How to Spend 50 Perfect Hours in San Jose

How to Spend 50 Perfect Hours in San Jose

With a population just over 1 million people, San Jose is California’s third largest city (behind Los Angeles and San Diego) and encompasses an area with a myriad of things to do. Museums, parks, shops and restaurants abound.

Day 1

8:30 a.m. – Wake up in your luxurious bed at the Dolce Hayes Mansion, a 214-room retreat resort just eight miles from downtown San Jose. This place is an under-the-radar gem; it is a 100-year-old estate that was transformed into an extravagant hotel and conference center. Start your vacation off right by relaxing in a robe and ordering room service. After breakfast, throw on some comfy clothes and tennis shoes. Make sure to bring a hat and some sunscreen, and then head out.

10:00 a.m. – Drive 11 miles northeast, past the convention center and over I-280, until you arrive at the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden. Famously known as the nicest rose garden in the country, this place is a must-see. Admission is free and there are rows of roses (over 4,000; 189 varieties). If you can, go between April and November, it is the best time to see the blooms. Bring your camera and take some shots to use in this year’s holiday card. Then, wave to the bridal parties that will undoubtedly be snapping images of themselves, too.

11:30 a.m. – Now it is time to check out downtown San Jose. Take a right on Park Avenue, another right on South Market Street, follow the road and stop at 110 South Market Street in front of the San Jose Museum of Art. Spend the next hour here, exploring its many galleries. Make sure to check out the Maker Space in the Koret Family Galley, where, until mid-January 2016, you can look at art pieces made out of recycled objects.

1:00 p.m. – Leave your car parked and walk a few blocks north to SP2 Communal Bar + Restaurant, located at 72 N. Almaden Ave., one of the hottest spots in downtown (note: they only serve lunch Tuesdays through Fridays). Start off with the roasted beet and watermelon salad and a helping of oysters, and then move on to the fish tacos and Manila clams and house made chorizo. If you still have room, dive into the caramel apple bread pudding. Totally worth it – you are on vacation, after all.

2:00 p.m. – Walk out (more accurately, roll out) the door of SP2 and spend the next few hours taking in the sights of downtown San Jose. Check out Plaza Park, which dates back to 1797; talk around Chinatown; peak into St. Joseph’s Cathedral and take photos outside the mid-1800's Santa Clara County Courthouse.

4:00 p.m. – Drive back to Dolce Hayes Mansion and relax for a bit, maybe even take a nap. When you are ready, take a shower and change into some comfortable-yet-nice evening clothes. Tonight you are going to explore the adorable town of Campbell, just seven miles outside San Jose.

5:30 p.m. – Head to 428 E. Campbell Ave. into downtown Campbell. Park your car and walk into Heartworks Gallery, home to Debbie Marie Arambula’s gorgeous works of art. Take your time looking at her colorful pieces, most on canvas and many painted in the shapes of hearts.

6:30 p.m. – Drive two miles west to Capers Eat & Drink for dinner. This is a fun spot with excellent food, including calamari as an appetizer and smoked salmon as an entrée. If you are in the mood for pasta, the lasagna is divine. Wash it down with a fresh margarita (tip: these are 1/2 off on Thursdays).

8:30 p.m. – End your evening with a visit to Sugar Butter Flour at 1874 S. Bascom Ave. where you will find some of the most beautiful desserts you will ever set your eyes on. Try the chocolate Baileys dome or the pear almond tart. Not caffeine sensitive? Opt for the espresso cake. Take some cupcakes to go…for your friends at home (ahem).

Day 2

9:00 a.m. – Wake up and start packing; you will be moving hotels later this afternoon. Just like yesterday, wearing casual clothes and bringing your sunscreen. Then head over to brunch (available Wed-Fri, Sat-Sun) at The Table, located at 1110 Willow Street in San Jose. Brunch here is an experience—start with the Scotch egg, then the corned beef and hash before moving on to the smoked salmon sandwich. Wash it down with a few cups of steaming coffee.

10:30 a.m. – After breakfast, drive to 1660 Park Ave. and walk into the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. This is worth a several-hour visit as it houses the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in Western North America. Get lost in the museum’s multitude of exhibits (check out the cat statues – trippy!) and call ahead to check on the schedule for expert talks.

1:00 p.m. – Starving by now, walk over to The Palm Café (don’t worry – yes, you may be in an office park, but you are in the right spot). Order some pho and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) and sit outside on the patio, under umbrellas.

2:00 p.m. – Ready for a change of hotel scenery? Head over to Hotel Valencia at 355 Santana Row and ask for an early check-in. Relax for an hour in your room and enjoy the view from your balcony. Then, change into some “going out” clothes and walk along the bustling Santana Row for a while. There are more than 70 shops and 20 restaurants along this strip, along with live music (sometimes people play in the street). Bop into a number of stores and enjoy yourself!

6:30 p.m. – Ready to eat, belly up to a table at the uber-chic Lark Creek Kitchen, an American food restaurant right on Santana Row. Take your time by starting with the duck tacos and compressed watermelon. Then move on to the potato gnocchi and fish and chips. Be sure to ask your server for the best cocktail pairings. If you need a suggestion, you can’t go wrong with the Bliss (mandarin liqueur, ruby red vodka, lemon and prosecco).

Day 3

9:30 a.m. – Wake up slowly at Hotel Valencia, check out and then walk down Santana Row (basically right across the street) to Village California Bistro. This is an awesome spot for brunch, especially on the weekends. Try the eggs Benedict or, better yet, “The Hangover” consisting of bacon, beef tips, Andouille sausage, squash, peppers, red onions and other goodies. Yum. This is the best way to round out your 50-hour getaway in San Jose.

This article comes to us courtesy of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Each week the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee features a #Perfect50 Hours series detailing how to spend 50 hours in a different San Francisco Bay Area city. See more here


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