You might be surprised to learn that San Jose is the largest city in northern California—that’s right, it boasts up to 1.025 million people, compared to San Francisco’s 864,816.
San Jose’s the heart of Silicon Valley, and is home to an abundance of amazing restaurants, shopping, and museums.
San Jose was also the first city founded in the Californias, all the way back in 1777. If you don’t venture out of SF too much, you definitely should. There’s so much to see, it's probably a week’s worth of day trips in order to get a good feel for the entire area. So, let's take a step back through history. Here is your guide to some of the best San Jose has to offer.
One of the city’s favorites is definitely the Fish Market. Established in 1976, it offers fresh fish, sushi, sashimi and even a retail market. You know you’ll be getting only the finest when dining here, so definitely come to indulge in their chowders, pastas, sushi and tacos. // 1007 Blossom Hill Road, San Jose
If you’re in the mood for a steaming bowl of comfort then be sure to try out this spot. It’s a local favorite, and has a true cult-like following. The menu is extensive, offering so many different broths you’re sure to find one that you and all your friends love. They’ve got salt based, spicy miso, and soy sauce based to name a few. // 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
This spot might not be the fanciest of places, but don’t let the exterior fool you. It might be a hole in the wall type restaurant, but the food makes up for the appearances in spades. Their menu features all the taco varieties that you could dream of—from carne asada and al pastor to pollo asada as well. According to one Yelp reviewer, they were “fresh well seasoned, and delicious.” And not to mention, it’s open late too, so you can grab yourself a taco fix at any time. // 3123 Williamsburg Dr San Jose
Being the heart of Silicon Valley, you gotta check out the place where it all started. Housed on the Intel campus, the Intel museum will let you walk through the history of Intel chips and computers with a plethora of interactive exhibits. Don’t worry if you’re not a massive tech nerd, it’s fun and educational no matter what your interests or age are. And, living in this area, you should probably have some inkling of how everything came to be, so chalk this up to be a fun, and necessary to do down in the valley. // 2200 Mission College Boulevard, Santa Clara, CA
If history of the city is more your thing, be sure to check out the San Jose History museum. The museum is over 26 acres, made up of old building, artifacts, and sacred grounds that will walk you through the history of San Jose and the surrounding areas. San Jose was the first city established in the California’s, and it’s evolved considerably over the years. The museum features staff dressed in period outfits, flushing out the historic buildings and really taking you back in time for a well rounded experience. A leisurely afternoon here, and you’ll soon be the local history buff amongst your friends. // 1650 Senter Rd, Kelley Park, San Jose
San Jose’s history carries through easily to its natural areas—Alum Rock Park was the first park that was established in California back in 1872. With over 720 acres of park, it’s holds an unreal amount of trails, picnic areas, volleyball pits, mineral pits, and camping grounds. // 15350 Penitencia Creek Rd. San Jose, CA 95127
If trails aren’t quite your thing, this Rose Garden just might be. Founded in 1927, it was recently voted America’s Best Rose Garden by the All America Rose Selection. The home of over 189 types of roses across 3,500 shrubs, it’s easy to see why it earned that accolade. It’s the perfect outdoor activity to kick off the spring season, so be sure to stop by for a romantic stroll. // Naglee Ave and Dana Ave, San Jose
Shopping and Fun:
If you haven’t already been here, honestly what are you waiting for? This outdoor shopping plaza has a plethora of stores to meander through from a Sephora to a Tesla showroom. Combine that with a variety of restaurants, you’ve got a fun night planned in just the span of a few blocks. // 377 Santana Row, San Jose
If shopping’s not your thing, then maybe you’ll be more into exploring your artistic side at Petroglyph. You can choose a pot (or mug or plate or bowl) to paint here, and you’re off to the races. For about $10 plus the cost of your chosen item, you have a lovely afternoon of painting and relaxing in their studio. It’s a great activity to drag a couple friends to, they’ll be sure to love the couple hours of relaxing and time to just disconnect from the real world a bit. // 37 North Santa Cruz Ave. Los Gatos
No matter where your travels in San Jose take you, you’re sure to have a whale of a time. There’s so much to see, and it’s the perfect opportunity to delve into the history of the Bay Area and get a taste for how it all started.
Sanica Apte is a writer and a news and politics junkie living in the Bay Area. A former Bostonian and Florida-native, she got her start in the creative world on Boston University's student-run TV station, producing an Emmy award-winning news show called On That Point. Previous to that, Sanica interned for PBS Boston and NBC Boston. In her spare time, she's a full-time cat lover and is slowly eating her way through all the good food the Bay Area has to offer.