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San Jose Travel Planning Guide

Updated on May 27, 2020
Lauren Haas profile image

At 48, I started traveling the world with everything I own in a backpack. That was in 2013, and I'm still going!

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Step 1: Book A Flight

One of the advantages to staying in San Jose is that it has its own airport (SJC), which is more manageable and less crowded than flying into San Francisco. However, you might need to work a little harder to find deals into SJC.

When you're searching for flights, try to be flexible about your dates. You'll usually find the best prices on Tuesday and Thursday, although sometimes Sunday offers great deals as well.

Flights with layovers are often much cheaper, and if you can arrange a stopover of 90-120 minutes you won't have to stress about making your connection.

The Dolce Hayes Mansion is a romantic spot to stay in San Jose.
The Dolce Hayes Mansion is a romantic spot to stay in San Jose. | Source

Step 2: Choose a Hotel

Dolce Hayes is an elegant 100-year-old mansion that is popular for weddings and couples. It makes a wonderful base for exploring the local wineries and enjoying a romantic vacation.

If you like a hotel with lots of charm in a walkable neighborhood, consider the Hotel Valencia in Santana Row. The hotel has a lot of personality and a nice pool, and it's surrounded by shops, cafes, and nightlife.

For more indulgence, choose The Fairmont downtown. This hotel has a gorgeous rooftop pool with lush views. The property also boasts a sushi restaurant and an energetic bar. To get above the noise of the downtown streets and maximize your mountain view, ask for a hotel on an upper floor.

Prefer to book a budget room and spend your money on food and fun? Fontaine Inn offers a downtown location at a good price, with basic amenities like free WiFi and a pool. If you need a place near the airport, the Super 8 Motel is affordable and has a good reputation for cleanliness.


Step 3: Getting Around

If you choose not to rent a car, you'll still be able to get around the town of San Jose and the Bay Area easily.

If your hotel is in the cozy downtown district, you can walk wherever you need to go.

San Jose is a very bike-friendly town — the roads have wide shoulders and bike paths are plentiful. Check out this map of the city's bikeways to see what's available for you. Whether you want to bike around town or go on cycling adventures, you'll find plenty of bike rental shops in San Jose.

Catching public transportation into San Francisco is easy. Catch the Caltrain from San Jose's Diridon station into the city every 30 minutes for around $10. The trip takes about 90 minutes. There's also a Greyhound bus that runs five times a day, but it costs a few dollars more and takes half an hour longer.

Use the 511 website to discover all your public transportation options around the Bay area.

Alum Rock Park offers gorgeous trails and scenery
Alum Rock Park offers gorgeous trails and scenery | Source

Step 4: What to Do for Fun

San Jose is bigger than most people think, boasting a larger population than San Francisco. If you don't want to travel into San Francisco every day, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how much this vibrant city has to offer.

If the weather is rainy or hot, check out the city's museums. The Tech Museum of Innovation and the San Jose Museum of Art are the two largest ones.

Go for food in Vietnam Town, or visit the Winchester Mystery House.

If you like to hike, visit the Guadalupe River Trail, Alum Rock Park, and the Los Gatos Creek Trail.

Golfers will enjoy the Cinnabar Hills, Coyote Creek, and Los Lagos courses.

For a little adrenaline rush, head to Great America or Raging Waters amusement parks. Your hotel can connect you with other local adventures, like

For nightlife, visit the SoFA (South First Area) District downtown.

If you're willing to go further afield, spend a day visiting the wineries of Northern California or the redwood forests at Muir Woods.


San Jose is an affordable and accessible choice when you're visiting the Bay Area. Many people prefer San Jose to its sister city, San Francisco, as a base to explore the region. You should have no problem finding convenient flights, comfortable lodging, and fun things to do during your stay in San Jose.

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