Arguably the most popular state in the US is California. The Golden State has been dubbed as the most popular spot for tourists again and again. The thing is that when we think about California, we often put the city of Los Angeles on our minds but there are other amazing cities in the state. One of those places is the city of San Jose, also known as the Capital of Silicon Valley. It is the center of politics and culture in Silicon Valley and it accepts millions of travelers annually. If you want to be part of that population, then we’ve got you covered with this helpful guide.
- 1 How to Get to San Jose, California
- 2 Best Time to Visit San Jose
- 3 Things to Do in San Jose, California for this Weekend
- 3.1 Hunt for ghosts at the Winchester House
- 3.2 Play Monopoly
- 3.3 See a glimpse of ancient Egypt
- 3.4 See and learn more about Beethoven at Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies
- 3.5 Dine at the Orchestria Palm Court
- 3.6 Take photos or relax at the Heritage Rose Garden
- 3.7 Explore the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
- 3.8 Brave the Dead Time Dreams Haunted House
- 3.9 See if Bigfoot is real or not at the Bigfoot Discovery Museum
- 3.10 Play at the AFKGG Gamer Lounge
How to Get to San Jose, California
San Jose is easily accessible for a huge chunk of the world thank to the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, or the San Jose International Airport for short. This also serves as Silicon Valley’s airport and is located less than 4 miles from downtown San Jose. It is said to take in nearly 4 million passengers with over 170) daily flights. It offers 40+ nonstop destinations from over 15 domestic and international carriers.
The airlines that pass by the airport include Air Canada, Air Canada Express, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Hainan Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and more. It can get you to San Jose from various cities across the world such as Las Vegas, Denver, Beijing, Honolulu, Chicago, Toronto, and more.
You can also get to San Jose via train as the city as two commuter and one inter-city rail lines. Your first option is the Caltrain which runs north along the Peninsula to San Francisco in one direction. In the other direction, it continues south to Gilroy. In between these routes is San Jose.
Alternatively, Amtrak California’s Capitol Corridor line which runs through the East Bay and then into inland Sacramento and Auburn will get you to San Jose as well. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight which runs once daily from Seattle through the Bay Area and down the coast to Los Angeles will stop by San Jose, Oakland Jack London Square.
1Getting Around San Jose
From San Jose Airport, there are already several car rental companies waiting for you. You can book your cars ahead of the trip so that you can immediately get to the city center upon your arrival. Most of the attractions in San Jose are within the city itself so driving around via a rented car will be the ideal option.
Alternatively, you can take cabs or ride-sharing services which are available all throughout the city. Taxis will take you to and from the major points in San Jose but you may want to avoid taking them during the afternoon and morning rush hour as you could end up getting stuck on the road and paying a high fare.
The downtown area in San Jose is compact and very to walk around in so that’s another option. Outside the downtown area, things are different but getting around is easy nonetheless. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority offers public transit around town. They have buses that have varying frequency and hours so it is advised that you check out their schedules beforehand. These buses offer you trips both in and out of the city and around the Santa Clara County.
If you want to go by train, then the Mountain View-Winchester route and the Alum Rock-Santa Teresa route will help you get around San Jose. A single fare ticket will cost you $2 which is good for 2 hours. With its assortment of public transportation options, you should not have any issues going around San Jose.
Best Time to Visit San Jose
As with the rest of California, the best time to visit San Jose would be during spring or summer. At this time, you’ll see the city come to its liveliest as streets get filled with other vacationers and those who are raring to experience what the Golden State has to offer. As this is the peak season for tourism, expect to see the best prices at hotels. Typically, expect to pay at least 10% less than the standard rates the rest of the year.
Another thing to keep in mind though is that while the streets will be lively and the rooms will be cheap, the roads will be congested especially during the weekend afternoons. You may want to avoid traveling during this time but luckily, San Jose is small so walking around the downtown area and other crucial parts of the city will be very doable.
If you want to avoid the heavy crowds and congested streets, you should visit during the winter season. This is when the tourists are most few in San Jose. There are a couple of downsides to this though. First is that hotels are generally more expensive at this time. You should expect to pay at least 5-10% more than you would on their standard rates.
Another issue is that there are only a few events to get into during this time of the year. So while you may have the attractions and the streets to yourself, you won’t be able to experience the true spirit of San Jose, California.
With these in mind, let’s now talk about some of the amazing things you can do in San Jose, California. You may want to free up your schedule as we’ve got a lot to cover.
Things to Do in San Jose, California for this Weekend
As we all know, San Jose is one of the biggest cities in California. But in spite of this, it is said that it is a boring city as it doesn’t have much to offer its tourists. True enough, it’s not as glamorous as Los Angeles and other big cities but San Jose is still worth talking about. And while many people see it as a boring place because it’s not as lively as The City that Never Sleeps, there’s still no shortage of fun in this city. You may not find casinos and other too lively entertainment here but you will surely find more family-friendly activities and attractions here that you will enjoy. And in case you’re wondering what kind of things to do in San Jose awaits you, here’s a glimpse of some of the activities that you can try, especially this weekend.
2Hunt for ghosts at the Winchester House
Your San Jose trip will not be complete if you haven’t been to the Winchester House yet. This is because among the many houses in San Jose, this is probably the most famous one because of its structure and the stories that it holds. But we’re not just talking about some award-winning architecture here. Rather an odd one. True enough, the way the Winchester House looks beautiful on the outside but what you should see is what’s inside it.
Apparently, this house has some weird interior with no real plan behind it. In fact, it even has stairs that lead to nowhere but a wall. This is because its owner, Sarah Winchester, built it out of fear that the spirits who have fallen from the weapons they made will seek her out if she stops building the house. But the Winchester House’s structure is not just the only thing that piques the interest of many locals and tourists alike.
Apart from its weird structure, many people also frequent the Wincher House because of the rumors that it is haunted. In fact, it has been featured in a number of documentaries and shows including BuzzFeed Unsolved. It’s one of the most recommended things to do in San Jose, especially on a weekend so you have more time exploring the place. Be warned, though, it’s not for the faint of heart.
Whether you love Monopoly or you want to introduce this game to the younger members of your family, playing Monopoly is one of the best things to do in San Jose. But we’re not just talking about an ordinary-sized board game. Rather, what we’re talking about is a larger than life Monopoly that you will find in San Jose’s Discovery Meadow that is perfect for everyone who thought the regular size version didn’t cause enough conflict. Here, no one needs to argue about who will use the thimble piece as you yourself will be the one who will move around the big board. You can also use the hats shaped like the Monopoly pieces being offered. There is also a giant playing dice included. It’s like that scene in the Harry Potter movie where they played chess for their lives except it’s, you know, Monopoly. Whether or not this game is your thing, it’s one of the must-see attractions (and must-play) in San Jose that you shouldn’t miss, especially if you’re traveling with on a group.
4See a glimpse of ancient Egypt
There are only less than 20 Egyptian museums in the US. Luckily, San Jose is one of the few lucky ones who have such museum. And as one of the few lucky cities in the US to house an Egyptian museum, called the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, exploring it is one of the best things to do in San Jose. But the fact that it is one of the few cities in the US to house an Egyptian museum, what makes it even more worth visiting is that it has the largest collections of Egyptian artifacts and mummies on the West Coast. To give you a better idea of how huge it is, the museum has 4,000 artifacts alone. Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum also has four human mummies under glass, as well as a number of mummies of sharks, baboons, and cats. But what’s inside it isn’t the only thing that is worth seeing but its building too. This is because it has a nice Egyptian-inspired building that will also leave you in awe. On top of that, it has a planetarium and a research library that’s perfect for visitors who want to seek more knowledge.
5See and learn more about Beethoven at Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies
Whether you’re looking for a unique museum to explore or you’re a music lover who looks up to Beethoven, visiting the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies is one of the things to do in San Jose that you shouldn’t miss as well. As its name suggests, Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies is dedicated to, you guessed it, Beethoven. But this isn’t just a somewhat hall of fame museum wherein you can get to see his achievements and biography displayed. Rather, you can even get to see the weirdest collections including the lock of the famous classical musician’s hair, as well as the remains of his skull, displayed. Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies also has the instruments that the musician used such as an original 1827 Viennese fortepiano. There are also replicas of Beethoven’s 1795 Dulcken fortepiano, harpsichord, and clavichord. This museum will really pique your interest.
6Dine at the Orchestria Palm Court
Exploring San Jose can really get a bit tiring and you might want to consider fueling yourself up with some good food before you head to another attraction. And what better way to do that than dining at the Orchestria Palm Court. But visiting this place because of the delicious dishes being served isn’t the only thing that makes it one of the best things to do in San Jose. Apparently, aside from mouth-watering food, you can also get to enjoy good music. But we’re not just talking about musicians who actually perform. Rather, what makes the Orchestria Palm Court all the more worth the visit is the musical instruments that it has that plays by itself. No ghost or any chilling stories here, though, but some amazing technology that was invented long before Steve Jobs and his Apple engineers invented iPod. Here, you can get to see and hear a Coinola electric piano that can play the hits of the early 20th century and two orchestrions (which is also the namesake for the restaurant) that can mimic the sounds of an entire orchestra. Orchestria Palm Court also has a self-playing violin that will amaze you as you savor every bite of their delicious dishes.
7Take photos or relax at the Heritage Rose Garden
Whether you love flowers or not, visiting the Heritage Rose Garden is also one of the things to do in San Jose that we highly recommend. This is because this place houses more than 3,500 roses of almost 3,000 varieties, much more than any rose garden in the Western hemisphere. As its name suggests, this place will fill you with the nicest views of roses that serve as a nice backdrop for a photo op for that perfect Instagram photo. And, of course, since you’ll be surrounded by beautiful flowers, it gives off a tranquil atmosphere that’s also perfect for when you want to take a break from the bustling city.
8Explore the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
In nearly every city, it’s common to see art, history, and Science museums. San Jose has such museums too but if you’re looking for a more unique one and at the same time wanting to delve deeper into the past of the city, exploring the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is also one of the top things to do in San Jose that we highly recommend. This is because, as its name suggests, this place is filled with an impressive collection of more than 550 textiles, quilts, and garments that were all created by artists in the 20th and 21st centuries. It’s a great way to see how talented the city’s artists are, as well as how textile art was an important vehicle of social and artistic expression for women in the area. On top of that, the Museum of Quilts and Textiles also has a library with more than 500 books about the history of the art, as well as the various techniques used in this form of art.
9Brave the Dead Time Dreams Haunted House
If the Winchester House isn’t challenging enough for you, maybe visiting the Dead Time Dreams Haunted House is. It’s not like the Winchester House where you might see apparitions and other creepy things, as per reports of some of its previous visitors, though. But, this place has some good deranged zombie-like killers that lunge out from the place’s dark corridors that will scare you. They might be mere masked humans but their costumes look so realistic that you might not be able to tell what’s real or not. It’s definitely a nice activity if you feel a little brave. However, the Dead Time Dreams Haunted House isn’t always open. Apparently, this place is only open during the fall season. And if you’re traveling to this place, we suggest that you visit the attraction on a weekend so you can have more time enjoying the place.
10See if Bigfoot is real or not at the Bigfoot Discovery Museum
In case you don’t know yet, Bigfoot is a hairy upright-walking ape-like creature that has been piquing the interest of many locals and tourists alike because of the mystery that it holds for more than 60 years. Since it first stepped into the public consciousness, many have been debating about whether or not it is a mere myth or not. There are a number of “witnesses” can attest to its existence. There are even apparent proofs as well, including photos and some of them can be seen in the Bigfoot Discovery Museum. The museum also holds evidence in the form of plaster foot and handprints of the said creature. If you’re still unsure which side you’re on, this place might shed more light about the creature’s legitimacy. One thing is for sure, though, whether or not you believe if Bigfoot is real, this place is a must-visit as you will surely be fascinated with the exhibit that it has. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in San Jose, especially during weekends because you can get to explore it more and if you’re lucky enough, you might even witness special events.
11Play at the AFKGG Gamer Lounge
If you’re wondering what else you can do in the city, visiting the AFKGG Gamer Lounge is also one of the things to do in San Jose that we highly suggest, especially for those who love playing video games. Because, here, you can get to enjoy playing nearly every game under the sun. It’s also a good bonding activity with family and friends. What’s even better is that it’s not just all games. What we love about the AFKGG Gamer Lounge is that it also serves some alcohol that will surely make you love it too all the more. On top of that, the place also houses a full-service restaurant that will power you up after a crucial game or will boost you before you can even start playing.
There really are a lot of things to do in San Jose, no matter what day of the week it is. Contrary to what some people believe, San Jose isn’t as boring as it might appear to some. And if you will be able to try out some of the activities we’ve mentioned, you might even come back time and again to this place. It’s a nice city that isn’t to be missed so why not add this to your travel list today?