A view of downtown San Jose
Often known as "The Capital of Silicon Valley," San Jose  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.
True to its location in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose is 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 Jose 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 Jose 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."
People who ask, "Do you know the way to San Jose?" (in reference to the 1968 hit song recorded by Dionne Warwick) will be glared at.
San Jose is home to one of the Bay Area's three international airports, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International (SJC) . There are direct flights from many US destinations and it's located about 2 miles from the downtown area.
The two other options are San Francisco International Airport (SFO), located 35 miles northwest of San Jose off US Route 101 on the peninsula, or Oakland International Airport (OAK), which is 35 miles north off I-880 in the East Bay.
San Jose has three commuter rail lines:
- Amtrak California's Capitol Corridor  line runs through the East Bay and then inland to Sacramento and Auburn. Amtrak's Coast Starlight  line runs daily from Seattle, through the Bay Area and down the coast to Los Angeles.
- The Altamont Commuter Express  runs from Stockton, Livermore, and Pleasanton into San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley in the morning and then returns in the late afternoon and evening.
All rail lines stop at Diridon Station, San Jose's central train station. It is located downtown, at 65 Cahill Street, just across Santa Clara Street from the H.P. Pavilion .
Capitol and Tamien stations serve the southern part of the city.
- Greyhound  has a bus station downtown at Almaden Avenue and Post Street.
San Jose 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.
Things are spread out in San Jose, so a car is the most convenient mode of transportation. However, the local transportation agency, 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 provides quick service to, from and around downtown.
It's a trolley, it's a train... it's Light Rail!
A VTA day pass lets you use buses and Light Rail lines and costs $5 as of 2009. VTA Route #10  serves as a free shuttle between the airport, Caltrain - Santa Clara Station, and Light Rail - Airport Station.
The 511.org 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 accomodate 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 San Jose State University campus and City Hall. The main library  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 Jose'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.
- The Tech Museum (Museum of Science and Technology), 201 South Market St, ☎ +1 408 294-TECH (8234), . A great interactive experience for all ages and backgrounds. The Tech Museum allows visitors to see how technology affects their daily lives. Permanent exhibits focus on the internet, the human body, and exploration. You'll also find an IMAX Theater, a cafe, and a retail store featuring merchandise unique to the Silicon Valley. $8 (museum and IMAX).
Check out contemporary West Coast artists at the San Jose Museum of Art
- San Jose Museum of Art, 110 South Market St, ☎ +1 408 271-6840, . Tu-Su 11AM - 5PM. Recognized for its contemporary collection of modern art, which highlights movements on the West Coast as well as national and international pieces. The museum started as a small civic art gallery in 1969 and has grown in step with its city. $8 general admission, $5 seniors/students.
- San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, 520 South First St, ☎ +1 408 971-0323, . Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. The first museum in the US to focus on quilts and textiles, the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles has an outstanding collection on a rotating display. Exhibitions change quarterly at this exciting and modern museum. $6 general admission, $5 seniors/students with ID (free for everyone on the first Friday of the month).
- Winchester Mystery House, 525 South Winchester Blvd, ☎ +1 408 247-2101, . Tours daily 9AM-7PM. Check their website for a current schedule.. The legend is that Sarah Winchester, Winchester Rifle heiress, was afraid of being cursed by the ghosts of those who had been killed by Winchester guns. She thought that as long as construction continued, the ghosts would be kept at bay. Construction did continue (for 38 years!), resulting in a fantastic house full of mazes, stairs that go nowhere and other odd architecture. Beware: visitors have reported seeing paranormal objects in the house, and the only way you can confirm their claims is to see them yourself! Mansion Tour: $26, Behind-The-Scenes Tour: $23, Grand Estate Tour (combined) $31 (discounted rates for seniors and children).
- Santana Row, 368 Santana Row, ☎ +1 408 551-4611, . A "European-style" village of shops, restaurants, and high-priced condos, with hotels and great nightlife. There's a year-round farmer's market on Sundays, and during the summer bands play free outdoor music every weekend.
- Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium, 1664 Park Ave, ☎ +1 408 947-3636 ([email protected]), . M-F 9AM-5PM, S-Su 11AM-6PM. This museum of Ancient Egypt features exhibits funded by the Rosicrucian Order, who have secured artifacts from archaeologists working in the area since the 1920s. Take a tour through a detailed replica of an Egyptian tomb and browse their collection of authentic mummies and artifacts. $9 general admission, $7 seniors/students, $5 children 5-10, free for children under 5.
- Japantown, Between Jackson and Taylor on 1st-5th Streets ((VTA Light Rail Station Japantown/Ayer)), . The neighborhood surrounding Fifth and Jackson streets (a mile from Downtown) has some good restaurants, retail shops, and cultural facilities. Festivals are held several times a year, and there is a year-round farmer's market on Sundays.
- Willow Glen, Lincoln Avenue between Willow St and Minnesota St, . This charming shopping district was once the center of a town separate from San Jose. You'll find a variety of small shops and restaurants, as well as a farmer's market and a handful of community festivals and events throughout the year.
- San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, Naglee Ave between Dana Ave and Garden Dr, ☎ +1 408 277-2757, . 8am to half hour past sunset. San José's 5 1/2–acre Municipal Rose Garden, once a prune orchard, draws thousands of visitors each year. The Garden is exclusively devoted to shrubs of the rose family and features over 4,000 rose shrubs with 189 varieties represented. Hybrid–teas comprise 75 percent of the plantings. free. (37°19′55.8″N,121°55′41.3″W)
- Heritage Rose Garden, Spring St and Taylor St, . half an hour before dawn to half an hour after dusk. This garden, initially planted by volunteers in 1995, has a collection of almost 4,000 plants of more than 3,000 rose varieties. free.
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.
You're on their ice when the San Jose sharkhead is lowered from the ceiling of the arena, affectionately known as "The Shark Tank."
- San Jose Sharks, . The HP Pavilion hosts this National Hockey League team, which has enjoyed relatively good success since their inception in 1991. Watch one of the more famous traditions as the team enters the rink out of a 17-foot high shark head.
- San Jose Earthquakes, . After almost losing their soccer team to Houston, the Earthquakes have resumed play after being on "hiatus" for the 2006-07 seasons of Major League Soccer. The "Quakes" currently play at Santa Clara University's Buck Shaw Stadium, as well as in Oakland at the Oakland Coliseum for larger games. A new stadium is planned for 2011.
- Paramount's Great America, 4701 Great America Pkwy, Santa Clara, ☎ +1 408 988-1776, . June-August. With roller coasters, thrill rides, children's attractions, the Boomerang Bay water park, and Vegas-style live shows, this huge theme park is fun for the whole family. $25-50.
- Raging Waters, 2333 S White Rd, ☎ +1 408 238-9900, . June-August daily, May and September weekends only. A favorite local spot to cool off in the summer, this water park features slides, rides and a 350,000 gallon wave pool. $23-32.
- Golfland, 976 Blossom Hill Rd, ☎ +1 408 225-1533, . M-F 10AM-midnight, Sa 9AM–midnight, Su 10AM-10PM. Classic miniature golf course, plus water slides (in the summer) and a great arcade. $8-25.
- Improv Comedy Club, 62 S. Second St, ☎ +1 408 280-7475, . A downtown venue showcasing well-known comedy acts, they have a full restaurant and bar. The club is also great for group outings for 10-400 people.
- ComedySportz San Jose, 288 S. 2nd Street (at the Camera 3 Cinemas), ☎ +1 408 985-LAFF (5233), . F 9PM, 11PM; Sa 7PM, 9PM. Named "Best Local Theatre" by the Metro's "Best of the Silicon Valley", ComedySportz is an interactive improv comedy show where two teams of "act-letes" compete in various comedic games, with the audience as the judge. $10-15.
- San Jose Repertory Theater, 101 Paseo de San Antonio, ☎ +1 408 367-7255, . Comedies and dramas with a creative flair; the Rep puts on six main-stage classic and contemporary plays a season.
- Opera San Jose, 2149 Paragon Drive (California Theatre), ☎ +1 408 437-4450, . Sep-May. San Jose's resident opera company performs on a restored 1920s vaudeville stage and features some of the most accomplished young voices in the country. $50-100.
- Children's Musical Theater San Jose, 271 S Market Street (Montgomery Theater), ☎ +1 408 288-5437, . This children's theater puts on productions the whole family can enjoy, from 'Peter Pan' to The Who's 'Tommy'. $15-25.
- Teatro Visión, 1700 Alum Rock Ave, Suite 265, ☎ +1 408 272-9926, . Known for putting on high-quality Chicano/Latino plays in San Jose for over 25 years, Teatro Visión celebrates community, culture, and the vision of a better world.
- Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, 255 Almaden Blvd (Center for the Performing Arts), ☎ +1 408 288-2800, . Oct-May. Formerly the San Jose Cleveland Ballet, this highly skilled and innovative company includes dancers from all over the world. Each season, they perform an extensive repertoire of classical and contemporary works. $25-85.
- Cinequest, ☎ +1 408 295-QUEST, . One week every March. A film festival emphasizing digital production, with screenings and guest speakers at venues throughout San Jose. Named one of the Top 10 Film Festivals in the world by the Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide.
- San Jose Jazz Festival, . every August. A weekend of jazz as well as blues, salsa, and big bands, playing on a dozen mostly outdoor stages. Billed as the world's largest free jazz festival. free.
- San Jose Metro Fountain Blues Festival, . Every May. San Carlos Plaza at San Jose State University $5. This day-long concert will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2010. Around 8,000 blues enthusiasts show up yearly for an impressive lineup of blues musicians. It all happens in the open air on the university campus downtown.
- Music in the Park, Plaza de César Chávez (downtown), . Thursdays, June-August. . Free concerts weekly throughout the summer, sponsored by the San Jose Downtown Association. Music in the Park has many food, drink and crafts vendors free.
- Starlight Cinemas, San Pedro Square/ Historic District/ SoFA District. Most Wednesdays, June-August, dusk. free. Outdoor movie screenings all summer long, held in a different neighborhood each week. Bring some lawn chairs and a picnic, or check out the nearby cafes and eateries. Films range from true Hollywood classics to newer hits. Once a month, Post Street Summertime Blues  joins Starlight Cinemas with a live blues performances before the show.
- Downtown Ice, between the Fairmont Hotel and the San Jose Museum of Art, . November - January. It doesn't get more California than an outdoor ice skating rink surrounded by a circle of palm trees. The admission price includes rental skates and ice time. $15 general admission, $13 children 12 and under.
- 5 de Mayo (Cinco de Mayo). First Sunday of May. The Sunday right before or after May 5th is the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the Bay Area. A parade takes place downtown early in the morning, followed by music and cultural events held in Guadalupe Park and the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in the afternoon.
- Further Confusion, . January. One of the world's largest conventions for fans of furry (anthropomorphic animals or creatures) art, writing, comics, and costuming. If you like walking around in a dog costume, this 4-day event is for you. $40.
- Consonance, . March. A mid-sized convention devoted to fans of filk, a subgenre of folk music inspired by science fiction and fantasy themes. $40-50.
- BayCon, . May. A long-running regional science fiction convention. $50.
- Fanime, . May. The largest anime convention in Northern California. $30-35 one day, $60 full weekend..
- California Extreme, . July or August. An all-you-can-play exhibition of classic pinball machines and arcade games. All games are free with for attendees, so you can leave your quarters at home! $30-35 one day, $60 full weekend..
- SiliCon, . October. A small science fiction convention with a media track.
- Valley Fair, 2855 Stevens Creek Blvd, ☎ +1 408 248-4451, . One of the largest shopping malls in Northern California, Valley Fair has over 250 stores and several restaurants.
- Santana Row, 368 Santana Row (off of Stevens Creek), ☎ +1 408 551-4611, . Across from Valley Fair is a "European-style" village of high-end and specialty shops, restaurants, and high-priced condos. There is also a giant chess board where you can battle using pawns that are half your size.
- Oakridge Mall, 925 Blossom Hill Rd, ☎ +1 408 578-2912, . All the Westfield mall basics for those that are addicted to malls. Since its renovation, seems to largely be a clone of Valley Fair
- Berryessa Flea Market, 1590 Berryessa Rd, ☎ +1 800 BIG-FLEA, . A huge outdoor flea market including California's largest farmer's market. Everything from furniture and stereos to haircut salons and massages can be found here, if you look hard enough. Spanish is the lingua franca, but you can get by using English.
- Moon Zooom, 1630 W San Carlos St, ☎ 408 287-5876, . Stashed inside a converted home, this is San Jose's one-stop shop for your vintage clothing and costume desires. Explore racks and racks of retro styles from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.
- Fry's Electronics, 550 E. Brokaw Rd, ☎ +1 877 688-7678, . Offering the best selection in town for consumer electronics and gadgetry, this particular Fry's branch is unique for its Mayan-themed architecture and decor. It's one of several Fry's stores in the bay area, but the San Jose branch is the original and the largest.
- Original Joe's, 301 S 1st St, ☎ +1 408 292-7030, . 11AM-1AM daily. A San Jose classic, in business for over 50 years. Hearty American and Italian food and 70s diner decor. Always, always busy and one of the few places open late in the downtown core. Be prepared to wait for a table and leave with a full belly. $20-40.
- Il Fornaio, 302 S Market St, ☎ +1 408 271-3366, . M-Th 7AM-10PM, F 7AM- 11PM, Sa 8AM- 11PM, Su 8AM- 10PM. Located at the Sainte Claire Hotel (on the same block as Original Joe's), Il Fornaio offers a true Italian experience, often importing chefs from different parts of Italy and featuring special dishes from their hometown. They also have a bakery, which offers specialty coffees, unique baked goods and authentic Italian artisan breads. $15-$25.
- Aqui Cal-Mex Grill, 1145 Lincoln Ave, ☎ +1 408 995-0381, . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F 11AM- 9:30PM, Sa 10AM- 9:30PM, Su 10AM- 9PM. This place serves Mexican food as if it passed through a fun-house mirror. One of the first places to use gourmet burrito wraps. Inside the wraps you'll find fish and fillings from anywhere on the Pacific Rim: salmon, yellow-fin tuna, or plantains. Satisfying, fresh and creative. $7-10.
- Taqueria Corona, 601 N 4th St, ☎ +1 408 925-9336. This bright taqueria in Japantown is a traditional, leisurely, sit-down Mexican restaurant. Choose from seafood plates, chimichangas, al pastor and more. Their tortillas are homemade, and there's a nice selection of domestic and Mexican beers. $10-20.
- La Victoria Taqueria, 140 E San Carlos (and 2 other locations), ☎ +1 408 298-5335, . 7AM-3AM daily. La Victoria stays open late to cater to the local late-night revelers, who love their classic taqueria fare. Their claim to fame is their Orange Sauce, but don't bother asking for the recipe: they'll never tell. $5-10.
- Henry's Hi-Life, 301 West St. John St, ☎ +1 408 295-5414, . Lunch: Tu-F 11:30AM-2PM. Dinner: M-Th 5PM-9PM, F-Sa 4PM-9:30PM, Su 4PM-9PM. Special hours during NFL and NHL seasons.. A brick BBQ and steakhouse popular with local guys on their way to or from a Sharks game. Located close to the Shark Tank as well as the Guadalupe River, the restaurant has survived floods of both hockey fans and water. $15-30.
- AP Stump's Chophouse, 163 West Santa Clara St, ☎ +1 408 292-9928, . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2PM. Dinner: 5PM-10PM daily. A fine dining restaurant specializing in steaks and seafood. If you're in the mood for something a little fancier than Henry's Hi Life, A.P. Stump's is walking distance from the Shark Tank. $30-60.
- Amato's Restaurant, 1162 Saratoga Ave (in Maple Leaf Plaza), ☎ +1 408 246-4007, . M-F 11AM-10PM, Sa 11AM-9PM, Su 11AM-7PM. This tiny shop in West San Jose specializes in cheese steaks and hoagies. With 35 sandwiches on the menu and sizes from 7 to 24 inches, there's something for everyone. $6-$30.
- Gordon Biersch Restaurant Brewery, 33 E San Fernando St, ☎ +1 408 294-6785, . Su-W 11:30AM-11PM, Th 11:30AM-midnight, F-Sa 11:30AM-2AM. A lively downtown restaurant serving Californa fusion cuisine. Try a freshly-brewed beer and dine at a courtyard table in the (usually excellent) San Jose evening weather. Gordon Biersch is just a quick walk away from the Century 12 theaters. $15-30.
- Sonoma Chicken Coop, 31 N Market St (and 2 other San Jose area locations), ☎ +1 408 287-4098, . Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM. Rotisserie chicken and California fusion cuisine in a casual atmosphere. As an added bonus, they brew their own beer and have a nicely sized covered patio area. $10-20.
- Poor House Bistro, 91 S Autumn St, ☎ +1 408 29-BLUES, . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 10AM-8PM (brunch 10AM-2PM). San Jose's "New Orleans Joint". The Poor House is close to the Shark Tank and serves a variety of New Orleans-style food including gumbo, red beans & rice, jambalaya and po' boys. They have live music on Fridays and Saturdays and a regular Jazz Brunch on Sundays. $10-15.
- In-N-Out Burger, ☎ 1 800 786-1000, . This famous burger chain boasts "Quality You Can Taste" and is highly regarded by fast food-loving locals. They've expanded throughout the state since their 1940s inception in Southern California, but it's still a quintessential California burger experience. The "secret menu" lists items that aren't advertised but are available at every location. If you don't know what to ask for, someone else in line will probably be happy to share their secret recommendations. $5-10.
- 5611 Santa Teresa Blvd. (opposite the Oakridge Mall).
- 2950 E. Capitol Expressway (across from the East Ridge Shopping Center).
- Bill's Cafe, 1115 Willow St (and 2 other San Jose locations), ☎ +1 408 294-1125, . 7AM-3PM daily. The perfect place for a weekend (or weekday) brunch, Bill's is known to get pretty packed, and for good reason. They offer an overwhelming selection of breakfast crowdpleasers like omelettes, Belgian waffles and a dozen different styles of eggs Benedict. For lunch, they serve homemade soups, meal-size salads, burgers, sandwiches and wraps. There's also a full bar, low-carb menu options and outdoor patio seating. $10-30.
- Hawg's Seafood Bar, 150 South 2nd St, ☎ +1 408 287-9955, . M-Th 4PM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su noon-9PM. Voted the best seafood restaurant in the South Bay by Metro Silicon Valley readers in 2005, Hawg's is a great place to go before catching a play at the San Jose Repertory Theater, which is right next door. $15-30.
- Scott's Seafood Grill and Bar, 185 Park Ave, ☎ +1 408 971-1700, . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-5PM, Dinner: M-Sa 5PM, Su 4:30PM. A classic selection of seafood, as well as pasta and steaks from the grill and a full bar. Dress is business casual during the day, and a little dressier at night. Scott's is on the 6th floor and has a fantastic view of downtown and Silicon Valley. Reservations are recommended. $20-40.
Try some sushi in San Jose's Japantown.
- Okayama Restaurant, 565-A N 6th St, ☎ +1 408 289-9508, . T-Th Lunch 11AM-2PM, Dinner 5PM-8:30PM. F-Sa Lunch 11AM-2PM, Dinner 5PM-9PM. Su Dinner 5PM-8:30PM. One of the older restaurants in Japantown, Okayama is still run by the original family and is known for their signature salad dressing adapted from the original family recipe. Over the years the restaurant has added new twists to their menu to make things modern and original. Their pyramid lunch specials offer a lot of food for little cash. $10-30.
- Restaurant Kazoo, 250 Jackson St, ☎ +1 408 288-9611, . M-Th Lunch 11:30AM-2PM, Dinner 5PM-9:30PM, F Lunch 11:30AM-2PM, Dinner 5PM-10PM. Sa Lunch noon-2PM, Dinner 5PM-9:30PM. Su Lunch noon-2PM, Dinner 4PM-9PM. This Japantown restaurant has friendly service and a large selection of fresh sushi. Try sitting at their sushi boat bar, which can be a lot of fun and remove some of the mystery of ordering sushi for the uninitiated. The menu ranges from traditional to very Californian. $10-30.
- Gombei, 193 Jackson St, ☎ +1 408 279-4311. M-Sa Lunch 11:30AM-2:30PM, Dinner 5PM-9:30PM. A homestyle Japanese restaurant in Japantown. The udon and teishoku lunches are very popular, so try to schedule your lunch a little early or late to beat the crowd. $10-30.
- Kyoto Palace, 1875 S Bascom Ave # 2500, Campbell (in the Pruneyard Shopping Center), ☎ +1 408 377-6456, . M-F Lunch 11:30AM-2PM, Dinner 5PM-10PM. Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su 11:30AM-9PM. This restaurant offers an exciting Teppan experience, where master chefs skillfully prepare meat, seafood and vegetables right at your table (which is also a six-foot-long grill). Great for families. They also offer sushi, and there is karaoke on Wednesday nights. $15-30.
- Good Karma Vegan House, 37 S. First St (between Post & Santa Clara, downtown), ☎ +1 408 294-2694, . M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su noon-7PM. Even the local carnivores find something to love at this hipster vegan deli. The food is filling and flavorful, and the owners are friendly, mellow guys who donate what little wall space they have to local artists. They have a weekly bingo night, beer on tap and free internet access. They even offer vegan turkeys made-to-order during the holidays. Their menu is revolving, so there's always something new to try. $5-10.
- Dandelion Vegetarian Cafe, 322 E Santa Clara St, ☎ (408) 288-6788, . Vietnamese, Japanese and Malaysian-inspired dishes, with a good selection of vegan items. They also serve an assortment of teas and drinks with tapioca pearls. You'll get a satisfying vegetarian meal for less than the price of a matinee movie ticket. $5-10.
- Royal Taj India, 1350 Camden Ave, Campbell, CA 95008 ((between South Bascom Ave and HWY 17)), ☎ (408)559-6801. Daily, 11:30am- 2:30pm and 5:30pm- 10:00pm. Located about 2 feet from a freeway on-ramp, this isn't a place where people just wander past and decide to stop in. Locals have been purposefully feasting here for decades, enjoying a warm atmosphere, friendly staff and generous portions of authentic Indian cuisine. Many vegetarian dishes are available. Royal Taj also offers a lunch buffet, outdoor seating and takeout. $15-$30.
- Krung Thai, . In spite of the building's nondescript exterior, it's some of the most loved Thai food in the area. If you tell them to make it spicy (or even medium spicy), be prepared to eat some VERY spicy food. The newer New Krung Thai Restaurant is managed by the same family, has the same menu, and is less than a mile away. $10-30.
- The Original Krung Thai, 640 S Winchester Blvd, ☎ +1 408 260-8224.
- New Krung Thai Restaurant, 580 N Winchester Blvd, ☎ +1 408 248-3435.
- Zeni, 1320 Saratoga Ave (at Payne), ☎ +1 408 615-8282, . T-Th 11:30AM-10PM F 11:30AM-11PM, Sa noon-11PM, Su noon-10PM. An Ethiopian restaurant that knows how to show off the complex flavors of the cuisine. Meals are served Ethiopian style, on injera bread. A full Ethiopian coffee ceremony is available, but they ask that you request it an hour in advance. Many options for vegetarians, as well as a full bar. $10-20.
- Hunan Taste, 998 N 4th St, ☎ +1 408 295-1186, . M-Sa 11AM-8:30PM. An offshoot of Henry Chung's original Hunan Restaurant on Kearny Street in San Francisco (the one with eight tables and a counter space which was once hailed by New Yorker magazine as "The Best Chinese Restaurant in the World"). A quintessential hole-in-the-wall, but the service could not be nicer, as is the hot, garlicky cuisine, if you're so inclined. Beer and wine are available. $10-20.
- King Eggroll, 1221 Story Rd, ☎ +1 408 999-0798, . 7AM-8PM daily. Often dubbed "The Asian McDonalds", King Eggroll offers a variety of fast-food style Asian dishes, dim sum, sandwiches and combination plates. As the name would imply, though, most come here for their famous egg rolls! $5-10.
- Falafel's Drive-in, 2301 Steven's Creek Blvd, ☎ +1 408 294-7886, . A family-run local favorite, there is always a line at the drive-in. They offer authentic Middle Eastern cuisine including falafel, hummos and gyros as well as hamburgers, fries and homemade milkshakes. $5-10.
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.
- Goosetown Lounge, 1172 Lincoln Ave, ☎ +1 408 292-4835, . 9PM-2AM daily. Willow Glen's neighborhood bar and cocktail lounge; if you're into a late night pops and enthusiastic renditions of 'YMCA', this karaoke hotspot may be for you. $5-10.
- Agenda Lounge, 399 S First St, ☎ +1 408 287-3991, . W-Sa 5:30PM-2AM, Su 9PM-2AM. A three-level club with pounding house music on Fridays and Saturdays. Hip-shakers come for the salsa dancing on Wednesdays. $10-20.
- The Lobby Lounge, 170 S Market St. (in the Fairmont), ☎ +1 408 998-1900, . Noon-midnight daily. An upscale piano bar inside the Fairmont Hotel, with an impressive wine list, over 500 different cocktails and martinis, and an array of single malt scotches. They offer weekly wine tastings, live jazz and piano nightly, and free dance lessons on Fridays. $10-20.
Think outside the olive! Choose from oodles of creative martinis at the Fairmont's Lobby Lounge.
- Smoke Tiki Lounge, 152 Post St, ☎ +1 408 292-4266, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM. Tropical tiki cocktails in a casual lounge atmosphere. Caters to a younger, college-age crowd. There's a full barbecue menu as well as DJs and live music. $5-10.
- Mission Ale House, 97 E Santa Clara St, ☎ +1 408 292-4058, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM. A downtown dive bar with a young crowd, a huge selection of beers on tap, and a patio that's been voted the city's best. They have live bands on Fridays and a weekly open mic. $5-10.
- The Vault, 81 W Santa Clara St, ☎ +1 408 298-1112, . Th-Sa 9PM-2AM. This hot spot for dancing and drinking is inside a renovated 1920s bank building, mixing historical architecture with a very contemporary club scene. Bottle service, pounding music, and usually a $20 cover on weekends. $10-30.
- San Jose Bar & Grill, 85 S 2nd St, ☎ +1 408 286-2397, . M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 1PM-2AM, Su 5PM-2AM. Since one Happy Hour just isn't enough, the Grill offers all kinds of specials on wings, burgers and drinks throughout the week. It's a good place to watch sports, especially Sundays during football season. Weekly karaoke and DJs on weekend nights. $5-10.
- VooDoo Lounge, 14 S 2nd St, ☎ +1 408 286-8636, . M-F 5:30PM-2AM, Sa-Su 6PM-2AM. This dance club also hosts live local bands as well as bigger name acts. There's often a cover charge. $5-50.
- Toon's, 52 E Santa Clara St, ☎ +1 408 292-7464, . 8PM-2AM daily. Calls itself a piano bar, but isn't. DJs on most nights and live local music on others. Possibly the first place you've been that has both a pool table and a dress code. Cash only. $5-10.
- The Caravan Lounge, 98 S Almaden Ave, ☎ +1 408-995-6220, . 6AM-2AM daily. A dive bar of a dying breed, the Caravan is neighbor to (and was once a tenant of) a Greyhound bus station. When there isn't live music or a DJ, there's a good jukebox. There's always cheap beer, and there's NEVER a cover. Cash only. $5-10.
- Hookah Nites, 371 S First St, ☎ +1 408 286-0800, . Su-W 6PM-1AM, Th 6PM-1:30PM, F-Sa 6PM-2AM. Coffees, teas, snacks and hookahs. The sweet smells of tobacco and fruit smokes float into the street as patrons enjoy hookahs at sidewalk tables each evening.
- JJ's Blues, 3439 Stevens Creek Blvd, ☎ +1 408 243-6641, . M-Sa 5:30PM-2AM, Su 4PM-2AM. One of the most popular places in the Bay Area to hear live blues music, and one of the few San Jose clubs with live music every night of the week. JJ's has been around for two decades and hosts jam nights, unsigned acts and big names. There's a vintage Steinway that's up for grabs during intermissions, so you too can get the blues. $5-10.
- Splash, 65 Post St, ☎ +1 408 993-0861, . Th-Sa 9PM-2AM. San Jose's downtown gay video bar, nightclub and lounge is friendly to people of all persuasions. $5-10.
- Courtyard San Jose Airport, 1727 Technology Drive, ☎ 4084416111, . $169-$189.
- Crowne Plaza Hotel, 282 Almaden Blvd, ☎ +1 408 998-0400, . Ultra-modern decor, event facilities, and a fitness center are available at this hip, pet-friendly spot in downtown San Jose
- The Fairmont San Jose, 170 South Market Street, ☎ +1 408 998-1900, Toll-free +1 800 527-4727, . This luxury hotel near the McEnery Convention Center offers a day spa, fine dining, a fitness center and a rooftop pool.
- Hotel De Anza, 233 W Santa Clara St, ☎ +1 408 286-1000, Toll-free +1 800 843-3700, . A restored historic hotel set in the midst of all the exciting dining and entertainment of the downtown area.
- San Jose Doubletree, 2050 Gateway Place, ☎ +1 408 453-4000, . A popular location for meetings and conventions, the Doubletree is less than half a mile from the San Jose airport. Pool and spa, 24-hour fitness center, and plenty of dining options.
- Motel 6 San Jose South, 2560 Fontaine Rd, ☎ +1 408 270-3131 (fax: +1 408 270-6235), . Kids stay free, pets are allowed, and you'll be minutes away from the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. There's an outdoor pool, and WiFi is available for a small fee.
- Residence Inn San Jose South, 6111 San Ignacio Avenue, ☎ +1 408 226-7676 (fax: +1 408 226-9916), . This smoke-free hotel has studios as well as spacious extended-stay suites. Outdoor pool, fitness center, free high-speed internet and breakfast.
- Hilton San Jose, 300 Almaden Blvd, ☎ +1 408 947-4450, . With its adjoined conference center, this non-smoking hotel is very convenient for convention attendees. It's also located on the Light Rail route, making it a great option for visitors without cars. Pool and jacuzzi, high-speed internet and fitness room. Smaller pets allowed.
- San Jose Marriott, 301 South Market St, ☎ +1 408 280-1300, Toll-free +1 800 314-0928, . Another popular choice among convention and business conference attendees, the Marriott offers facilities and technology for meetings and presentations, as well as high-speed internet, a pool, a fitness center and a smoke-free environment.
- Sleep Inn Silicon Valley, 2390 Harris Way, ☎ +1 408 434-9330, . Ideal for business travelers, Sleep Inn rooms feature free high-speed internet, a large desk workspace and ergonomic office chairs. Fitness center, free continental breakfast, microwaves and refrigerators in every room. Three miles from the airport and very close to the Paramount's Great America amusement park.
- TownePlace Suites San Jose Cupertino, 440 Saratoga Ave, ☎ +1 408 984-5903 (fax: +1 408 984-5904), . Very close to the Winchester Mystery House and the shopping and entertainment mecca of Santana Row, this non-smoking hotel has an outdoor pool, jacuzzi and barbecue area for its guests to enjoy. Free wired and wireless internet access.
- Vagabond Inn, 1488 N First St, ☎ +1 800 522-1555, . A discount hotel minutes from the airport. 24-hour Denny's restaurant on-site. Pool and spa, free WiFi and continental breakfast. Pet-friendly rooms available.
- Pruneyard Plaza Hotel, 1995 S Bascom Ave, Campbell, ☎ +1 800 559-4344, . A Tuscan-style retreat in charming downtown Campbell, just a few minutes' drive from downtown San Jose. This smoke-free hotel offers a pool and jacuzzi, a fitness center and a 24-hour business center. Free WiFi, continental breakfast, newspaper delivery and parking.
- Howard Johnson Express San Jose (near the San Jose Airport), 1215 S First St, ☎ +1 800 509-7666, . This Howard Johnson puts you in perfect proximity to everything that San Jose and the Bay Area has to offer. Free high-speed and wireless internet, newspapers, breakfast, fax and copy services.
- San Jose Vacation Rentals, ☎ +1 408 269-2339, Toll-Free +1 800 813-3510, . San Jose Vacation Rentals offers fully-furnished executive homes in Willow Glen and other San Jose locations. Extended stays are preferred. Pet friendly homes, high-speed internet, enhanced cable and enclosed backyards are available.
Just east of the city lies Alum Rock Park , a canyon through which Penitencia Creek flows, which is lined by sulfurous mineral springs and several small waterfalls. Above the park stands Mount Hamilton, one of the highest peaks in the Bay Area at 4,213 feet. The telescopes of Lick Observatory , operated by the University of California, crown the summit and are open to the public during daytime hours.
Other places to see in San Jose's backyard are the Scenic Drive in Saratoga Hills, the quaint and classy town of Los Gatos, and Mission Santa Clara at Santa Clara University . Palo Alto and Stanford University  are about half an hour's drive to the north. About 45 minutes northeast, you can visit Fremont's Mission San Jose and the Ardenwood Historic Farm .
Less than an hour away over the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains, the small coastal city of Santa Cruz is a nice day trip out San Jose. Spend the day enjoying the beaches and Boardwalk, or make it the first stop on a longer coastal drive. From Santa Cruz, you can take Route 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway) south to Capitola, Monterey, and the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea.
By car: San Jose is about an hour from San Francisco and Oakland, but the trip is much longer during rush hour on US-101 and Interstate 880. Take Interstate 280 to San Francisco for 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. For Santa Cruz, take Highway 17 south from San Jose through the mountains. For an hour-and-a-half ride to Monterey, either go to Santa Cruz and take Highway 1 south or take US-101 through Gilroy to Highway 156, which connects to Highway 1.
The major San Jose stop for train (and many regional bus) connections is Diridon Station, located downtown at 65 Cahill Street (near Santa Clara Street and the H.P. Pavilion).
By train: Commuter rail line Caltrain  runs to San Francisco. Amtrak's Capitol Corridor  line runs to Oakland and Sacramento. The rush-hour commuter line Altamont Commuter Express  runs to Stockton (Central Valley-bound trips only in late afternoon, with return trips only in morning). A trip to San Francisco on Caltrain or to Oakland on the Capitol Corridor takes about an hour and a half. Caltrain also provides the Baby Bullet, an hour-long run with very limited stops to San Francisco, during commute hours. An alternative mode to both Oakland and San Francisco is the Valley Transportation Authority  bus express lines 180  and 181  to Fremont. From there, riders can connect to BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) , which serves Oakland, San Francisco, and several other San Francisco Bay Area destinations.
By bus: Amtrak California  runs a bus with stops in 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).
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