Things to do in San Jose

Top Silicon Valley Attractions and Experiences

Discover Silicon Valley’s exciting world of entertainment, art, and technology!

Silicon Valley is a bustling region of Northern California that includes parts of San Jose, Palo Alto, and Mountain View. The area might be best known as the motherboard of the tech industry, but there’s so much more to experience than smartphones and supercomputers.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in San Jose, Silicon Valley should be your go-to destination for everything from haunted mansion tours to luxury shopping excursions. Join us as we explore the valley's top attractions!

Tech and Innovation

As the home of Apple and Google, you can’t visit Silicon Valley without at least a quick glimpse of the tech industry. Visit these attractions to discover the heart of America’s technology capital.

1. Computer History Museum

Take a deep dive into the history of technology at the Computer History Museum. The sprawling campus journeys through 2,000 years of computing, from the abacus to the latest AI innovations.

We love this museum for its inclusive focus. Whether you’re a full-on techy or a casual fan, you’ll learn so much about analog computers, ancient calculators, and more. You can even listen to firsthand accounts of computer innovations through the museum’s oral history program.

The Computer History Museum offers docent-led tours and self-guided visits. If you’re exploring Silicon Valley’s attractions for a few days, this is a great first stop to get a taste of the tech world.

2. Intel Museum

On a spring day in 1968, Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce decided to launch a technology company focused on the emerging world of semiconductor memory. Intel was born soon after. The company quickly started releasing pivotal tech, including the first-ever programmable microprocessor.

A trip to the Intel Museum guides you from the company’s founding to its future vision. You’ll learn about essential tech, such as microchips and semiconductors, including how they’re made and work inside your computer. You’ll also get to see the inner workings of the factories that produce these incredibly powerful technologies.

Overall, the Intel Museum features 10,000 sq. ft. of exhibits to explore. You can do a self-guided or docent-led tour. We recommend setting aside about 2 hours to see the whole collection.

3. NASA Ames Research Center

The NASA Ames Research Center is a must-visit destination if you’ve always wanted to voyage through our galaxy.

We love this museum for its hands-on exhibits. You’ll pilot a simulated rover, explore the surface of the sun, and discover authentic modules from a real-life spacecraft. There’s so much more than display cases and artifacts. You’ll become a NASA scientist for the day and traverse the stars.

Ames Research Center is an exciting destination for kids and adults alike. If you’re an aspiring scientist, be sure to check out the learning stations in the Visitor Center. You can talk to real NASA employees and learn what it takes to join America’s space program.

Photographer: Jametlene Reskp

4. Tech Interactive

The Tech Interactive explores what happens when you combine groundbreaking technology with art and medicine. Be sure to check out the Reactable, a futuristic musical instrument that uses cubes to create sound.

If you're interested in biotechnology, don’t miss the BioDesign Studio, an interactive exhibition that lets you manipulate DNA and create virtual organisms. With over 130,000 square feet of exhibits, this extraordinary museum warrants a whole day’s visit.

5. Apple Park Visitor Center

The Apple Park Visitor Center sits just outside the main Ring Building, which makes up most of the Apple Park. As you approach the entrance, you’ll be met by floor-to-ceiling glass walls that reflect that beautiful California sun. A carbon-fiber roof towers above the transparent exterior, while natural wood lines the ceiling.

It’s a stunning architectural feat, with much more to see within this impressive building. The center features a rooftop terrace, a cafe, and exhibitions detailing Apple’s innovations. Enjoy some refreshments while you marvel at the architecture and gaze over the rest of the park.

The center is open until 7 p.m. every day except for Sunday, when it closes at 6 p.m., so feel free to take your time before heading off to your next destination.

Photographer: Carles Rabada

6. Google Visitor Experience

The Google Visitor Experience revolves around the Gradient Canopy, a sprawling and futuristic office building. Tent-like expanses of solar panels create the roof, while glass walls pour natural light into the interior.

You can tour the building to learn about Google’s everyday operations or stay outside and explore the Plaza. It’s an eco-conscious space filled with eye-catching artwork, and we love it.

The Orb is a fan favorite with its towering design and fascinating use of aluminum. You’ll also encounter Halo, a patchwork of crystalline panels that uses the sun to create psychedelic lighting effects.

The campus features more than ten art exhibits and plenty of public areas. We recommend setting aside a couple of hours to tour the whole campus.

Culture and History

Silicon Valley has a ton of cultural and historical attractions to explore. Here are some of our favorites.

7. Stanford University

Stanford University is one of the world’s most exclusive schools. Only about 4% of applicants are accepted, but you can get a glimpse of the historic university by visiting White Plaza.

White Plaza is one of Stanford’s few publicly accessible areas located on the southeast side of the campus. The plaza features a central fountain designed by Aristides Demetrios, with bronze and copper structures that twist into the air with jagged edges, earning it the nickname "The Claw."

You can typically visit the plaza during daytime hours. Just remember it’s private property, so it’s not always open.

8. Winchester Mystery House

When you first see the Winchester Mystery House, it might appear to be simply an old mansion with interesting architecture. But venture inside, and you’ll find something far more fascinating.

The beguiling old house was the home of Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearms dealer William Winchester. After her husband’s passing, Sarah became convinced the ghosts of those killed by her husband’s guns were haunting her. To escape these spirits, the widow began constructing a maze-like home in 1886.

The house was soon filled with confusing hallways, staircases that led to nowhere, and countless dark corridors. Sarah hoped the maze would protect her from the dead, and she didn’t stop building until she passed away in 1922.

This spooky mansion features 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, and 47 stairways. It is open to the public daily, and if you're brave enough, you can tour all 24,000 square feet.

Photographer: egorshitikov

9. Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

You might not expect to find a museum all about Ancient Egypt in the heart of Silicon Valley. But the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is just that.

The museum hosts one of the world’s most extensive collections of Egyptian artifacts, including countless mummies and a 2,000-year-old statue of Cleopatra. Step into the ancient past as you examine more than 4,000 objects from Egyptian history.

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is located less than three miles from The Tech Interactive, so this is a perfect destination if you’re looking for several fun things to do near San Jose.

10. San Jose Museum of Art

We’re obsessed with the creativity on display at the San Jose Museum of Art.

The permanent collection showcases about 2,500 pieces of contemporary artwork, including iconic creations by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The museum also hosts exhibitions of up-and-coming artists who push the boundaries of modern creativity.

Explore the 33,000-square-foot building and get inspired. The museum is open Thursday through Sunday (and on select Mondays), and admission is free for those aged 17 or younger.

11. History San Jose

Silicon Valley is filled with modern office buildings and contemporary mansions, but it was once a small town dotted by quaint houses. In fact, the area was home to only about 25,000 people during the early 1900s.

Those days are long gone, but you can get a glimpse into the past thanks to History San Jose’s History Park. This 14-acre campus is filled with over 30 original and reproduction buildings. Hop on the trolley and start exploring!

Your journey will feature enlightening displays of the past, including an adobe structure built in 1797 and a fully furnished Victorian-era house. There’s even an ice cream shop selling authentic, old-fashioned sweets!

This unique Silicon Valley attraction is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. Once you’re done exploring, check out our list of hidden places in San Jose to find your next destination.

Outdoors and Nature

Venture beyond the cityscapes of central Silicon Valley to find sprawling natural areas teaming with wildlife. Explore these outdoor attractions to experience some of the most beautiful nature in Northern California.

12. Rancho San Antonio Preserve

Rancho San Antonio Preserve features more than 25 miles of trails spread across nearly 4,000 acres.

You can traverse the massive area on your own or join fun group activities. One of our favorites is the volunteer cleanup project. There’s something satisfying about working with others to protect Earth’s wild spaces.

We also love the preserve’s variety of guided walking clubs. Follow experts around the park as you learn about ancient oak trees, breathtaking wildflowers, and magnificent woodland creatures.

This nature preserve is kid-friendly and open daily. Pack a picnic and prepare to spend the whole day exploring.

13. Henry W. Coe State Park

Henry W. Coe State Park is the largest state park in Northern California. Huge swaths of plant life spread across more than 87,000 acres, while deep canyons cut into the earth and birds soar to acrobatic heights overhead.

The landscape is home to countless creatures, from the adorably tiny deer mouse to the fearsome bobcat. You might even glimpse the rare tule elk, an elusive species that only lives in California.

This park is open 24/7, and we recommend setting aside a couple of days to fully appreciate the landscape. If you’re not planning on camping, you can find hotels along the 101 on the park’s south side.

Photographer: Anish Lakkapragada

14. Los Gatos Creek Trail

If you’re a fan of long walks through nature, Los Gatos Creek Trail is for you. The nearly 10-mile trail winds through a vivid landscape of oak trees, California poppies, and marigolds. Depending on the season, you’ll also discover ladybugs, finches, and hummingbirds.

This trail has several access points, including one at Oak Meadow Park. The park features everything you need for a fun day outdoors, including picnic areas, bathrooms, and playgrounds, making it a good option for families. If you want a more rugged experience, look for the trailhead at East Main Street and College Avenue.

15. Castle Rock State Park

Dense layers of California Redwoods and massive fir trees stretch toward the clouds as you trek into Castle Rock State Park. Sandstone towers and sweeping mountain ridges dominate the skyline, while moss and other plant life spread across the forest floor. The landscape practically swallows you up — you have to see it to believe it!

This park is open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Its challenging terrain makes it a thrilling destination for experienced hikers and rock climbers. If you’re looking for a less intense experience, ask the staff at the Kirkwood Entrance Station about the best trails to explore.

Entertainment and Leisure

Get a taste of Silicon Valley’s best entertainment and leisure venues by exploring these destinations.

16. Santana Row

Santana Row is an upscale shopping and entertainment district on San Jose’s west side, about 20 minutes southeast of Mountain View.

You’ll discover a host of luxury brands and dining venues serving inventive delicacies. Join the daily Sip & Stroll event as you enjoy alcoholic drinks and walk along Olin Avenue and Olsen Drive. Or, you can take the kids to seasonal meetups with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

While you’re in the area, don’t miss out on Makers Market. The pop-up, open-air marketplace is filled with handcrafted goods and live music.

Photographer: Switching Lanes

17. Downtown Mountain View

Downtown Mountain View is home to some of our favorite Silicon Valley attractions, and it’s a great place to spend a carefree day exploring.

The walkable district has plenty of shops and restaurants, and it’s centrally located for easy access to nearby destinations, such as the Computer History Museum. You can also enjoy events such as the weekly farmers market on Evelyn Avenue and live music at the Shoreline Amphitheatre.

Downtown Mountain View gets bonus points for its free public transit system, the Mountain View Community Shuttle. Hop on at one of the 50 stops, and ride to your next destination!

18. San Pedro Square Market

Live music, delicious food, and good vibes. That’s how we’d describe San Pedro Square Market, a vibrant dining and entertainment center located near Kelley Park in downtown San Jose.

This lively venue is a one-stop shop for mouthwatering meals and showstopping desserts. You’ll discover delectable creations, such as the Inca-inspired cuisine at JORA and the mochi donuts at Mochinut. You can also get unbelievably creamy treats at The Gelato Shop, or if you're in the mood for a full meal, Pasta Fresca serves delicious lasagna.

Don’t forget about the drinks! Market Beer Co. serves up over 30 craft beers, while Voyager Craft Coffee brews unique lattes. (Feeling adventurous? Try the ube-mango espresso.)

With more than a dozen bars and eateries, you’re sure to find something delicious. The market is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Don’t miss out!

Discoveries Await Beyond the Silicon Horizon

There are a lot of great things to do in California's Silicon Valley, so get out there and have some fun!

While you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out one of our shows in San Jose. Sit back and relax as our performers take you on a breathtaking adventure. Our compelling storylines will have you on the edge of your seat as anticipation sets in and the unimaginable becomes reality.

Get ready for an unforgettable experience that's sure to please your whole family. We hope to see you in the audience at our next performance.

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