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7 Things to Do in San Jose, California (Hometown Series)

Intro: From the nature escapes combined with city skylines of Brisbane, Australia, to the castles and country houses of the Peak District, UK, to the famous waterfall destination Niagara Falls in Ontario, to the small-town charm and history of Herkimer, New York, the hometown series has taken us to destinations around the globe as travel bloggers tell us why we should visit their hometown! Next, we will travel to the Golden State with Shreeyeh from Bae Area and Beyond as she tells us all the wonderful things to do in San Jose, California.


Located in the heart of Silicon Valley is the 3rd largest city in California, the capital of entertainment, technology, and natural attractions – San Jose! If you want to get a taste of the best things to do in San Jose, California – from museums to parks and everything in between – then you’ve come to the right place. Here are 7 things to do in San Jose, California on your next visit:

palm trees lining Santana Row, one of the top things to do in San Jose, California
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Santana Row. Photo Credit: Bae Area and Beyond.

Top Things to Do in San Jose, California

Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House is the top thing to do when visiting San Jose. This house is filled with thrillers starting with its origin story. Back in the 1800s, Sarah Winchester built this mansion that included some interesting features. While the mansion’s exterior is styled in Late Victorian architecture, the interiors include stairs and doors that are dead-ends and windows that look out to other rooms in the mansion. The mansion offers daily in-person tours, immersive 360 virtual tours, seasonal tours, and axe throwing! This house has inspired many television shows, movies, and Disney Park’s The Haunted Mansion.

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The Winchester Mansion. Photo Credit: Bae Area and Beyond.

The Tech Interactive

When you’re in Silicon Valley, you know you need to explore all things tech! Visit The Tech Interactive located in downtown San Jose. This museum has tons of science and technology activities and STEAM experiences that foster innovation and curiosity. Currently, there are 10 exhibits and 2 unique experiences that explore how to use technology to build a better future: The Tech Studio and The Biotinkering Lab. Before heading out, book a movie at their IMAX Dome Theater, the largest dome screen in Western U.S.

Kelley Park

Kelley Park is a city park that includes a zoo, a garden, parks and museums. Located in the park, the Happy Hollow Park & Zoo is an amusement park with a zoo that consists of rides, a roller coaster, puppet theater, animal hospital, animal exhibits and more! This park also has a Japanese Friendship Garden where you can walk around the koi ponds, tea house and across the bridges. Kelley Park also has another park known as the History Park. Inside the History Park, you’ll find 32 historical landmarks including the Viet Museum and the Portuguese Historical Museum.

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum holds over 4000 Egyptian artifacts – the largest collection in Western North America. At this museum, book a Museum Tomb Tour, visit the Rosicrucian Park Gardens and check out the Alchemy Exhibit that displays the Alchemical process and a replica of an Alchemist’s workshop. Before entering the museum, take a photo at the museum entrance that was built in Karnak-style. The entrance also has a statue of Taweret, the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility.

Santana Row

Santana Row is a popular shopping and dining district located near downtown San Jose. When you enter this 42-acre district, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a luxury village. It is filled with over 70 brand shops and boutiques, 20 delicious restaurants, 9 salons, a theater and more! As you look up at the buildings for its gorgeous architecture, you might also notice that there are residents also staying in the district.

a water fountain in the Santana Row shopping district
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Santana Row. Photo Credit: Bae Area and Beyond.

3.5-Hour Road Trip to Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is only 160 miles away from San Jose. While other visitors travel miles and days to visit this all-year-around gorgeous park, you get to Yosemite within a few hours! Just take the CA-120 E highway and you’ll reach there in less than 4 hours. Plus, Highway 120 takes you through many historic towns that include museums and murals. This scenic road trip ends at Yosemite and while Yosemite is the final destination, explore the two big sequoia groves nearby: Tuolumne Grove and Merced Grove.

Yosemite national park trees and rock formations
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Yosemite National Park. Photo Credit: Bae Area and Beyond.

Santa Cruz

San Jose isn’t far from a collection of beaches on the Pacific coast. But if you’re planning a beach day, head to Santa Cruz! Santa Cruz is filled with beaches and you’re sure to find the right one for you. There are beaches with natural attractions, lighthouses or close to shops and restaurants. Looking for kid-friendly beaches, dog-friendly beaches or both? Santa Cruz is your go-to place and it’s less than an hour away!

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Santa Cruz Beaches. Photo Credit: Bae Area and Beyond.

Where to Eat in San Jose

San Jose is a melting pot when it comes to people, places and food. You will find the best foods from almost any culture in this city. So, because of that, I recommend trying the best of the best: San Jose’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Enjoy Portuguese food? Reserve a spot at Adega, especially if you love seafood. Want to try Hunanese dishes? Check out Bai Xing Jia Hunan Fusion. Or do you want authentic Mexican food? Visit Luna Mexican Kitchen.

Where to Stay in San Jose

Rated the #1 hotel in San Jose from Condé Nast Traveller, Hotel Valencia is highly recommended, especially if you want an unforgettable stay. This hotel takes you back to Old World Spain with its architectural touches. The hotel is a smooth combination of luxury and sophisticated style. Plus, it’s located in the heart of Santana Row so you can spend a weekend-long staycation at Hotel Valencia!

Visit San Jose Today

When in San Jose, you are in one of the most exciting cities in the world. There is so much to do; it can be tough to know where to begin. Hope this list helps you plan your trip to San Jose. San Jose is a gem in so many aspects and a great rest-stop before heading to other California destinations. It’s a great place to stay and I’m proud to call it my hometown.

About the Author

Rasika is the owner of the travel blog Bae Area and Beyond. She is from San Jose, California and her blog covers California destinations. She hopes that her readers will fall in love with California, just like she did!

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If you are planning a trip to California, you will want to add these great things to do in San Jose, California to your itinerary! #hometownseries #sanjose #usa
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