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San Jose (California) Travel Guide

Often known as "The Capital of Silicon Valley," San José is the largest city in the Bay Area, 3rd largest in California, and the 10th largest city in the United States. It was named the 4th safest big city in the US for 2008-2009.



El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe (literally, The Town of Saint Joseph of Guadalupe) was founded by José Joaquín Moraga in 1777 near the present day intersection of Guadalupe Parkway and West Taylor Street. In 1797, the pueblo was moved to the Plaza Pueblo (now Plaza de César Chávez), around which San José grew. And the rest is, as they say, history.

True to its location in the heart of Silicon Valley, San José is now home to the headquarters of many "tech" companies such as Cisco Systems, eBay, and Adobe Systems, just to name a few.

There are so many different neighborhoods in the large geographic area of San José that, depending on where you are, you might not know if you're still in the same city. Like most Bay Area towns and cities, San José is an expensive place to live (many basic houses easily top $1M in price). Some of the hip areas to live these days are in San Jose's downtown area, for those who prefer urban living, or Santana Row for a mixed living, shopping and dining community. You can find vintage California charm in the neighborhoods of Willow Glen and Rose Garden. The woodsy area of Almaden Valley is known for its excellent schools, and Silver Creek is known for its subdivisions of sprawling "McMansions." Evergreen is in East San Jose, right at the foothills of the city. Evergreen has some more affordable housing and is very residential. Since it is at the foothills, east San Jose is not as accessible as the other neighborhoods. Evergreen has excellent views of the foothills and many parks and recreational areas. Groseprick Park is located right in the heart of Evergreen and offers a mile long loop, basketball courts, baseball fields, playgrounds, and hiking trails.

Get in

People who ask, "Do you know the way to San José?" (in reference to the 1968 hit song recorded by Dionne Warwick) will be glared at.

By plane

San José is home to one of the Bay Area's three international airports. The Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport () is located about 2 miles northwest of the downtown area. There are direct flights from many US destinations into SJC.

The two other options are San Francisco International Airport (), located 35 miles northwest of San Jose off US Route 101 on the peninsula, or Oakland International Airport (), which is 35 miles north off I-880 in the East Bay.

By train

San José has three commuter rail lines:

All the above rail lines stop at Diridon Station, San José's central train station. It is located downtown, at 65 Cahill Street, just across West Santa Clara Street from the H.P. Pavilion .

Capitol and Tamien stations serve the southern part of the city.

By bus

Amtrak California runs a bus from Gilroy, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara. Santa Cruz Metro provides a bus line (Highway 17 Express ) to and from Santa Cruz. Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) runs bus lines (Routes 180 and 181 ) to Fremont and its BART station. These services leave from Diridon Station, although VTA Routes 180, 181 and the Highway 17 Express also serve Downtown San Jose directly. Greyhound runs from San Jose to several destinations. The Greyhound station is at Almaden Avenue and Post Street (70 S Almaden Avenue, not to be confused with Almaden Boulevard one block parallel).

By car

San José is connected to San Francisco by two major freeways, US-101 and Interstate 280. From Los Angeles, take I-5 North to CA-152 West to US-101 North. From the East Bay, use either I-880 or I-680 South.

Travel time from San Francisco and Oakland is about an hour, but the trip is much longer during rush hour on US-101 and Interstate 880. Taking Interstate 280 from San Francisco is a scenic alternative, and consider a detour westward on Highway 92 to Half Moon Bay and the coastal Highway 1, which leads north to San Francisco and south to Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz, take Highway 17 through the mountains.

Get around

The downtown area is compact and rather easy to get around on foot. Most of the streets are arranged in a grid, but the grid is not strictly aligned with north (more like north-northwest). Street address numbers increase (by 100 every 2 or 3 blocks) radiating from Santa Clara Street (an east/west street) or First Street (a north/south street). Furthermore, Santa Clara Street (and other east/west streets) carry the prefix East or West radiating from First Street; and First Street (and other north/south streets) carry the prefix North or South radiating from Santa Clara Street. This makes it somewhat easy to locate a downtown facility given its street address.

Outside downtown, things are spread out in San José, so a car is the most convenient mode of transportation. However, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, VTA , does offer serviceable transit around town. The frequency and hours of buses vary depending on the route and your location, so it's best to check a schedule beforehand. The Light Rail system (primarily the Mountain View-Winchester route and the Alum Rock-Santa Teresa route) provides quick service to, from and around downtown; a single fare, $2 for 2010, is good for 2 hours.

A VTA day pass lets you use buses and Light Rail lines all day and costs $6 for an adult, and $5 for a youth as of 2010. VTA Route #10 serves as a free shuttle between the SJC airport, Caltrain Santa Clara Station, and Light Rail - Metro/Airport Station. DASH (Downtown Area SHuttle), VTA Route #201, another free service connects downtown San Jose and the Light Rail with the San Jose Diridon Transit Center.

The website is a wonderful resource for trip planning, whether by car or public transit (or a combination of both). Its Trip Planner spans all Bay Area transit systems. On the go, you can call VTA Customer Service at +1 408 321-2300 and listen to bus schedules on their automated system.

Many roads in San Jose have designated bike lanes and/or wide shoulders. A map of the city's bikeways is available on VTA's website . This, along with typically favorable local weather, makes biking a viable means of transportation within the city. Bus lines, Light Rail and Caltrain all accommodate bikes, making mixed-mode travel a simple affair.



Downtown San Jose is a mix of offices, shopping, hotels, numerous restaurants as well as a convention center and the SoFA (South of First Area) nightclub district. Check out the San Pedro Square Farmer's Market on Fridays for local and organic produce, or visit the new City Hall (2005) and the nearby San José State University campus. The new main Library (2003) is a prestigious, award-winning, joint-use Library combining resources of the City and San Jose State University. Get outdoors and take advantage of San José's invariably sunny weather on the Guadalupe River Trail or in one of the many city parks. You'll always find a wealth of cultural events at theaters, art galleries, and museums.

Outside Downtown

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San Jose has two major professional sports teams, some fantastic amusement parks and a variety of theater and comedy venues to entertain you throughout the year. The city also hosts a colorful array of festivals and conventions and offers plenty of shopping options.


Amusement Parks


Performing Arts






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San Jose's Italian natives have been known to pick Il Fornaio as their top eatery for Italian food. Il fornaio 's menu has select Italian pastas that will have you leaving with a full and satisfied stomach. Although probably the most picked, pasta isn't the only thing on the menu. Customers come with a ready appetite because of the appetizers and desserts that follow their entree's of chicken, veal, fish, steak of pasta and salad. Il fornaio is one of the few places in San Jose where a customer can find true and delicious Italian desserts.</eat>







East African and Middle eastern


Nightlife in the Downtown area is a mix of lounges, clubs, and bars which, according to locals, have either greatly improved the scene or marked the beginning of its decline. Santana Row has a number of upscale clubs and bars and has been the new hotspot since 2005.


Hotels in Downtown

Hotels outside Downtown

Vacation Housing




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