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

Downtown San Jose, CA |
 © Tim Wilson / WikiCommons
Downtown San Jose, CA | © Tim Wilson / WikiCommons
Photo of Bryony Hatherley
16 July 2019

“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™

Building, Museum
Map View
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.

SAP Center

Map View
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.

Great America

Amusement Park
Map View
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.

Santana Row

Market, Shopping Mall
Map View
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.

San Pedro Square Market

Bar, Market, American
Map View
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.

San Jose Flea Market

Map View
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.

San Jose Museum of Art

Market, Museum
Map View
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.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph

Cathedral, Church, Market
Map View
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.


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.

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.

Raging Waters

Map View
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.

Children’s Discovery Museum

Concert Hall, Museum
Map View
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.

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.

These recommendations were updated on July 16, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.