home and learn more about how wine is made. It's a fun and exciting day trip!

Top 3 Places To Stay in San Jose

Downtown San Jose, California

The best places to stay in San Jose offer visitors a chance to experience the city's rich history, diverse culture, and beautiful natural surroundings. From luxury hotels and resorts to budget-friendly inns and hostels, there's something for everyone in San Jose.

1. Residence Inn by Marriott San Jose

The Residence Inn by Marriott in San Jose is a great place to stay if you're looking for a modern and comfortable hotel. It's located in the Main Street Cupertino district, close to shops and restaurants. Additionally, the hotel is just a short drive from the Winchester Mystery House. Guests at the Residence Inn can enjoy free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and tea and coffee-making facilities in their suites. Additionally, all suites have kitchenettes, sofabeds, and sitting areas. If you're looking for extra space, upgrade to a suite with a separate living area. The hotel also offers a complimentary hot breakfast buffet and free parking. Guests with pets can also stay at the hotel for an additional fee. There's also a coin-operated laundry on-site for your convenience.

2. The Westin San Jose

The Westin San Jose is a luxurious hotel across the street from the McEnery Convention Center. This historic hotel dates back to 1926 and features elegant rooms with pillowtop beds, complimentary Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs. Guests can also enjoy an on-site Italian restaurant, lounge, fitness room, and business center. The hotel is within close proximity to the SAP Center arena, Amtrak/Caltrain station, and San Jose Airport.

3. The Arena Hotel

The Arena Hotel is a great place to stay if you're in the area for a game or a concert at the SAP Center. It's also close to the train station, so it's easy to get around. The rooms are comfortable and have all the necessary amenities, like a TV, a desk, and Wi-Fi. Plus, there's a business center on-site if you need to get some work done. And if you need to do a load of laundry, there's a coin-operated machine in the basement. Parking is available on-site, too.

Final Thoughts

San Jose, California

Overall, San Jose is a fun city with plenty of activities and attractions to keep you busy. With so much to do, it's no wonder this Bay Area city continues to grow in popularity. In addition to the grand hotels mentioned above, many other accommodation options are available. So, whether you're looking for a luxury hotel or a budget-friendly inn, you're sure to find the perfect place to stay in San Jose.

Regardless of what activities you get up to, we would like to wish you all the best on your trip! Remember to take lots of pictures, have fun and take care!

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