20 Must-Visit Attractions in and Around San Jose, CA

Downtown San Jose, CA |
 © Tim Wilson / WikiCommons
Downtown San Jose, CA | © Tim Wilson / WikiCommons

“Do you know the way to San Jose?” Once you’ve figured out how to get to the Capital of Silicon Valley, you need to plan something to do during your stay. Luckily, whipping up an itinerary for this city is a cinch. From activities that will have your heart racing to luxurious shopping districts, there’s something for everyone to do in San Jose. 

Winchester Mystery House™
History Museum, Architecture Museum
Winchester Mystery House © Mike Shelby/Flickr

Winchester Mystery House | Mike Shelby / Flickr

In 1881, William Wirt Winchester, whose family made the Winchester rifle, died. He left behind a grieving widow who was beside herself. Not only did Sarah Winchester mourn the loss of her husband, but she also began to believe that the spirits of people who had been killed by Winchester rifles were haunting her. As a result, she attempted to appease the ghosts by continuously building out her home. The Winchester Mystery House™ still stands in San Jose today and is full of stairways that lead nowhere, mysterious passageways, and peculiar rooms.

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Indoors, Outdoors, Architectural Landmark, Instagrammable

SAP Center

No trip to San Jose is complete without stopping by the SAP Center. Lovingly referred to as the “Shark Tank” by locals, this arena is where the San Jose Sharks practice and host home games. The team has been around since 1991 and has never won a Stanley Cup, but Bay Area residents are diehard fans nonetheless.

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Great America
Amusement Park

Looking for a way to keep the entire family entertained? San Jose’s Great America is an excellent mix of attractions for people of all ages. Hop on death-defying coasters or meet Snoopy in the furry flesh. However you choose to spend the day at Great America, bring a camera to capture the memories.

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Santana Row
Market, Shopping Mall
Santana Row is more than just an outdoor mall—it’s a lifestyle. The luxury shopping outlet is home to posh brands and beloved local companies as well. You could spend hours strolling through the shopping district with an iced coffee in hand or stop at one of the many comfortable outdoor seating options and spend the day people-watching.
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Mountain Winery

Located in Saratoga, the Mountain Winery has been around since 1905. Not only does the venue offer some quality wines for a day of leisurely sipping, but it also hosts some of the biggest musicians around in its outdoor venue.

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Municipal Rose Garden
Botanical Garden, Park

Covering nearly six acres of San Jose, the Municipal Rose Garden is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Stroll through bright blooms and soak in the sunshine while admiring over 4,000 rose shrubs.

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San Pedro Square Market
Bar, Market, American$$

The San Pedro Square Market is the best dining option for people who can’t make up their minds. The plaza hosts a variety of different shops and restaurants, which means you can stroll through and sample everything from wood-fired pizza to tapas. The market also frequently hosts events such as karaoke and trivia night to keep patrons entertained.

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San Jose Flea Market

On Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the San Jose Flea Market is the place to be if you believe in turning trash into treasure. Wander through colorful aisles dominated by shopping stalls, and then stop for a bite to eat at one of the food vendors. If you’re traveling with kids in tow, check out the arcade or mini Ferris wheel that calls the market home.

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San Jose Museum of Art
Market, Museum

Looking for a peek inside modern and contemporary art in the Bay Area? The San Jose Museum of Art showcases a variety of exhibits that are intriguing to people from all walks of life. From painting and photography to sculptures and light installations, you’ll want to carve out a few hours from your trip to take it all in.

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Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph
Cathedral, Church, Market

Located in downtown San Jose, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph is a stunning structure that’s a registered California Historical Landmark. Originally built in 1803, the Roman Catholic house of worship that stands today has undergone major renovations and rebuilding. Regardless of your spirituality, there’s something calming and inspiring in the church’s intricate architecture.

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Known for being one of the most authentic Japantowns in the country, this cultural mecca in San Jose draws in tons of visitors. Offering delicious Japanese restaurants, specialty shops, and a myriad of art galleries and theaters, spending a day in Japantown means having tons of fun. 

Japantown, San Jose, CA, USA

Castle Rock State Park
Castle Rock State Park

Castle Rock State Park | © Brad Fults/Flickr

Charge your smartphone and prepare to snap pictures galore at Castle Rock State Park. Home to 34 miles (55 kilometers) of hiking trails, towering sandstone structures, and enough greenery to last a lifetime, the state park is truly breathtaking.

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The Tech Museum of Innovation

Check out The Tech Museum of Innovation for a day spent exploring hands-on science and technology exhibits. Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, the Tech is renowned for its forward-thinking installations and commitment to knowledge.

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Downtown Los Gatos

While you’re technically in Santa Clara, Los Gatos provides a woodsy small-town feel to your getaway. With brick-lined buildings, cozy coffee shops, and unique boutiques, you can spend the day tasting your way through town and window shopping like a local. 

Los Gatos, CA, USA

Raging Waters

The 23-acre water park is ideal for thrill seekers. As Raging Waters is only open during the summer months, the venue makes sure to pack in a lot of fun for the entire family. Slip into your favorite swimming suit and soar down sopping wet slides with your loved ones.

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Children’s Discovery Museum
Concert Hall, Museum

The Children’s Discovery Museum is, as you might have guessed, designed for children. The colorful and entertaining institution specializes in hands-on exhibits that get kids excited about learning. If you’re traveling with small children, don’t miss out on the many art, science, and garden installations available.

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Montalvo Arts Center
Montalvo Arts Center, also known as Villa Montalvo, is a beloved NorCal landmark. Built in 1912, a former mayor of San Francisco once owned the property, but today, it offers locals and tourists a beautiful place to picnic and hike.
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Kelley Park
Museum, Park, Zoo
Kelley Park is a much-loved part of San Jose. The public space, comprised of over 172 acres of land, is home to the Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, History Park Museum, and miles of lawns and gardens in which to stretch out and enjoy a quality picnic.
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Japanese Friendship Garden

Although the Japanese Friendship Garden sits inside Kelley Park, it deserves its own honorable mention. Constructed as a symbol of good relations between San Jose and its sister city, Okayama, Japan, the friendship garden is a natural gem within the city’s urban confines.

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Downtown San Jose

You haven’t really toured San Jose without stopping downtown. With an abundance of tech companies, breweries, restaurants, and shopping options, you’re bound to find something that catches your eye in the heart of the city.

Downtown San Jose, CA, USA