Things to do in San Jose

Fun Date Ideas in San Jose

Bored with the usual date nights? Mix things up with these romantic rendez-vous ideas across San Jose.

Love is in the air in Silicon Valley. Can't smell it? You haven't looked in the right place yet. The city is a paradise for romantic couples looking for an unforgettable night (or day) out on the town together. All you have to do is look in the right spots.

With no shortage of things to do in San Jose, every couple can find something they love. Whether you like dining in style, playing the night away, or exploring the great outdoors, San Jose offers it all. We've collected some of the most unforgettable date ideas in San Jose, from quirky to sophisticated and everything in between.

Romantic Dinners With a Twist

Dinners may be the go-to date, but that doesn't mean they have to be ordinary. These romantic eateries take their cuisine seriously while creating a cozy, intimate environment for you and your date.

1. La Forêt

Join your beloved for a feast to remember. Aptly named for its forest surroundings, La Forêt restaurant offers some of the best fine French dining in San Jose. Sharply dressed servers with a passion for hospitality tend to your every need while you and your date marvel at the picturesque scenery outside the window (or at each other).

Can't decide what you want? Don't worry. La Forêt offers a carefully curated tasting menu, complete with exquisite wine pairings. We've been to many restaurants, but this one offers an unparalleled dining experience that keeps us coming back time and again.

All meals are expertly crafted, using classic French techniques, including simmering marrow, wine, and fresh herbs to elevate the sauces to an unbelievable level.

2. Il Fornaio

There's something about Italian cuisine that practically screams romance. At Il Fornaio in San Jose, we think it's the warmly lit, inviting dining space. With a glass of wine or a cocktail in hand and good conversation across the table, you and your darling are sure to have a grand time.

Appreciate classic meals, such as tagliatelle Bolognese, which features traditional meat ragù, Grana Padano, and egg noodle ribbons. If you're more adventurous, dive into mafaldine, flat pasta with curly edges accompanied by octopus, squid, and shrimp ragù.

Adventure Awaits Outdoors

Bond over grand escapades into the wilderness with your date. Whenever we're in town, we love to get our blood pumping with these outdoor adventures.

3. Los Gatos Creek Trail

Picture this: you and your date walking hand in hand as you meander down a trail weaving through verdant greenery. For date night, leave the city streets behind and hop onto Los Gatos Creek Trail.

The trail stretches for 11.2 miles between San Jose and the Lexington Reservoir, crossing through several cities along the way. The southern portion of the trail is a history buff's haven, passing along part of the South Pacific Coast Railroad.

Expect a range of terrains, from asphalt to dirt and gravel, and a steep climb at times, so be sure to wear a good pair of hiking shoes and dress accordingly.

4. Kayaking at Alviso Marina County Park

Some of the most memorable dates are those that involve cooperation with a dash of adventure sprinkled in for good measure. Kayaking at Alviso Marina County Park brings adventure in spades. Pack up your paddles and life jackets, and set out on a remarkable trek.

Set off from the park's boat launch, which takes you through salt marshes before you reach San Francisco Bay. Along the way, you and your date will traverse Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. You can catch sight of native endangered species or appreciate mountain views that are almost as stunning as your date's.

Photographer: Roland Chanson

Cultural and Educational Dates

Nothing invites stimulating conversation more than learning something new, whether it's about culture or science. Check out these venues for dates you'll be talking about long after you leave.

5. San Jose Museum of Art

If you're looking for a date that invites intellectual conversation, you can't go wrong with the San Jose Museum of Art. Artistry comes to life right before your eyes with pieces just waiting to be interpreted.

As you enter, you're greeted by Noisy Blushes (2020), a massive glimmering sculpture consisting of polished hexagonal disks suspended in a glass facade. Talk your way through the pieces as you and your date try to interpret what the artists tried to convey.

While the museum is only open until 6 p.m. on weekends and select Mondays, it stays open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. One Thursday per month, it runs an after-hours program for further artistic exploration. Don't forget to grab a drink at El Cafecito, the museum's café.

6. The Tech Interactive

Part of being in a relationship is learning and growing together, even as adults. When date night rolls around, check out The Tech Interactive, and enter a world where the wonders of science and cutting-edge technology combine into one grand educational experience.

You’ll learn so much as you explore the various exhibits. Discover the mysteries of the human body at Body Worlds Decoded, where you'll see real preserved anatomy alongside digital interfaces. Learn about innovations in health care, including what lies ahead for the future of medicine, and much more.

Relax and Unwind Together

Sometimes, the best dates are those sans all the bells and whistles. A simple walk through a lovely neighborhood can become a meaningful date in its own right, and these prime locations are our favorite places for a leisurely stroll.

7. Willow Glen

Willow Glen, a quiet neighborhood near Downtown San Jose (the central business district), brings small-town charm to the big city. Everything you need for a relaxing date spans this neighborhood, where unique architecture intermixes with tree-lined streets and historic buildings.

Lincoln Avenue houses over 250 businesses, including numerous restaurants serving all types of cuisine. Part of the appeal is the impressive array of small businesses dotting the streets.

For a peaceful date, try picking up an ice cream cone or drink to enjoy while wandering and exploring the shops. Pick out a small memento together to commemorate your trip.

8. Hakone Estate and Gardens

Just southwest of San Jose, you'll discover Hakone Estate and Gardens, one of the oldest Japanese gardens in the Western Hemisphere. Explore 18 acres of elegant gardens under the warm California sun. Artistry commingles with natural beauty amid strolling gardens, stonework, koi ponds, and other ancient Japanese elements.

Whether you wander through the bamboo garden, tea garden, or zen garden, serenity abounds and sets the mood for a perfect date. Try to visit in late spring when the cherry blossoms paint the trees a soft, pink hue. In Japan, hanami (the Japanese word for "flower watching") is a popular springtime tradition to admire the flowers and their transience.

For a special treat, attend the Hanami at Hakone night viewing event between March 20 and April 12, 2024, to see these blossoming trees in a whole new light. Together, you and your date can soak in the peacefulness while appreciating each other's company and the beauty of the world around you.

Photographer: Steven Van Elk

Fun and Games

Dates are supposed to be fun, and at these venues, that's precisely what you get. Prepare to laugh and lose yourself in the moment with these quirky date night ideas.

9. MINIBOSS

Bring a touch of competitiveness to your date night at San Jose's MINIBOSS, an arcade bar conveniently located downtown. Spend your evening sipping on creative cocktails with names that are as unique as the venue, such as Shrek's Swamp or Steal My Sunshine.

Between drinks, let the games begin with over 30 arcade cabinets and 12 pinball machines. If you and your date share an interest in video games, this is one venue you don't want to miss.

Even better, you can make a whole evening of it, as this arcade and bar might also be one of the coolest restaurants in San Jose. The pizza menu is expansive, featuring names that are just as entertaining as the drinks. You'll also find typical bar fare, such as sliders, chicken wings, and french fries.

Photographer: Carl Raw

10. ComedySportz

For a date night that will make you laugh until you cry, check out ComedySportz in San Jose, and discover improv comedy with a twist. Watch as comedians vie for your laughs and votes in this competition-style show led by the referee. The audience controls the show by reacting to jokes, voting for comedians, and ultimately, determining the winner.

Don't worry about being inundated with cringy puns and dad jokes all night. If one of the comedians makes the audience groan, they get flagged by the referee. They then have to apologize, and it's up to you to decide whether to forgive them or send them off to the bench.

Unique Experiences

Sometimes, taking a date in a completely different direction keeps things exciting. These unique romantic experiences will help you see San Jose in a whole new light.

11. Mystery Picnic

Mystery Picnic in San Jose takes the whole date-planning process out of your hands. It's a scavenger hunt and a picnic combined. You and your date work together to find the ingredients for an unforgettable picnic meal.

All you and your honey need to do is sign up and note any dietary requirements. The day before you set off, you'll receive a set of digital clues. As you solve each clue, you'll get an address for your next stop.

Along the way, you'll discover hidden gems throughout San Jose, plus a hefty collection of cheeses, breads, meats, and desserts to bring to your final location. You'll even get a collection of conversation starters, games to play as you hunt, and recommendations for other activities in the area.

Photographer: britt gaiser

12. San Pedro Square Market

With live music 6 days a week, along with food, drinks, and shopping, what's not to love about San Pedro Square Market? It's one of our favorite places to unwind before a show. If you're looking for an impromptu date idea in San Jose, this market offers everything you need in one spot, no planning required.

Spend the evening under strings of lights while you enjoy live music in San Jose . The performers will serenade you on stage while you dine on a delicious assortment of cuisines, from burgers to Peruvian and Korean fare. When you're done, walk off your feast while browsing local merchants. You might discover a new favorite brand.

Cozy Wine and Dine

Wining and dining is a quintessential date night idea, and in San Jose, there's no shortage of options. Our top picks have an ambiance as stellar as their drink selections.

13. Enoteca La Storia

Settle in for an intimate night of wine and appetizers at Enoteca La Storia in Los Gatos. Step into a dining area lined with wine bottles and friendly staff ready to talk your ear off about the variety you'll find.

The name itself is a testament to what this venue embodies. Enoteca is the old Italian term for "wine shop," where winemakers stored their products and people tasted and purchased them. Here, you and your sweetheart can savor all sorts of fine wines and craft beers, with the option to purchase your favorites.

14. Hop & Vine

At Hop & Vine, you get exactly what the name implies: beer and wine. Whether you and your love prefer the sweet elegance of fine wine or the heady flavors of craft beers, you'll find it here.

The warm, dimly lit interior adds a romantic atmosphere while laughter fills the air, just waiting for you to join in. If you time your visit right, you'll be treated to all sorts of events, such as live local music or big sports games, for a special date night.

Once you settle in, a menu of finger foods awaits to accompany your wine and beer selection. We love the expansive menu, which includes meat and cheese boards along with traditional bar fare, such as pretzels, nachos, pizza, and crostini.

Photographer: Louis Hansel

Nature and Scenic Views

Get in a romantic mood with some of San Jose's most gorgeous sights. With these natural escapes, you can forget all about the stressors in your life and enjoy a peaceful evening with your romantic partner.

15. Mount Umunhum

Get out of the city and into fresh mountain air at Mount Umunhum, within the Sierra Azul Preserve. It's a bit of a trek from the city — about 45 minutes away by car — but for nature-loving couples, it's one trip that shouldn't be missed.

Explore 26 miles of multi-use trails with numerous landscapes. This stunning peak is one of the highest in the Santa Cruz Mountains, promising adventure and some of the best natural areas in the region.

Our favorite part is reaching the top of the summit. The 360-degree panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, cityscape, and Sierra Nevada Mountains are breathtakingly gorgeous.

16. Japanese Friendship Garden

San Jose shares a unique friendship with its sister city in Japan, Okayama. To commemorate their relationship, the Japanese Friendship Garden was born.

Carefully designed to resemble the Korakuen Garden in Okayama, this garden exudes elegance, befitting a romantic date. In fact, it's such a romantic location that it's a popular wedding site in the city.

Koi ponds, carefully placed rocks, and bridges come together in perfect harmony amid the trees and flowers. Wander through the beautiful garden, or settle in beneath a tree to simply enjoy each other's presence in silence while basking in the tranquility.

Discover Endless Romance and Adventure in the Heart of Silicon Valley

While these escapades offer a great starting point for planning your next date night, remember that anything goes when it comes to romance.

You could wander beautiful parks, check out the thriving night scene, or simply spend the night together at home. What matters most is that you and your partner enjoy each other's company and make unforgettable memories together.

For a night neither of you will forget, check out one of our shows in San Jose. Watch artistry in motion as our performers invite you into their worlds of imagination, where dreams become reality and expectations are subverted.

Let us evoke your emotions as you watch daring acrobatics accompanied by dazzling special effects and memorable music. And, as tensions run high, you can even grab your date's hand and give it a little squeeze. We look forward to seeing you both in our audience.

More articles about