The Best Day Trips From San Jose

Downtown San Jose, California
Downtown San Jose, California | Tomwsulcer / Good Free Photos
Deanna Morgado

Looking for a quick getaway from San Jose? You don’t have to travel far, worry about booking a hotel, or even pack an overnight bag when you can take any number of day trips from San Jose.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz County, an hour south of San Jose, has so much more to offer than Boardwalk—it also happens to be one of California’s agricultural powerhouses. Many smaller farms in the area let visitors pick their own fruit straight from the vine, so grab a basket and stock up on delicious, ripe produce like apples, blackberries, boysenberries, and raspberries.


Alameda itself is historical—and just west of downtown San Jose—with mid-century architecture and signage throughout the downtown area. But the city’s antiquing culture is huge, with Park Avenue as a top antiquing spot. Keep an eye out for the Alameda Antiques Faire, held the first Sunday of every month at the old naval base; the huge flea market has everything from furniture to vintage fashion and apparel.

Antique Speed Graphic camera


Drive an hour and a half north to Napa and experience real wine country. Book a wine tour or just wander around the downtown area, where the wining and dining is plentiful. Just remember to make sure to wait a while before driving back, or bring a friend who happens to be more into the delicious Napa food experience than the booze.

Half Moon Bay

An hour northwest of San Jose, Half Moon Bay is one of California’s most iconic coastal towns, quaint and quiet—unless you count the Pacific crashing along the shoreline. The big waves of the beach make for ample surfing opportunities for sportier adventurers. Weather is almost always chilly, so when San Jose hits one of its inevitable heat waves, Half Moon Bay’s fog is a welcome treat.

Half Moon Bay

San Francisco

Perhaps one of California’s most popular tourist destinations, San Francisco is accessible without a car in under two hours, and the city’s world-class public transportation system—including Muni, CalTrain and BART—means no dealing with its infamous parking woes. Sightseeing spots include Mission Dolores; Alcatraz, Angel and Treasure islands; and great photo op destinations like Twin Peaks and the Golden Gate Bridge.


The self-described garlic capital of the world, Gilroy makes a great trip for foodies and is only 30 minutes south of San Jose. Time the trip right and attend the massive Annual Gilroy Garlic festival (every summer on the last full weekend in July at Christmas Hill Park), and eat the freshest garlic fries—even garlic ice cream! Gilroy is also well-known for its shopping: high-end outlet mall Gilroy Premium Outlets includes world-class shopping destinations such as Coach, Sax Fifth Avenue, and Kenneth Cole. This 145-store center, conveniently located just off Highway 101, features the largest collection of designer and brand name outlet stores in northern California.

Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival


For wine lovers who don’t want to make the trek to Napa, Livermore’s up-and-coming wine industry is a fantastic option. While this area has been producing wine since the early days of the San Francisco Mission, it has only become a popular tourist destination in the last decade; dozens of wineries scattered through Livermore (30 minutes east of San Jose) produce some of California’s most critically acclaimed wines.
Outside of wine, the city is also home to the Guinness Book World Record-holder for the longest burning light bulb. A 115-year-old 4-watt bulb, called the Centennial Light Bulb, has been glowing since 1901 at the city’s main firehouse with the exception of power outages and three moves.

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Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

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It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

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Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

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Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.