Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Tue February 06 2018
An aerial and panoramic view of the historic Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose, CA. (photo via GerardoBrucker / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

San Jose

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An aerial and panoramic view of the historic Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose, CA. (photo via GerardoBrucker / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
An aerial and panoramic view of the historic Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose, CA. (photo via GerardoBrucker / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Welcome to San Jose, California, the capital of Silicon Valley, which also happens to rank as one of America’s safest and the most livable large cities. San Jose is 177 square miles and sits at the southern end of San Francisco Bay, just 45 minutes south of San Francisco and an hour northeast of Monterey.

It, of course, offers visitors the culture you’d expect from a big city—Broadway shows, ballet, opera and a symphony. But amidst this city there are also 150 parks and gardens, 15 local and championship golf courses, and more than two dozen local wineries nearby.

Visitors will discover diverse neighborhoods, starting with downtown, where you’ll find office buildings, shopping, dining, a convention center and the SoFA (South of First Area) nightclub district. Check out San Jose State University campus and its Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, which is a city and university partnership that draws some 7,500 visits daily. The museum list is long, including the Tech Museum with an IMAX theater and the San Jose Museum of Art.

Ranked as one of the best fitness walking cities in the country by CNN.com, San Jose offers miles to explore at Coyote Creek or Los Gatos Creek trail systems or choose between urban and mountain parks of the 45,000-acre Santa Clara County Parks system.

Scenery of the shopping street in San Jose, California (photo via MasaoTaira / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Scenery of the shopping street in San Jose, California (photo via MasaoTaira / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Shopping in San Jose is an event no matter where you go. Highlights include the San Jose Flea Market, which dates back to 1960 and today is the largest open-air flea market in the U.S. at 120 acres. For cultural diversity, check out the 200 stores in the Vietnamese business area along Story Road near Senter Road. Enjoy eating and shopping in Japantown, along Jackson Street centered at 4th Street. The “European Style” Santana Row, an upscale retail, dining and residential development three miles from the city center, has 70 shops to explore, ranging from designers to bargains. San Jose also has a wide variety of malls.

Dining in San Jose includes a range of budgets and types of cuisine. Walking downtown, you’ll come across Italian, seafood, sports bars and more. San Pedro’s Square offers a wide choice of options, and if around there on a Friday from May to December, you’ll enjoy the Downtown Farmer’s Market. Santana Row has more than 30 places to choose from when it comes to food and drink. When it’s time to sip local wines, it’s only a 40 minute drive from downtown to the local wineries.

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) is located five minutes from downtown San Jose. The city is also accessible via Caltrain, the commuter rail between San Francisco and Gilroy. Amtrak service is via the Sacramento to San Jose Capitol Corridor and the Los Angeles to Seattle Coast Starlight.

San Jose is fairly spread out, so a rental car is your best bet for getting around. There is a light rail system run by Valley Transit Authority (VTA) that links downtown to businesses and attractions throughout Santa Clara County. There are also buses that vary in frequency and routes.

San Jose enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year. Average daily temperatures range from 50 degrees in January to 70 degrees in July, making anytime a good time to visit.