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Help me get excited about San Jose

SF Bay Area
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Help me get excited about San Jose

Hi out there. I'm not new to TA, and I've lived in the Bay Area my entire life, but mostly in the east bay. I recently lost my job in Marina Bay / Richmond and moved in with family in Pleasanton. I just got a new job offer in San Jose, and in this economy, I'd be a fool to turn it down. The pay is good, but the job moves me far away from my comfort zones and everything I know. It also means my poor fiance who is working 2 jobs in Alameda and San Lorenzo is going to have a horrendous commute everyday.

I will be working for a housing company who owns a place called Villa Torino apartments on W. Julian Street San Jose - I'll be staying there for a few months until the property I'll work on (called Elements- being built on Parkmoor Ave, SJ). I know almost nothing about San Jose in general. I know where Valley Fair is, where Santana Row is and where Winchester Mystery House is.

Can you guys help me? What's out there? What can I do with time off in the area? I'm pretty active, like shopping and good restaurants, plus the fun hole in the wall eateries too. Since I'm going to be moving from one apartment to another in 3 months or so, I won't be bringing a lot of stuff with me right away, and what I do bring I won't unpack unless I have to, so my bike stays here in Pleasanton.

I hope someone has good ideas for me - I'm excited about the job, but moving to San Jose isn't thrilling me - probably because I don't know enough to get excited. Can you guys help??


SF Bay Area
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1. Re: Help me get excited about San Jose

I should mention I love Monterey Bay Aquarium too, and I'm sure I'll be making some trips down there as well. I love water, the beach etc. And farmers markets & outdoor restivals too. Hope that helps!

SF Bay Area
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2. Re: Help me get excited about San Jose

Leave your other stuff behind and bring your bike! The valley is flat and has lots of bike lanes that make getting around to various places easy to do. And if you combine it with light rail, you can see even more. One possible ride is take light rail out to the end of the Campbell line and then hit the bike path and go out to Los Gatos and back. There are also some nice rides in the lower foothills as well too. Check out the local bike clubs for weekday and weekend rides to help you meet people and see the area.

Downtown SJ has a developing art scene that is fun to check out.

Downtown SJ has lots of hole in the wall places to eat as well as other parts of the valley. Check out the restaurant part of Tripadvisor for some suggestions.

Is it possible for your fiance to take the Capital Corridor train for her commute instead? or Drive to Fremont BART?

Fremont, California
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3. Re: Help me get excited about San Jose

For restaurants, there are 3 good areas:

Santana Row - this is fun just to walk around, have dinner, go to movies, enjoy the outdoors.


Downtown San Jose has restaurants - Spaghetti Factory, Sonoma Chicken Coop, and more fancier restaurants

There are lots and lots of great Asian restaurants.

Hot Pot City is a unique dining experience and fun to go to.


For late night eats, there are Denny's and also several late night Asian restaurants.

For inexpensive shopping, Great Mall.


There are lots of Indian restaurants as well - so ethnic eating is great.

for music venues, Mountain Winery



In the summer many of the areas have free summer concerts:




And many events happening in San Jose throughout the year.


San Jose Giants Minor League Baseball is always fun (even if you don't like baseball as they really do a good job of entertaining....2 for 1 beers for the beer batter always excites the crowd.) You can usually get free tickets to some of the nights by looking for them at Orchard Supply, or State Farm.


Sharks Ice Hockey is always fun.

In terms of museums,

Tech Museum


and imax is fun.

Christmas in the Park is a highlight.


Park Wise, lots of parks. Some of the good ones are:

Los Gatos


Ed Levin


The San Jose Flea Market has a very good vegetable area.


There are many farmers markets in the area.

Downtown San Jose Farmers Markket


Other cities such as Milpitas also have farmers market (most cities do).


For night life, several clubs downtown San Jose. In nearby Santa Clara, Avalan is fun to go to.


Comedy Clubs - several, Improv in downtown San Jose.


Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale


For flowers, the San Jose Rose Garden is spectacular right now.


Also look for festivals such as:

Greek Festival San Jose


Obon Festival Japantown


Mountain View Wine and Arts


Lots of events go on at the HP Pavilon


There is lots more ....but its all sort of hidden. This means at first you think all you do is drive between housing areas and strip malls and shopping centers...and wonder if there is anything else in the area. Its a difficult transition at first....but then when you start to look further there are lots of things to do and enjoy.

Some of the sources to find a lot more of these is:



Also realize its a very short drive to Gilroy (Gilroy Gardens, Gilroy Premium Outlets). Great America is in Santa Clara also to go to.

I am not quite sure why you would not bring your bike - its a great place to go bike riding.

In short, if you are fine with Pleasanton, you will find much much much more to do in San Jose area. There is lots of fun things to do.

The one thing none of this will fix is the long commute and work hours for the 2 of you....so just remember that is the key issue in the transition.

Enjoy your new position and best to you.

SF Bay Area
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4. Re: Help me get excited about San Jose

Thanks for the great ideas - both of you!

The new temporary apartment I'm getting is on a street where the light rail runs, so I guess I'll figure that one out.

I'm a rollercoaster wuss, so I don't think I'll make it over there, but I think there's a water park there - that I'll do. And I've never been to Santa Cruz, so I'll check that out as well since I'll be close by.

My impression of San Jose has always been favorable - just similar to what was described - a lot of apartments, little neighborhoods and strip malls where it might be a bit harder to find those "gems" hidden. One of those things where you have to know it's there to find it.

I appreciate anyone else's input as well. I'm really open to most anything, so if you have any favorites in the SJ area, let me know! Restaurants, parks etc. I'm bulding a list of places to go and things to do!

Thanks again everyone!

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5. Re: Help me get excited about San Jose

Oh, the rollercoaster wuss comment was in regards to Great America. Left that one out. Oops!

San Jose, California
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6. Re: Help me get excited about San Jose

I moved to SJ from the Santa Cruz area in 1995 and I am still here. It is actually a pretty nice place to live, esspecially if you are centrally located.

Julian street is only a couple blocks from the main downtown area, which has a decent amount going on. The area around Santa Clara and San Fernando streets, Almaden through 4th streets has a pretty good concentration of restaurants and bars. San Pedro Square has quite a few places. There is a good mix of independent restaurants and chains, plenty of ethnic variety.

As others have mentioned, Santa Cruz is a fairly quick drive. The San Mateo county coast is nice - good beaches for wandering, some neat small towns. The Santa Cruz mountains have a lot to offer - Big Basin state park is great.

San Jose, California
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7. Re: Help me get excited about San Jose

First off take your bike, the Guadalupe river walk and trail is not too far from the apt. you will be staying at. You will be in the downtown are and a lot of restaurants and bars, pick up the Metro paper, it’s free and you can find all the clubs and eateries reviewed in it. There is a good Cuban restaurant on N. Almaden Ave. that we love. You can walk to the Marriott and Fairmont hotels and there are movie theaters next to the Fairmont. As for farmers markets I like the one they have in Campbell, about a 10 min. drive in downtown Campbell Ave. can’t remember if it is on Sat. or Sun. but they have the best produce IMO.

Now for upscale small town shopping try downtown Los Gatos about a 15 min. drive off of 880/17 they have some nice shops there.

It’s funny that I’ve lived here all my life but have taken it for granted.

Berkeley, California
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8. Re: Help me get excited about San Jose

I had the opportunity to live in San Jose for 2 years before moving up to the "real" Bay Area and lived close to Villa Torino--and worked even closer! I think my feelings on San Jose are well known--I found the downtown area fascinating and the rest of the "city" a complete and utter bore AND joke. But it's fun to experience for a summer.

You are engaged so probably won't hate it nearly as much as I did (as a young single male not working in tech), but I am sure your fiance will HATE the commute. See if he can handle taking VTA Route 180 or 181 (http://www.vta.org) to Fremont BART, then BART (http://www.bart.gov) to his jobs.

There are several things in the downtown area to keep you occupied. First, there is Trials Pub very close to Villa Torino. My favorite pub in SJ. They have/had a pub quiz on Monday nights at 8 or 8:30; check for details. Second, there are lots of things to do! Including:

*South First Fridays - Open art galleries and gallery walk centered in the SoFA district on the south side of downtown, occurs first Friday night of every month. - http://www.southfirstfridays.com

*Music in the Park - Free live music concerts every Thursday afternoon/evening in Cesar Chavez Park. Unlike many similar events elsewhere, this one pulls in some bands/artists with name recognition. - www.sjdowntown.com/Music_in_the_Park.html

*Farmers' markets - There is an active one Fridays from 10 AM to 2 PM at San Pedro Square, which is close by. Good place to interact with nearby office workers and buy some flowers. - http://www.sjdowntown.com/FarmerMarket.html

*Flea market - The one and only. Lots of junk, random things, good deals, and the best fresh produce in SJ. - http://www.sjfm.com

*San Jose Jazz Festival - Huge outdoor/indoor jazz/blues/salsa/etc. festival in downtown over 3 days in August. Used to cost just $5/day, but has recently skyrocketed to $15/day. Used to be great fun even for folks like me who only like certain types of jazz; now you actually have to debate about whether to check it out or skip. - http://www.sanjosejazz.org

On the outdoors side of things...

Biking down the relatively new Guadalupe River Park is fun. Do be aware that the trail switches from side to side and doesn't have consistent transitions, but it's still good fun. The Los Gatos Creek Trail and Coyote Creek Trail are worthy bicycle destinations, too. The Los Gatos trail is probably the nicest.

Stop by Kelley Park and check out the Japanese Friendship Garden and History Park. Fun way to spend a couple hours one afternoon. (Check on History Park hours before you go. the Japanese Friendship Garden closes at dusk.)

Get out of town for a hike, bike ride, or splash in the ocean. Santa Cruz is an obvious destination, but do be warned there is traffic on weekends. Monterey is another worthy destination.

Have fun!

SF Bay Area
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9. Re: Help me get excited about San Jose

Thanks for all of the great info. I promise I'm taking notes on it all. Thanks SJC ACA OGG for replying to my PM too. I do appreciate all of the help!

My fiance can't swing public transportation, as much as we'd like to make use of it. His main job is in San Lorenzo, and due to the nature of that work, he needs to have a car available to travel to different hospitals, morgues, embassies and airports (he's a funeral director). In an effort to earn more money for our upcoming Maui wedding, he took a night job in Alameda. Once we're settled in San Jose, he's going to try to transfer to another location (it's a grocery store) nearer to our apartment.

I love all of the specifics you guys have been providing - if anyone else out there sees this, please feel free to add your 2c!

Thank you all again!

San Jose, California
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10. Re: Help me get excited about San Jose

Congrats on your upcoming wedding, we'll be in Wailea at the end of June.