7 Intriguing Things to Do in San Jose

If you have some time to spend in the city, there are many fun things to do in San Jose for people of all ages and all interests. From art and children’s museums to displays showcasing technological advancements, this Capital of Silicon Valley has plenty of educational information and hands-on training to offer. In addition to these institutions, San Jose plays host to impressive shopping districts, beautiful parks and romantic restaurants sprinkled throughout the city.

With so many options in the beautiful and sunshine-filled climate, you really cannot go wrong with finding things to do in San Jose CA.

1. Visit the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

You would not expect to find ancient Egyptian artifacts among the palm trees, but the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is one of the most diverse things to do in San Jose. Established by Dr. Harvey Lewis and the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, the museum houses the artifacts collected by Lewis since 1929. Although it was constructed in 1966, the building itself is shaped in the ancient Egyptian style. It houses more than 4,000 artifacts, as well as a planetarium and an 18th century-style Dynasty Egyptian garden.

This museum is a great option for rainy California days. You can visit the coffins of T’awa and Usermontu, among other highlights. The museum closes on Mondays and Tuesdays. General admission is $9, but children ages 5-10 years pay just $5.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round, from Wednesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Planetarium shows are available every day at 2:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:30 p.m.
  • Address: 1660 Park Avenue, San Jose CA 95191.

2. Pet the Animals at the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

First opened in 1961 and renovated and reopened in 2010, the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo sits on 16 acres and offers young children things to do in San Jose. The zoo itself features more than 150 different species of animals, and the petting zoo, called the Double H Ranch Exhibit, includes goats and rabbits and is part of the full-service veterinary hospital on site. Happy Hollow is home to a one-of-a-kind Fossa Exhibit, which houses members of the mongoose family. The Giggle Grove is home to kid favorites like swings, mini golf, and a vintage carousel. You will also be able to experience family rides and a puppet theater.

Visit the park and zoo and pay $14.25 for each person ages 2-59 years. The parking fee is $10 per vehicle. Feel free to stop at the Picnic Basket Restaurant or the Explore and More Store for food and special gifts during or after your trip.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round. The hours for the park can be found online as they vary by the date, but Happy Hollow is open most days of the week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Address: 1300 Senter Road, San Jose, CA 95112.

3. Tour the Winchester Mystery House

Located on South Winchester Boulevard is the Winchester Mystery House. Built in the Queen Anne Style during the Victorian period, this home was once the home of Sarah Winchester, the daughter of the famous gun maker. Ms. Winchester began building the house in 1884, but all construction ceased in 1922 at the time of her death. She, as well as others familiar with the building, maintained that the house was haunted by everyone ever killed by Winchester rifles, making a visit to this location one of the most unique things to do in San Jose. Now a historic landmark, the current owners have added touches of the number 13 throughout the home.

In addition to the house, you will also find the Antique Products Museum and the Winchester Historic Firearms Museum on the grounds. These appropriately hold one of the largest collections of Winchester rifles in the nation, as well as other Winchester products, including fishing tackle and safety razors. Prices for the 2.5-hour grand tour of the estate range from $34 to $44.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round, Monday to Sunday from 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m.
  • Address: 525 S Winchester Blvd., San Jose, CA 95128.

4. Grab a Bite at SP2

If you are looking for things to do in San Jose near San Pedro Square Market in the downtown district, stop by SP2. This communal bar and restaurant serve American bistro cuisine, but the executive chefs put a delicious and unexpected spin on every dish. Using only locally sourced ingredients and serving hand-crafted cocktails, you are in for a unique experience when you visit this dining establishment. Enjoy the beautiful California weather from the open patio, or move inside the bistro for a late-night meal.

The SP2 Burger, 8 ounces of Kobe beef with buffalo sauce and white cheddar, runs $24, and the wood-fired pei mussels and house-made chorizo is $18. The restaurant also serves brunch, like the organic farm egg scramble with heirloom tomatoes and grilled asparagus for $16. A build-your-own mimosa before 2:00 p.m. is $15.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round. Dinner is served daily starting at 5:00 p.m., and lunch runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • Address: 72 N Almaden Ave., San Jose, CA 95110.

5. Watch a Game at the Farmers Union

Another dining hotspot in the city is the Farmers Union, a place where sports fans gather to catch a game on one of the many televisions mounted throughout the building. With rustic wooden tables and animal heads hung on the brick walls, this is one of the more old-fashioned things to do in San Jose. You will find baby back ribs, mac and cheese and more than 52 craft beers on tap at the Farmers Union. Despite its initial appearance, this restaurant and its marble-topped bar are classy enough to bring a date, an important coworker or your family members.

Grab a sandwich with a side of fries or garden greens for around $14-22 or enjoy the grilled flat iron steak with dirty fries and fresno chili chimichurri for $19.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round, Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. or until 11:00 p.m. on Friday. You can also visit on Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. or attend Sunday brunch from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • Address: 151 W. Santa Clara St. San Jose,CA 95113.

6. Gaze at the Exhibits of the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

The first museum devoted exclusively to textiles and quilts, the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles opened in 1977. Since that time, it has gathered more than 550 different garments that were all created in the 20th and 21st centuries. You can wander through the hanging exhibits of these items, and you can visit the museum’s library to look through the more than 500 different books about the history and the techniques used to create these textiles. The museum also offers docent-led tours several times each month, as well as special lectures and classes geared toward audiences of all ages.

Children ages 12 years and under may enter free of charge, but those ages 13 years and older pay $8. The first Friday of every month, except January and July, is also free.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round, from Wednesday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. or on Saturday or Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The museum closes on Mondays, Tuesdays and all major holidays.
  • Address: 520 South First Street, San Jose, CA 95113.

7. Smell the Flowers at the Municipal Rose Garden

One of the most fragrant things to do in San Jose is to visit the 5.5 acres of the Municipal Rose Garden. Featuring more than 4,000 different rose varieties, you will notice the smell of blooming flowers as soon as you arrive. Started in 1927, the garden is one of the largest and most recognized locations for roses in the world. Unsurprisingly, it is also one of the most popular city locations for weddings. Volunteers prune, fertilize and weed the impressive plants to maintain the garden.

The perfect time to visit the rose garden is from April to November when the blooms are in their full, colorful glory. This is especially true in early May, which is the time when the flowers are at their most beautiful stage. However, feel free to wander through the gardens at any time.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Best between April and November.
  • Address: Naglee Ave & Dana Ave, San Jose, CA 95126.

With the gorgeous weather and the wide variety of different activities available, there are many fun things to do in San Jose. Whether you are interested in eating some good food or touring a museum or garden, check out all the Capital of Silicon Valley has to offer its visitors and its residents.

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