Fun things to do in San Jose

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Most Viewed Things to Do in San Jose

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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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    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.

    Agriculturally Themed Ride: Garlic Twirlers
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    Best chocolate in the area

    by trvlrtom Written Sep 29, 2007

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    Schurra's Candy Factory is the best place to buy chocolate in the south bay area. It has been a local favorite for several generations. While See's Chocolates are well known and distributed in many places (airports, etc.) you have to go to the store to find Schurra's items, which are bound to be more fresh. They specialize in chocolates that are molded into different shapes, but have a good selection of bon bons, etc.

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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.

    Frozen serenity
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    1968 Olympic protest monument

    by trvlrtom Written Sep 29, 2007

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    On the San Jose State University campus there is a monument/statue recognizing the most popular medal ceremony of all time: Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the two black American sprinters standing on the medal podium with heads bowed and fists raised at the Mexico City Games in 1968. They were teammates at San Jose State University.

    This event was a milestone in America's civil rights movement. The two sprinters planned a non-violent protest in the manner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Smith won the gold medal and Carlos the bronze In the 200-meter race, and as the American flag rose and the Star-Spangled Banner played, the two closed their eyes and bowed their heads in protest.They were subsequently suspended from their national team and banned from the Olympic Village.

    While the event was very controversial - many think that political statements have no place in the Olympic Games. Many, however, were moved by their actions, seen as a part of the impacting 1960s Civil Rights movement.

    The 200m silver medallist in 1968, a white Austrailian participated in the protest that evening by wearing a OPHR badge. His place on the monument is empty.

    1968 Olympic protest monument.
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    Center of Downtown: The Plaza de Cesar Chavez

    by trvlrtom Written Feb 10, 2008

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    This large plaza is right in the center of downtown, ringed by the Art Museum, The Tech Museum, The Fairmont and St. Claire Hotels, and several other notable buildings. Throughout the year the plaza is used for civic events and outdoor music shows, such as the San Jose Jazz Festival in August. During the winter holiday season the park takes on a festive atmosphere with "Christmas in the Park," which includes an ice skating rink set up between the palms next to the Fairmont - a beautiful setting for a family outing.

    This is the oldest continuously used public open space in the city, dating back to the late 1700s when this was a Spanish settlement. It's been used as a parade ground, cock-pit, race-track and public hangings.

    In 1993 the park was named in honor of Cesar E. Chavez (1927-1993), the community organizer and founder of the United Farm Workers Union, who was a resident of San Jose.

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    Good local coffee shop

    by trvlrtom Written Jan 26, 2008

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    Mission City Coffee Roasting
    With so many coffee shops in the area, sometimes it is nice to find one with a little local flavor. Mission City does that. It's located in a pretty big, older building that defies the trend toward the tech or modern look. Most of the tables and chairs are old, providing character if not a somewhat wobbly seating.

    This place can get busy at times, with college students and locals hanging out, taking advantage of the wireless internet available, or just stopping by. A few evenings a week they have local musical talent or an open mike, and on Sunday afternoons there is live jazz. From time to time fairly popular regional groups even make it here: The Hot Club of SF is scheduled for a night in May, 2008.

    Breakfasts and lunches are served here, along with the usual array of coffees, teas and snacks.

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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.

    Front of the Mission Mission Cemetery Mission museum and plaza Bell tower Foundation of original mission church

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    Explore the Heritage Rose Garden

    by trvlrtom Updated May 6, 2008

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    There are two well known rose gardens in San Jose, the Municipal Rose Garden (my next tip), and this, the Heritage Rose Garden. This garden is exceptional as a display of many varieties of specialty roses, a garden that can be appreciated by gardening experts or just the casual visitor.

    The garden has a self-guided tour that takes you through different sections and rings where you can find Old Garden Roses (Gallicas, Albas, Damasks, Centifolias, Mosses, and other old European, mostly once blooming roses); crosses of the once blooming Old Garden Roses with Chinas, Teas, Musk and Autumn Damask roses; hardy rugosas; Portlands, Bourbons, and Hybrid Perpetuals; exotic Chinas and Teas; Floribundas and Hybrid Teas; Shrub Roses and more. That is a lot to take in for one garden.

    They also have docent led tours.

    San Jose Heritage Rose Garden bird's eye view
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    Mission Santa Clara

    by trvlrtom Written Aug 7, 2008

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    This mission church is located on the campus of Santa Clara University, neighboring San Jose. Santa Clara Mission is the site of the oldest continuously used established college in California, which was founded right when the California gold rush was in full swing around 1851. It was the eighth of 22 missions that lined California from north to south. The first church was built 1777 by banks of Guadalupe River in what is now downtown San Jose, and the present replica was constructed in 1928-29 after the previous one burnt down.

    The mission is named for St. Clare of Assisi, founder of the order of nuns called the Poor Clares. The Franciscans transferred ownership to the Jesuits in 1851, who founded Santa Clara University.

    Even though it is a relatively new church building, it is beautiful to see. The grounds of the university campus surrounding the church make it a nice, quiet place to visit, with little road noise and green spaces around it. Their web site has a lot of historical information.

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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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    Peralta Adobe Historic Site

    by trvlrtom Written Feb 10, 2008

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    The Peralta Adobe and Fallon House Historic Site are located in downtown, under the shadow of tall, modern buildings.

    The Adobe is San José’s oldest standing building, built in 1797. It is the sole structure left from El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe, founded by Spain, but has survived over 200 years of a rapidly changing area. The interior furnishings and grounds show what life was like in this area during its Spanish and Mexican era.

    The Peralta Adobe along with the Fallon House (across the street) are open for tours from 11.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m, Thursday-Sunday.

    Peralta Adobe, San Jose
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    Almost lost history - the Roberto Adobe

    by trvlrtom Updated Dec 14, 2008

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    The Roberto Adobe is one of the areas oldest standing buildings, dating to 1836. In 1965, the proposed Highway 280 would demolished the Adobe. Thankfully preservationists lobbied to save the building, and design plans for Highway 280 was re-routed to the north by 15 feet.
    The adobe was built by Roberto Bellarmino, an Indian from nearby Mission Santa Clara. the Mexican Governor granted 2219 acres of land in this area to Bellarmino and gave him citizenship rights. A Spaniard by the name of Suñol who worked here acquired the property from a debt and built a house attached to the Roberto Adobe with the Adobe serving as the kitchen. During the later 1800s this building was expanded and now dominates the scene. It is a nice building in itself.
    In the 1970s the owner of the property, who ran an exterminator company, learned of the significance of the property and restored it. In 1977 it was designated California State Historical Landmark #898. The building in front now serves as law offices.

    You have to look for this building to find it. I had passed it dozens of times before seeing it.

    Roberto Adobe, San Jose
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    de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara Univ.

    by trvlrtom Written Aug 7, 2008

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    This small but interesting museum, located on the university campus, has a good collection of artifacts on California and also has special exhibits going on throughout the year.
    In the permanent collection there is Native American art and artifacts from before the Europeans came here, Spanish Colonial art (primarily religious artifacts from the mission), along with items about California and university history.
    Check out the University web site below to see what the temporary exhibits are.

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    Happy Hollow Park & Zoo

    by Karnubawax Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Located in south San Jose not far from Spartan Stadium, the Happy Hollow Zoo is a nice place to take the kids. It's been around for a while, and is a well run facility. It is part of the area known as Kelley Park, which also contains a very nice Japanese Friendship Garden and a historical park featuring many old buildings laid out in a car-free setting that's great for a stroll.

    Happy Hollow is in two parts - a compact zoo, and a nice park with some kiddie rides. The zoo contains mostly small primates (lemurs, monkeys, etc.), a few small cats (jaguar, leopard), some other small mammals (meerkats, guinea pigs, and a couple of cucaburas), and a few exotic birds. Nothing larger than a St. Bernard here. It also has a petting zoo with a few burros, many goats and a zebu (which my niece Claire says looks like a cow but sounds like Chewbacca).

    One real nice feature of the zoo is that many of the enclosures have a little cave-like area under the viewing glass where the kids can climb into and see the animals at ground level (behind glass, of course).

    The park section has some small kiddie rides and a nice carousel. It is also famous for its' puppet shows. We were there at closing time, so we didn't get to make too much use of it. There were also at least 2 snack bars that we saw that were both closed, but keep in mind we were there on a Thursday pretty close to closing time.

    Ticket prices were $6 for adults, and, unfortunately, an adult is anyone over 2. They probably have some sort of family pass or something like that. Parking is also $6 per car, but you should go online and check out the schedule; on selected weekdays parking is free, and they have $1 Tuesdays the 2nd Tuesday of each month (though you do have to pay for parking).

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