Do you know the (best) way to San Jose?
September 12, 2008 9:43 AM   Subscribe

Things to do in San Jose! And how to get there...

I am working in San Jose for a few weeks from Monday and flying out to San Francisco from the UK tomorrow.

I intend to spend my middle weekend doing things in SF but was wondering what there is to do in and around San Jose at night. I will have the full day Sunday in San Jose too so any ideas for then would be great too. Bars/restaurants/sights... I am interested in anything that the hive can think of!

Also, I won't be driving, how easy is to get to San Jose from San Francisco International airport? What is the best method? Am I best to just get a taxi?

posted by ClanvidHorse to Travel & Transportation around San Jose, CA (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Winchester Mystery House!
posted by amro at 9:50 AM on September 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

You'd have to do these both Sunday, 'cause they don't have night hours.

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
The Tech
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:55 AM on September 12, 2008

Caltrain is the easiest/cheapest way. A taxi from SFO to San Jose would cost north of $100 each way.
posted by milkrate at 9:55 AM on September 12, 2008

The tech museum floored me. Not so much the museum as watching the little kids program computers like they'd been doing it all their lives (they have). I work in IT on the research/academic side and knew then and there I'd been eclipsed.

I had friends visit the monopoly board which they said was cool but probably not worth the walk. I didn't see much of a night life there though. Lots of good restaurants but everything seemed to just shut down around 10 or 11.
posted by jwells at 9:57 AM on September 12, 2008

Does Caltrain get you to SFO? If not, you can take the BART to Millbrae to transfer, or take a cab to a Caltrain station.
posted by scission at 10:03 AM on September 12, 2008

Trip Planner. I entered SFO and some random address in San Jose. The results were a bit complicated using public transport for the whole route, but it can be done. You could probably simplify it with a short cab ride at one end or the other, or both.

Now I have that damn song stuck in my head. Enjoy your stay!
posted by trip and a half at 10:38 AM on September 12, 2008

Try the poor house bistro. . They frequently have live music and the new orleans style food and beer is awesome.
posted by bananafish at 10:45 AM on September 12, 2008

To get from SFO to San Jose a cab is expensive. You can take a shuttle bus which is cheaper or the BART-Caltrain route which is the cheapest. You take the airport train to Garage G ( then take the BART to San Bruno then transfer to the BART going the other way to Millbrae and then transfer to the Caltrain south to San Jose. You may need to take a cab from the San Jose Caltrain station to wherever you're staying. It's dumb but the BART is really geared to go from SFO-San Francisco proper and to go south from SFO via BART requires an extra transfer that is kind of stupid.

You can get a public transit trip planner from either or Google Transit that will help you figure out how far you'll be from the SJ Caltrain station to your final destination.

As for what to do in San Jose? Blah, nothing. Go to Santana Row and do some shopping with your powerful pounds. (or do what the other commenters have suggested but I find San Jose to be blah). Find a coupon for the Winchester Mystery House if you go, otherwise it's like $27 for an adult. I thought it was fun though.
posted by GuyZero at 10:45 AM on September 12, 2008

I grew up in San Jose, here's what I can tell ya:

In downtown proper there are the typical restaurants, my favorite being Original Joe's as I am an unabashed carnivore. The Camera theaters present a good slate of indie/arthouse films.

Japantown features yummy Japanese food.

Nightlife? It's there, but you'll find more vibrant, diverse options in SF.

The Sharks aren't playing yet. :(

Oh, and have you ever wondered what it would be like to jump around on a huge indoor trampoline? Well wonder no more my friend!
posted by shino-boy at 10:56 AM on September 12, 2008

Yeah, San Jose is kind of most populated chunk of nowhere you'll ever get to. There are some good restaurants. You probably don't have much mexican food in Scotland, that would be worth looking for La Victoria is a great burrito joint downtown.

Do you know where you're staying? San Jose is really big, so without a car, your choice will be somewhat limited.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:47 AM on September 12, 2008

Seconding Japantown, especially for some great shave ice.
posted by billtron at 11:48 AM on September 12, 2008

Organize a meet up! I live in the area and I'm sure others are too.
posted by special-k at 12:05 PM on September 12, 2008

If you're there Oct 3, check out South First Fridays, a cool little art walk covering some of the galleries in the downtown area.
posted by Failure31 at 1:10 PM on September 12, 2008

Seconding Original Joe's... great Italian food in a cozy restaurant.

Unfortunately San Jose isn't really on the same level as San Francisco with respect to the density (or overall quantity) of things to do. Everything seems to close pretty early, too.

The SJ Museum of Art is cool, and the Tech is interesting, but I remember it being geared towards a younger audience. Those are both downtown. The Intel Computer Museum is supposed to be excellent and should be accessible by taking the VTA up to Mountain View.

If you can find your way out to Saratoga, Hakone Gardens is gorgeous.
posted by lalas at 2:58 PM on September 12, 2008

posted by Kafkaesque at 5:25 PM on September 12, 2008

I travel to SJ quite a bit. Fly international into SF (those 14 hour flights from Australia are a bitch), and then drive down 101 until I get to San Jose. It's pretty easy to get to. You can even get there by train from SF.

With regards to what's worth doing there? Not much really. It's the most boring "university town" I've ever come across. The whole silicon valley thing kinda makes it boring (but keeps me employed, so I'm not complaining).

The Winchester Mystery House is definintely worth checking out. If you're there over the weekend, step across Stevens Creek Boulevard and go to Santana Row. They have some nice markets on the weekend (mostly local growers who are, sadly, not as common as they once were). The shops in Santana Row are pretty nice too, if a little expensive. Just over the road you can also wander through Valley Fair, a massive shopping mall (if that's your thing).

Nearby, up 880 I think, you can also check out the Great Mall of America. If you're into shopping, or need to bring back gifts, this is a great (and very large!) outlet mall. You can buy brand-name and designer goods here at significantly lower prices than regular high-street costs.

Finally, if you have time on your hands, head back down 101 and visit Palo Alto. It's a nice town, and you can wander around the town centre checking out the locals, having coffee or a snack (try Gyro's on the main street - University Ave I think - if you like shish kebabs or greek food; cheap and tasty!). The main draw for me in Palo Alto though is Stanford. They have an amazing University Bookshop (the one on the campus, not Palo Alto high-street). It's also a nice campus, especially when the weather is pleasant. They also have a lovely sculpture garden; indeed a lifesize version of The Burghers of Calais welcomes you through the main entrance of the University. Check out the larger sculpture garden though. Depends if you like that kind of stuff. Rodin rocks my world personally.

Also, in the campus area, there is a particle acelarator. NOthing like the LHC, and the visitor centre is pretty lame, but interesting in a passing sense.

The above are the highlights from eight years of business trips to this area. Not much. There's still more, but nothing I'd go out of my way to recommend. Ames Airfield is pretty shitty for example.

You could drive down 880 and take the mountain road to Santa Cruz. A lovely, and very winding, drive. SC itself is kinda tacky though. Nice beach, and "eye candy" too I guess.

Have fun. San Francisco is better, but a long way away.
posted by Mephisto at 7:45 PM on September 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

bah... sorry for the poor spelling of "accelerator"...
posted by Mephisto at 7:47 PM on September 12, 2008

Metro is the San Jose weekly with events listings.

Seconding a visit to Stanford, aka "The Farm".
posted by lukemeister at 8:29 PM on September 12, 2008

The Tech is pretty cool. It's definitely *geared* at a younger audience, although I went with a friend not long ago and we had an awesome time... the earthquake simulator was fun. Most of it was cool in a 'meta' sort of way "wow, the activities for kids here are really cool" "suddenly I'm reminded why they call it Silicon Valley" etc.

Winchester Mystery House is also pretty neat, especially if you like the historical side of things.

You can also drive down 880 to downtown Los Gatos, which is a nice downtown... good gelato, too.
posted by Lady Li at 9:26 PM on September 12, 2008

Mefites helped me out last winter.. Definitely go to that falafel place.
posted by nax at 3:30 PM on September 13, 2008

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