Things to do in San Jose

Exploring San Jose Landmarks

San Jose’s landmarks range from mesmerizing museums to captivating cathedrals. Check out this list of must-see places in San Jose.

As the largest city in Northern California, San Jose boasts a variety of landmarks that reflect its diverse heritage and dynamic spirit. From iconic architectural marvels to hidden gems steeped in mystery, join us on a journey through some of the best things to do in San Jose.

Historical Landmarks

San Jose boasts a treasure trove of historical gems. Experience the past at the Peralta Adobe, the oldest property in the city. Get a glimpse into California's Spanish colonial heritage. You can also wander through the Winchester Mystery House, with its surprising twists and turns.

No San Jose list would be complete without these iconic historical landmarks.

1. Winchester Mystery House

Get ready for an adventure like no other as you explore Winchester Mystery House. This sprawling mansion is filled with secret passages, quirky architecture, and a history steeped in mystery.

Built by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, this house is rumored to have been designed to confuse spirits. Maybe you're into ghost stories. Perhaps you love unique architecture. Either way, the Winchester Mystery House promises a thrilling experience.

Marvel at the intricate details, from Tiffany stained-glass windows to hand-carved woodwork. You can even tour a real-life puzzle adventure.

Photographer: BellaMannaro

2. Peralta Adobe

Step back in time as you explore the Peralta Adobe, the oldest building in the city. Built in the 1790s, it offers a glimpse into Santa Clara's rich Spanish colonial past.

Wander through its rustic rooms, and imagine life in early Santa Clara County. From its traditional adobe construction to its authentic furnishings, this site provides a fascinating look at the region's heritage.

If you've seen any of our shows, you know we love stories. It’s why the Peralta Adobe is one of our favorite landmarks in San Jose. It's full of more than 200 years of individual tales to tell, and in our subjective opinion, it's one of the most exciting landmarks in the region.

3. The Tech Interactive

The Tech Interactive takes you on a hands-on journey into the world of science and technology. Interactive exhibits and cutting-edge innovations offer exciting exploration for visitors of all ages.

Catch a blockbuster on the IMAX screen, take part in a tech challenge, or wander the galleries to see what you can discover. Here, there's something for everyone to enjoy. The Tech Interactive is one of the best-loved landmarks in San Jose. It's also the perfect destination to spark inspiration and ignite your imagination.

4. Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

Step into a world of ancient wonders as you explore the most extensive collection of Egyptian artifacts in the Western United States. The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum takes you back in time to the age of the pharaohs.

Marvel at intricate artifacts, including statues, jewelry, and sarcophagi, and gain insight into the beliefs and customs of this fascinating civilization. With its serene gardens and authentic replicas of Egyptian architecture — and yes, a few mummies, too — this museum provides a great day out for visitors of all ages.

Whether you're a history buff, an art lover, or simply curious about the ancient world, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum promises an unforgettable adventure. Uncover the secrets of the pharaohs, and explore the wonders of Ancient Egypt right here in San Jose.

Photographer: cassandracapranica

Cultural and Artistic Landmarks

From San Jose museums to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, this list of cultural and artistic landmarks features the best the city has to offer. Plan your trip to take in these fascinating arts and culture sites, but don’t forget to leave time for one of our incredible shows.

5. San Jose Museum of Art

No list of area landmarks would be complete without the San Jose Museum of Art. Wander through halls filled with vibrant paintings from local legends, such as Wayne Thiebaud. The mind-bending contemporary installations will have you scratching your head in awe.

You don't want to miss the awesome collection of Bay Area art featuring iconic pieces that capture the spirit of California living. And if you're into photography, the San Jose Museum of Art has you covered. The stunning shots on display here will have you seeing the world in a whole new light.

The museum is open Thursday through Sunday and on select Mondays. Exhibitions change all the time, so check out the website while planning your trip to make the most of your museum time.

6. Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

At the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, fun and learning go hand in hand. Kids can participate in science experiments and let their imaginations run wild in interactive play areas.

This museum was explicitly designed for curious little minds. Check out exhibits, such as the Bubbles, where they can create giant bubbles, or the Wonder Cabinet, which is filled with all sorts of cool materials and textures to explore.

Don’t forget the life-sized mammoth skeleton. Step back in time while learning about — and roaming the halls with— these prehistoric creatures.

The museum also has fantastic programs and workshops that make learning super fun. Come on over and let the adventure begin.

7. San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

If you're looking for a unique way to spend an afternoon, pay a visit to the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, where every stitch tells a story. Get ready to be amazed by a world of fabric artistry. You'll gaze in awe at the intricate quilts, and the stunning textile masterpieces will spark your imagination.

The galleries are filled with colorful quilts, each a labor of love and a testament to its maker's creativity. From traditional designs to cutting-edge contemporary pieces, there's something here to inspire everyone.

And it's not just about quilts. The museum houses a diverse range of textile arts, from weaving and embroidery to wearable art and beyond. You'll discover the rich history and cultural significance behind each piece, as well as the innovative techniques used to bring them to life.

For seasoned quilters and those who simply appreciate beautiful crafts, the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is the perfect place to be inspired. Come on down and see these incredible works of art for yourself!

8. Japanese Friendship Garden

When you need an escape from the action of the city, the Japanese Friendship Garden is the perfect place to be. Relax by the koi pond, take in the beauty of traditional Japanese architecture, and unwind in the shade of towering cherry blossom trees.

The garden, which was modeled after the famous Korakuen Garden, was created in 1965 as a symbol of forever friendship between San Jose and its sister city, Okayama, Japan. As big fans of the power of friendship, we love spending time in this peaceful paradise.

9. Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph is a majestic landmark that has graced the city's skyline since the 19th century. With its proud spires and intricate facade, it's hard to miss.

But what makes it really special? Step inside, and you'll be greeted by a breathtaking interior adorned with stunning stained-glass windows, ornate altars, and intricate carvings that tell stories of faith and tradition.

The first church was built on this site in 1803, but it was destroyed multiple times—twice by earthquakes and once by a fire. The cathedral that stands today was completed in 1885, boasting a striking blend of Romanesque and Spanish Revival architectural styles.

Throughout its storied history, the cathedral has stood as a beacon of faith and community, witnessing countless weddings, baptisms, and other essential ceremonies for generations of San Jose residents.

When you step inside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, you're not just entering a beautiful place of worship. You're stepping into a piece of the city's rich history and heritage.

Parks and Outdoor Attractions

From a trip to the beach in San Jose to a pleasant afternoon in a city park, there are plenty of outdoor attractions to keep you entertained. Check out this list of the most beautiful outdoor spaces to spend time with your family or friends.

10. Kelley Park

Kelley Park is the hidden gem of San Jose's outdoor scene. It's like a breath of fresh air in the midst of the city hustle. With numerous attractions housed in the park, it’s the ideal place for a fun-filled family day out.

Nature lovers will adore the peaceful tranquility of the rose garden, while history buffs step back in time when visiting the historic buildings and exhibits in History Park. And let's not forget about the Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, where kids (and kids at heart) can get up close and personal with all sorts of adorable animals.

11. Municipal Rose Garden

The Municipal Rose Garden offers rows upon rows of vibrant roses in every hue imaginable. It's a kaleidoscope of color reminiscent of the vivid costumes in one of our shows. This isn't just any old rose garden. It's one of the most renowned in the country, boasting over 3,500 rosebushes and nearly 200 varieties of roses.

The garden also has meandering paths, shady benches, and tranquil fountains that invite you to relax and unwind. It's the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, a romantic date, or a moment of quiet reflection. When you're in the city, be sure to stop by and smell the roses.

12. Guadalupe River Park & Gardens

Immerse yourself in the outdoors at Guadalupe River Park & Gardens, whether you're exploring on foot, bike, or scooter. Discover San Jose's beauty along the scenic three-mile Urban Trail Experience, winding through the heart of the city and up to Little Italy.

From concerts and miles-long runs to classes and festivals, there's always something exciting happening in the park. Look for diverse bird life and captivating public art — you’ll spot some, guaranteed. If you're lucky, you might even see the resident beaver family in the river.

13. Happy Hollow Park & Zoo

Welcome to Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, where fun and adventure await around every corner. Dive into a world of excitement with thrilling rides, interactive exhibits, and amazing animals.

Explore the zoo and meet creatures from around the globe, from playful squirrel monkeys to cute capybaras. Then, head to the park and let your imagination run wild on exciting rides, such as the iconic carousel.

Photographer: Zetong Li

Science and Technology Landmarks

Love science? Silicon Valley is the best place to learn about technology's effects on our current world. Check out these science and technology attractions in San Jose.

14. Lick Observatory

Lick Observatory, perched atop Mount Hamilton, offers breathtaking views and astronomical wonders. As one of the world's premier astronomical research facilities, it invites visitors to explore the mysteries of the cosmos through interactive exhibits, guided tours, and awe-inspiring telescope observations.

Marvel at the historic telescopes that have helped unlock the secrets of the universe, including the iconic 57-foot-long Great Lick Refractor, once the largest telescope in the world. Learn about groundbreaking discoveries in astronomy and the important role this observatory has played in advancing our understanding of the cosmos.

Photographer: Haotian Zheng

15. Intel Museum

At the Intel Museum, the fascinating history of computing unfolds before your eyes. Dive into interactive exhibits showcasing the evolution of microprocessors, from early innovations to the latest breakthroughs.

Get hands-on demonstrations illustrating computing's impact on daily life and learn about the brilliant minds behind Intel's groundbreaking inventions. From the iconic microprocessor chips to the collaborative spirit driving technological advancements, this museum offers a captivating journey through the past, present, and future of technology.

16. NASA Ames Research Center

From pioneering missions to the moon and Mars to advancing the frontiers of artificial intelligence and robotics, NASA Ames Research Center is at the forefront of scientific knowledge and exploration.

Dive into interactive exhibits showcasing the center's contributions to space exploration and Earth science, and learn about the groundbreaking research conducted by NASA scientists and engineers.

Photographer: Blue Arauz

Sports and Entertainment

San Jose is a city that punches above its weight in terms of sports and entertainment venues. Catch a concert, a sports game, or another performance during your stay. Just make sure one of the shows you sit down to enjoy is one of our fabulous circus spectacles.

17. SAP Center

Located in the heart of downtown, the SAP Center is a premier venue hosting unforgettable concerts, electrifying sporting events, and captivating performances year-round. Experience the adrenaline rush of watching the San Jose Sharks play or being in the audience of one of the world championship boxing matches.

Music lovers can immerse themselves in live performances by top artists and bands from around the globe. With state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge technology, the SAP Center offers an unparalleled entertainment experience for fans of all ages.

Reflections on San Jose's Iconic Landscapes

Now that you're familiar with the city's most iconic landmarks, immerse yourself further into the region's thriving cultural scene by experiencing one of our shows in San Jose.

Just as the listed landmarks embody the city's unique spirit, our performances blend artistry, innovation, and imagination to create an awe-inspiring spectacle unlike any other. From the breathtaking acrobatics to the mesmerizing music and dazzling visuals, our unforgettable shows promise to leave you with memories that last a lifetime.

Let us take you on an imaginative journey that will leave you questioning everything about the world around you. Your mind and spirits will soar higher than our acrobats as you cling to your seat and watch the spellbinding storylines play out.

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