What to see in San Jose: the gateway to Silicon Valley

Who I am
Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Item Feedback:

content warning

Just over an hour from San Francisco, San José is the third largest city in California and the tenth largest in the United States. It is located in the Santa Clara Valley and is a good base if you want to explore nearby cities such as Santa Cruz, Monterey and the famous Silicon Valley.

San José is also a popular destination for those traveling to California with children: museums dedicated to them, large parks, the mild climate with rare rainy days a year and a relaxed atmosphere along the tree-lined streets of its historic center are ideal for who is spending their holidays with the family.

Moreover, San José has a particular charm that characterizes it since it manages to combine the modern and technological aspects of Silicon Valley, of young startups and innovative ideas with the historical Latin roots and with the attention to preserve and safeguard the large green areas. of the city and the valley.


  • What to see in San José
    • The historical center
  • Outside the historic center of San José
  • Where to sleep in San José

What to see in San José

Despite being a minor tourist center, San José offers numerous attractions for adults and children and is therefore a destination not to be underestimated on a California vacation. Here are some tips on what to do in San José and where to sleep.

The name San José is an abbreviation of Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe, as the town was originally called in 1777 by Lieutenant José Joaquin Moraga. In 1848 the Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe ceases to be in Mexican territory and becomes part of the United States. Not only that, in that period San José was proclaimed the first capital of the state of California.

The historical center

Plaza de Cesar Chavez is undoubtedly the heart of the city and the town center colonial of San José. Around the Plaza de Cesar Chavez you will find the San José Museum of Art, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joséph, The Tech Museum of Innovation, the California Theater and the Children's Discovery Museum.

Walk about ten minutes north along San Pedro Street to reach the San Pedro Square Market, a covered market with refreshment points where you can taste not only local cuisine but also delicious international dishes. Just a short distance from San Pedro Square there are two historic houses of incredible charm: the old one Peralta Adobe, built in 1797 and probably among the oldest buildings in the city and the Fellon House, an aristocratic Victorian mansion from 1850.

Not to be missed, always north of Plaza de Cesar Chavez and reachable on foot in about 30 minutes, theHeritage Rose Garden. This splendid garden holds 3000 rose plants belonging to over 2800 different species. Admission is free and the park is open every day from sunrise to sunset. In addition, it is possible to participate in lessons in pruning and cultivation of roses, for beginners or for fans of this splendid flower.

San José Museum of Art

The San José Art Museum is located at 110 South Market Street, in the historic center. Opened in 1969, the museum houses works by great Californian and West Coast artists of the 20th and 21st centuries with permanent collections and innovative and thoughtful temporary exhibitions. Inside the museum you can admire the skilful use of different types of media by the artists: photography, culture, digital media and paintings. The building also deserves to be seen: the original part is in Romanesque style while the new part is in a modern style, yet the two parts merge into a harmonious unicum.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Joséph

This beautiful Catholic cathedral is located at 80 Market Street. The first parish church in the original San José pueblo named after Saint Joseph was built in 1803, but for well four times natural disasters destroyed the buildings. In 1876 the first stone was laid for the present St. Joseph Church, the fifth church dedicated to the saint built for the Catholic community, and in 1877 it was inaugurated.

The embellishment works of the cathedral - such as the glazed windows, the frescoes on the walls and on the ceiling - date back to the early twentieth century. Thanks to its history, artistic beauty and the service it provides to the community, the church was proclaimed a basilica in 1997. Admission is free.

The Tech Museum of Innovation

In the center of San José there is also the museum dedicated to science and innovation with interesting interactive and multimedia exhibits for adults and children. Located at 201 South Market Street, the museum is structured on three floors and houses an IMAX cinema that allows a 360-degree experience to anyone participating in the screening of the film. The museum's mission is to make visitors understand how technology affects everyday life, from the study of earthquakes to that of the human body, from robots to virtual and augmented reality.

California Theater

In the southern area of ​​Plaza de Cesar Chavez, at 345 First Street, is what is believed to be one of the best preserved theaters built in the 1927s in the United States. It opened under the name of Fox Theater in 1.848 with 1.119 seats (today it is 2004) and after the restoration in XNUMX, the California Theater has become home to the Opera San José and the Symphony Silicon Valley orchestra and hosts important events every season. , concerts and live performances.

If you do not have time to visit its interior, or to attend a show, even stopping for a photo of the particular architecture can be a good idea, especially in the evening when its characteristic illuminated neon sign will make a good show.

Children's Discovery Museum

About a 12-minute walk from Plaza de Cesar Chavez is the Children's Discovery Museum. In this museum, science, art and technology are shown to children of all ages thanks to interesting permanent installations and exhibitions that are periodically renewed. Thanks to the simplicity and multimedia with which the topics covered are exposed, children will discover and learn the beauties of our universe while having fun.

The museum is located at 180 Woz Way. The entrance ticket costs 15 dollars. The opening hours are:

  • Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 16:00
  • Saturday from 10: 00 to 17: 00
  • Sunday from 12:00 to 17:00.

Outside the historic center of San José

In the west of San José we find a particular tourist attraction: the Winchester Mystery House. The large mansion belonged to Sarah Winchester, a member of the family of gun makers of the same name, who bought it in 1884. From that date until her death in 1922, she never stopped expanding and modifying the house. A medium, in fact, convinced her that if she finished the work, the spirits of the people killed by the weapons produced by her family would persecute her.

The house therefore has 160 rooms and many oddities, such as stairs leading nowhere or windows on the floor. The Winchester Mystery House is located at 525 Winchester Boulevard and is truly a splendid Victorian mansion with its large garden, luxurious furnishings and weapons museum. Admission with tour costs from 20 to 49 dollars depending on the day and age: you can easily consult the site for the price and, if necessary, to buy the ticket.

Il SAP Center is the sports center where the famous San José Sharks play hockey. It is located west of the historic center, at 525 West Santa Clara Street, and in about 15 minutes walk from Plaza de Cesar Chavez you can reach this large stadium where you can watch a game (tickets are not expensive) or one of the many concerts or events that take place here.

Il Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium is the Egyptian museum of San José. Housed in a beautiful building with a well-kept garden, a labyrinth, a planetarium, a temple and a library. Inside you will find many artifacts and artifacts from ancient Egypt, mummies and the reconstruction of an underground tomb. It is located at 1660 Park Avenue and is open Wednesday through Friday from 9am to 00pm and Saturday and Sunday from 17am to 00pm. The entrance ticket costs 10 dollars for adults and 00 dollars for children between 18 and 00 years old.

To the east of the historic center of San José is another important museum: theHistory Park. It is one of the most important open-air museums in the United States and by visiting it you can admire over 20 buildings and constructions linked to the ancient urban settlement of San José. You will be able to see for yourself an ancient city with a hotel, petrol pump, electric tower and various original houses. It is located within a beautiful park, Kelley Park, which in itself is worth a visit. Check out the official website for times that change depending on the time of year.

Still on the subject of history, it is impossible not to mention the San José Mission part of the historic Camino Real of California. Even if it is not actually in the city but in nearby Freemont, if you are interested in the genre, it is still worth going to see it as it houses one of the largest and most well-kept museums that you can find in these Franciscan missions.

Where to sleep in San José

The city is quite large and the hotel offer is vast. You could choose to stay near the San José Airport if you land or take off from there, or close to the many parks such as Alum Rock Park or Almaden Quicksilver County Park if you are a hiker and love to visit California's hiking trails or by mountain bike.

Below we have chosen to recommend three hotels that are located in full historical center in San José, close to the main attractions we talked about in this article, with parking and the possibility of taking a walk, even in the evening, to discover the city.

The Fairmont San Jose
  • Four Point Sheraton: at 211 South First Street, this three-star hotel offers excellent value for money, especially as it is located in the center of San José. Plaza de Cesar Chavez is located behind the hotel and is less than a hundred meters away. Walk to all of downtown San José's major attractions, as well as shops, restaurants and bars.
  • AC Hotel Marriott San José Downtown: at 350 West Santa Clara Street, this hotel is located between Plaza de Cesar Chavez and San Pedro Square. It has an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, a terrace and a restaurant specializing in European cuisine. If you love modernity, this is the hotel for you.
  • The Fairmont San José: At 170 South Market Street, this 5-star hotel has an elegant outdoor pool, four restaurants, a gym, and a spa with whirlpool, steam room and sauna. In the heart of the historic center, the hotel overlooks the Plaza de Cesar Chavez.
Four Points by Sheraton
AC Hotel by Marriott

Search for accommodation in San Jose

add a comment of What to see in San Jose: the gateway to Silicon Valley
Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.