San Jose travel guide

Capital of Silicon Valley

San Jose Tourism | San Jose Guide

You're Going to Love San Jose

Is San Jose just San Francisco's little brother to the south? Not at all. America's 10th largest city is a wonderful tourist destination in its own right. So forget about Alcatraz, settle into a San Jose hotel and sample the fine food, nightlife, shops and outdoor attractions that make it such an irresistible vacation destination.

Grab a bottle of local wine and head to the Heritage Rose Garden for the most romantic picnic of your life. Tour the eateries of Japantown, discovering a world of authentic Japanese cooking. Hit the city's year-round farmers' markets or the array of boutiques in Santana Row. And then relax. With bars aplenty, and amusement parks like Raging Waters nearby, you can let off steam in San Jose whenever you want to.

It all combines to form an underrated tourist gem. So give San Jose a try for your next getaway. It won't disappoint you.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit San Jose

Food and Nightlife

Food is one of San Jose's greatest assets. If you love sushi, the 150-year-old Japanese community in Japantown will satisfy any gourmet with top restaurants like Okayama. There are also great Mexican eateries like Taqueria Corona, steak restaurants like Arcadia - and much, much more.

Wine Tours

San Jose is an excellent place to base yourself if you want to explore the wineries of the Napa Valley. Companies like Liberty Limousine or Extranomical will pick you up from your hotel, show you the finest wineries and have you back in San Jose for dinner.

Family Amusement Parks

If you want to entertain your kids, San Jose has it covered. Visit Happy Hollow Zoo with its large petting area, ride the roller coasters and other thrilling attractions at California's Great America or get soaked at Raging Waters.

Upscale Shopping Malls

Malls like Valley Fair and upscale shopping neighborhoods like Santana Row are heaven for lovers of jewelry, art and high fashion, while the huge Berryessa Market is a superb place to find bargain souvenirs.

Outdoor Activities in the California Sunshine

San Jose is a beautiful place to be. Walk with your partner in the gorgeous surroundings of the Heritage Rose Garden, walk the Los Gatos Creek Trail or head out onto golf links like Cinnabar Hills. With such great weather, you definitely won't want to be stuck indoors.

What to do in San Jose

1. Santana Row: More than Just a Mall

One of the most acclaimed retail and urban recreation developments in the USA, Santana Row is much more than just a shopping mall (although there are plenty of sought-after brands, from Gucci to Ann Taylor LOFT). It's also San Jose's major events space, hosting festivals, markets, fashion shows, and live music events. It's a nightlife hub thanks to bars and restaurants where happy hour never seems to end. Plus, it's a cultural quarter, with performance spaces and arthouse cinemas. Right at the heart of town, it's a great place to begin your exploration of San Jose.

2. Tech Museum: Join the Silicon Valley Elite

The Tech Museum of Innovation sums up what this corner of California is all about: cutting edge apps, coders functioning solely on coffee, and a never-ending quest to introduce the next big thing, whatever that might be. Located right next to the historic Montgomery Theater, the museum is the perfect place to take any budding Bill Gates. From informative exhibits on cyber-security to the opportunity to "build your own robot", there's no end to the gadget-related fun on offer.

3. Winchester Mystery House: A Kooky Curiosity With Ghostly Legends

Just next to the hip bars and boutiques of Santana Row, you'll find this quirky attraction. Once the home of wealthy widow Sarah Winchester, this mansion was designed in a willfully eccentric way, with rooms dedicated to contacting spirits, bizarre attics, and corridors that seem to lead nowhere. More importantly, thousands of visitors have reported a ghostly presence (maybe the souls of those killed by Winchester rifles). Either way, it's a fascinating place to tour, whether you are into haunted houses or just an architectural enthusiast.

4. Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum: Explore Ancient History in an Exotic Setting

A mile or so west of Downtown San Jose, you'll find this magnificent collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts. Founded by the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, who were seeking Egyptian objects for their spiritual powers, the museum was also constructed in what the founders considered a classically Egyptian style. Nowadays, it houses 2,000 ancient items in a completely unique setting, coupling their permanent collection with sumptuous gardens and a captivating planetarium. If you've ever wanted to know how to make a mummy, or you want to learn about the Egyptians' obsession with cats, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum has all the answers.

5. Cathedral Basilica of St Joseph: Adding Some Catholic Grandeur to Silicon Valley

Built by the Spanish rulers of California back in 1803, the Cathedral Basilica of St Joseph is San Jose's spiritual and civic heart. It's been rebuilt on a number of occasions, and renovated in recent times, resulting in a tranquil, beautiful place of worship that's full of decorative details. From the numerous stained glass windows to the pipe organ that is well over 100 years old, tours of the cathedral unveil plenty of delights, and seeing mass being celebrated there is a magical experience.

6. Napa Valley Wine Train: Ride the Rails

The Napa Valley Wine Train combines a gourmet fine dining restaurant with a tour through the scenic Napa Valley in vintage rail cars. As the antique train runs along 25 miles of tracks, visitors dine on a multi-course meal paired with wine selections. Along with enjoying the scenery, there are stops at the major wineries along the way. The interior of the train features plush upholstery, mahogany paneling, and brass accents in an authentic recreation of early 20th-century luxury train travel. Various tour options are available.

Santana RowSantana Row
Tech MuseumTech Museum
Winchester Mystery HouseWinchester Mystery House
Rosicrucian Egyptian MuseumRosicrucian Egyptian Museum

1. Santana Row: More than Just a Mall

One of the most acclaimed retail and urban recreation developments in the USA, Santana Row is much more than just a shopping mall (although there are plenty of sought-after brands, from Gucci to Ann Taylor LOFT). It's also San Jose's major events space, hosting festivals, markets, fashion shows, and live music events. It's a nightlife hub thanks to bars and restaurants where happy hour never seems to end. Plus, it's a cultural quarter, with performance spaces and arthouse cinemas. Right at the heart of town, it's a great place to begin your exploration of San Jose.

2. Tech Museum: Join the Silicon Valley Elite

The Tech Museum of Innovation sums up what this corner of California is all about: cutting edge apps, coders functioning solely on coffee, and a never-ending quest to introduce the next big thing, whatever that might be. Located right next to the historic Montgomery Theater, the museum is the perfect place to take any budding Bill Gates. From informative exhibits on cyber-security to the opportunity to "build your own robot", there's no end to the gadget-related fun on offer.

3. Winchester Mystery House: A Kooky Curiosity With Ghostly Legends

Just next to the hip bars and boutiques of Santana Row, you'll find this quirky attraction. Once the home of wealthy widow Sarah Winchester, this mansion was designed in a willfully eccentric way, with rooms dedicated to contacting spirits, bizarre attics, and corridors that seem to lead nowhere. More importantly, thousands of visitors have reported a ghostly presence (maybe the souls of those killed by Winchester rifles). Either way, it's a fascinating place to tour, whether you are into haunted houses or just an architectural enthusiast.

4. Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum: Explore Ancient History in an Exotic Setting

A mile or so west of Downtown San Jose, you'll find this magnificent collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts. Founded by the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, who were seeking Egyptian objects for their spiritual powers, the museum was also constructed in what the founders considered a classically Egyptian style. Nowadays, it houses 2,000 ancient items in a completely unique setting, coupling their permanent collection with sumptuous gardens and a captivating planetarium. If you've ever wanted to know how to make a mummy, or you want to learn about the Egyptians' obsession with cats, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum has all the answers.

5. Cathedral Basilica of St Joseph: Adding Some Catholic Grandeur to Silicon Valley

Built by the Spanish rulers of California back in 1803, the Cathedral Basilica of St Joseph is San Jose's spiritual and civic heart. It's been rebuilt on a number of occasions, and renovated in recent times, resulting in a tranquil, beautiful place of worship that's full of decorative details. From the numerous stained glass windows to the pipe organ that is well over 100 years old, tours of the cathedral unveil plenty of delights, and seeing mass being celebrated there is a magical experience.

6. Napa Valley Wine Train: Ride the Rails

The Napa Valley Wine Train combines a gourmet fine dining restaurant with a tour through the scenic Napa Valley in vintage rail cars. As the antique train runs along 25 miles of tracks, visitors dine on a multi-course meal paired with wine selections. Along with enjoying the scenery, there are stops at the major wineries along the way. The interior of the train features plush upholstery, mahogany paneling, and brass accents in an authentic recreation of early 20th-century luxury train travel. Various tour options are available.

Santana RowSantana Row
Tech MuseumTech Museum
Winchester Mystery HouseWinchester Mystery House
Rosicrucian Egyptian MuseumRosicrucian Egyptian Museum

Top activities & attractions in San Jose

Where to Eat in San Jose

If you love Asian food, San Jose is one of America's best destinations. Head to long-established Japantown fixtures like Okayama, Gombei or Kyoto Palace, Chinese options like Hunan Taste or down a bargain bowl of noodles at Krung Thai. Other highlights include the chimichangas at Taqueria Corona, the classically Italian menus at Il Fornaio and Good Karma Vegan House, where healthy, sustainable food is served along with bingo nights and excellent locally brewed beer. Expect to pay less than $20 for a good mid-range meal.

Most popular restaurants in San Jose

Fusion / Eclectic
Excellent (3403 reviews)
American
Excellent (252 reviews)
American
Excellent (190 reviews)
Beer Garden
Excellent (154 reviews)
Californian
Excellent (89 reviews)
Contemporary American
Excellent (75 reviews)

When to visit San Jose

San Jose in July
Estimated hotel price
$111
1 night at 3-star hotel
San Jose in July
Estimated hotel price
$111
1 night at 3-star hotel

There's not really a bad time to visit San Jose. The city is an excellent tourist destination but attracts far fewer visitors than San Francisco, so crowds and hotel bookings shouldn't be a problem. High summer could be a little hot for some visitors, so why not try a spring or fall break? Both seasons allow you to walk in the rose gardens, attend music festivals and shop at the farmers' markets, and accommodation rates should be low.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to San Jose

Plane

Visitors can fly directly into San Jose, with Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport just a couple of miles from the city center. From there, the number 10 bus heads into San Jose every 15-30 minutes from Terminal A. Many travelers also choose to fly into nearby San Francisco, which is around 35 miles to the north. From San Francisco International, catch the BART train to Millbrae, and transfer to the Caltrain to San Jose.

Train

San Jose Diridon Station is on the national Amtrak network, connecting San Jose with most parts of the United States. You can catch the Coast Starlight from Seattle or Los Angeles or the regional Capitol Corridor from California cities like San Francisco or Sacramento.

Car

If you are driving from San Francisco, just take US-101. From the east, I-40 is probably the most useful route, but you'll have to switch to I-5 in southern California. I-80 also links San Jose to Chicago and New York, while those coming from the north need to take I-5.

Bus

The major Greyhound station in San Jose is located at 70 S Almaden Ave and the company links the city to almost every town in California. Other intercity bus companies serving San Jose include Bolt Bus (who stop at Diridon Station) and California Shuttle Bus which connects the city with both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Megabus offer a budget express service from Los Angeles, as does Hoang Express.

Airports near San Jose

Airlines serving San Jose

United Airlines
Good (2,602 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (1,686 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,033 reviews)
KLM
Good (311 reviews)
Air France
Good (354 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,151 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,791 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,093 reviews)
SWISS
Good (396 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,014 reviews)
Iberia
Good (756 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (915 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (734 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (236 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (439 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (83 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (229 reviews)
Scandinavian Airlines
Good (371 reviews)
Finnair
Good (557 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (212 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in San Jose

Downtown – San Jose's Downtown neighborhood is full of charm and attractions, but it doesn't advertise itself loudly. Local museums like the Tech Museum of Innovation showcase the computing heritage of Silicon Valley, the San Jose Museum of Art has one of the West Coast's finest modern art collections, while on weekends you can head to San Pedro Square Farmers Market to buy the freshest organic produce around.

Popular Neighborhoods in San Jose

Santana Row – Probably San Jose's most prestigious address, Santana Row is an upscale shopping and dining district with all the trimmings. It has a year-round farmers market, popular boutiques like Franco Uomo or Dafe, and the city's best restaurants. Don't miss the all you can eat Brazilian buffet at Fogo de Chão.

Japantown – You'll find Japantown between First and Eight Streets and Empire and Taylor Streets, and it's well worth visiting. Home to a Japanese community that has been resident for over a century, it's a great place to dine on authentic sushi at restaurants like Mifune, attend festivals organized by the Japanese community or find out more about Japanese-American history at the Japanese American Museum.

Most popular hotel in San Jose by neighborhood

Where to stay in popular areas of San Jose

Most booked hotels in San Jose

Courtyard Palo Alto Los Altos
Excellent (8.5, 91 reviews)
$191+
Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
Excellent (8.1, 887 reviews)
$179+
Hayes Mansion San Jose, Curio Collection by Hilton
Excellent (8.1, 559 reviews)
$229+
Four Points by Sheraton San Jose Airport
Good (7.8, 198 reviews)
$137+
Four Points by Sheraton San Jose Downtown
Good (7.6, 528 reviews)
$166+
Wyndham Garden San Jose Silicon Valley
Good (6.5, 1212 reviews)
$89+
See all hotels

How to Get Around San Jose

Public Transportation

Most of central San Jose is easily walkable, but the city has an excellent light rail system which serves Downtown well. Single fares are $2 and day passes cost $6, so it's not expensive either. You might also want to consider renting a bike, as the town has a network of specially marked cycle lanes. Local businesses like Tread or Bicycle Express will be happy to provide the transportation you need.

Taxis

Taxis in San Jose charge an initial meter drop of $2.50, then $2.50 for every subsequent mile and $0.30 per minute stuck in traffic. UberX is much cheaper, however, charging just $1.50 for the meter drop, then $0.85 per mile, so it could be the most economical way to get around.

Car

Driving in San Jose is simple, with a conventional grid system and streets that increase in number as you move from north to south. Before heading into town on weekends or at peak times, check the ParkSJ app or website to find the nearest parking lot to your destination. Renting should be simple, with major companies like Enterprise, Alamo and Hertz represented both at the airport and Downtown.

The Cost of Living in San Jose

Shopping Streets

Santana Row is the place to go in San Jose if you want to shop at luxury apparel stores, shoe boutiques, art galleries and other high-end retailers. However, Valley Fair is close behind, offering over 200 stores, including major brands like Nordstrom and Macy's. If you are more interested in shopping for unique items, you can't beat a visit to Berryessa Flea Market, a massive emporium where you could find anything. Moon Zooom on W San Carlos Street is also a standalone vintage clothing store that attracts fashion fans from all over California.

Groceries and Other

Self-catering tourists can stock up on high-quality organic produce at a selection of farmers markets in San Jose, including outlets in Japantown and Blossom Hill. For lower prices and a selection of standard groceries, there are also supermarkets like Trader Joe's, Lucky and Whole Foods, along with plenty of Asian markets, including Mitsuwa and Nijiya. Don't expect rock bottom prices, however. San Jose isn't the cheapest destination for many groceries. Expect to pay almost $4 for a gallon of milk, $2 for a pound of apples (but just $10 for a high-quality bottle of wine).

Cheap meal
$12.35
A pair of jeans
$45.52
Single public transport ticket
$2.00
Cappuccino
$4.47