Fun things to do in San Jose

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Most Viewed Things to Do in San Jose

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    Mission San Jose (in nearby Fremont)

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jun 11, 2007

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    Mission San Jose was the 14th of California's 21 Spanish Missions, and was founded in 1797 to extend the El Camino Real northeast of Santa Clara Mission. The permanent church building was begun in 1805 and completed in 1809 using giant redwoods for roof beams and leather straps in place of scarce nails. By the 1830s the mission had quickly grown to one of the most successful in California with some 2,000 local Ohlone Indians and perhaps 350,000 cattle. In 1833 the mission was "secularized"--or privatized--by the Mexican government, then plundered and left to decay.

    During the Gold Rush of 1849, the mission was used as lodging and a small American town sprung up in the area. By 1858, the US government returned portions of the mission lands to the Catholic church, but in 1868 an earthquake completely destroyed the church and various other buildings. The mission church you see today was actually constructed in 1985 and is a near-replica of the original.

    The city of San Jose grew around the location of the Spanish "Pueblo" constructed in what is now downtown. This mission was built about 15 miles away to keep the Indian converts away from the temptations of the city and to help protect the eastern approaches to the area. The area around the mission was known as the city of Mission San Jose until it merged with its neighbors to become Fremont.

    During my visit to the Mission, it was closed (10am to 5pm), but I strolled the grounds for 20 minutes. One side of the church contains a small cemetery with numerous gravestones from church leaders and later pioneers. The other side of the church contains a small garden and the visitors center/museum. The front of the church is flanked by a wall along the cemetery and has a giant set of red steps leading to the front doors. Between the visitors center and the church you can see the foundations of the original church, along with three wooden beams that have survived. The gardens and church foundation ruins are accessible even when the visitors center is closed.

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    San Jose, CA Obon Festival

    by jmmgarza Updated Jan 24, 2007

    The San Jose Obon Festival is celebrated in July in Japantown at Fifth and Jackson Street. The family event is presented by the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, the free outdoor festival offers a rich cultural experience complete with traditional dance, food, music and games.

    More than 700 dancers, dressed in traditional kimonos or hapi coats, will dance under colorful lanterns around an outdoor pavilion. Everyone is welcome to join. Dancers will be accompanied by live music performed by the Chidori Band of San Jose.

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    • Festivals

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    Art and Architecture stroll

    by tvdandy Written Oct 8, 2006

    San Jose has some truely wonderful Statues, outdoor art displays and architecture all around it's outdoor downtown area. Take a stroll, bring your camera. If you're like me, you will marvel at all the opportunities to take some awesome photos.

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    Winetasting close to San Jose

    by trvlrtom Written Sep 3, 2006

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    If you are in the San Jose are and would like to go winetasting, but don't have the time or inclination to deal with a venture to Napa or other California regions, don't worry - there are several very good wineries close to the city. Each of the following have good to great wine, atmosphere, and friendly advice on wine.

    Cooper Garrod: www.cgv.com
    Ridge: www.ridgewine.com
    Pucchetti: www.picchetti.com
    Savanna Chanelle: www.savannahchanelle.com
    David Bruce: www.davidbrucewinery.com

    Slighty further, but an easy day or even afternoon trip, are several wineries in the Santa Cruz mountains: www.winecountrygetaways.com/santa-cruz-winery.html

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    Hewlett Packard Garage

    by Chris_Bore Written Jun 20, 2006

    When in San Jose, you can visit the Hewlett Packard garage. This is the garage where Hewlett and Packard started their business that was the origin of Silicon Valley. I cannot remember exactly where it is (that will be part of the fun) but I found it by asking local people. It is a garage, but it has a plaque expalining why it is a piece of technology history.

    It is also near to Fry's Electronics superstore (the San Jose one is themed to be a gold mine which means it has old rail hopper trucks in amongst the electronics. Frys is not so good as it once was, but it does have coffee as well as gadgets which i am afraid makes it an essential stopping-off place for me.

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    Xmas in the Park

    by ismailb Written Jan 3, 2006

    Xmas in the park it seems is an annual San Jose tradition. Every year the area opposite the San Jose musuem of art is decorated with christmas greetings , santas , xmas tree's in a very beautiful way. It is a complete festival going on from before christmas , almost up until new years !!! .. Kids specially love this place ..

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    The "Fallon House"

    by ismailb Written Jan 3, 2006

    Yes thats exactly what it was called. The something something Fallon House. The house it self is probably the first one that was built in all of calif by the poblodores (founders) who came and settled here from spanish mexico !! It then turned into the first settlement and thus the first city of california. Although I did not get to take a tour of the house ( only sat/sun 7$ ) I had a look at it from the outside. The house has been preserved from its original state in the 18th century. Not many people come here for some unknown reason , but I think that Californias first is a worth watch. Catch it on

    Peralta Adobe & Fallon House
    175 West Saint John Street
    San José, CA 95110
    Phone: (408) 993-8300
    Fax: (408) 993-8008

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    Visit Saratoga - the gateway to the redwoods

    by matthieuxjames Written Apr 26, 2005

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    Taken on the grounds of Villa Montalvo, an art and cultural center not far from where I live. This year, Seal, Vanessa Williams, Michael Bolton, and Indigo Girls will be performing there. Villa Montalvo also has occasional lunch events with famous authors.

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    San Jose, California

    by irish147 Written Jan 27, 2005

    Very nice part of CA, nice shops (GREAT book shops) and very good Sun in CA. Very cheep part of the world.
    Located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, San Jose defines the area that surrounds it. The population is greater than that of San Francisco.

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  • Mount Madonna County Park

    by amarie Updated Jul 7, 2004

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    Mount Madonna county park is located on the summit of Hecker Pass (152) between Gilroy and Watsonville. It is part of the Santa Cruz Mountain Range, and features magnificent Coastal Redwoods, Oaks, Madrone, and beautiful wildflowers. Camping, picniking, hiking and horse riding trails offer many opportunities to experience the beauty of this park which was once the summer home of cattle barron, Henry Miller. The ruins of his 19th century estate are especially interesting to wander around. William Randolf Hearst gave a pair of Fallow Deer to Miller, and the many descendants of those two deer are living quite nicely in a special area just near the visitor's center.
    An outdoor amphitheatre is also located near the visitor's center, and offers opportunities for weddings and special camp shows. In fact, every Saturday evening from Memorial Day to Labor Day, a show is presented, free of charge. Usually, the theme of the shows consist of music and natural history of the park .
    Mount Madonna is a hidden gem, and personally I have been enjoying it since I was a child. Now, I am bringing my children here, and I am proud to have this park in Santa Clara County.

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    • Camping
    • Horse Riding
    • Hiking and Walking

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    The San Jose Flea Market

    by ChuckG Written Jan 4, 2004

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    Opened Wednesday to Sunday, 8AM to 8PM...there are thousands of stalls selling everything you can think of.

    This really gives you a feeling of the pre-high tech silicon valley.

    The flea market started in 1960 and is not an institution in the city.

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    Family Fun in Bonfante Gardens

    by Anthro Updated Aug 18, 2003

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    This family theme park is situated on the outskirts of Gilroy just off of HWY 152 towards Watsonville. It has been a few years in the making, surviving near bancruptcy, and finally gaining financial rescue from Paramount-the same company that owns Great America and the movie company.

    Unlike the typical hot-pavement-and-no-shade parks, this is set in a lush garden area in the hills. Bonfante Gardens is also home to the "Circus Trees" which look like carefully grafted tree branches in odd looking shapes and designs.

    The rides are mostly for kids, but they are still fun to ride as an adult. Like all parks, food is overpriced, and since you cannot bring outside food or drinks, you are left to buy their overpriced refreshments.

    The best bargain is admission because if you have a Great America VIP Season Pass, the admission is FREE! Otherwise, it is about $30. Parking is $7.00 per vehicle.

    The rides and theme of the park is geared toward agriculture and environmental awareness. The park pays homage to local agricultural capitols of the world like Gilroy, "The Garlic Capitol of the World" or Castroville, "the Artichoke Capitol of the World." Eco-facts are found on various signs around the park, rides are various vegetables and fruits, like garlic, strawberries, artichokes, or bananas. Be sure to take a ride on the Swan Paddleboats. They were a favorite to the kids and parents alike.

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    • Eco-Tourism

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    Slide into the Dragon's Den

    by michelle07 Updated Aug 4, 2003

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    Raging Waters is the perfect place to splash around and cool-off during the hot dry days of summer. It's an excellent family theme park that sometimes holds special events. The admission is cheap and the eye-candy is great. There's 12 slick water rides for you to quench your adventureous spirit on and for those that like to eat- gift shops and snack stands are located throughout the park. So if you're ever feeling too hot or bored, come visit and splash around at Raging Waters!

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    Great America

    by Shaft28 Written Jun 5, 2003

    Ok, ok so technically this isn't in San Jose, but Disneyland isn't in the actual city of LA either...
    Great America is know for one thing - rides.
    While it does have your standard carnival games, video games etc... it is the rides that keep you coming back for more. Constantly changing and updating to keep interest too.
    Perfect for teens and thrill seekers, but it does pale in comparison to the Southern Califonia neighbors Magic Mountain.

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    The Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton

    by MDH Written May 2, 2003

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    The Lick Observatory sits atop Mt. Hamilton in the Diablo Range, one of the tallest peaks in the Bay Area. Thanks to a generous donation to a construction company by eccentric California millionaire James Lick, who's dying dream was to build some of the world's greatest telescopes in 1876, the company began construction atop Mt. Hamilton the same year he died. Meanwhile, the state and federal governments undertook in the construction of a road which would go all the way up from the valley floor to the summit at 4200 feet, the first major technological feat of Santa Clara County, nearly twenty years away from the use of the automobile and a hundred from the "Silicon Valley." Interestingly, the Lick was the world's first permanently occupied mountaintop observatory

    Once the telescopes were completed in 1888, they were transfered to the University of California, which have used them ever since. Today, the Lick Observatory is under the jursidiction of UC Santa Cruz.

    Although it's over a 45 minute drive from downtown San Jose to the very top of Mt. Hamilton, the views from the Lick Observatory down on the Bay Area are simply stunning and highly recommended. On a clear day, you can see all the way up to San Francisco and dimly make out the other side of the Golden Gate. The observatories themselves are unique in their own right, being historical and still in use by scientists. Tours are available inside.

    Down below Mt. Hamilton along the road are some lovely county and state parks that have trails leading into forest and pastureland.

    In the wintertime, when conditions are right, Mt. Hamilton will be covered with snow; it's one of the only areas in the Bay Area tall (and cold enough) to get the white stuff.

    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel
    • National/State Park
    • Family Travel

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