How to Spend 24 Hours in San Jose, California

San Jose, California
San Jose, California | © the_tahoe_guy / Flickr
Deanna Morgado

Not to be underestimated, San Jose has an enormous amount to offer. So much so that it is nearly impossible to see everything there is to see within 24 hours—near impossible, but not completely. Use our guide to inspire your exploration of San Jose.

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Rise and shine with some history

Kick off your morning with some history. Located in Kelley Park, History San Jose is an open-air history museum. It has a replica of the 1881 Electric Light Tower, 1888 Chinese Temple, and the Pacific Hotel, complete with rotating exhibits.

History San Jose, 1650 Senter Rd, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 287 2290

Solve a mystery

The Winchester Mystery House is a San Jose staple. Rich with both history and mystery, this house is a world famous spot offering daily tours. Admire the Victorian mansion with over 160 rooms, all different sizes, uses (or lack of use), and even a seance room.

Winchester Mystery House, 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 247 2101

Winchester Mystery House

Brunch time

Now would be a good time to grab a bite to eat. What better place to go for breakfast, or even better, brunch, than The Breakfast Club. This diner-style restaurant has trendy and fun décor, perfect for a food photo shoot. They serve classic American food that’s as memorable as the film it’s named after.

The Breakfast Club, 1432 W San Carlos St #80, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 564 7150

Admire some art

One of the top art centers in the Bay Area, the Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA) community is a multicultural art venue that offers multiple exhibitions, open mic performances, and experimental theater.

MACLA, 510 S 1st St, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 998 2783

Then admire some tech

After enjoying some art, the next obvious choice is to bask in awe at The Tech Museum of Innovation, where tech and gadget enthusiasts can rejoice. Robotics, space exploration and genetics are just a few things that the museum has to offer in this tech-rich city.

The Tech Museum of Innovation, 201 S Market St, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 294 8324

The Tech Museum, San Jose, California

Grab a bite to eat

When lunch comes around, there is no better place than Caffe Frascati. This café not only has tasty items such as paninis and cappuccinos but also entertainment, including opera performances. Your San Jose lunch will be anything but boring, and you won’t have to spend much at this reasonably priced spot!

Caffe Frascati, 315 S 1st St, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 287 0400

Catch a performance

The California Theatre has a Spanish interior which resembles a cathedral and is also home to Opera San Jose. Visit this theater, located conveniently in Silicon Valley, for an entertaining afternoon. If you’re lucky enough to visit San Jose in February and March, the theater is also the hosting site for the yearly film festival, Cinequest.

California Theatre, 345 S 1st St, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 792 4542

Take in even more of San Jose’s history

Visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, the first pueblo church. While the original adobe brick version was constructed in the early 1800s, the present-day building opened in 1877; it stands at the top of Plaza de César Chávez.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, 80 S Market St, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 283 8100

Decompress at a pub

Downtown San Jose is the place to grab a drink and wait for a second wind after sightseeing and touring the city. Visit one of the many speakeasy lounges that have some of the most amazing and custom cocktails, with some recipes dating to the period prior to Prohibition. Most are all within walking distance of each other.

Downtown San Jose

Root on The Sharks during an NHL game

If you’re a sports fan, visiting San Jose during the months of September through April is a must. The SAP Center is the venue for NHL games and home to the famed San Jose Sharks. Time your stay right, and you may be able to experience the excitement on the ice for yourself.

SAP Center, 525 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 287 7070

Enjoy a Vietnamese dinner

Located right next to the San Jose University Campus, Tofoo Com Chay will dazzle you with dishes such as fake meat pho as well as heaping combination plates. It’s a perfect place for an affordable San Jose dinner.

Tofoo Com Chay, 388 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 286 6335

Head to Hedley Club at De Anza

Grab a relaxing drink while digesting at the Hedley Club inside the Hotel De Anza, built in the 1930s. The historical hotel offers jazz combinations that perform approximately three days a week or more.

Hedley Club, Hotel De Anza, 233 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 286 1000

Shoot some pool at The 49er Inn

Get ready for some good times at The 49er Inn. This bar has it all—from great cocktails to karaoke nights plus its very own billiards room.

The 49er Inn, 2214 Business Cir, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 279 9737

Play some pool at The 49er Inn

Dance through the evening at The Ritz

Later in the evening, head to The Ritz. Almost every night, this venue puts live bands on stage. And when there is not a band, talented DJs are bumping throughout the evening at this nightclub.

The Ritz, 400 S 1st St, San Jose, CA, USA

Head to Trials Pub

Trials Pub is where the late-night fun begins; it’s open until 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays. It is conveniently located just north of San Pedro Square and has some excellent ale, food, and ambiance. And if you’re still feeling peckish, you can have some after-dinner bites here.

Trials Pub, 265 N 1st St, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 947 0497

Finish your day with a stroll

Plaza de César Chávez, named after the founder of United Farm Workers, César Chávez who lived in San Jose, is the oldest public space in the city. Enjoy a leisurely stroll here and soak up everything you experienced in the area.

Plaza de César Chávez, 1 Paseo De San Antonio, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 535 3570

Plaza de César Chávez Fountain
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