One day to spend in San Jose, CA. What should I see and do?
April 2, 2013 8:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm flying from Arkansas on a business trip in about a week, and it looks like I'll have one free day to explore San Jose, CA. I'm open to anything; please give me your best suggestions for food and adventure.
posted by jackypaper to Travel & Transportation around San Jose, CA (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
It really depends on what you like to do. Also, where you'll be staying and if you'll have a car.

I always recommend the Rosecrucian Museum they have a lot of neat Egyptian artifacts and it's incredibly interesting. Do that in the morning and the Winchester House in the afternoon.

If it were me, I'd hop in a car and drive south on Highway 17 to Santa Cruz. I'd walk on the boardwalk, taking in all the boardwalky goodness. Or do the Mystery Spot.

Go downtown, shop in the hemp stores for clothes, eat vegetarian food, craft beer, let your freak flag fly.

Santa Cruz is also close to Monterrey (Cannery Row, Aquarium) and Carmel-by-the-Sea (Clint Eastwood sitings!)

Or hop on the train and go to San Francisco and do San Francisco-type things up there.

One day isn't all that much, and San Jose and environs are pretty dense with interesting stuff. As long as you have a plan, you won't mess up.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:00 AM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Again, depends on what you enjoy.

San Jose Museum of Art is small enough to do in a few hours. If you're a Beethoven fan, the Beethoven Center (with a genuine lock of Beethoven's hair!) is wonderful.

Great burritos at Iguanas (home of the Burritozilla as seen on Man vs. Food, burgers at El Patio.

You're within driving distance to San Francisco and Stanford, if those hold any appeal.
posted by kinetic at 9:10 AM on April 2, 2013

If you're more of a outdoors person than a city type, the Pacific ocean and the coastal redwoods are nor far from San Jose. Like Ruthless B I'd head for Santa Cruz (disclaimer: I live there) and take the coastal road, highway 1, to the north and west for spectacular scenery and lovely little beaches. Davenport is 15 minutes out of Santa Cruz, or you could continue up to Half Moon Bay, or all the way to San Francisco. On the way to Santa Cruz you could visit the redwoods in Henry Cowell State Park. Skip the Mystery Spot, though; it's quaint but it's not a don't-miss-this.
posted by anadem at 9:57 AM on April 2, 2013

Go to the Municipal Rose Garden. So many varieties of roses! I also enjoyed Santana Row and the San Jose Art Museum.
posted by discopolo at 10:08 AM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you have a car, I'd go check out the redwoods at Big Basin.

If you don't have a car, take Caltrain either to San Francisco, or go to Palo Alto and check out the sculpture garden at Cantor Art Museum on the Stanford campus.
posted by ambrosia at 10:11 AM on April 2, 2013

San Jose itself doesn't get nearly enough love in touristing recommendations for the Bay Area. Since you say you are in San Jose for business, I'm going to stick to recommending things in San Jose itself.

Downtown; A brief drive from Downtown;
  • Japanese Friendship Garden is a small but well maintained bit of peaceful calm.
  • San Jose History Park (next to the Japanese Garden) is a collection of old buildings and things.
  • Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium. A private museum that is interesting if you are ok with an old fashioned read tiny descriptions museum. My wife loved the garden with sculptures and native to Egypt plantings. The planetarium is an old school goofy planetarium, it was fun to re-live my childhood.
  • Moroccan food at Menera is fun with a few friends, so long as you aren't bothered by belly dancers (that seek participation from some of the diners).
A brief drive the other way;
posted by fief at 10:33 AM on April 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

If this is the kind of thing you like, I love the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.

I agree with Ruthless Bunny on the Rosicrucian Museum and discopolo on the Municipal Rose Garden. They're not far from each other: the Rosicrucian Museum is on the corner of Park and Naglee, and the Rose Garden starts at the corner of Naglee and Dana. It's probably a good five-minute walk between them, less than 2 minutes by car. You could easily do both the Museum and the Rose Garden in the morning, then hop in your car, follow Naglee to Bascom, turn left, and within two blocks, you will find Dia de Pesca, my favorite seafood taqueria, bar none. (They're cash-only, but they do have an ATM inside.) The food is fantastic, the collection of cacti out front are pretty, and their sign board out front is a hoot (the latest one: PESCATARIANS DO IT WITH FISH).

On preview: fief wins. You can't go wrong with fief's recommendations.
posted by bakerina at 10:35 AM on April 2, 2013

If you end up driving along the coast, as anadem suggested, consider stopping at Ano Nuevo to see the Elephant Seals. If you do this, you should try to book a spot on one of the docent lead tours that are available. If they are all full, you still have a chance of grabbing an empty spot left by a no-show.

To get to Santa Cruz, highway 9 is a slower, prettier, & more scenic drive than 17.

If you want to stay closer to San Jose, fief's suggestions are all good but I would add:

If you like hiking, Alum Rock Park - just a couple of minutes off of I680. Try the high trails on the South side of the park for great views of the canyon and then walk back to your car along the creek.

Hakone Garden in Saratoga - similar to the Japanese Friendship Garden but a little more of an "in the mountains" feel.
posted by metadave at 11:49 AM on April 2, 2013

Nthing Santa Cruz. The downtown has many great cafe's and restaurants, and the beach has the Boardwalk and the Santa Cruz Wharf. There are some great restaurants out on the Wharf. Monterey and Carmel are about 30-45 mins south of SC, so depending on time, that might make for too much of a drive if you only have one day.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 12:17 PM on April 2, 2013

I'd also head to Big Basin, given one day, your only day in California. No trees like that in Arkansas! But you've really got to tell us if you have a car, and if not, your exact location (San Jose's a big place).
posted by Rash at 2:45 PM on April 2, 2013

See if Moveable Feast is going on and accessible to you. Other trucks (well, some of them) can be found on the Truxmap app. I know there's, like, one food truck in Fayetteville, and maybe there are more in LR, but still.
posted by wintersweet at 7:16 PM on April 2, 2013

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