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San Jose, California

Local Details

Learn more about San Jose, California using the City Guide below. Plan a trip, find local shopping centers, or just discover what makes San Jose, California so great!

Current Temperature

  • 3:51 AM PST Dec. 15

City Guide

Often known as "The Capital of Silicon Valley," San Jose is the largest city in the Bay Area, 3rd largest in California, and the 10th largest city in the United States. For the 5th year in a row is named the safest big city in the US.

True to its location in Silicon Valley, San Jose is home to many a high tech mega-headquarters such as Cisco, Ebay, and Adobe to name just a few.

There are many different neighborhoods in the large geographic area of San Jose to the point where you wouldn't know you are in the same city depending on where you are. San Jose, like most Bay Area cities, is an expensive place to live (many basic houses easily top $1M in price). Some of the hip areas to live these days are the downtown area (for those that like urban living), the vintage charm neighborhoods of Willow Glen and Rose Garden, the woodsy area with the best schools known as Almaden Valley, the new mcMansion subdivision area called Silver Creek, and the new hip live/shop area called Santana Row.

Get in

People who ask, "Do you know the way to San Jose?" will be glared at.

By plane

San Jose is home to one of the Bay Area's three international airports, San Jose International (SJC). The other two are Oakland (OAK) and San Francisco (SFO).

By train

San Jose has three commuter rail lines:

  • Caltrain, which runs up the Peninsula to San Francisco
  • Amtrak California's Capitol Corridor line that runs through the East Bay and then inland to Sacramento
  • Altamont Commuter Express, which runs from Stockton, Livermore, and Pleasanton into San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley in the morning and then returns in the late afternoon and evening.

San Jose is also served by Amtrak's Coast Starlight runing daily between Seattle, Portland, Emeryville, and Los Angeles.

By bus

  • Megabus travels daily to and from Los Angeles, with one trip in each direction; there are two additional trips that stop in San Francisco and Oakland but not San Jose proper. Buses stop near the Diridon Caltrain station on the west side of Cahill Street just south of the station entrance. Fares start at $1 when reserved well in advance.

By car

San Jose is connected to San Francisco by the US-101 and Interstate 280 highways. From Los Angeles, take I-5 North to CA-152 West to US-101 North. From the East Bay, use either I-880 or I-680 South.

Get around

Using your car will probably be your most convenient method of travel, however the local transportation agency, VTA, offers serviceable transit downtown - a day pass, entitling you to usage of buses and trolleys, cost $5.25 in 2005.

See the 511.org website for trip planning.

See

  • Downtown. Offices, shops, hotels, numerous restaurants, a convention center, the SoFA (South First Area) nightclub district, the weekly San Pedro Square Farmers' market, San Jose State University, City Hall, the main library (a prestigious award-winning joint-use library combining resources of the city and San Jose State University), the Guadalupe River trail, parks, cultural events, theaters, art galleries, and museums.
  • San Jose Museum of Art, 110 South Market Street, (408) 294-2787, Focuses on contemporary art. Free admission.
  • The Tech Museum (Museum of Science and Technology), 201 South Market Street, (408) 294-TECH, Numerous exhibits on technology, many of them interactive.
  • San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, 520 South First Street, San Jose (408)971-0323, The first museum in the U.S. to focus on quilts and textiles, the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles has an outstanding collection of textiles on rotating display. Exhibitions change quarterly at this exciting and modern museum. Admission: $6.50 General, $5.00 Seniors / Students with ID. Admission is free on the first Friday of the month.
  • Winchester Mystery House, 525 South Winchester Boulevard, (408) 247-2101, The legend is that Sarah Winchester was afraid of being cursed by the ghosts of those who had been killed by Winchester guns. She thought that as long as construction kept going on, the ghosts would be kept at bay and she would keep on living. Construction did keep going on, resulting in a fantastic house full of mazes, stairs that go nowhere and other odd architecture. Mansion tour $17.95. Behind the Scenes tour $14.95. Combined tour $24.95.
  • Santana Row, http://www.santanarow.com/ -- the new hotspot (as of 2005) in San Jose which is a newly constructed "European Village" of shops, restaurants, and high priced condos. Many swank shops, restaurants, hotel, and great nightlife. God forbid, I have even heard of people from San Francisco visiting for the day/night!!
  • Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, 1342 Naglee Ave, (408) 947-3636, One of the largest collections of Egyptian artifacts in the United States.
  • Japantown, The neighborhood surrounding Fifth and Jackson streets (a mile from Downtown) has several good restaurants, retail shops, cultural facilities, etc. Festivals are held several times a year.
  • Willow Glen, http://www.downtownwillowglen.org/ Lincoln Avenue near Willow Street. A charming shopping district, once the center of a town separate from San Jose.

Do

  • San Jose is home to professional Hockey team(SJ Sharks). Many people call the Arena the "Shark Tank" and make a night out of going to game by having dinner out before and drinks out after.
  • Improv Comedy Club (in downtown SJ), http://www.symfonee.com/improv/sanjose/home/Index.aspx .
  • San Jose has the American Musical Theater of San Jose. It plays top-notch but slightly older musicals from Broadway. http://www.amtsj.org/ (San Francisco has a stronger tradition in theater than San Jose.)
  • San Jose has the San Jose Repertory Theater. It puts on comedies and dramas with a creative flair. http://www.sjrep.com/

Events

San Jose plays host to many annual events.

  • San Jose Grand Prix July, 28-30. The San José Grand Prix will be so much more than a race. It’s a week-long festival both on and off the track. Activities include Speedfest, Pit Stop Park and Festival Areas with interactive games, live music, driver autograph sessions and more. Off-track events include a golf tournament, a drivers’ VIP party, the CXO Go Kart race and the Canary Fund gala fundraiser. All proceeds from these events are benefiting Canary Fund. http://sanjosegrandprix.com/
  • CINEQUEST. March. A film festival with an emphasis on digital production. Named one of the Top 10 Film Festivals in the world by the Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide. http://www.cinequest.org/
  • San Jose Jazz Festival. Every August in Downtown. Includes jazz as well as blues, salsa, and big band playing simultaneously on approximately 12 mostly outdoor stages. Billed as the world's largest free jazz festival. http://www.sanjosejazz.org/
  • San Jose Metro Fountain Blues Festival. Blues on Paseo de San Carlos at San Jose State each May.
  • Music in the Park and Music in the Other Park. Downtown in Plaza de César Chávez and St. James Park, respectively. Free concerts weekly through the summer, sponsored by the San Jose Downtown Association. http://www.sjdowntown.com/
  • Conventions. The following is a small list of conventions that take place in San Jose:
    • Further Confusion. January. One of the world's largest convention for fans of furry art, writing, comics, and costuming. http://www.furtherconfusion.org/
    • Consonance. March. A mid-sized convention devoted to filking (folk singing with a science fiction theme.) http://www.consonance.org/
    • BayCon. May. A long-running, regional science fiction convention. http://www.baycon.org/
    • Fanime. May. A very large convention for fans of Anime. http://www.fanime.com/
    • California Extreme. July. An all-you-can eat exhibition of pinball and video game machines. http://www.caextreme.com/
    • SiliCon. September. A small science fiction convention with a media track. http://www.siliconventions.com/

Shop

  • Santana Row, http://www.santanarow.com/ -- the new hotspot (as of 2005) in San Jose which is a newly constructed "European Village" of shops, restaurants, and high priced condos. Many swank shops, restaurants, hotel, and great nightlife. God forbid, I have even heard of people from San Francisco visiting for the day/night!!
  • Oakridge Mall, http://westfield.com/oakridge/ -- All the Westfield mall basics for those that are addicted to malls.
  • Berryessa Flea Market, 1590 Berryessa Rd, 1(800) Big-Flea, http://www.sjfm.com/ -- A huge outdoor flea market with California's largest farmer's market. Worthwhile for bargains, but let the buyer beware. Everything from furniture and stereos to haircut salons and massages can be found, if you look hard enough. Spanish is the lingua franca.
  • Tropicana Shopping Center. Story and King Roads. A good taste of East San Jose culture.
  • Fry's Electronics, 550 E. Brokaw Road. http://www.frys.com/ -- one of the largest places for consumer electronics and gadgetry. This particular Fry's branch has a Mayan decorating theme.

Eat

Italian

  • Original Joe's, 301 S 1st St, 292-7030. A San Jose classic, having been in business for almost 50 years. Very good food, if not a bit pricey. 70s decor. Always (!!!) busy and one of the few places open late in the downtown core. You may end up waiting for half an hour for a table, but it'll be worth it.

Mexican

  • Aqui Cal-Mex Grill, 1145 Lincoln Ave, 995-0381. http://www.posthoc.com/aquicalmexgrill.htm This place serves Mexican food as if it had passed through a fun-house mirror. An early place that used gourmet burrito wraps, what's inside the wraps can come from anywhere on the Pacific Rim: salmon, yellow fin tuna, or plantains. Inexpensive, filling, and unusual!
  • Taqueria Corona, 601 N 4th St, 925-9336. This bright taqueria in Japantown is a traditional, leisurely, sit-down Mexican restaurant. It has good seafood plates, chimicangas, and al pastor. It also has a nice selection of domestic and Mexican beers. The various shrimp combination plates are quite tasty. Inexpensive.

American

  • Henry's Hi-Life, http://www.henryshilife.com/ . This is an "old skool" steakhouse where alot of men dine before going to a Sharks game. Located closer to the Shark Tank than most places.
  • AP Stump's, http://www.apstumps.com/ . This is more of a fine dining restaurant that alot of men take their wives before going to a Sharks game (if the wife wouldn't go to Henry's Hi-Life). Near the Shark Tank.
  • Tied House, http://www.tiedhouse.com/locations/san_jose.html . Good eats and their own brewed beer before a Sharks game. Near the Shark Tank.
  • Amato's Restaurant, 1162 Saratoga Avenue, 408-246-4007, This tiny hole-in-the-wall shop in the West San Jose neighborhood serves the best cheese steak sandwiches this side of Philadelphia. In addition, 34 other sandwiches are on the menu, between $6 and $30.
  • Gordon Biersch Restaurant Brewery, 33 East San Fernando Street, 408-294-6785. This is a lively downtown restaurant that serves good Californa fusion cuisine. It has freshly-brewed .5 liter beers, and you can dine outside in the courtyard in the (usually excellent) San Jose evening weather. Also, Gordon Biersch is located a quick walk away from the newly-opened Century 12 theaters. Moderately priced.
  • Hawg's Seafood Bar, 150 South Second Street, 408-287-9955. Voted the best seafood restaurant in the South Bay by Metro Silicon Valley readers in 2005. Located near the San Jose Repertory Theater.
  • Sonoma Chicken Coop, 31 North Market Street, 408-287-4098. Very good California fusion cuisine at downright inexpensive prices. Very informal. Most entrees are under $10. As an added bonus, they brew their own beer and have a nicely sized covered patio area. Their daily specials are usually very good.
  • Scott's Seafood Grill and Bar, 185 Park Avenue, 408-971-1700, Excellent seafood and a great bar. Some non-seafood items also available. "Business casual" during the day; a little dressier at night. Fantastic location with a great view over downtown and Silicon Valley.

Japanese

  • Okayama Restaurant, 565-A N. 6th St, 408-289-9508. Perhaps one of the older Japanese restaurants not only in Japantown, but in San Jose for that matter. The place is still run by the original family and has the best salad dressing that's been recreated through the years from the original recipe. Although Japanese owned, the restaurant has taken new twists to their menu to make things modern and original. Try the pyramid lunch specials, they're an awesome deal.
  • Restaurant Kazoo, 250 Jackson St, 408-288-9611. A Japanese restaurant in Japantown with good sushi, friendly service, and excellent prices. They have a sushi boat bar, which can be a lot of fun, and removes some of the mystery of ordering sushi for the uninitiated. The sushi ranges from traditional to very Californian. There is a large selection of great sushi rolls to choose from.
  • Gombei, 193 Jackson St, 408-279-4311. Lunch 11:30 AM-2:30PM, Dinner 5:00PM - 9:00PM. Closed Sunday. Another very popular Japanese restaurant in Japantown. The Teishoku lunches are popular, so try to schedule your lunch a little early or late to beat the crowd. Moderately priced.

Other

  • Krung Thai, 640 S Winchester Blvd, 408-260-8224. In spite of the building's nondescript exterior, some of the best Thai food in the area. If you tell them to make it spicy (or even medium spicy), you had better mean it. The newer Krung Thai North, at 580 N. Winchester Blvd (248-3435) is managed by the same family, has the same menu, and is less than a mile away. Decently priced.
  • Zeni, 1320 Saratoga Ave, 408-615-8282. An Ethiopian restaurant that shows off the complex flavors of the cuisine. Meals are served Ethiopian style, on injera. Ethiopian coffee ceremony is available, but you should phone ahead to give them time to prepare. Moderately priced.
  • Hunan Taste, 998 N 4th St, (408) 295-1186. Mon-Sat 11:00 a.m.-8:30 p.m. An offshoot of Henry Chung's original Hunan Restaurant on Kearny Street in San Francisco, the one with eight tables and counter which was once called "The Best Chinese Restaurant in the World" in New Yorker magazine. Quintessential hole-in-the-wall, but the service could not be nicer, as is the hot, garlicky cuisine if you're so inclined.

Drink

  • Santana Row, http://www.santanarow.com/ -- the new hotspot (as of 2005) in San Jose which is a newly constructed "European Village" of shops, restaurants, and high priced condos. Many swank shops, restaurants, hotel, and great nightlife. God forbid, I have even heard of people from San Francisco visiting for the day/night!!
  • Willow Glen neighborhood bar - Goosetown Lounge, http://www.goosetownlounge.com/fmi/xsl/cc/index.xsl?id=5129 -- if you are in the Willow Glen neighborhood and want a few late night pops and a bad rendition of YMCA.'''''''''''''

Downtown San Jose nightlife is on the way back up:

  • Agenda Lounge, 399 S. First St.
  • The Fairmont Lounge (in the Fairmont Hotel), 170 S. Market St. Upscale and pricey piano bar
  • Tiki Lounge, http://www.smoketiki.com/ . Recommended.
  • Mission Ale House, http://www.missionalehouse.com/ . Recommended.
  • The Vault, http://www.vaultultralounge.com/ . Recommended.
  • San Jose Bar & Grill, http://www.sanjosebarandgrill.com/ . Recommended.
  • VooDoo Lounge, http://www.voodooloungesj.com/ . Recommended.
  • Toon's NightClub, http://www.toonsnightclub.com/ . Recommended.
  • The Caravan and Cinebar, 98 S Almaden Avenue and 69 E San Fernando Street, respectively. Dive bars of a dwindling type. The Caravan is neighbor to (and was once a tenant of) a Greyhound station, no less. Neither to be confused with the upscale cocktail lounge Dive Bar, 78 E Santa Clara Street.
  • Hookah Nites. 371 S First Street, Coffees, teas, snacks, and hookahs. The sweet smells of tobacco and fruit smokes spread across the street as patrons enjoy hookahs at sidewalk tables each afternoon and evening.
  • JJ's Blues, 3439 Stevens Creek Blvd., 408-243-6641. One of the best places in the Bay Area to hear live blues music, and one of the few clubs with live music every night of the week.
  • Splash, http://www.splashsj.com/ . San Jose's gay nightclub.

Sleep

  • Best Western Airport Plaza, 2118 The Alameda, (408) 243-2400, Fax: (408) 243-5478.
  • Best Western Gateway Inn, 2585 Seaboard Avenue, (408) 435-8800, Toll-free: (800) 437-8855, Fax: (408) 435-8879.
  • Best Western Lanai Garden Inn & Suites, 1575 Tully Road, (408) 929-8100, Toll-free: (866) 295-2624, Fax: (408) 929-8140.
  • Best Western San Jose Lodge, 1440 N 1st Street, (408) 453-7750, Fax: (408) 437-9519.
  • Courtyard San Jose Airport, 1727 Technology Drive, (408) 441-6111, Toll-free: (800) 627-7468, Fax: (408) 441-8039.
  • Crowne Plaza Hotel], 282 Almaden Blvd, (408) 998-0400.
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites San Jose Airport, 1755 North First Street, (408) 453-3133, Toll-free: (800) 793-9121, Fax: (408) 452-1849.
  • The Fairmont San Jose, 170 South Market Street, (408) 998-1900, Toll-free: (800) 527-4727, Luxury hotel located near the McEnery Convention Center. Heated rooftop pool, underground valet parking.
  • Holiday Inn, 399 Silicon Valley Blvd., (408) 972-7800.
  • Holiday Inn Express, 2660 Monterey Rd., (408) 279-6600.
  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 1350 N. Fourth Street, (408) 467-1789.
  • Hotel De Anza, 233 W. Santa Clara Street, (408) 286-1000, Toll-free: (800) 843-3700, Restored historic luxury hotel.
  • Motel 6 San Jose Airport, 2081 North 1st Street, (408) 436-8180, Fax: (408) 441-1656.
  • Motel 6 San Jose South, 2560 Fontaine Road, (408) 270-3131, Fax: (408) 270-6235.
  • Residence Inn San Jose South, 6111 San Ignacio Avenue, (408) 226-7676, Fax: (408) 226-9916.
  • San Jose Doubletree, 2050 Gateway Place, (408) 453-4000. Mostly known for the location of many conventions (see Events above), the Doubletree is within half a mile of the San Jose airport. Free wireless in the bar area. Lots of meeting space.
  • San Jose Hilton & Towers Hotel, 300 Almaden Blvd, San Jose, (408) 947-4450. One of the finest in the downtown. Excellent location for convention attendees (conference center is conjoined with this with the newly constructed Marriott)
  • San Jose Marriott, 301 South Market Street, (408) 280-1300, Toll-free: (800) 314-0928, Fax: (408) 278-4444, This hotel rises above the southern tip of Plaza de César Chávez, home of California's first state capitol (1849-1851) and San Jose's former city hall (1889-1958), both now demolished.
  • Staybridge Suites, 1602 Crane Court, (408) 436-1600.
  • TownePlace Suites San Jose Cupertino, 440 Saratoga Avenue, (408) 984-5903, Fax: (408) 984-5904.
  • Vagabond Inn, 1488 N First Street, Best price in the city, super-close to the airport. Quite clean, free wifi, safe.
  • Wyndham San Jose Hotel, 1350 North First Street, (408) 453-6200.

Get out

Destinations

Just east of the city lies Alum Rock Park, a canyon through which Penitencia Creek flows, lined by sulfurous mineral springs and several small waterfalls. Above the park stands Mount Hamilton, one of the highest peaks in the Bay Area at 4,213 feet. The telescopes of Lick Observatory, operated by the University of California, crown the summit and are open to the public at daytime. Nighttime visiting is discouraged.

Less than an hour away over the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains, the small coastal city of Santa Cruz is a nice day trip out San Jose or the first stop on a longer coastal drive to Monterey and Santa Barbara in the south or the Lost Coast in the north.

Other places to see near San Jose are Scenic drive in Saratoga hills, numerous hill and mountain parks, Mission Santa Clara at Santa Clara University, Palo Alto and Stanford University, charming Peninsula towns, Fremont's Mission San Jose and Ardenwood Historic Farm, Half Moon Bay, and Downtown Los Gatos. A longer distance away are Capitola Beach, Carmel, the scenic Route 1 (sometimes called the Pacific Coast Highway), San Juan Bautista and its historic mission, and Monterey.

Transportation

By car: San Jose is about an hour from San Francisco and Oakland, but the trip is much longer during rush hour on US-101 and Interstate 880. Take Interstate 280 to San Francisco for a scenic alternative, and consider a detour westward on Highway 92 to Half Moon Bay and the coastal Highway 1, which leads northward to San Francisco and southward to Santa Cruz. For Santa Cruz, take Highway 17 southward over the mountains. For an hour-and-a-half ride to Monterey, either go to Santa Cruz and take Highway 1 southward or take US-101 through Gilroy to Highway 156, which connects to Highway 1.

For other modes, all intercity connections except private lines like Greyhound leave from Diridon Station (Cahill Station on older maps), 65 Cahill Street (near Santa Clara Street and the HP Pavilion).

By train: Commuter rail line Caltrain runs to San Francisco, the interregional Capitol Corridor runs to Oakland and Sacramento, and the rush-hour commuter line Altamont Commuter Express runs to Stockton (Central Valley-bound trips only in late afternoon--an 11:55 a.m. outbound run begins April 24, 2005 --with return trips only in morning). The trip is about an hour and a half both to San Francisco on Caltrain and to Oakland on the Capitol Corridor. Caltrain also provides the Baby Bullet, an hour-long run with very limited stops to San Francisco. An alternative mode to both Oakland and San Francisco is Valley Transportation Authority express line 180 to Fremont, where riders can connect to BART, which serves Oakland, San Francisco, and several other San Francisco Bay Area destinations.

By bus: Amtrak California runs a bus with stops in Gilroy, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara. Santa Cruz Metro provides a bus line (Highway 17 Express) to and from Santa Cruz. Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) runs a bus line (Route 180) to Fremont and its BART station. These services leave from Diridon Station, although VTA Route 180 and Highway 17 Express also serve Downtown San Jose directly. Greyhound runs to several locations, and its station is at Almaden Avenue and Post Street (70 S Almaden Avenue, not to be confused with Almaden Boulevard one block parallel).

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