25 Of The Best Things to Do in San Jose, California (2024 Guide)

Looking for all the best attractions in Teal Town? Our guide to all the best things to do in San Jose, California is all you need!

Welcome to sunny San Jose, California, where the vibrant energy of the tech world collides with a rich tapestry of culture, history, and outdoor adventures. In this post, we’re giving you a taste of what makes this city a hidden gem in the Golden State

San Jose has something for everyone, and we’re about to uncover its diverse treasures one adventure at a time. So, let’s get started!

25 Top Things to Do in San Jose, California

With lots of great activities in San Jose, these are the top 25 tourist attractions we’d recommend that you consider adding to your San Jose travel itinerary!

Visit The Tech Interactive

Tech Interactive is a captivating destination in San Jose, where the worlds of science and technology come to life. This hands-on museum provides an interactive and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Whether you’re fascinated by robotics, virtual reality, or the latest advancements in science, Tech Interactive has something to pique your curiosity. With engaging exhibits, live demonstrations, and opportunities to explore cutting-edge innovations, it’s a place where you can dive into the exciting world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) while having loads of fun.

The museum’s commitment to inspiring curiosity and fostering a deeper understanding of technology makes it a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in the ever-evolving world of science and innovation.

Read Next: Check out our list of other great things to do in Northern California.

Explore the Winchester Mystery House

The enigmatic Winchester Mystery House is one of San Jose’s most unique and intriguing attractions. This sprawling mansion, with its maze-like design and countless architectural oddities, is steeped in mystery and folklore.

Visitors can explore its bewildering corridors, secret passages, and staircases that lead to nowhere while learning about the eccentric history of its owner, Sarah Winchester. The house’s peculiar features and the legend of its never-ending construction make it a fascinating historical and architectural curiosity.

For travelers looking to delve into the city’s quirky side, the Winchester Mystery House offers an experience like no other, blending history, mystery, and a touch of the supernatural into a captivating journey through the heart of San Jose.

Winchester-Mystery-House
The Winchester Mystery House is one of San Jose’s most unique and intriguing attractions.

Browse the San Jose Flea Market

The San Jose Flea Market is a vibrant and eclectic shopping destination that offers a treasure trove of unique finds and cultural experiences in the heart of San Jose. Covering a sprawling 120 acres, this massive market hosts hundreds of vendors selling everything from antiques, collectibles, and vintage clothing to fresh produce, international foods, and handmade crafts.

It’s a lively melting pot of cultures and cuisines, reflecting the diverse community of San Jose. Visitors can spend hours exploring the maze-like aisles, hunting for bargains, enjoying delicious street food, and immersing themselves in the lively atmosphere.

Whether you’re a dedicated bargain hunter, a food enthusiast, or simply looking for a fun day out, the San Jose Flea Market offers a unique and quintessentially Californian experience among the array of things to do in San Jose.

Read More: Check out this post on fun things to do in San Francisco.

Explore Downtown San Jose

Whether you’re interested in shopping, dining, art, history, or entertainment, downtown San Jose provides a vibrant and ever-evolving scene that’s integral to the city’s identity and a must-visit for travelers seeking an authentic San Jose experience.

Downtown San Jose serves as the vibrant urban core of the city and is a bustling hub of activity and culture. This dynamic district offers a plethora of things to do and see, from shopping at boutique stores and dining at diverse restaurants to enjoying the city’s nightlife and exploring cultural institutions.

Art enthusiasts can visit galleries, theaters, and museums, while history buffs can wander through historic neighborhoods like Hensley, Naglee Park, and Willow Glen. The bustling streets are also home to numerous festivals and events, showcasing the city’s rich cultural diversity and lively atmosphere.

Downtown San Jose At Night
Whether you’re exploring in the day or at night, downtown is packed with things to do!

Find Entertainment at the SAP Center

The SAP Center, located in downtown San Jose, is a premier entertainment venue that hosts a wide array of events, making it a cultural hub and a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the city.

This state-of-the-art arena is home to the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, but it also hosts concerts featuring top artists, thrilling sports events, family shows, and other live performances. The arena’s modern amenities and excellent acoustics ensure a memorable experience for attendees, whether you’re a sports enthusiast or a music lover.

From cheering on the Sharks to catching a live concert by your favorite band, SAP Center offers an electric atmosphere where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant entertainment scene that San Jose has to offer.

Stroll through Santana Row

Santana Row stands as a vibrant and stylish destination in San Jose, California, offering a delightful fusion of shopping, dining, and entertainment. With its European-inspired architecture and lush landscaping, this upscale retail district provides a charming atmosphere for both locals and visitors.

Whether you’re seeking high-end fashion boutiques, unique specialty shops, or world-class restaurants, Santana Row has it all.

After a satisfying shopping spree, you can unwind at one of the chic cafes or enjoy an evening of live music on the outdoor stage. It’s a place where luxury and leisure meet, making it a must-visit for those looking to experience the finer side of San Jose’s lifestyle and culture.

Santana Row
Santana Row stands as a vibrant and stylish destination in San Jose.

Enjoy San Pedro Square Market

San Pedro Square Market is a bustling and dynamic destination in the heart of downtown San Jose, offering a vibrant tapestry of dining, entertainment, and social experiences.

This bustling marketplace features a diverse selection of eateries, ranging from gourmet food stalls and artisanal bakeries to international cuisine and craft breweries. It’s the ideal place to savor an array of flavors, gather with friends, or simply soak up the lively atmosphere.

Beyond its culinary offerings, San Pedro Square Market often hosts live music performances, events, and art exhibitions, making it a cultural hotspot in the city.

Whether you’re in search of delicious food, a lively ambiance, or a place to unwind, this lively market is a must-visit for travelers and locals alike, offering a taste of San Jose’s diverse culinary and cultural scene.

Read Next: Consider exploring San Jose as one of many day trips from San Francisco.

Visit the San Jose Museum of Art

The San Jose Museum of Art stands as a cultural gem in the heart of San Jose, California, showcasing an impressive collection of contemporary and modern art.

You can explore a diverse range of artistic expressions, from paintings and sculptures to photography and multimedia installations. The museum’s rotating exhibitions highlight both established and emerging artists, providing a dynamic and thought-provoking experience for art enthusiasts.

In addition to its stunning visual displays, the museum hosts engaging events, workshops, and lectures that foster a deeper appreciation of the arts. For those seeking to immerse themselves in the vibrant cultural scene of San Jose, a visit to the San Jose Museum of Art is a captivating journey into the world of creativity and expression.

San-Jose-Art-Museum
The San Jose Art Museum is a great attraction. One not to miss.

Relax at the Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden nestled within San Jose’s Kelley Park is a serene oasis that invites visitors to experience the beauty of Japanese culture and nature. This meticulously designed garden captures the essence of traditional Japanese landscaping with its koi-filled ponds, winding paths, charming bridges, and vibrant plant life.

Strolling through this peaceful retreat allows you to appreciate the tranquility of the surroundings and provides an opportunity for reflection and relaxation. The garden often hosts cultural events and activities, such as tea ceremonies and cherry blossom festivals, allowing you to further immerse yourself in Japanese traditions.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of San Jose, the Japanese Friendship Garden offers a tranquil escape where you can unwind and find inspiration in the beauty of nature. It’s a must-visit destination for those seeking a moment of calm and cultural enrichment in the heart of the city.

Get Outside on the Los Gatos Creek Trail

The Los Gatos Creek Trail is a scenic gem in San Jose, offering a peaceful escape into nature within the bustling city. This multi-use trail stretches for over nine miles, winding its way through lush greenery and providing a fantastic opportunity for hiking, jogging, biking, and even horseback riding.

Along the way, you’ll pass by the serene waters of the Los Gatos Creek and enjoy glimpses of local wildlife. The trail connects several city parks, including Campbell Park and Vasona Lake County Park, providing ample opportunities for picnicking, birdwatching, and outdoor recreation.

If you are looking to appreciate San Jose’s natural beauty while staying active, the Los Gatos Creek Trail is a fantastic choice amidst the diverse range of things to do in San Jose. 

Los Gatos Wilderness
Escape into the wilderness in Los Gatos near San Jose.

Enjoy a Day at Vasona Lake County Park

Vasona Lake County Park, nestled in the scenic town of Los Gatos, a stone’s throw from San Jose, offers a serene and picturesque escape for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. This expansive park surrounds the tranquil Vasona Reservoir and features lush greenery, shaded picnic areas, and a network of walking and biking trails.

You can rent paddle boats and kayaks to explore the serene waters, or simply relax by the lake’s edge and take in the stunning views of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

With its family-friendly atmosphere, playgrounds, and seasonal events like the Fantasy of Lights during the holiday season, Vasona Lake County Park provides a peaceful retreat and a perfect destination for those looking to unwind and reconnect with nature amidst the many activities available in the San Jose area.

Related: Read about why San Jose makes the list of best places to visit in California.

Take Your Leisure at the Guadalupe River Park

Guadalupe River Park provides a picturesque escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life right in the heart of San Jose, California. This beautiful urban park offers a tranquil respite with its meandering trails, lush greenery, and scenic views along the banks of the Guadalupe River.

Here, you can enjoy leisurely walks, bike rides, or picnics while taking in the natural beauty and the serenity of the water. The park is also home to the Discovery Meadow, a popular spot for family gatherings and outdoor events.

For nature enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat, Guadalupe River Park offers a delightful opportunity to connect with nature and find solace amidst the city’s vibrant cultural offerings, making it one of the many wonderful things to do in San Jose.

Visit the Happy Hollow Park & Zoo

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, nestled in the heart of San Jose, offers an enchanting escape for families and nature enthusiasts alike. This delightful destination seamlessly combines the excitement of an amusement park with the charm of a zoo, making it one of the top things to do in San Jose.

Kids can thrill in rides like the carousel and roller coaster, while also getting up close with a wide array of animals, including lemurs, meerkats, and jaguars. The zoo’s commitment to conservation and education is evident through engaging exhibits and interactive encounters.

With its lush gardens, playful animals, and a commitment to both entertainment and education, Happy Hollow Park & Zoo provides an unforgettable experience in the heart of Silicon Valley, making it a must-visit attraction for families visiting San Jose.

Related: Don’t miss out on all of the best things to do in Santa Cruz!

Sip Your Way Across the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail

Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail offers a delightful journey through the region’s burgeoning wine culture, inviting visitors to savor the fruits of its fertile vineyards. This scenic trail winds its way through picturesque vineyards and wineries, providing wine enthusiasts with the perfect opportunity to explore and sample the diverse flavors of the area.

From boutique wineries crafting small-batch varietals to more established estates producing classic California wines, the trail showcases the terroir of the Santa Clara Valley.

It’s an immersive experience where visitors can learn about the winemaking process, indulge in tastings, and often meet the passionate vintners behind each label, all while surrounded by the stunning landscapes that make this wine trail a hidden gem in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Stroll Through the Plaza de Cesar Chavez

Plaza de Cesar Chavez, nestled in the heart of downtown San Jose, serves as a vibrant cultural hub and a central gathering place for locals and visitors alike.

This beautifully landscaped square is surrounded by iconic landmarks, including the Tech Museum of Innovation, the San Jose Museum of Art, and the Fairmont Hotel. Throughout the year, the plaza hosts a myriad of events and festivals, from outdoor concerts and art exhibitions to holiday celebrations.

Its lush greenery, picturesque fountains, and public art installations create a tranquil urban oasis, inviting visitors to relax and soak in the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

Whether you’re seeking a moment of serenity amidst the city’s hustle and bustle or looking to immerse yourself in the local culture, Plaza de Cesar Chavez offers a delightful escape and a taste of the city’s diverse cultural scene amidst the numerous things to do in San Jose. 

Read Next: Consider making a short trip to experience Monterey.

Plaza-De-Cesar-Chavez
Plaza de Cesar Chavez serves as a vibrant cultural hub and a central gathering place for locals and visitors alike.

Explore History Park at Kelley Park

History Park at Kelley Park is a captivating open-air museum that allows visitors to step back in time and explore the rich history of San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley. Located within the expansive Kelley Park, this unique attraction features a collection of beautifully preserved historic buildings, each representing a different era and aspect of the region’s past.

Visitors can wander through a 19th-century farmhouse, visit a blacksmith’s shop, and even explore a one-room schoolhouse. The park frequently hosts special events and reenactments, offering a hands-on and immersive experience for all ages.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of modern San Jose, History Park provides a charming and educational retreat that showcases the area’s fascinating history and is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those looking to delve into the city’s past while exploring the various things to do in San Jose.

Discover the Past in the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California, offers a captivating journey back in time to the world of ancient Egypt. As the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the western United States, this museum is a treasure trove of history and culture.

Here, you can marvel at an extensive collection of mummies, statues, jewelry, and other artifacts, all housed within a stunning Egyptian-style building surrounded by peaceful gardens. The museum’s educational exhibits and interactive displays provide valuable insights into the fascinating civilization of ancient Egypt, making it an ideal destination for history enthusiasts, families, and anyone eager to explore the mysteries of the past.

A visit to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is not just a trip through time; it’s an immersive and enlightening experience that allows you to connect with the rich heritage of one of the world’s most captivating ancient civilizations.

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
Serenity and history await at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum.

Tinker at the Children’s Discovery Museum

The Children’s Discovery Museum is a captivating and educational destination in San Jose, California, designed to ignite the curiosity and creativity of young minds. This interactive museum offers a wide array of exhibits and activities tailored for children of all ages, making it an ideal family-friendly attraction.

From hands-on science experiments and interactive displays to outdoor play areas and a mini-labyrinth, the museum provides a dynamic and engaging environment for kids to learn and explore. It also hosts special programs and workshops that cater to various interests and ages.

For families visiting San Jose, the Children’s Discovery Museum is a fantastic place to foster a love of learning and spark children’s imaginations while having fun together.

Learn More at the Computer History Museum

The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, located just a short drive from San Jose, is a captivating journey through the evolution of computing technology, making it a must-visit destination for tech enthusiasts and history buffs exploring the San Jose area.

This exceptional museum houses a remarkable collection of artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that chronicle the digital revolution from its early days to the present. Visitors can marvel at iconic machines like the ENIAC, learn about the pioneers who shaped the computer industry, and gain insights into the transformative impact of computing on society.

The museum’s engaging exhibits and immersive storytelling offer a deep dive into the history of computers, making it a perfect complement to the wealth of technology-related activities and attractions found in Silicon Valley and the broader array of things to do in San Jose.

Stand in Awe at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, located in the heart of downtown San Jose, is a magnificent architectural gem and a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage. This stunning Catholic cathedral, constructed in the 19th century, features a Neo-Gothic design with soaring spires and intricate stained glass windows that bathe the interior in colorful light.

Here, you can explore the serene ambiance, admire the intricate craftsmanship, and, if you time it right, attend a mass or simply sit in quiet contemplation. The cathedral is not only a place of worship but also a historical landmark that stands out amidst the modernity of San Jose’s urban landscape.

For those looking to appreciate both the spiritual and architectural aspects of the city, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph is a must-visit destination amidst the diverse range of things to do in San Jose.

Laugh the Night Away at the San Jose Improv

The San Jose Improv Comedy Club is a fantastic spot for those seeking laughter and entertainment in the heart of San Jose.

Located downtown, this comedy club hosts a diverse lineup of comedians, from established stars to up-and-coming talents, guaranteeing a night of hilarity and fun. The club’s intimate setting and energetic atmosphere create the perfect environment for enjoying stand-up comedy, making it a favorite gathering place for locals and visitors alike.

Whether you’re looking for a memorable date night or simply a great time with friends, the San Jose Improv Comedy Club is the place to be for a dose of humor and an unforgettable evening in the city.

Hike in the Almaden Quicksilver County Park

Almaden Quicksilver County Park, nestled in the scenic hills of San Jose, offers a serene escape into nature’s beauty and a fascinating journey into the region’s history. This sprawling park was once the site of the largest mercury mining operation in the world, and remnants of this industrial past can still be explored through its extensive network of hiking and biking trails.

Beyond the historical intrigue, the park provides opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the natural surroundings, with picnic areas, wildlife viewing, and panoramic vistas of Santa Clara County.

As one of the many outdoor gems in San Jose, Almaden Quicksilver County Park perfectly complements the city’s vibrant urban offerings, providing a peaceful retreat for those seeking both historical insight and natural tranquility in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Read Next: Check out this post for all the great things to do in nearby Napa Valley.

Have a Thrilling Day at California’s Great America

California’s Great America is a thrilling amusement park that promises an unforgettable day of excitement and entertainment in the heart of Santa Clara, a short drive from San Jose.

This expansive park offers a wide range of attractions for visitors of all ages, from heart-pounding roller coasters like the iconic “Gold Striker” to family-friendly rides and a refreshing water park known as “Boomerang Bay.” Live entertainment, delicious dining options, and seasonal events, including Halloween Haunt and WinterFest, make California’s Great America a year-round destination.

For adrenaline junkies and those looking for a day of fun with friends and family, this amusement park is an essential stop when exploring the San Jose area, promising an adrenaline rush and memorable experiences that will last a lifetime amidst the myriad of things to do in San Jose.

California's Great America
California’s Great America is the top amusement park in Santa Clara.

Relax in the Municipal Rose Garden

The Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose is a blooming testament to the city’s beauty and love for horticulture. Spanning over five acres, this enchanting garden boasts thousands of rose bushes in various colors and varieties, creating a stunning, fragrant display during the peak bloom season in late spring and early summer.

Visitors can stroll along meandering paths, admire the meticulously maintained roses, and find a peaceful spot to relax. The garden also provides a lovely backdrop for picnics, photography, or simply basking in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

For nature enthusiasts and anyone seeking a serene and picturesque experience in San Jose, the Municipal Rose Garden is a tranquil oasis amidst the city’s vibrant array of attractions and activities.

Hike in Alum Rock Park

Alum Rock Park offers a serene escape into nature right in the heart of San Jose, California. This urban oasis is a hiker’s paradise, boasting a network of scenic trails that wind through the Santa Clara Valley foothills.

Whether you’re a novice looking for an easy stroll or an experienced hiker seeking a more challenging adventure, the park has trails to suit every level. Along the way, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the valley, lush greenery, and opportunities to spot local wildlife.

Picnic areas, serene ponds, and historical sites like the mineral springs add to the park’s charm. Alum Rock Park is a peaceful retreat for those yearning to reconnect with nature without venturing far from the city.

Where to Stay in San Jose, California

With lots of different options for places to stay in San Jose, here are a few of our top recommendations for every budget.

High-End Luxury Hotel: Hotel Valencia Santana Row

Hotel Valencia Santana Row is a stylish and upscale boutique hotel situated within Santana Row, a premier shopping and dining district in San Jose. The hotel features chic rooms with modern amenities, a rooftop bar and lounge with fantastic views, and an on-site restaurant serving Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.

Guests can explore the vibrant atmosphere of Santana Row, known for its upscale shopping and vibrant nightlife.

Mid-Range Family Accommodation: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Jose

The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Jose provides a comfortable and family-friendly stay without breaking the bank. This mid-range hotel offers well-appointed rooms, a fitness center, and a pool.

Its central location is perfect for exploring the city’s attractions, including nearby family-friendly destinations like Happy Hollow Park & Zoo and the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.

Budget Hostel or Hotel: Pacific Motor Inn

Pacific Motor Inn is a budget-friendly hotel located within walking distance of downtown San Jose attractions, including the San Jose Convention Center. Guests often praise the hotel for its value, cleanliness, and convenient location.

It’s a suitable option for those looking for affordable accommodations with easy access to the city’s downtown area

Wrapping Up

It’s clear that San Jose has more layers than a Silicon Valley startup’s code. From the mysterious allure of the Winchester Mystery House, where you can explore the quirks of architectural genius, to the tranquil escape along the Los Gatos Creek Trail, offering a breath of fresh air right in the heart of the city, and finally to the stylish avenues of Santana Row, where shopping, dining, and people-watching reach a whole new level of chic. San Jose truly offers a dynamic blend of experiences that caters to all tastes and preferences.

Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a dedicated foodie, San Jose has something that will leave you with lasting memories. So, the next time you’re in the area, make sure to check out these top-notch attractions and soak in the unique vibe of this hidden gem in the heart of the Bay Area.

And who knows, maybe there’s even more to discover in this ever-evolving city – that’s the beauty of San Jose, where innovation meets tradition, and adventure awaits around every corner.

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About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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