From a quiet farming community in Northern California to becoming a top-tier city to visit in the state, San Jose is a place that will surely captivate you with its history, culture, and fun for all ages.
Discover some of the top things to do in San Jose, California, that immerse you in the innovation culture of Silicon Valley, venturing around its scenic landscapes with outdoor fun, and even some quirky attractions that easily make you rethink reality.
Here are 37+ things to do in San Jose that you and your crew are going to love.
Coolest Places To Stay In San Jose
- Best City Views: Part of the America Center complex, Aloft Santa Clara – San Jose North is a pet-friendly hotel in San Jose, is a hip, lively hotel for the next-generation traveler. You’ll love the amazing city views from the outdoor pool!
- Best Downtown: Across the street from Plaza de César Chávez Park and within walking distance of the San Jose Convention Center, Signia by Hilton San Jose offers a prime location in the capital of Silicon Valley. Signature culinary experiences, an outdoor rooftop pool, and extensive fitness facilities complete your stay.
- Best Tried and True: Welcome to the Holiday Inn San Jose – Silicon Valley, 2 miles from San Jose International Airport. Minutes from downtown San Jose, this pet friendly contemporary hotel reflects the unique energy of California’s thriving Bay Area.
TOUR THE TECH WORLD
San Jose is located in the tech epicenter of Silicon Valley, home to many industry tech giants. Explore the past, present, and future of technology when you dive into the local tech scene.
Computer History Museum
Your inner tech-geek will buzz in excitement when walking through the Computer History Museum exhibitions. The paradox of using your modern phone to take Instagram photos of some of the earliest computers that take up an entire wall only adds to the digital era timeline exhibited throughout its galleries.
Put your brain in hyperdrive as you learn about the events that sparked the internet boom, notable people who helped push the boundaries of technology, and much more. Docent-led tours provide plenty of insightful information about the techy gadgets and hardware seen throughout the museum.
The Tech Interactive
Innovative ideas will flow nonstop after spending a few hours inside The Tech Interactive Museum. It embodies San Jose’s innovative spirit by creating a space for educational fun for the entire family.
You’ll discover a newfound love for STEM as you transform The Interactive’s exhibitions into your personal laboratory. Explore the inner workings of the human body before getting your own body moving with dancing and other motions. Satisfy your curiosity of experiencing a tornado or an earthquake in the simulator—you can even feel the sensation of flying. There are even games to play as a family to test your wits.
It takes true innovative genius to last in the ever-changing tech industry like Intel. But this legacy tech brand has opened up the circuits to let you flow through over 50 years of its history.
You’ll nearly be a tech genius yourself by the time you walk through the Intel Museum’s 30 exhibits. Walk through the history of the Intel Company and its humble beginning, being founded right outside of the city of San Jose in Mountain View. Learn precisely what Intel does, and get understandable explanations of tech gadgets like semiconductors or scientific concepts like Moore’s Law.
Silicon Valley Tech Tours
Silicon Valley lives up to its claim to fame by hosting the headquarters of more than 6,600 tech companies. You’ll jump in excitement every time you see the oversized logos of your favorite tech brands as you navigate your way on a Silicon Valley Tech Tour.
Satisfy your tech cravings with visits to industry giants transforming the world with their innovative products. Meet face-to-face with the guys responsible for your nightly Netflix binges. Spot Googlers scurrying between buildings to present their latest innovative product. And even panoramic photos of the circular Apple Campus shot on your iPhone can’t capture the tech-magic that happens there every day.
LIBATIONS AND EATS
San Jose has a vibrant culinary scene delivering everything from the contemporary flavors of Northern California to international favorites that take your taste buds on a trip around the world.
You’re guaranteed to rock out all night at the Mountain Winery. It’s one of the most exciting concert venues in northern California that pairs wine tasting with live music.
Spend your afternoon tasting delible flavors of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, produced onsite at the Mountain Winery, while taking in views of the tree-lined hillsides of Saratoga. When the night falls, head to the amphitheater-style seating, which surrounds the outdoor stage, but you’ll barely sit down while dancing to lively tunes of pop-rock and jazz.
Downtown Campbell Farmers Market
As the sun casts its Sunday morning glow over Downtown San Jose, vendors will already be setting up for the weekly Campbell Farmers Market. Fresh aromas fill the open-air market from fruit, vegetables, and flowers stalls.
Foot traffic is the only thing you’ll find for a few blocks as you walk the vendor-lined streets to the beat of street musicians setting the idyllic Sunday Morning atmosphere.
Experience the luxury lifestyle in Silicon Valley at Santana Row. Mediterranean-style buildings house lavish apartments owned by young tech professionals, and upscale boutique hotels where you’ll have San Jose’s premier commercial district at your doorsteps.
Over 100 retail shops include brands like H&M, Kate Spade, specialty boutique shops for jewelry and stationery goods, and global cuisines to satisfy your expensive taste.
San Pedro Square Market
Your mouth will water the moment you step inside the San Pedro Square Market. With over 20 unique eateries, this food hall is the perfect place for nights you’d rather let your nose pick your meal instead of your brain.
Lovely smells waft past you while navigating between tables full of flavorful Latin food, gourmet Italian sandwiches, and trendy Japanese deserts.
J. Lohr Vineyards Wines
See what the buzz is about when you visit the J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines. Indulge in one of its award-winning wines for an hour full of enough information to turn anyone into a wine connoisseur.
Friendly waiters serve up signature flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in the outdoor patio, while deciding which one you’ll take home in a bottle.
A trip to Japantown is the closest thing you can get to the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ without a 14-hour flight. Immerse yourself in the Japanese heritage in this culture-rich district.
Go sightseeing at landmarks like the Peace Pagoda, or treat yourself to R&R at an Asian day spa. Then, head to dinner at one of the local sushi shops, before ending the night with singing in a karaoke bar.
Why waste a beautiful day indoors? Instead, bathe yourself in the warm California sun while checking out some of the favorite things to do in San Jose for outdoor lovers.
Almaden Quicksilver County Park
Join visitors of all ages enjoying a beautiful day at Almaden Quicksilver County Park.
More than 4,000 acres of grassy fields cover grounds once dotted with mercury mines, offering plenty of room to stretch your legs and explore the scenery. Hike one of the trails on foot or trot them on horseback.
Cesar Chavez Memorial Walkway
Every step along the Cesar Chavez Memorial Walkway pays respects to one of the leaders of the Latin American Civil Rights movement.
Chants of “si se puede” still resound as you stroll from the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Mexican Heritage Plaza, and the Arch of Dignity, Equality, and Justice.
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
With over 30,000 acres, the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a place to escape the cityscapes of San Jose.
Leave your car behind at the visitor center and explore these protected landscapes on foot, where you’ll find wildlife and unique landscapes.
Japanese Friendship Garden
The serene sounds of water trickling from decorative waterfalls inside the Japanese Friendship Garden in Kelley Park make it one of the top things to do near San Jose.
As a commemorative garden to the sister city of Yokohama in Japan, this garden bridges the cultural gap with cherry trees, Japanese cultural exhibitions, and more.
Los Gatos Creek Trail
Whether jogging to the rhythmic crunch of your feet on the natural pathways or catching stride on the paved ground, you’ll have plenty of ground to cover when enjoying a day out on the Los Gatos Creek Trail.
Municipal Rose Garden
Early spring is the perfect time to catch the flower bloom at San Jose’s Municipal Rose Garden. Meander your way through the grassy labyrinth while admiring more than 180 species of roses, flaunting their colorful hues of red, yellow, purple, and more.
Shoreline Lake Park
Rent bikes and go for a few laps around Shoreline Lake. Shoreline Lake Park is an excellent place for outdoor recreation, as you ride past people jogging, amateur golfers practicing their swings, and birds dancing on the lake surface in search of their lunch.
The iconic views of Cypress trees lining the pathways to the 20th century Villa Montalvo make it a dreamy place for outdoor photoshoots and recreation.
The free grounds invite families, romantic couples, or solo nature lovers to walk the hiking trails, visit the arboretum and botanical gardens, or attend events hosted by the Montalvo Arts Center.
MUSEUMS AND CULTURE
San Jose is one of California’s hubs for art and culture. Discover masterpieces from the past and present during your visit to some of the best cultural venues in the Bay Area.
Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts
Stanford University campus is a hotbed for education and culture. Everyone is welcome to visit the Cantor Arts Center to admire sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Buddhist art dating back to the Chinese Ming Dynasty, ancient stoneware, and plenty of events to quench your thirst for knowledge.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph
The artistic depictions of religious figures painted on the dome ceiling of the Cathedral Basilica of St Joseph appear to rain down blessings as you stare up at the masterpiece.
When mass isn’t in service, tours of the 19th century Roman Catholic Church reveal details about its stained-glass windows and public prayer rooms.
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
Uncover the riches of one of the fascinating cultures in the world at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum.
Modeled after a temple built by ancient Egyptians, galleries showcase pottery, masks, and other artifacts before you descend into the shadowy Egyptian tomb to see authentic sarcophaguses.
San Jose Museum of Art
The San Jose Museum of Art curates a lively art scene in the heart of Silicon Valley, with exhibitions showing the best of contemporary art.
The walls of the large, natural light-filled halls are decorated with colorful art, while larger-than-life installations invite views to become part of the artwork.
Ascend the winding road to the summit of Mount Hamilton, where you’ll find the Lick Observatory perfectly sitting more than 4,200 feet above sea level.
Inside, you can learn about the historical engineering feats of constructing the massive telescope. Outside, enjoy Earthly phenomena like the alluring sunset before the dark celestial skies reveal the Milky Way overhead.
Moffet Field Historical Society Museum
Passing by the large aircraft hangars on Highway 101 means you’re nearing the gem of the all — the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum.
The unique wire-frame building houses a collection of aircraft and memorabilia that tells a bit of the San Francisco Bay aviation history dating back to the early 1900s.
Tour Stanford University
Go on a scavenger hunt at Stanford University to find the landmarks helping preserve the university’s legacy.
Walk beneath the shadows of the iconic Hoover Tower, rising 285-ft. above you, learn about the campus origins as a horse farm at the Victorian Red Barn, or see architectural wonders like the Hanna House, which famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed.
TRITON MUSEUM OF ART
True art-enthusiasts are always in search of the next greatest artists. Some of the best Bay Area artists are on display in the galleries of the Triton Museum of Art, where art precedes status.
From contemporary paintings to browsing the outdoor statue garden, it’s one of the best free things to do in San Jose.
FOR THE KIDS
Adults aren’t the only ones that will have a great time during the trip, because the city of San Jose has plenty of fun activities for our little humans. From roller coasters to educational fun, kids always have a blast with these activities.
Great American Amusement Park
Screams and thrills can be heard all through the Great America Amusement Park.
Explore the designated Planet Snoopy area, where kids always make the perfect height to strap into the wild Woodstock Express roller coaster, put the pedal to the metal in the Krazy Kars, or give yourself a spin in the Krazy Kups.
Children’s Discovery Museum
San Jose’s Children’s Discovery Museum inspires the minds of future Silicon Valley professionals with more than 150 hands-on activities for exploring STEM subjects.
Join the waves of field trips kids bouncing between exhibitions to see how clouds are made, making an underwater tornado, playing with building blocks, or learning tools to help them in everyday life.
Happy Hollow Park and Zoo
Kids can play alongside their favorite furry creatures at the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.
Your pedometer will reach record levels as you chase your kids around this exciting park with over 150 animals like anteaters, sheep, lemur, and a petting zoo to feed their new friends.
Lake Cunningham Action Sports Park
Thanks to the Lake Cunningham Action Sports Park, the days of kids being chased away for grinding public handrails with their skateboards are long gone.
Skaters, both amateur and professional, can catch major air at California’s largest skate park, whose pristine skate pavement makes it easy to land kickflips and ollies on the full pipe and cradle.
Catch The 49ers At Levi’s Stadium
Leave the tailgating for the college crowd and instead head right into Levi’s Stadium to join a crowd of 68,500 energetic fans to cheer on their San Francisco 49ers NFL team.
Don your red and gold as you watch the Bay Bombers keep the Niners Nation on the edge of their seats in anticipation for the next touchdown pass.
Enjoy A Hockey Game at the SAP Center
Ready to see some “cool” action? Then head to the SAP Center and support the San Jose Sharks NHL team!
Formed in 1991, this National Hockey League team plays at the SAP Center of San Jose, known locally as “the Shark Tank”. This is a great team, and you’re sure to have a lot of fun at one of their games!
Mount Hermon Adventures
Put on your helmet, strap on your harness, and get ready for a day of fun at Mount Hermon Adventures. This obstacle course sits high in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The entire family can enjoy zip-lining over the treetops during the Redwood Canopy Tour or tiptoe the high rope on the Sequoia Aerial Adventure.
Raging Waters Park
The sweeping views of Lake Cunningham at the Raging Waters Water Park are the only thing that will calm your nerves from the top of the waterslide platform, before gliding at top speeds into the refreshing pool below.
Float around the Endless River or catch the pulsating swells at the wave pool of Northern California’s largest waterpark.
QUIRKY BUT FUN
Things might get a bit weird during your visit to San Jose, but it’s best to embrace it and go with the flow. Sometimes the most bizarre things make the best attractions, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find in some of these local attractions.
Bigfoot Discovery Museum
If you aren’t convinced yet about the existence of Bigfoot, the Bigfoot Discovery Museum might make you rethink everything. Take yourself down the rabbit hole of exploring one of the unsolved conspiracy theories about the overgrown sasquatch.
Museum founder, Michael Rugg, greets you at the door to take you around the exhibitions showcasing years of research, stories of sightings around the San Lorenzo Valley, Bigfoot in pop culture, and memorabilia.
By the time you walk out of the museum, you might be a believer in our mysterious friend.
Winchester Mystery House
Around every corner is a new mystery to uncover at the Winchester Mystery House. Like why did Sarah Winchester believe that the house was haunted? Or why did she build doors and stairways that lead to nowhere? Or what causes the chills you’ll experience while touring through this astonishing mansion?
The Winchester Mystery House opens its doors to anyone daring enough to find the truth behind the many mysteries of the house. Explore a selection of the 160 rooms, and you never know what to expect behind any of the house’s 2000 doors. Listen to the usual acoustics of the tower room or check out artifacts from her wealth in the shooting gallery.
Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Be sure to include the Museum of Quilts & Textiles as a stop on your Art walk through the SoFa District in Downtown San Jose. It was established to prove that quilt-making isn’t just a popular pastime for your grandmother, but can be an exciting art form that tells a different story in each stitch.
This museum was the first in the United States devoted just to quilts and textiles as an artform.
Every gallery you enter appears like you’re looking at a painted masterpiece. However, upon closer inspection, the master craftsmanship of quilters becomes apparent as you try to wrap your head around how individual strings can create such distinct images.
San Jose Flea Market
Hop off the train at the Berryessa BART station, and you’ll be only a few paces from entering inside the historic San Jose Flea Market. This market is always buzzing on the weekends, with locals and tourists zigzagging between over 800 vendors spanning a quarter-mile long.
Established in 1960, the flea market has always been a hotspot for finding deals on everyday items or discovering something new to take home as souvenirs. Vibrant colors jump out at you as you chat with artisans selling their latest crafts and let your nostrils follow the scent of Mexican treats to the local food stalls for a bite to eat.
San Jose FAQ
What are the most popular attractions in San Jose?
The most popular attractions in San Jose are the Winchester Mystery House, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, the Children’s Discovery Museum, and the Municipal Rose Garden.
What is San Jose popular for?
San Jose is popular for its great weather, cultural diversity, and its innovative high tech industries. Outdoor activities are extremely popular here, due to the Mediterranean-like climate.
Is San Jose worth visiting?
San Jose may be a city that is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be! You’ll find plenty of outdoor adventures, museums, and some great family-friendly attractions in San Jose.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO CALIFORNIA
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Where To Stay In San Jose
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