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Geeky, fun activities in San Jose & SF area
March 6, 2010 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I will be in Cupertino/San Jose for two weeks starting this Monday. What are some interesting fun things to do when I'm there (besides leaving and going to San Fran)?

I'll be out in the San Jose area for two weeks, finishing up some training. The training is technical in nature (mainly computers) and I'll be out there with nine new colleagues. There will be a few rental cars and mileage isn't a problem. I'm not sure of the daily schedule yet, but we'll definitely have next weekend free.

I'm looking for activities to do, solo and in groups, nightly and during the weekend. Likely would be going into San Fran, and I'm definitely interested in that (and open to suggestions...) but I'd be interested in hearing other ideas. I'm 27 and geeky, I'm guessing most of us are the same.

Some possibilities (bolded are my preferences):
tour Intel, HP, Apple, Google
Computer History Museum
Mystery Spot or Winchester House
National or state parks (Yosemite is 200 miles away, an 8 hr round trip; GG Park over the Presidio)
San Fran (Alcatraz, Golden Gate, Union Square)
Monterey Bay (aquarium & I hear there's good sea kayaking; true?)

Things that might be cool:
Frisbee golf
lazer tag
sea kayaking



What's been asked
posted by now i'm piste to Travel & Transportation around San Jose, CA (20 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Come to a meetup or two.
posted by mollymayhem at 9:16 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.

If you go to SF, drive up highway 1 on the coast. Save time by the express version (~2-3 hours) -- take 280N to 92W to Half Moon Bay and then north to SF, then over the GG bridge to stunning scenic views in the Marin Headlands.
posted by buzzv at 9:25 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


i just found out about this place in santa clara. trampoline dodgeball!!!
posted by sergeant sandwich at 9:31 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh dear Jesus the Winchester House is a touristy piece of schlocky crap. Don't waste your time.

I'll suggest Big Basin Redwoods State Park, phenomenal trees and a much shorter drive than the other parks you listed.

It is a little late in the season for the Elephant Seals at Ano Nuevo State Park, but you'll likely still see some pups.

My all-time favorite slightly geeky activity for out-of-towners is the San Francisco Bay Model in Sausalito. I see now that it's temporarily closed but I'm throwing it in anyway for future searchers.

If you are at all interested in wine tasting there are some great wineries in the area. (Ridge, others)
posted by ambrosia at 9:33 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yosemite is beautiful and definitely worth seeing, but there are also several great state parks within an hour's drive of Cupertino, just over the to the west:

Castle Rock State Park

Big Basin State Park

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

In fact, just driving Hwy 9 from the west side of the valley (near Cupertino) through Saratoga, then up and over the summit and down through the communities on the other side is a pretty fun way to spend an afternoon. The forests and ground are going to be soggy from all the recent rain we've had, but soggy redwoods sort of comes with the terrain.
posted by mosk at 9:46 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am not too big on the hiking and stuff, so I am not really qualified to discuss that, but I have never had a bad visit to The San Jose Museum of Art. Small enough to see the whole thing in an hour or two, it usually has 3-4 shows, at least one or two are really interesting, and I don't think I have ever seen a show that was terrible.

A planetarium show at the Rosicrucian Museum is fun, and the museum itself is amusing.

I am also rather fond of the Hakone Garden in Saratoga -- not hiking, but you can have a pretty nice stroll.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:55 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I came here to suggest trampoline dodgeball. Seriously, nine new colleagues? It's probably an ideal team-building activity; you should lobby to have your company pay for the outing, but even if you have to pay for it, it's cheap and you'll love every minute of it.
posted by samthemander at 10:02 AM on March 6, 2010


The Hiller Aviation Museum is worth an hour or two... assuming you have much interest in aviation. Helicopters, especially.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 10:19 AM on March 6, 2010


Weird Stuff Warehouse is a huge computer / electronics surplus store.
Halted Computer is a smaller version of the same
Go Cart Racer - indoor go carts
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:26 AM on March 6, 2010


n'thing the Hiller Aviation Museum.
The Filoli Gardens is beautiful.
The Faultline is about as perfect a brew pub as you can get.
The Blackhawk Museum is at least an hour's drive from Cupertino or San Jose, but their car collection is astonishing.
I haven't visited the Lick Observatory, but I've heard it's interesting.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:01 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't be put off by the distance to Yosemite: the drive goes by very quickly and the view from the valley floor is not to be missed.

Sea kayaking: I like the people at Monterey Bay Kayaks. They offer rentals, guided tours and lessons at two locations, in Monterey Marine Sanctuary (right along Cannery Row) and in the wetlands of Elkhorn Slough just north of Monterey at Moss Landing.

Another option for kayaking is Richardson Bay, which is a large shallow estuary into San Francisco Bay. It's on the Marin side so you'll see the SF city skyline while paddling around as well as the houseboat community off Sausalito. I enjoyed a guided tour offered by these guys.

Hiking: Pinnacles National Monument is just a little over an hour away from San Jose. This is the best time of year to visit Pinnacles, IMO, because it's not boiling hot like it gets in summer, the plant life is greening up and you might even see wildflowers. Crazy rock formations, miles and miles of trails, rock climbing, talus caves, and condors.

In San Jose: Alum Rock Park. Huge and largely in its natural state, I frequently see bobcats, deer, boar, turkey and eagles while hiking here. I hope to never see the cougars that also live here.

Also worth visiting in SJ, if you like drives on 2 lane roads filled with hairpin turns and endurance cyclists: the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton. It's a heck of a view of the valleys on either side of the Diablo Mountain Range and on a clear day, you can see Half Dome.
posted by jamaro at 11:04 AM on March 6, 2010


You mentioned the Monterey Bay Aquarium... I highly recommend it.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:06 AM on March 6, 2010


You can hike or drive to the top of Mt Diablo and Mount Tamalpais - the view from both of them is magnificent.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:11 AM on March 6, 2010


San Jose State University's library is pretty amazing, but if you're not the sort of person who likes libraries it may not be for you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:15 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, now that I think of it, Stanford's Rodin Sculpture Garden is pretty amazing, especially after dark. The park around the Rosicrucian center is absolutely beautiful as well.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:19 PM on March 6, 2010


Great suggestions guys. Keep 'em coming.

(This is what AskMe is for: insight, clarification, and stuff I would have never heard about. Trampoline dodgeball!)
posted by now i'm piste at 4:51 PM on March 6, 2010


How does the Hiller Aviation museum compare with the National Air and Space (the one on the Mall or the new Udvar-Hazy expansion)?
posted by now i'm piste at 5:04 PM on March 6, 2010


If you go down to Monterey (and I agree, the aquarium is fantastic) go to Point Lobos State Reserve. It's an incredibly beautiful place.
posted by everybody polka at 6:16 PM on March 6, 2010


To answer your question, nip, Hiller isn't anything like either of the DC aviation museums. It's a tiny and intimate, adjacent to a private airfield. The docents there are mostly retired military pilots, many of them WWII vets, all friendly and full of stories. Some of the coolest things there aren't planes at all: I'm thinking of the Rotorcycle and the Flying Platform.
posted by tangerine at 7:17 PM on March 6, 2010


Cal Academy NightLife is a great way to see the museum with drinks and without kids. Thursday nights only. Get your tickets in advance if possible and get there early.
posted by chairface at 1:15 PM on March 7, 2010


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