San Jose is my hometown! Sometimes we take for granted the awesome things in our own backyard. I know I sometimes do when I’m constantly thinking of places to travel to. San Jose (really, the whole south bay) is a great place to live, for sure, and it offers some fun things for visitors, as well!
Here are a few top spots in my own hood if you’re in San Jose for a short trip.
San Pedro Market: The entire area around the public market is fantastic and is making San Jose cool again. The market houses a variety of eats and is super popular when there are events at the nearby SAP center. It’s packed on weekend nights, and has a great selection of food & drink, as well as tons of outdoor seating. It’s a bright spot in downtown SJ.
La Victoria Taqueria: One of the two dominant cuisines in San Jose (the other is Vietnamese), it’s my choice for the best breakfast burrito and “orange sauce” in town. Orange sauce is serious in San Jose, with many taquerias competing to have the best one (all with secret ingredients). Plus, it’s about a block from home, so it definitely has home field advantage.
Japantown: Ok, there are a LOT of restaurants in Japantown–but my secret is my favorite sushi place isn’t there, it’s downtown (Fuji Sushi). I like Japantown for the cool grocery store and fun shops.
La Villa Italian: In the Willow Glen neighborhood, an authentic Italian deli.
Dish n Dash: A favorite of mine for tasty and fast middle eastern food.
Falafel Drive In: A legend (but I like Dish n Dash better).
Boiling Crab: Do you like to wait in line? And do you like crab? These two things come together at the BC down in South SJ on Curtner. You will wait what feels like forever (2 hours is pretty standard), but damn, the crab is good.
Museums: San Jose has a bunch of museums–The Tech, The Art Museum, a crazy Egyptian Museum. Wander around downtown for museums and theaters. City Hall is pretty cool as well.
Gardens: Again, San Jose kills it with gardens, especially rose gardens. There’s a few rose gardens downtown, and a Japanese garden out by the zoo (I’ve never been).
Hiking: Alum Rock Park, Mission Peak (my favorite, in Fremont, for a heart pounding slog), Guadeloupe River Trail are all good options to get outdoors.
Nerd Tour: I like to take visitors on the Nerd Tour of tech company headquarters around town–most are close to SJ.
SOFA: South of First Ave is a funky collections of shops and restaurants that is nearby the California theater.
Santana Row/Valley Fair: The shopping hot spot in San Jose, it’s very “manufactured” but good restaurants and shops line the tree-lined streets. Valley Fair is a gigantic mall across the street that’s been going through renovations and bringing in good food options (Din Tai Fung!) and luxury good shopping for the dot com millionaires.
Willow Glen: A funky local neighborhood, mainly down Lincoln Ave, with shops, spas and restaurants that’s packed on weekends.
Hotel Valencia: In Santana Row, so it’s close to stuff. But it’s not downtown and there’s a scene.
Marriott/Westin/Hilton: All downtown and close to things. The Westin is a renovated older hotel if you’re into those kinds of things.
Winchester Mystery House: The one “tourist trap” of San Jose, you can see the signs on some of the local highways. There’s a long story about the Winchester Rifle heiress and her crazy ass house. It’s popular on Halloween. I suppose it’d be fun for the kids?