9 Best Things to Do in San Jose, CA

9 Best Things to Do in San Jose, CAWe were fortunate enough to spend several weeks touring the greater Bay Area in California. That’s when we discovered San Jose. It’s a great large city, tucked right between San Francisco and the Monterey Bay. It’s almost as if these two areas overshadow what San Jose has to offer, right?

We’re here today to suggest that you include San Jose in your California itinerary. Add another day to explore the city. With that in mind, we have a list of 9 fun attractions you can visit while in town.

  1. The Tech Interactive
  2. Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph
  3. Santana Row
  4. Winchester Mystery House
  5. SAP Center
  6. Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
  7. Japanese American Museum of San Jose
  8. San Jose Civic
  9. San Jose Center for the Performing Arts

To help you out, we’ve put together this short guide, with details about each of these places. I’m sure you’ll see there’s plenty of things to do in San Jose. Hey, you may even end up adding more than one day for exploring this unique California location.

Let’s dive right in.

1. The Tech Interactive

Considering San Jose’s high status in the tech industry, it should come as no surprise that the Tech Interactive Museum is one of the city’s major attractions. Located beside the Plaza de César Chávez, the Tech Interactive contains an IMAX theater and three floors of hands-on science-related exhibits that are all kid-friendly.

Exhibits at the Tech Interactive are continually changing, but all of them focus on the latest breakthroughs in science and technology. A few subjects that receive special attention include biotechnology, robotics, and augmented reality.

Please keep in mind the Tech Interactive is closed every year between September 3rd and September 13th for routine maintenance.

Location: 201 S Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113

Website

Opening Hours: 10AM – 5PM, seven days per week

Admission Fee: $25 for adults; $20 for kids, students, and seniors. The IMAX experience is a separate fee.

2. Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph

No matter what faith you belong to, a trip to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph is sure to uplift your spirit. Once you see this church’s soaring architecture, detailed statuary, and glorious stained glass in-person, you’ll quickly understand why it’s considered one of California’s great spiritual landmarks.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph, San Jose, California | PUBLIC DOMAIN

The grand Catholic basilica we see today is mostly the result of renovations between 1981-1990, but this church has a long history dating back to the early 1800s. Since St. Joseph’s continues to serve as an active house of worship, feel free to attend mass if you’re interested.

Before you leave this basilica, please don’t forget to take a peek at the giant pipe organ in the back. Dating back to the late 1800s, St. Joseph’s organ is one of only four Odells still in operation in the USA. If you’re lucky, you might even get to hear an organ recital on your trip to San Jose!

Location: 80 S Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113

Website

Opening Hours: Varies by day

Admission Fee: FREE

3. Santana Row Shopping Center

Moving from the sacred to the secular, Santana Row is San Jose’s most picturesque shopping and dining area. Here guests will find a nice mix of familiar brand name stores like Starbucks and Best Buy alongside unique local finds.

But Santana Row is far more than just a fancy outdoor mall. With its public squares, European-inspired architecture, and soothing fountains, Santana Row is a tourist attraction in its own right.

Besides shopping and dining, Santana Row is home to a weekly farmers’ market and hosts many live events throughout the year. Be sure to check online to see what’s going on at sensational Santana Row.

Location: 377 Santana Row, San Jose, CA 95128

Website

Opening Hours: Most stores are open between 10AM – 5PM on Mondays, 10AM – 9PM on Tuesdays through Fridays, and from 11AM – 7PM on Saturdays.

Admission Fee: FREE

4. Winchester Mystery House

For those with an interest in the supernatural, be sure to add the magisterial Winchester Mystery House to your San Jose itinerary. Built in the 19th century for Sarah Winchester, wife of rifle manufacturer William Wirt Winchester, this Victorian-style home is supposedly haunted by the spirits of those killed by the company’s rifles.

Winchester Mystery House I PUBLIC DOMAIN PIXABAY

Your tour guide will tell you everything you need to know about Sarah Winchester and the history of this home’s construction. If you’re not afraid, consider booking an after-dark tour to hear even more bone-chilling tales of ghost sightings.

Location: 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

Website

Opening Hours: Opens every day at 9AM; closing times vary

Admission Fee: Ticket prices vary depending on tour package

5. SAP Center

Constructed in the 1990s, San Jose’s SAP Center is the famed home of the city’s beloved NHL team: the San Jose Sharks. Sitting next to roughly 17,500 screaming Sharks fans on game days is certainly an exhilarating experience you won’t soon forget.

SAP Center
SAP Center | Photo by Travis Wise

But you don’t have to be a hockey fan to have a great time in the “Shark Tank.” Indeed, the SAP Center hosts dozens of basketball games, wrestling matches, tennis competitions, and first-rate entertainers every year. Anyone looking for a fun night out in San Jose should browse through the SAP Center’s schedule before arriving in the city.

Location: 525 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

Website

Opening Hours: Varies by event

Admission Fee: Varies by event

6. Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

If you’re not already interested in Ancient Egyptian history, then a visit to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum will make an Egyptologist out of you! Created by the occult Rosicrucian Order, this museum boasts one of North America’s largest collections of Egyptian artifacts.

The architects who designed the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum based their building design on the imperious Temple of Amon. This architectural design really helps transport guests into one of the world’s most mysterious ancient civilizations.

After touring this immersive museum, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the long and fascinating history of Egypt.

Location: 1660 Park Avenue San Jose, CA 95126

Website

Opening Hours: Wednesday through Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm; Saturday through Sunday from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Admission Fee: Tickets are $9 for anyone between the ages of 10 – 55, $7 for seniors, and $5 for children between the ages of 5 – 9. Children under 4 are free. Discounts may apply.

7. Japanese American Museum of San Jose

Over the years, Japanese immigrants have made many important contributions to the culture of the Bay Area. You can experience the vibrancy of the Bay Area’s Japanese community for yourself by taking a trip to San Jose’s Japantown, which is only a 5-minute’s drive north of Downtown.

Japanese American Museum of San Jose
Japanese American Museum of San Jose | Photo by Myasuda

One of the best places to learn more about the triumphs and struggles of Japanese immigrants is at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj). Founded in the 1980s, the JAMsj preserves countless documents and artifacts from around the Bay Area to give visitors a better understanding of the Japanese-American experience. If you’re interested, you could also contact the JAMsj at (408) 294-3138 to schedule a walking tour of surrounding Japantown.

Location: 535 N 5th St, San Jose, CA 95112

Website

Opening Hours: Thursday through Sunday, 12pm – 4 pm

Admission Fee: $8 for adults or $5 for seniors and students. Tickets are free for children under the age of 5.

8. San Jose Civic

Opened in 1933, the San Jose Civic is one of the city’s most famous live performance venues. This 2,850-seat auditorium made national headlines in the 1960s for hosting artists as big as the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Today, the Civic continues to bring in some of the hottest singers, comedians, and family-friendly entertainers.

While the San Jose Civic has been significantly revamped, you can still get a sense of this auditorium’s long history from its ornate architecture. Be sure to look up what’s going on at the San Jose Civic before your trip if you’re in the mood for high-quality live entertainment.

Location: 135 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA 95113

Website

Opening Hours: Varies by event

Admission Fee: Varies by event

9. San Jose Center for the Performing Arts

People who adore the glamour of a Broadway musical should check out what’s going on at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. Situated in the Downtown district, this performing arts center seats about 2,600 people and serves as the major hub for professional Broadway tours.

Besides Broadway musicals, the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts is well known for hosting many dancing troupes throughout the year. Definitely give this center a quick review online if you’re interested in song, dance, and drama.

Location: 255 S Almaden Blvd, San Jose, CA 95113

Website

Opening Hours: Varies by event

Admission Fee: Varies by event

Where To Stay In San Jose

Now that you have a better understanding of what to do in San Jose, it’s time to take a look at some of the best places to stay. Unsurprisingly, most of the higher-reviewed hotels are in the Downtown district near the Plaza de César Chávez. There are, however, a few great value hotel options elsewhere in the city. Here are a few of the best-reviewed San Jose hotels on Booking.com for you to consider:

The Fairmont San Jose

For those who want to experience the height of luxury, consider booking a room at the highly acclaimed Fairmont San Jose. Situated in the heart of the city’s Downtown, The Fairmont San Jose offers guests access to plush rooms, a full-service gym, and a rooftop pool.

Visit them on Booking.com.

Hyatt Place San Jose, Downtown

People who are looking for a good mid-range hotel Downtown should look into Hyatt Place San Jose. Located within walking distance of the Tech Interactive, this hotel offers guests free WiFi, a fitness center, and is 100 percent pet-friendly.

Visit them on Booking.com.

San Jose Airport Inn

One of the more budget-friendly hotels to consider is the San Jose Airport Inn. All rooms here have free WiFi, but you will have to ask employees if you want a refrigerator or microwave in your room. As the hotel’s name suggests, San Jose Airport Inn is very close to San Jose International, but it’s about a 10-minute drive to get to Downtown.

Visit them on Booking.com.

Enjoy San Jose!

I hope you found this list of things to do in San Jose helpful. As always, I’d love to get your feedback! If you know San Jose and have other places to recommend, please do share them in a comment below!

9 Best Things To Do In San Jose, CA

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