Just shy of the bustling city of San Francisco and Monterey, San Jose is really easy to visit whilst exploring the bay area. Not only that, there’s a shed load of the best things to do in San Jose dotted all across the city that makes it a gem to visit.
From, centuries of history to explore, epic trails and museums galore, it’s a perfect stopping point along a wider Californian road trip.
In lots of ways, San Jose is the kind of Californian city that gets overlooked in favour of its popular neighbours around the bay.
So, to avoid you missing the best spots, I wanted to pop over a few of my favourite spots to visit.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in San Jose in California. Have an amazing time!
1.) Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House was once owned by Sara Winchester, the famous widow of William Winchester of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. It’s said, the arms created by his company was what actually “won the west”.
Anyway, without going into a whole history lesson, when William Winchester died, Sara inherited a massive fortune and splashed the cash on a new home, the Winchester Mystery House. Nowadays, visiting is one of the best things to do in San Jose, especially for its quirky rooms and spooky ghouls.
Once inside, you’ll get to explore a heap of the different rooms that Sara chose. From false stairs to misleading doors, it’s a total mystery and a pretty unique spot to see.
The guided tours are great and it’s well worth a gander if you’re interested in a pretty quirky and totally unique spot in San Jose.
Although Sara never explained her plans, it’s often said that the layout was constructed to confuse some ghoulish paranormal spirits.
2.) Los Gatos Creek Trail
If you fancy a ramble, then the Los Gatos Creek trail is for you!
From the edge of San Jose’s downtown, you hop on this lovely, ten-mile, ramble southward to Los Gatos itself.
The endpoint is the Lexington Reservoir, which is pretty epic and well worth a visit on a day exploring by foot. Saying that, Whether you’re on foot or riding a bike, the Los Gatos Creek Trail is totally great and pretty easy to navigate.
Just make sure to take lots of SPF and fluids for the route. No one likes being a sunburned or thirsty rambler!
Fancy something a little more adrenaline-fuelled? Hop over California’s Great America a family-friendly theme park that’s totally epic. The Patriot rollercoaster is everything!
3.) Santana Row
So, heading to Santana Row is one of the best things to do in San Jose for anyone wanting a little retail therapy! You see, Santana Row is home to little boutiques, yummy foodie spots, and larger named shopping outlets where you can splash that cash.
In the evening, you might even catch the Makers’ Market, an outdoor craft fair held in the area on certain days. There’s everything from live music to an array of sustainable goods, local artists and independent producers; it’s great!
For a fiery treat, pop into Chika for their epic burritos and wings. They also have some totally amazing cocktails, too!
Plus, you can easily visit Santana Row after exploring the Winchester Mystery House.
4.) San Jose Flea Market
Over 120 acres of farmland was transformed into what is now called the San Jose Flea Market and it’s totally amazing! Honestly, if you’re anything like me you’ll love a few hours exploring here.
Open from dawn to dusk, the San Jose Flea Market is the largest market of its kind in all of California. It is a sprawling scene with lots of little stalls and bazaars to explore.
Aside from shops selling vintage items, trinkets, and souvenirs, there is also a whole gamut of foodie spots and stalls that will keep you stuffed all afternoon.
There’s even a small amusement park for kids and a huge farmers’ market offering different kinds of fresh produce.
Visiting San Jose for the evening? Head over to explore the Berryessa Night Market that happens on a Friday night. It’s epic!
5.) Municipal Rose Garden
Sitting in the heart of San Jose, the Municipal Rose Garden is an idyllic little spot to chill for a little stroll.
At almost 100 years old, the park has a long history in the city and speeds across five acres (which is easy to explore). Not only that, it’s got almost 200-species of roses to discover.
If you do decide to visit, head across in the month of May; this is when the rose blossoms really come into play.
Afterwards, head over to the chilled out diner, Park Station Hashery for brunch. This local and friendly diner is totally informal and makes the best pancakes and sandwiches. Though, bring your appetite, portions are big!
6.) Visit San Jose’s Museums
First up, be sure to stop off at the San Jose Museum of Art that’s world-class!
Housing a permanent collection of over 2,500 pieces of modern and contemporary art, the Museum of Art is one of the best things to do in San Jose if you’re something of an art fiend. Not only are the permanent collections incredible, but there is also a consistent schedule of seasonal art exhibits, so there’s always something new to see.
Is art not your thing? Check out the Intel Museum. Filled with everything and anything you can imagine around nanotechnology and all things technology, it’s one epic spot to visit if you love gadgets. As you stroll the exhibitions, you’ll get to explore how Intel’s technology evolved over time. It’s pretty epic and totally worth a gander.
Has the Intel Museum whetted your appetite for tech? Then head over to the Tech Interactive that sits pride of place in San Jose. Here, you’ll get to explore the various innovations and technological inventions that have transformed the world, and some are even available for hands-on experiences!
You can even design your own robot and see plasticised anatomical figures up close.
7.) Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
Oh, I almost forgot! Don’t forget to visit the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, too!
Occupying an entire block, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is a totally interesting spot that transforms you back to a time of pharos and pyramids. Inside the complex is the iconic Rosicrucian Labyrinth, the temple for the Rosicrucian order, an alchemy exhibit and garden, and a research library that are all incredible to see.
Though, for me, the most impressive point of interest in the whole complex is the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. It’s said it was built to looks similar to the Temple of Amun in Karnak, Egypt.
Housing one of the biggest collections of Ancient Egyptian artefacts on the West Coast, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum has thousands of things to see; including mummies!
Just make sure to set yourself a good few hours to get around the complex.
8.) Almaden Quicksilver County Park
Sitting on a former mining site, the Almaden Quicksilver County Park is a historical spot, park, and cultural destination all rolled into one lovely spot.
Once a bustling mining location, with a history of more than 135 years of mining activities and housing a community of over 1,800 miners and their families back in the day. To this day, remnants of holes and mining structures dot the area. Though they are not open for exploration, for safety, of course.
However, you can still observe them as you wander along the many hiking trails and biking paths in the park. We love the Hacienda Trail and the Wood Road Trail that are both great for a relaxing time away from the streets.
Japantown (also called Jtown or Nihonmachi), is a popular neighbourhood to visit whilst exploring San Jose.
Founded by the first Japanese immigrants more than 120 years ago, it’s one of the best things to do in San Jose for a little wander.
Once here, be sure to visit the Japanese American Museum of San Jose and the San Jose Buddhist Church. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden that’s around a 10-minute drive away.
Afterwards, head over to San Pedro Square Market which houses a heap of mouth-watering merchants. They make everything from tastiest sushi (Hyland House of Sushi), Nepalese momos (at Urban Momo) and tacos (at Loteria Tacos). It’s so good.
10.) Plaza de Cesar Chavez
Right in the heart of San Jose, Plaza de Cesar Chavez is really easy to visit after exploring the Museum of Art and Tech Interactive.
Now, it might be small but it’s got a shed load of history and is easily one of the best things to do in San Jose. In fact, it’s one of the oldest public spaces in Northern California and steeped in history.
Not only that, you’ve got a heap of spots dotted all around the wider plaza area to explore. For instance, for some epic cocktails, head to Paper Plane (their yummy ABG Milk Tea with ginger is delicious).
Oh, and for some of the tastiest and famous pizza’s in all of San Jose, head to Kukar’s House Of Pizza. They’ve been around since 1950 and still going strong!
Finally, don’t forget to pop inside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph. The ceiling is so impressive and a spot you can’t miss.