Things to do in San Jose

Unique Things to do in San Jose

There are no limits in San Jose. Here, an extraordinary world of opportunity awaits.

Nothing about San Jose is ordinary. As the heart of Silicon Valley, this city is a fundamental trendsetter in technology. Its cutting-edge technology is woven into every aspect of life, including all the unique things to do in San Jose.

We're no strangers to innovation and trendsetting. It's what we do every day. From dazzling our audience with top-of-the-line special effects to putting our unique spin on our shows, we can relate to this grand city.

Whether you're a local or just passing through, check out these phenomenal opportunities to see what San Jose has to offer.

Cultural Experiences

Everything in this city exudes culture. It's everywhere, from the shopping districts to its unique blend of museums. If you're looking for unique things to do in San Jose to get the whole cultural experience, these venues will excite and delight you.

1. San Jose Museum of Art

At the San Jose Museum of Art, artistry comes to life. Children are welcome here, and are encouraged to explore their artistic side. This museum isn’t just for the children; adults will appreciate the exhibits and artwork too. Attend a Thursday after-hours program to engage with the art from a new angle.

As you wander, contemplate impressive pieces of art from contemporary artists. The featured artists understand their mediums of choice are vessels that make their inner dreams take tangible forms.

2. Japanese Friendship Garden

Commemorating the close bond between San Jose and its sister city, Okayama, Japan, the Japanese Friendship Garden was formed in 1965. It’s been a local favorite ever since. The garden brings a touch of Japan's penchant for harmonizing nature with architecture into the bustling city. Stunning bridges stand over ponds teeming with koi fish, blending human innovation with natural beauty. Stroll through the cultivated plants to experience the tranquillity this beautiful park exudes.

3. Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

Explore the vast mysteries of Ancient Egypt at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. This cultural gem had humble beginnings. It all started with a signal statue of Sekhmet, a lion goddess that sat on its founder's desk.

Today, more than 4,000 artifacts are displayed throughout the museum, the largest collection of authentic ancient Egyptian artifacts in Western North America. Even the architecture is inspired by Egypt, drawing elements from the Temple of Amon.

The alchemy exhibit takes you on a journey through the alchemical process. It includes a meditation chamber and a reproduction of what an alchemist's workshop might look like. Exhibits like these inspire people to think outside the box of day-to-day life and open their minds to possibilities that sound out of this world.

Photographer: cassandracapranica

Outdoor Adventures

Take in the great outdoors and appreciate the natural beauty in and around this urban paradise.

4. Alum Rock Park

One of California's oldest municipal parks, Alum Rock Park, encompasses 720 acres of natural land and serves as a piece of history. Hiking the numerous trails that weave through rugged terrain and untouched forests will give you a glimpse of what the region looked like before it settled.

If you've got kids in tow, it's a fantastic place to visit. You'll even find picnic areas and a children's playground in the mid-canyon area.

Enjoy a day trip out in the wilderness of San Jose before finding the perfect place to tuck into a picnic meal. Just be sure to stay on the designated trails, as the area is known to have poison oak and rattlesnakes.

5. Guadalupe River Park

Nestled in the heart of downtown San Jose, Guadalupe River Park provides residents and tourists with a natural retreat amid the urban landscape. The park's primary goal is to preserve natural ecology while offering ways to get active outdoors.

Nearly three miles of paved trails set the backdrop for your walk or bike ride. If you have kids, let them explore the Rotary PlayGarden, the city's first all-inclusive play space designed to be accessible by children of all abilities.

In the spring and summer, enjoy the soft, sweet scent of the Heritage Rose Garden. Verdant bushes become speckled with a rainbow of roses.

6. Municipal Rose Garden

San Jose has its own dedicated Municipal Rose Garden. Spend the day wandering through the 5.5 acres of sprawling green lawns and rows of blooming roses.

Younger children revel in the beauty, reminding their parents and older siblings that, sometimes, it's worth it to stop and smell the roses — literally.

Over 189 varieties and more than 3,500 plants thrive in this urban haven. In early May, they reach their pinnacle, wafting their delicate scent for all to enjoy.

Photographer: Michelle Myers

Technology and Innovation

It's Silicon Valley — what more is there to say? Opportunities to explore technological and scientific innovations abound, just waiting to excite and stimulate the mind.

7. The Tech Interactive

Have you ever wondered what the human body looks like inside or what life would be like if people decided to colonize Mars? At The Tech Interactive, you’ll find answers to these questions—and many others. Here, science and technology unite in one exciting museum where learning is the name of the game.

Children and adults delight in the wealth of interactive exhibits that invite visitors to unravel some of science's biggest mysteries in easy-to-digest formats. Explore the wonders of genetics or innovative healthcare solutions. You'll be pondering the exhibits long after you leave.

8. NASA Ames Research Center

The NASA Ames Research Center is one of just 10 NASA field centers nationwide. While you can't visit the Ames Research Center itself, you can explore the nearby NASA Ames Visitor Center at the Chabot Space and Science Center.

You can find out what it's like to be an astronaut and learn about the mysteries of the universe. It's the chance of a lifetime to see genuine spacesuits alongside models of spacecraft and artifacts. Don't forget to pick up some authentic freeze-dried astronaut food while you're there.

Photographer: Blue Arauz

9. Computer History Museum

Technology continues to advance at breakneck speeds, improving by leaps and bounds. However, it took thousands of years to get to where we are today. At the Computer History Museum, you'll see it all laid out in interactive exhibits, from ancient abacuses to self-driving cars and everything in between.

Techies will love catching sight of the first computer, which was large enough to take up an entire room. If children are along for the trip, they'll see what the technology scene was like when you were their age.

Food and Drink

You'll need a pit stop when you're done jumping from things to do like our performers jump through hoops. At our top pick for cuisine in San Jose, you'll find something to please every palate.

10. San Pedro Square Market

At San Pedro Square Market, you don't have to worry about everyone in your group having different food preferences. Here, you can try a bit of everything San Jose's vibrant cuisine scene has to offer.

Discover typical American-style foods like juicy burgers. Or, taste the world's flavors with options like Asian fusion, contemporary Mexican, and traditional Nepalese.

Pick up your food and drinks, and settle in for an alfresco meal. You can also enjoy the live entertainment offered six days a week under strands of hanging lights.

Entertainment and Leisure

Entertainment is kind of our thing. So you can trust us when we tell you what makes for a good time.time. These opportunities for entertainment and leisure will have you dancing for joy.

11. San Jose Center for the Performing Arts

San Jose Center for the Performing Arts holds a special place in our hearts. We appreciate a good show and can relate to the hours of blood, sweat, and tears that go into putting on a performance without a hitch.

This historic theater is a sight to behold, even before you enter. Its unique architecture is photo-worthy on its own. Marvel at the curved glass walls as they welcome natural light into the lobby.

This venue hosts shows performed by Broadway San Jose, promising that the highest caliber actors will grace the stage. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

12. SAP Center

Affectionately known as the Shark Tank by locals, the SAP Center is home to the National Hockey League's San Jose Sharks. The city's team spirit truly shines when the Sharks come to play. You'll be hard-pressed to find a livelier event during your time in San Jose, especially if you're up in the stands cheering with the locals.

When it's not hosting hockey games, SAP Center sets the stage for all sorts of major events in the area. It's the go-to concert hall for live music, even attracting some of the biggest names in the music scene, such as Justin Timberlake.

There are plenty of shows to enjoy here, including some resembling what you'd expect to see at San Jose comedy clubs.

13. San Jose Flea Market

If you're the adventurous type, a trip to the San Jose Flea Market is exactly what you need. Each visit is like a treasure hunt brought together by dozens of vendors. Between browsing, check out the live music stages, where local bands serenade the audience, or dip into the arcade for fan-favorite games.

Several attractions, including a vintage carousel from 1950 and pony rides at the south end of the pavilion, will delight the kids.

Historical and Educational

Learning doesn't have to be boring! These historical and educational venues transport you to a whole new world, just like our shows pull you into our otherworldly settings.

14. Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House is both an architectural marvel and a historic landmark. It was once owned by Sarah Winchester, heiress of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company fortune, after her daughter and husband passed away.

Winchester built what was once an eight-room farmhouse up to enormous proportions. As you tour the mansion, you'll try to unravel the mystery of what drove a wealthy woman to isolate herself within its construction. It's open daily, and themed guided tours are available.

Photographer: kavika2014

15. History Park at Kelley Park

Once you set foot in History Park, you'll feel like you've been transported back to the Santa Clara Valley of the 1900s. On the south end of Kelley Park, 32 original and reproduction homes line the paved streets. For a true blast from the past, hop on the running trolley and stop by the old-timey ice cream shop.

16. San José State University Campus

The San José State University campus offers some stunning sights for people of all ages with its unique architecture.

You don't want to miss Tower Hall, the oldest building on campus. It was designed in the Spanish colonial revival style. Washington Square Hall mimics this style with its impressive, colorful mosaic accents.

Other on-site facilities embrace a modern approach to architecture, such as the sharp angles and harsh lines slicing through the skyline at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library.

Uniquely San Jose

It's hard to reduce San Jose's ambiance and culture to just a few sights, but we think we've managed it. Each of these three venues represents a unique part of San Jose's culture and history.

17. Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph

Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph may be one of the city's most stunning pieces of architecture. This Roman Catholic Church towers over downtown San Jose with pristine white walls adorned with golden accents. Inside, you can explore mosaics and sculptures while Gothic lanterns dangle overhead.

All along the exterior walls, awe-inspiring stained-glass windows cast the ground in a rainbow of scattered sunlight. Check out the dedicated cathedral tours to avoid disrupting worship services and get the best views.

18. Santana Row

After exploring the secrets of Winchester Mystery House, you're in the prime location to visit Santana Row. In this Mediterranean-style shopping district, the streets practically ooze the elegance and affluence associated with Silicon Valley.

Expect the day to fly by as you explore tree-lined streets. Tuck into some delicious food, or soak in the sun while sipping wine at a garden bar. The options for pampering and spoiling yourself are practically limitless, with 70 shops, 20 restaurants, and nine spas just waiting to catch your eye.

19. Lick Observatory

With over 300 days of clear skies annually, San Jose is an ideal spot to stargaze. The University of California has operated Lick Observatory since 1888. It serves all nine UC astronomy programs and two national laboratories.

By day, you can explore the visitor center and discover numerous exhibits. At night, you can enjoy a public evening tour and view celestial objects through the refractor telescope.

Photographer: Haotian Zheng

Endless Discoveries Await in San Jose

In a city constantly striving for innovation, there are endless discoveries to be made. You can enjoy engaging museums, see gorgeous natural sights, explore hidden places in San Jose, and catch some unforgettable shows.

Speaking of memorable shows, don't forget ours! We push the standards and limits to new extremes every day with our stories, stunts, and songs. After all, we believe this world and our potential are limitless.

Every day, we subvert expectations, invoke imaginative contemplation, and evoke emotions of all kinds from our fans. Watch one of our shows in San Jose for a unique experience you'll remember for years to come. We can't wait to see you there!

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