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occ's avatar

Fun things to do in San Jose?

Asked by occ (4036points) September 23rd, 2012

I’ve lived in San Francisco for 9 years but I’ve never been to San Jose. There’s so much to do in San Francisco I’ve just never had the chance to explore this other big city that’s only an hour away. I’m curious to see what San Jose has to offer. I’ve heard they have a really great flea market, and an art museum, but other than that I don’t know much about it. Anyone have recommendations for other San Jose activities, restaurants, hikes nearby? Thanks!

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10 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

There’s the fun Winchester House museum.

zenvelo's avatar

There’s the Tech Museum, it’s pretty neat. And the Rosicrucian Museum has all kinds of Egyptian stuff. There’s even a History park.

janbb's avatar

Do you know the way? (Sorry – couldn’t resist.)

DominicX's avatar

I can recommend the Flea Market, especially the produce section. There did seem to be a lot of cheap Chinese-made stuff there the last time I went, though. When I go to a flea market, I’m usually looking for older collectibles. In addition to what everyone else has said, there’s also Santana Row, an upscale outdoor mall across the street from the Mystery House.

RocketGuy's avatar

If you have kids – Children’s Discovery Museum:

Six Flags Great America is nearby. If you like to Mt. bike, you can take the Los Gatos Creek Trail 8 miles to Lexington Dam.

There is ice skating at the Shark Tank all year round:

and downtown in the winter:

Jeruba's avatar

Hikes? Here’s one my son likes a lot: Quicksilver. He also goes frequently to Castle Rock, but that’s not actually in San Jose—a little way southwest, in Los Gatos. You can also bike up Mount Hamilton.

I live in San Jose, and it’s a fine enough city, but I don’t really think it has much in the way of remarkable destinations. There are good institutions—symphony, opera, ballet, museums—and plenty of restaurants and clubs downtown, and hotels and parks and a light rail. But what I really think is outstanding about living here is how close it is to other places that are great to visit, such as Mountain View, Santa Cruz, Felton, Monterey and Carmel, and, of course, San Francisco. It’s not far to the ocean, not far to the mountains, not all that far to Yosemite, and not even very far to the desert.

You can make it to Santa Barbara in about 5 hours and San Diego in about 8. And the Mineta San Jose International Airport is right in the city, not far off in some distant suburban wilderness, so you can really go someplace if the notion takes you.

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

I agree with the others about the Rosicrucian Museum; definitely worth a couple hours of your time. If you like the outdoors, Alum Rock Park is a nice place to hike. It’s a bit south of San Jose, but Almaden has some nice hiking trails, as @Jeruba already pointed out.

It’s not in San Jose, but if you enjoy California history, there are two missions fairly close by: Mission Santa Clara (in Santa Clara, natch), and Mission San Jose (which, despite its name, is actually in Fremont, just northeast of San Jose). If you have children, Happy Hollow is a good place to take them, to work off some energy. If they enjoy miniature train rides though, go a bit south to Los Gatos to Oak Meadow Park and ride Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad.

However, I agree with @Jeruba; there really isn’t that much to do in San Jose compared with San Francisco, and as @Jeruba points out, there are better places that are close by that you could go, such as Santa Cruz (the Boardwalk is always a good outing, especially since Playland has been gone for decades now), and Monterey (the Monterey Bay Aquarium, while pricey, is worth a visit, and the State Historic Park is a great way to learn about California history and old California). I spent part of my childhood just south of San Jose, and aside from the few things I and others have mentioned, there isn’t a whole lot to do. It’s basically miles and miles of suburbia surrounding downtowns here and there, that has eaten up some of the best farmland in the state (the Santa Clara Valley used to be acres and acres of fruit trees and farms…).

I’m rambling on, but you get the point. Do go to San Jose, just for the experience, but don’t spend a lot of time there. There’s far better places to go and things to do in this state of ours. :)

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Jeruba's avatar

P.S. I really can’t give such a high recommendation to the Rosicrucian Egyptian museum. Much of its exhibit is reproductions, and not very good ones at that. For an example, compare the image seen at the start of this video with this one. That’s the kind of difference you’ll see.

Some reproductions, such as the bust of Nefertiti, are better than that. But the large seated statue of a king that is or was in the main hall is such a bad imitation of the sculptural style of the Egyptians that it made me want to scream “How can you let anybody think they really look like this?”

There are some genuine artifacts, small ones, and the tomb tour is interesting. It doesn’t pretend to be a real tomb.

The place is good for atmosphere. But don’t expect to see anything to rival the collection in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts or the British Museum.

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