Things to do in San Jose

Best Viewpoints in San Jose: Cityscape Splendor

Nothing is ordinary in San Jose. Its viewpoints are no exception. See this city from a whole new angle.

San Jose has its own unique charm. A big part of truly appreciating a city is discovering its style, especially a city as stellar as this one. San Jose’s natural beauty and outstanding architecture make it truly one of a kind.

When you're making a list of things to do in San Jose, include venues with majestic viewpoints to truly appreciate the city in all its glory.

Parks and Nature Reserves

Just because San Jose is in Silicon Valley, that doesn't mean it's all skyscrapers and city skylines. This city has access to some of the best natural sights in the surrounding areas. Check out our favorites.

1. Alum Rock Park

Alum Rock Park is nestled in Alum Rock Canyon, part of the foothills of the Diablo Range. The park features nearly endless opportunities for outdoor leisure, and it's a popular destination for hikes in San Jose.

It's best known for its stunning sights and is ideal for a nature escape with the family. You'll have plenty of access to picnic tables and barbecue pits. You’ll even find cultivated lawns and a children's playground for a serene park experience.

Some park trails can take you high above San Jose and the greater Bay Area. This vantage point provides stellar vistas, including a panoramic view of Santa Clara Valley.

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2. Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve

For sprawling views of Santa Clara Valley, head over to Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve. You'll have to hike some challenging trails to reach the best viewpoints, but you'll be rewarded if you're up to the task. Traveling up to Vista Point, you'll be greeted with views of Alum Rock Canyon and the rest of the southern valley.

To reach Vista Point, you'll have to take the Kestrel Trail up to the Sierra Vista Trail. Follow it northeast before hopping onto the Upper Calaveras Fault Trail. After braving grasslands and woodland habitats, you'll find yourself overlooking a canyon from an unforgettable vantage point.

While the preserve closes at 6:15 p.m., visitors can stay 30 minutes after sunset. We recommend taking advantage of this option to see the sky as it ignites in fiery colors over the city below.

3. Vieira Park on Communications Hill

For something a bit less strenuous with views still worth the trip, check out Vieira Park. It's located on Communications Hill, a mixed-use development area in a particularly hilly part of San Jose. The park is relatively small, with a little playground and some greenery suitable for kids.

However, the dramatic views of the city are awe-inspiring. Across the street from the park, you'll find the Vieira Park Outlook viewpoint that attracts people from all over the city looking for an unforgettable San Jose sunset.

As the sun falls beyond the mountains on the horizon, the sky becomes a shock of color, and once darkness blankets the valleys, the city streets below transform into a glimmering sea of city lights.

Observation Decks and Towers

Observation decks often sit on the best vantage points in their regions. After all, how else are they going to work well? Scientists usually use them for uninterrupted sights of the sky, and we think they've got the right idea.

4. Mount Hamilton Lick Observatory

As a formal observatory for the University of California, Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton boasts some impressive views.

The facility primarily serves to progress research and innovation in creating cameras and other astrology-related instruments. It also provides key education to the general public. It also happens to provide some of the best views in the region.

You can explore the visitor center during daytime hours, or marvel at the views from the parking lot at night. The center sits at an altitude of 4,209 feet overlooking Santa Clara Valley, and visitors are encouraged to pack a picnic to eat while enjoying panoramic sights.

For an even more unforgettable view, buy a ticket for a night visit during the summer months. You'll get a chance to peer through one of the telescopes for dazzling views of the celestial bodies above.

Photographer: Haotian Zheng

Restaurants and Caves With a View

Great food is good anytime. When it's combined with an even better view, it's an unbeatable experience.

5. GrandView

At GrandView restaurant, the views are as stellar as the city itself. As the name implies, it offers one of the most phenomenal vantage points in San Jose. The greater Santa Clara Valley becomes a sparkling display of lights on the horizon. Here, you can settle in for a night of food as spectacular as the sights.

Treat your taste buds to a culinary adventure crafted from farm-fresh ingredients made using cutting-edge and traditional techniques. Dine under the sky or sit indoors near the massive windows to truly soak in your surroundings from dizzying heights.

Hiking Trails

San Jose is surrounded by vast expanses of mountains and nature preserves, each offering something unique. With so many trails venturing up foothills, people flock to them to reach new heights and catch birds-eye views they'd otherwise miss.

6. Almaden Quicksilver County Park

While many scenic viewpoints we've covered focus on getting high up above Santa Clara Valley, Almaden Quicksilver County Park offers picturesque vistas without the altitude.

It's situated just south of San Jose in New Almaden and once saw over a century of mining activity. The mercury extracted from the site was used to assist in separating precious metals from ore in the Sierras.

Today, nature reigns supreme. Hike through a historic landmark ripe with environmental diversity that showcases the region’s beauty. Meander through trails spread over 4,000 acres of grasslands that brim with wildflowers in spring and summer.

You can catch a break in areas shaded by old-growth trees and marvel at the Guadalupe and Almaden Reservoirs. Remember to exercise caution. Mercury is known to accumulate within the reservoirs at unsafe levels.

7. Fremont Older Preserve

Fremont Older Preserve transports you from the city to a natural haven of biodiversity. Flowers bloom even in winter, such as fuchsia-hued chaparral currants and delicate California gooseberries.

There's a lot to see and do here, but Hunter's Point takes the cake if you're looking for viewpoints over Santa Clara Valley. To get here, you'll have to follow winding trails on foot or bike amid the eucalyptus trees and sprawling grasses.

Once you reach the top of this 900-foot hill, you'll feel like you're standing on top of the world with sights as far as your eyes can see. Take in the wonders of the air as the city and mountains meld into the sky. From that viewpoint, trees and rooftops become a blur of color in the distance.

Photographer: Mani

8. Santa Teresa County Park

Santa Teresa County Park, a nearly 1,700-acre natural park, is just 10 miles south of San Jose's heart. With sweeping hills and the city on the horizon, you'll see urban development and natural preservation interplay.

Virtually everywhere within its borders offers spectacular views. It's a popular destination for equestrians, hikers, and cyclists as they seek a few moments of quiet refuge from city life. While you're here, check out its historic sights.

The Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch sits within the park and serves as a historical museum, taking you back in time to see what life on a ranch was like in the early 1900s. You'll also find the Santa Teresa Spring nearby, which attracted the indigenous Ohlone people to the location.

Photographer: James Widomeyer

Urban Vantage Points

The city offers beautiful views in its own right. There's something awe-inspiring about the city and nature dancing together. Trees and rooftops commingle. At night, city lights shimmer, mirroring the stars above.

9. City Hall Rotunda

The heart of San Jose is undoubtedly its City Hall Rotunda. This landmark building is vital to the city's operations and often involves civic and cultural activity.

We also happen to think it's a cool piece of architecture. After all, we're all about innovation and pushing the limits of what's humanly possible. We don't know about you, but we're sure creating a rounded building made of glass felt incredible.

Rounded panels of glass comprise most of its structure, shining brightly at night after the sun goes down. They're meant to maximize natural lighting inside and to accommodate the city's dense population. The glass walls on the ground floor can be lifted, creating an uninterrupted extension into the plaza for big events.

You'll find yourself surrounded by the same skyscrapers you may have admired from afar as you witness them from the ground up.

10. The Tech Interactive's Rooftop

The Tech Interactive is a delight to visit, where cutting-edge science becomes a popular tourist attraction. In a city ripe with technological innovation, playing with technology for a day is a true pleasure. It's worth a trip whenever you're in San Jose.

But The Tech Interactive has a little-known secret that makes it a prime contender for one of the best San Jose museums. It's got a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city. But it comes with a catch — it's only accessible during scheduled events.

The museum hosts rooftop dinners from time to time, and people can rent it out for receptions and parties. If you want to check it out, you'll need to plan carefully or keep an eye on the museum's calendar for upcoming events.

11. Plaza de Cesar Chavez

Surrounded by bustling streets and high-rises, the Plaza de Cesar Chavez gives you a breath of fresh air in a historic location. This urban plaza in downtown San Jose dates back to 1797, although it was renamed in 1993 to honor its namesake for his civil rights activism.

Stroll through fountains and cultivated gardens to catch a break between attractions. It's right next to The Tech Interactive and the San Jose Museum of Art — and it's often the location for food festivals and performances.

12. Silicon Valley Capital Club

If you're ready to get up in the air to meet like-minded, business-focused people, it's time for a trip to the Silicon Valley Capital Club. While the venue hosts several events open to the public, you must be a member or the guest of a member to dine here.

You might have to pull a few strings and make some connections to eat in this 17th-floor club, but if you do, you'll be in for a thrilling time. It's a prime space for fine dining above the city streets while networking and attending meetings.

Within this exclusive venue, the interior shines with the same sleek, sharp aesthetic befitting a central tech hub. However, that's not what everyone's looking at when they're here. The views of San Jose are unforgettable.

Hotels and Resorts

If you're staying in the San Jose area and enjoy gorgeous views, you'll want to plan accordingly when it's time to book a hotel. The right vista can completely transform the experience, and you'll be glad all you have to do is look or step outside for some of the best viewpoints in San Jose.

13. Hotel De Anza

Established in 1931, Hotel De Anza resides in Downtown San Jose. It’s an iconic landmark rich in historical background. Featuring elaborate art deco architecture and furniture throughout, this hotel exudes with every step you take inside.

We're particularly fond of the Palm Court Terrace, where you can socialize and dine in elegant style, surrounded by potted trees under the light of Tiffany-style lamps. If you have a room on a higher floor, you'll be greeted with great views of the city.

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San Jose Views: A Tapestry of Innovation and Heritage

In San Jose, innovation and heritage come together as seamlessly as the city and its natural surroundings. Each viewpoint has something else to offer, showing another side and telling a different story. That's what we love about Silicon Valley and why we're so happy to be here.

After viewing the best sites the city has to offer, come to one of our shows in San Jose. We blend innovation with tradition, creating tales that draw inspiration from histories and cultures around the world while creating our own universes.

Our performers take traditional artistry, such as dancing and music, and throw caution to the wind for an awe-inspiring, out-of-this-world performance that will leave you wanting more. Most importantly, we beckon people to stop and admire what's right in front of them in thought-provoking displays.

Watch one of our shows to discover how we take dreams and turn them into reality.

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