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Nicknamed the Capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose has earned a reputation that precedes itself. As home to technology-based giants like IBM, Apple, and Google, San Jose is widely recognized as a center of cutting-edge innovation, whose ripples can be felt in the furthest corners of the world. Built upon a little town that gained prominence during the West Coast Gold Rush, present-day San Jose is known for its affluence, high cost of living, and sublime Meditteranean-like climate. In fact, this was the first city to be incorporated in the new state of California.
Rent a car to cruise around the city at your leisure - prices start from just $24 per day for an economy vehicle such as a Toyota Yaris. If you want to drive around in style, consider a luxury car like a Chrysler 300, available from just $87 per day. Book your San Jose car rental in advance with Enjoy Travel for the best prices.
Guide to San Jose
San Jose lies in the middle of Santa Clara Valley along Coyote Creek and the Guadalupe River, about 50 miles southeast of San Francisco Bay. The city sprawls over a broad floodplain that gradually slopes upward toward more rugged terrain to the east and the south.
Climate in San Jose
San Jose has a Mediterranean climate that is characterized by long and arid summers and short and wet winters. The perfect time to visit the city would be during the months of August, September, and October, when you are quite likely to get pleasant weather with average temperatures hovering between 68°F to 77°F.
The Santa Clara Valley was occupied by Native Indians when European settlers arrived in the mid-18th century. San Jose was officially founded as California’s first civilian settlement in 1777 as the Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe.
Today San Jose is the third most populous city in California and one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. It is notable as a center of innovation thanks to its booming high-tech hub, Silicon Valley. Some of the world’s largest tech companies have their headquarters here. This also shapes the culture and social milieu of San Jose in many ways.
Things To Do in San Jose
Enter a (possibly) haunted house
A popular San Jose tourist attraction is the Winchester Mystery House. Built by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the fortune of rifle magnate William Winchester, this estate is a California Historical Landmark and one of San Jose’s oldest homes. The hideous structure has 161 rooms, 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, and more than 10,000 individual glass panes, Built in late Victorian and Queen Ann styles, the house has several architectural oddities like a staircase leading nowhere, secret passages, a séance room, and the Hall of Fires which has four fireplaces and three hot air registers. It is a jumble of ornately tiled gables, chimneys, conical towers, and finials with no logical plan. This bizarreness as well as innumerable deaths at the barrels of Winchester rifles led to the growth of ghost stories surrounding the place. The estate has been open for tourists since 1923 and the American FireArms Compound is also located inside the compound where you can learn all about the history of the Winchester rifles.
Learn about ancient civilizations
Located in San Jose’s Rose Garden neighborhood, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is a magnificent Egyptian-style museum housing the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in western North America. Modeled on Karnak’s Temple of Amon the museum exhibits more than 4000 pieces that include a tomb replica, sarcophagi, mummies, jewelry, sculpture, writing materials, toiletries, ritual objects. The museum also contains curious artifacts from Assyria and Babylonia. A new attraction at the museum is the Alchemy Exhibit which is the first of its kind in the United States and features a full-size alchemy lab reproduction. The museum is part of the larger Rosicrucian Park which has other notable attractions like the Rosicrucian Temple and the Rosicrucian Planetarium which screens three space films.
Indulge in some high-market retail therapy
A quick hop west of downtown San Jose will take you to Santana Row, an upscale commercial and entertainment district. Here you will find delectable restaurants and luxury designer boutiques like Kate Spade, Ted Baker, Sephora, and Gucci. The area was conceived as a ‘village within a city’ on 40 acres in the early 2000s. Stroll amidst the palm and oak-lined pedestrian-friendly sidewalks in the evening before settling into one of the posh suites of Hotel Valencia overlooking Santana Row. Santana Park located in a central space within the Row is a perfectly manicured lush green space with a local ice cream shop nearby. There is also a six-screen movie theater showing arthouse, foreign movies and documentaries in high tech auditoriums. Santana Row also offers a free Summer Music Series with local performers.
Fraternize with friendly furries
Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, located inside Kelly Park, is spread over 16 acres and is a perfect weekend day trip destination with your little ones. Some of its most popular features include the Carousel, Pacific Fruit Roller Coaster, Petting Zoo, Puppet Castle Theater, and Mini Putt. Engage with adorably small animals like meerkats, fossas, capybaras, guinea pigs, lemurs, macaws, owls and turtles; or head to the Japanese Friendship Garden, which was built over six acres as a sign of friendship between San Jose and its sister city Okayama in Japan, to experience three lovely koi ponds, a traditional tea house, beautiful cherry blossoms, and a pagoda. Built as a replica of the famous Korakuen Gardens in Okayama, this peaceful green abode is the perfect place to relax in quiet contemplation.
Eating Out in San Jose
With its ethnically diverse population, it comes as no surprise that San Jose offers some incredible eateries. From New York-style pizza to Vietnamese noodle soup you will be spoilt for choices at the options. Here are some of our top restaurant recommendations: For some lip-smacking Middle Eastern pastries, try Sultan Bakery. Their mammool (shortbread pastries filled with pistachios, walnuts, or dates) and knefeh (a sweet and savory pastry) will keep you coming back for more. Enjoy the huge and famous falafel at Falafel’s Drive In, a San Jose staple since 1966. On the outskirts of the city, Pho Ha Noi is a Vietnamese restaurant serving exotic beef pho and tamarind prawns with garlic noodles. Check out Black Sheep Brasserie, a French-influenced casual diner where you can relish a milk-braised lamb shank or seared foie gras with figs. The Table is another chic but modest restaurant which you should visit for their innovative dishes like roasted bone marrow with sweet onion relish or dry-aged steaks with steamers or local summer corn risotto.
San Jose Transport
San Jose is served by Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), located 3 miles northwest of downtown San Jose.
Getting Around San Jose
Public transit is provided by VTA which operates bus and light-rail services. Many roads in the city also have designated bike lanes. In fact, both bus lines and light rail accommodate bikes making mixed-mode travel a convenient affair. Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing options are also available.
Many visitors traveling through San Jose prefer to hire a car as it offers increased comfort, flexibility, and convenience. The extensive highway system in the United States makes it a breeze to get from place to place via car and, if you’re traveling in a large group, a 7 seater or a 9 seater van would actually work out to be more cost-effective than taking the train. You can also do a one-way hire, which means that you can pick up your vehicle in one city – say San Jose – and drop it off in another – like San Francisco – before flying out, saving you the hassle of driving it back.