Visiting San Jose - What to See and Do

(Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport SJC, USA)

Believe it or not, there is a long history in San Jose. This northern California destination was founded in 1717 under the shadow of San Francisco. Today, its orchards and cattle ranches have been paved over to make way for Silicon Valley and bedroom communities for San Francisco.

Along with the development came one of California's most modern cities. San Jose boasts a state-of-the-art public rail system, a blooming art scene, plenty of attractions for tourists, and a collection of restaurants, bars and shops that is a fair rival to those in its neighbor to the north, San Francisco.

One of America's biggest and best amusement parks is in San Jose, along with several very good museums centered around the Tech Museum of Innovation that pays homage to the wizards of Silicon Valley. Great weather, two professional sports teams and a proximity to the beauty of the Pacific Coast make America's tenth-largest city a worthy destination in its own right.

Ten things you must do in San Jose

  • Just ten minutes from San Jose is the 100-acre / 40-hectare amusement park known as California's Great America. This huge attraction is open from summer through autumn and offers a little taste of everything, such as a three-acre water park, modern adrenalin thrill rides, and the KidZville and Nickelodeon Central kids areas. It is a great way to spend a day, whether you've got kids or simply feel like one.
  • The fantastic modern Tech Museum of Innovation lets visitors experience just how much technology affects their daily lives. Ride a virtual bobsled on an Olympic run, survive the shaking of an earthquake and enjoy your own roller coaster experience. There are lots of interactive exhibits in this fun center.
  • Art lovers may want to spend a morning looking over the collection at the San Jose Museum of Art. The revolving exhibitions focus on the contemporary art world, with some nice collections of work from artists after 1980. This provides a good addition to the permanent collection of 20th-century artwork from major American talents.
  • One of America's most unique houses is the Winchester Mystery House, built by the Winchester gun heiress. She was afraid of being haunted by the ghosts of everyone killed by a Winchester rifle, so kept building her mansion for 38 years until her death. The resulting structure is a maze of rooms, staircases that go nowhere and other bizarre features. It is like a million-dollar fun house, and some guests have even reported seeing apparitions floating around.
  • Santana Row is the place to go if you want an afternoon of outdoor shopping and eating in downtown San Jose. This planned multi-use property blends residences with dozens of great stores and lots of bars and restaurants to choose from. It is all set around a lovely outdoor environment reminiscent of a European village - very charming, and very upscale. Of note, it is always free to walk around in.
  • Sports fans have two professional teams to watch when in San Jose. The Sharks are the pro ice hockey team who play in the city indoor arena known as the Shark Tank. The Earthquakes are San Jose's pro soccer team, playing in the MLS league. A new stadium just for the soccer club has recently been built on the edge of the city.
  • For a dose of evening culture, consider seeing shows staged by either the San Jose Repertory Theater or Opera San Jose. Both are very talented local groups of performers that have a strong following. The opera company plays from September through May in a restored 1920s Vaudeville theater, while the Repertory puts on their comedies and dramas at their very own theater all year round in the downtown district.
  • If you have the kids along, you won't want to miss the Children's Discovery Museum. There are more than 150 interactive attractions and exhibits to play with, so you can easily spend a full day in this clever museum. The themes include the humanities, sciences, art and technology. Even toddlers have a section to enjoy at this hugely popular museum.
  • For a fun afternoon outing, check out the outdoor Berryessa Flea Market. It is a massive place that includes California's biggest Farmer's Market, being more like a carnival than a market. You can find everything from practical goods to antiques, as well as a bounty of locally produced food. Many vendors are Spanish-speakers, adding a fun dose of culture to the scene.
  • One of the best places in San Jose to escape the city is Alum Rock Park. It is tucked away in the foothills on the eastern edge of Silicon Valley, where it features hiking and biking trails, picnic spots and a natural spring bath house that dates back to the 1800s.

San Jose Airport SJC

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