As the Bay Area continues to boom, San Jose is moving further into the spotlight. This city of more than a million people packs a diverse collection of attractions—each of which can hold its own against many that can be found in other California cities that usually receive the bulk of attention. Take a look at some of what awaits those whose way includes a stay in San Jose.
• Visit the garage where Apple was born: Silicon Valley owes much to the humble suburban garage. It’s where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple computer, where Hewlett Packard (HP) developed their first audio oscillator and where Google first googled. Though they’ve moved on to grander office spaces, the original headquarters of all three companies remain an important part of San Jose history; the Apple and HP garages have even been listed as National Historic Landmarks.
• Get lost in a haunted house: Widow Sarah Winchester, heiress to her husband’s Winchester Rifle fortune, began construction on the sprawling Winchester Mansion in 1886. She believed the house was haunted by those who had died at the hand of the Winchester rifle and by the time of her death, 36 years later, the still incomplete house had 160 rooms, 2,000 doors and dozens of staircases that often led nowhere in an effort to confuse the malevolent spirits.
• Gain a new perspective on Silicon Valley: At the Computer History Museum, explore the more than 2,000 years of history related to computing, hardware and software. At The Tech Museum of Innovation, rotating exhibits will challenge visitors’ interpretation of tech, applying the term to everything from the cosmos to the human body. For a more detailed picture of the history and innovation of individual companies, check out the Intel Museum and Headquarters or the Apple Park Visitor Center.
• Stroll through a garden: Get a sense of the San Jose of yesteryear at the Heritage Rose Garden and Japanese Friendship Garden. At the rose garden (free, open daily), admire 2800 varieties of heritage, modern and miniature roses. The Japanese Friendship Garden, built in Kelley Park in 1965, has a koi pond, flowing brook, waterfalls and bridges that honor the friendship between San Jose and its sister city Okayama, Japan.
• Go for a hike: San Jose has several county parks that are perfect for hiking and other outdoor activities. At Almaden Quicksilver County Park, once the world’s second-largest mercury mine, visitors can hike among the tunnels and tracks left behind by the massive mining operation. Alum Rock Park, one of the state’s oldest municipal parks, was once known as a health spa thanks to 27 natural mineral springs that are still around today. At Joseph D. Grant County Park, Santa Clara County’s largest, 51 miles of trails wind their way through the foothills of the Diablo Range.
• Take a ride: Thrill seekers, look no further than San Jose for two of the best amusement parks in the state. At California’s Great America, seven roller coasters, including the “floorless” coaster Patriot, will send visitors screaming. Raging Waters, San Jose’s beloved water park, will help people beat the Valley heat on rides that range from the family-friendly wave pool and endless river to daredevil drops and steep, twisting slides.
• Explore the universe: The search is on for extraterrestrials at the NASA Ames Research Center, where visitors can also learn about past space missions and see what it’s like to live and work in space. For a glimpse beyond our galaxy, head up to the Lick Observatory high above the city on Mt. Hamilton. During their Summer Series, visitors can learn more about astronomy and view the stars through the historic observatory’s two powerful telescopes.
For those who know the way to San Jose, a great deal of fun lies in store!
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