15 Things to do in Downtown San Jose

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San Jose
Source: Tri Ngyuen

Despite its well-established tech industry, the capital of the Silicon Valley offers many activities for visitors who are not here for the tech aspect. Whether your interests lie in arts, food, or the American culture, San Jose presents a multitude of experiences for everyone.

1. SAP Center

SAP Center
Source: Travis Wise

SAP Center is an indoor arena that has been affectionately nicknamed as the Shark Tank by local residents over the years. Since its completion in 1993, the SAP Center has been home to over five professional San Jose sports teams, and now acts as the residency to the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League. The state-of-the-art venue features a press box, luxury suites, and an increased seating capacity of 20,000 attendees. Its top notch amenities have allowed the SAP Center to be consistently ranked as one of North America’s top 5 arenas, and one of the world’s top 10 by noted Pollstar Magazine. Though constructed first and foremost for sporting events, the SAP Center also serves as an ideal venue for concerts and family friendly entertainment, such as Disney on Ice. To date, an impressive 24,000 events have been hosted at the arena. While in San Jose, participate in a concert, or cheer on the Sharks like a local.

Information

  • Name: SAP Center
  • Address: 525 W Santa Clara St, San Jose
  • Website: www.sapcenter.com/

2. Tech Museum of Innovation

Tech Museum
Source: HarshLight

As the capital of the Silicon Valley, which is renowned for its hundreds of startup and global tech companies and computer firms, it is impossible to visit San Jose and not be moved by the very industry that gave the Silicon Valley its prestigious name. As a valuable resource for education and innovation, The Tech Museum of Innovation is an inspiring place to tour and explore your interests in the technological field. Though its name contains the word, “museum,” the venue is hardly that. It really operates to ignite the innovator in every visitor by providing educational movies, hands-on experiments, and engaging exhibitions. Do you have what it takes to flourish in the Silicon Valley?

Information

  • Name: Tech Museum of Innovation
  • Address: 201 S Market St, San Jose
  • Price: $24/adult excluding IMAX
  • Opening Hours: Daily 10AM-5PM
  • Website: http://www.thetech.org/

3. San Pedro Square Market

San Pedro Square Market
Source: Adam Schultz

Situated along the charismatic San Pedro Street is one of San Jose’s most popular open air public markets, which serves as a central hub for foodies, coffee enthusiasts, artists and music makers. The market’s sidewalk cafes and restaurant patios create a friendly and inviting atmosphere for patrons to enjoy their morning brew, a scrumptious lunch, or delectable dinner. More than 20 unique vendors occupy the stalls, offering a vast selection of home goods and artisan foods. The presence of weekly entertainment in the form of live bands, trivia games, and karaoke make the San Pedro Square Market a lively place to be.

Information

  • Name: San Pedro Square Market
  • Address: 87 N San Pedro St, San Jose
  • Opening Hours: Sunday-Wednesday 11AM-10PM, Thursday-Saturday 11AM-12AM
  • Website: http://www.sanpedrosquare.com/

4. Japantown

San Jose Obon Festival
Source: Kenneth Lu

Situated just north of downtown San Jose, this city’s Japantown serves as one of three remaining authentic Japantowns across the United States. The very site of this community is where immigrant Japanese first settled as a sharp increase in farm work became available in the Santa Clara Valley. Its 126 years of rich heritage have been preserved in its architecture and traditional events that occur throughout the year, such as the Obon Festival and Sake San Jose. Japantown’s art gallery and Japanese American Museum of San Jose serve as excellent teaching tools for those who seek a thorough understanding of the Japanese settlement. Traditional Japanese goods can also be found in the shops of this historic area.

Information

  • Name: Japantown
  • Website: http://www.japantownsanjose.org/

5. J. Lohr Vineyards and Wine Center

In recent decades, the Napa Valley of California has emerged as a world class wine growing region in North America. Though San Jose is ways away from the notorious Napa vineyards, visitors to San Jose also have the opportunity to enjoy some of the state’s best wines. In the surrounding area of San Jose are a number of beautiful estates belonging to J.Lohr Vineyards, home to a few hundred acres of fruitful wine grapes, coupled with dedicated winemakers who bring exceptional quality wine to this region of California. In the heart of San Jose is the J.Lohr Wine Center, where patrons are warmly welcome to a tasting of their bold and flavourful wines from their four different tiers- J.Lohr Vineyard Series, J. Lohr Cuvee Series, J.Lohr Gesture, and J.Lohr Estates. Stop by to learn about the history of the estate, creative wine pairings, all while sipping on outstanding selections from 2013’s Winery of the Year, as crowned by Tasting Panel Magazine.

Information

  • Name: J.Lohr Wine Center
  • Address: 1000 Lenzen Ave, San Jose
  • Opening Hours: Daily 10AM-5PM
  • Website: http://www.jlohr.com/

6. Children’s Discovery Museum

Children's Discovery Museum
Source: HarshLight

Traveling with children often leaves parents in a panic, but there are plenty of options to keep the little ones entertained while in the city. The Children’s Discovery Museum is a captivating play-based education center for young learners. With the strong belief that “the leaders of our future are the children of today,” this interactive venue aims to instill in children the passion for lifelong learning, and connects them to the many different aspects of community through hands-on exhibits. Children have the opportunity to dig for dinosaur bones, and help grow fruits and vegetables in the Kids’ Garden. They are also invited to hop on board a firetruck as well as an ambulance to observe the inner workings of these life-saving vehicles. By offering various types of displays, the museum hopes to respond to many of the different educational needs of children, building strong foundations in science, math and art. First opened in 1990, over 6 million individuals have since visited.

Information

  • Name: Children’s Discovery Museum
  • Address: 180 Woz Way, San Jose,
  • Price: $13/ general admission
  • Opening hour: Closed Monday, Tuesday- Saturday 10AM-5PM, Sunday 12PM-5PM
  • Website: https://www.cdm.org/

7. San Jose Museum of Art

San Jose Museum of Art
Source: Blok 70

The appreciation of modern and contemporary art established the existence of the San Jose Museum of Art in the heart of the city. The artists’ expression of creativity through a number of mediums including photography, painting, and mosaics ignite and inspire visitors’ imagination through revolving exhibitions that feature diverse movements, styles and techniques. With a sizable collection of artwork ranging from traditional paintings to multimedia pieces, their art captivates visitors of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Learn and understand the qualities that make modern and contemporary San Jose art so admirable.

Information

  • Name: San Jose Museum of Art
  • Address: 110 S Market St, San Jose
  • Price: $10/adult, $5/youth
  • Opening Hours: Closed Monday, Tuesday-Sunday 11AM-5PM
  • Website: http://sjmusart.org/

8. West Wind Capitol Flea Market

West Wind Capitol Flea Market is a proud family owned operation since 1971. The garage style market is a unique San Jose experience, as by day it is an open air market, and by night transforms into a cozy drive- in theatre. It combines modern day technology of large projectors and high definition images with a retro spin to craft a unique cinema experience for the city’s lively community of movie goers. Snack bars, play structures for children, and grassy areas are keep viewers engaged while waiting for the movie to begin. The day market offers a large selection of home goods, trinkets, and everything in between. The market also presents shoppers with an enticing menu of Mexican favourites, like hot tamales, scrumptious breakfast burritos, and cheesy quesadillas. Come for the market, stay for the entire night.

Information

  • Name: West Wind Capitol Flea Market and Drive-In
  • Address: 3630 Hillcap Ave, San Jose
  • Price: $7.95/ general admission, $5/person on Tuesday
  • Website: http://www.westwinddi.com/locations/capitol

9. Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph

Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph
Source: Travis Wise

Approximately 83% of America’s population identify themselves as Christians, and an estimated 25% of Americans belong to the Catholic faith. That is a whopping 78.2 million Roman Catholics. Explore America’s chosen faith by visiting a place of worship or even attending a service. First built in 1803, the Roman Catholic church of Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph was unfortunately damaged by a succession of earthquakes, as well as a fire which burnt it down. Having been rebuilt four separate times, the fifth structure now stands proudly in place, serving as a site of worship for both believers and non-believers of the faith in downtown San Jose. Sermons under the beautifully constructed basilica dome are open to anyone and everyone who possess an interest in Catholicism, or the basilica itself.

Information

  • Name: Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph
  • Address: 80 S Market St, San Jose
  • Website: http://www.stjosephcathedral.org/

10. Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House
Source: HarshLight

This mansion commissioned by widow Sarah Winchester of gun tycoon William Wirt Winchester, is renowned for its generous size and architectural oddities. Once Winchester’s personal residence, the historical landmark of the Winchester Mystery House is now a famed tourist attraction in San Jose. Throughout its construction in the 1880s, Sarah Winchester believed the estate was haunted by ghosts- most notably those who fell victim to Winchester rifles. Her extravagant manor of secret passageways, upside down columns and uneven stairways were constructed to appease the evil spirits that followed her throughout her home. If you dare, experience the chill of the flashlight tour as you explore the Winchester Mystery House in the dark.

Information

  • Name: Winchester Mystery House
  • Address: 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose
  • Price: $30/adult for Behind the Scenes Tour
  • Opening Hours: Daily 9AM-5PM
  • Website: http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/

11. San Jose Improv

One small and cozy comedy club, one lineup of the city’s big name comedians. The San Jose Improv was formerly known as the Jose Theatre upon construction in 1904. Throughout history, this acted as the stage for prominent magician Harry Houdini, and was also rumoured to have been the stage for Charlie Chaplin. These days, the San Jose Improv dishes up an appetizing menu of pub grub, a generous list of drinks, and sold out shows that will guarantee to have you laughing out loud.

Information

  • Name: San Jose Improv
  • Address: 62 South 2nd Street San Jose
  • Website: http://sanjose.improv.com/

12. San Jose Municipal Rose Garden

San Jose Municipal Rose Garden
Source: John Menard

Once a prune orchard, the city purchased the land in 1927, and dedicated its 5.5 acres in size to cultivating roses. As a rose garden in the Rose Garden neighbourhood of San Jose, it most certainly lives up to its name by cultivating 189 varieties of roses, and more than 3500 plantings. The expansive field of colourful flowers are in full bloom April through November, but the most popular time to visit is early May, when the roses are most fragrant, and at their most exquisite stage.

Information

  • Name: San Jose Municipal Rose Garden
  • Address: Dana Ave, San Jose
  • Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 10AM-9PM, Sunday 11AM-7PM
  • Website: http://www.sanjoseca.gov/facilities/facility/details/74

13. Downtown Ice

San Jose Downtown Ice
Source: Keith Caswell

Downtown Ice is a favourite holiday tradition of San Jose residents. Each winter from November through February, an outdoor ice rink is installed in the heart of the city, welcoming families and individuals of all ages to participate in a little holiday cheer. Downtown Ice also sponsors a program named Schools on Skates, which allows a maximum of 200 children who are normally deprived of the opportunity to skate, to partake in the event.

Information

  • Name: Downtown Ice
  • Address: http://www.sanjoseca.gov/facilities/facility/details/74
  • Price: $17/adult
  • Opening Season: November through February
  • Website: http://www.downtownicesj.com/

14. Agenda Restaurant and Lounge

A prominent spot for party goers on the weekends, Agenda Lounge is a multi-level venue that encompasses a lounge, restaurant, as well as dance club. Its third level is a popular space for DJs, and has hosted some of the slickest local and national talents. On Wednesdays, Agenda Lounge hosts free salsa lessons, followed by a night of salsa music spun by DJs. With pool tables, ample dancing space, and a handful of bars in the establishment, patrons are bound to have an unforgettable time at Agenda Lounge.

Information

  • Name: Agenda Restaurant and Lounge
  • Address: 399 S 1st St, San Jose
  • Opening Hours: Closed Monday & Tuesday. Wednesday- Saturday 530PM-2AM, Sunday 9PM-2AM
  • Website: http://www.agendalounge.com/

15. San Jose Flea Market

The San Jose Flea Market was first created in 1960 by George Bumb Senior. It grew as decades passed, and is now regarded as one of America’s largest open air markets. Situated in the city’s north-east division, the market unites over 2000 vendors over an 8 mile property. This weekend affair attracts over 4 million visitors annually, offering an array of clothing, collectibles, jewelry, children’s toys, and everything in between. But perhaps the most notable feature of the San Jose Flea Market is its farmers’ market, with an impressive ¼ mile of local vendors offering fresh fruits and vegetables from the state’s growers. The San Jose Flea Market is a weekend of family entertainment, boasting three playgrounds, a vintage carousel, and a number of carnival rides for the young ones. Don’t miss out on this number one flea market in San Jose.

Information

  • Name: San Jose Flea Market
  • Address: 1590 Berryessa Rd, San Jose
  • Price: Free admission with paid parking, free parking before 9AM
  • Opening Hours: Closed Monday,Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday & Friday-Sunday 8AM-6PM
  • Website: http://www.sjfm.com/

San Jose is a diverse city with activities to suit any interest. Whether you enjoy sampling local foods, shopping, or visiting the museums, you are bound to find something that will leave you yearning to return to the city.

Have a good trip and travel!

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North America, San Jose, Santa Clara County, State of California, U.S.A.