Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

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Tamarind
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Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by Tamarind »

I'll be in San Jose next week for a work conference. Most of the time I'll be staring at the inside of the conference center, but my Thursday evening after about 2pm is free.

Any locals or frequent visitors have suggestions for things to do or see? Food, geology, and nature are always good but I'm open to just about anything unique to the area.
Last edited by Tamarind on Fri May 13, 2016 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
an_asker
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose

Post by an_asker »

There is a whole lot to see and do, which I have definitely not done even after a few visits to the Bay Area. But to answer your question, a few pieces of information about yourself that it might be a good idea to share:

- is it your first trip to San Jose?

- Oh, BTW, are you talking about San Jose, California or San Jose, Costa Rica?

- Do you have access to a car or are you going to be reliant on public transportation?

- Why did you not choose to extend your stay to the weekend, so you could potentially have two (or three) more days to yourself?

- What sort of a budget are you planning?

- How far away would you not mind going?
ktd
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose

Post by ktd »

San Jose after 2 PM? Nothing! Restaurants will be open but that's it . You have a car? San Francisco is your best bet but will be at least 2 hours drive with traffic.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by CABob »

Bob
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by mouses »

Go up to Palo Alto and see the Gamble Center gardens or the duck pond. Stanford's Rodin collection.
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Tamarind
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by Tamarind »

an_asker wrote:There is a whole lot to see and do, which I have definitely not done even after a few visits to the Bay Area. But to answer your question, a few pieces of information about yourself that it might be a good idea to share:

- is it your first trip to San Jose?

- Oh, BTW, are you talking about San Jose, California or San Jose, Costa Rica?

- Do you have access to a car or are you going to be reliant on public transportation?

- Why did you not choose to extend your stay to the weekend, so you could potentially have two (or three) more days to yourself?

- What sort of a budget are you planning?

- How far away would you not mind going?
Ah, I bet that would be helpful info. :D

California, not Costa Rica. It's not my first trip, but all of my trips have been on conferences. I've explored the area in walking distance from the convention center, and on one occasion drove to a restaurant in San Francisco with friends.

I will not have a car, but I like public transportation, aside from how slow it can be.

I chose to fly back Friday morning so I could get the weekend with my girlfriend after a long week and recuperate at home. I'm not much of a road warrior.

Budget is sub-$250. I'll go up to as far as I can go and still get back in time for my flight. I'll need to be at SJC around 6am.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by coachz »

http://www.pollstar.com/resultsCity.asp ... jose%2c+ca
That's why they call me "Bad Company", with Joe Walsh !
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livesoft
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by livesoft »

It should be easy to get to San Francisco by train. CalTrain to Millbrae, then take BART, less than 2 hours total.

Palo Alto has a Rodin Sculpture Garden

Mountain View has Computer History Museum

Conferences are about networking. You should have no free afternoons nor evenings for yourself, but should be networking. You could organize that trip to San Francisco or to the other two places I mentioned. Or somewhere else.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by Tamarind »

I should note I have never been anywhere else in the Bay Area.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by Tamarind »

livesoft wrote:Conferences are about networking. You should have no free afternoons nor evenings for yourself, but should be networking. You could organize that trip to San Francisco or to the other two places I mentioned. Or somewhere else.
Thanks for these suggestions. The vast majority of attendees take the Thursday night flight out and won't be present to be networked with. :) Obviously if I learn someone's sticking around I could change my plans.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by livesoft »

caticind wrote:I should note I have never been anywhere else in the Bay Area.
Then make it an EPIC Adventure:

Trains to San Francisco, get out at Powell BART. Go rent bike to ride through Golden Gate Park to Golden Gate Bridge across and back along the waterfront piers. Then dinner after returning bike in the Union Square tourist district aka Chinatown. The train back to your hotel (or stay up all night, your choice).

Strive to find 2 EPIC Adventurers to go with you.

Full disclosure: I'd go with you, but you are 3 weeks too late ... I'm off on another epic adventure tomorrow.
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an_asker
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by an_asker »

caticind wrote:[...]California, not Costa Rica. It's not my first trip, but all of my trips have been on conferences. I've explored the area in walking distance from the convention center, and on one occasion drove to a restaurant in San Francisco with friends.

I will not have a car, but I like public transportation, aside from how slow it can be.

I chose to fly back Friday morning so I could get the weekend with my girlfriend after a long week and recuperate at home. I'm not much of a road warrior.

Budget is sub-$250. I'll go up to as far as I can go and still get back in time for my flight. I'll need to be at SJC around 6am.
It all depends on your definition of road warrior I guess :-) To me, a road warrior is someone who travels for work most of the time. But anyone else could also love to travel, though not being on the road so often.

Anyway, I asked my questions to see if I could offer any suggestions, but I am probably on the other end of the spectrum. Though we have friends and family in the Bay Area, when we visit there, we use their pads as our base to go out on the road. I have been on the Pacific Coast Highway, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, etc. But probably not spent much time in the city as such. If you can make it there, it might be a good idea to take the train to San Francisco, then spend some time in the Golden Gate Bridge area. That said, I have no clue how much time it would take and whether it would be worthwhile to rush-rush-rush there and back!

Edited to add: Looks like livesoft beat me to it!
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by livesoft »

Another possibility: Change flight. Have girlfriend come to San Francisco for a long weekend.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by Tamarind »

livesoft wrote:Another possibility: Change flight. Have girlfriend come to San Francisco for a long weekend.
That would be AMAZING but alas way out of budget. We'll be taking a trip together this fall, though.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by panhead »

If you are just going to stay in the general area Santana row is an interesting place to go to get a bite to eat, a cocktail and to people watch a bit. I'm not sure of your time schedule, but if you like to hike there is mission and monument peak. Big basin is up in the santa cruz mountains and you will need a car (or uber) to get there but is nice hiking. Santa cruz is a fun beach place with microbreweries and interesting restaurants and the like. Winchester Mystery house and I think it's called the fun spot or something where gravity is supposed to be screwed up. Last two are huge tourist attractions. If you get to san Francisco you can do the self guided Alcatraz tour, but be sure to get tickets well in advance as they sell out quickly.

There's plenty more, but that's a few ideas.

Edited to add:

Half moon bay has some cool walking trails along the ocean and a couple nice seafood restaurants with decks overlooking the ocean. Again, you will need uber or a car. Also, there some wineries in the area for wine tastings.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by Tamarind »

an_asker wrote:
caticind wrote:[...]I'm not much of a road warrior.
It all depends on your definition of road warrior I guess :-) To me, a road warrior is someone who travels for work most of the time. But anyone else could also love to travel, though not being on the road so often.
Fair enough. I do love to travel, but usually to go camping or kayaking. Last year we spent 10 days in the Boundary Waters which was just perfect. I'm not energized by traveling for work and need introvert time after a conference, so that's why I didn't extend the trip.

Actually I was just wondering if the hills I always see from the hotel window are accessible without renting a car...or even if I could get a car cheap for the one day. A map suggests I am talking about the Sierra Azul Preserve. The whole "hills not covered in trees" thing is something I never get to see east of the Mississippi. Haven't seen that kind of grassland ecosystem since I visited the Columbia River gorge. Hmmm.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by panhead »

For the hills without trees thing...

Go to Ed Levin Park in Milpitas, you could Uber there. Nice hike up monument peak. If you have a lot of time, you can continue on to mission peak. A large part of this is through a cattle grazing area, so don't be afraid of cows. The park closes at sunset. You will also see hang gliders jumping off the peaks here. Nice place.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by turnturnturn »

Rent a car (easy near the Convention Center), drive to Big Basin, do one of the short loop hikes, drive to Santa Cruz (stopping at the Boulder Creek Brewery for a craft beer along the way), wade in the Pacific, have dinner in downtown Santa Cruz, back to the hotel.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by panhead »

turnturnturn wrote:..... drive to Santa Cruz (stopping at the Boulder Creek Brewery for a craft beer along the way)....
You will not be able to do this. Boulder Creek Brewery burned down many months ago. Your other thoughts are great though, love big basin!
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by curmudgeon »

If you like outdoors type stuff, then definitely look into renting a car for the day (should be some options near the convention center). Going up hwy 9 or 17 into the mountains towards the west you can see the redwoods in Big Basin or Henry Cowell state parks, then drop down into Santa Cruz for the beach town thing.

A less common route, but quite scenic, would be to head east, on hwy 130 up to the Lick observatory on Mt Hamilton. If it is open, the old original telescope is interesting, and the views are amazing. Very winding road up the mountain, though. If you want to see more of the "other California", you could continue on to the east, through some remote valleys, and then take the fork in the road (Junction BBQ there is good) north to Livermore and stop at some of the wineries there. Then return via I580/680 (you would be counter-commute direction).

Any driving you do out from San Jose will be better if you get moving before 3pm, much later and it will be painful.

If you don't want to bother with a car:
- CalTrain to SF
- Tech Museum (near convention center), maybe followed by San Pedro Square Market area for dinner/music
- Santana Row has some decent restaurants, though a bit expensive for what you get. Entertaining people watching (the Beverly Hills wannabes)
- Poorhouse Bistro usually has a decent blues band playing in the evening (walkable)
- I think there will be a Sharks NHL playoff game that night; you could probably pick up a single ticket for that (walkable)
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by oldcomputerguy »

If you can find a friend with a car, and are at all interested in computers, you might take a drive north up the 101 to the North Shoreline Boulevard exit at Mountain View and hit the Computer History Museum.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by Tamarind »

Ok, on further research I have been convinced to rent a car. Didn't realize it would be so easy to pick one up right next to the convention center. Leaning towards the Big Basin and Santa Cruz trip several of you suggested.

Thanks all for the awesome suggestions! Keep it coming if you have a favorite place that hasn't been mentioned yet.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by TTBG »

Two of my favorite places in Santa Cruz county are:

Henry Cowell Redwood loop trail - easy 1 mile loop. Very peaceful.

Henry Cowell Fall Creek trail - can be easy or a little more strenuous depending on how far you want to hike. Be aware of poison oak -- you'll be fine if you stay on the trail but it grows right to the edge of the trail in quite a few places so be careful not to brush up against it.

Both will give you a chance to see some redwoods and are a little easier to get to than Big Basin. They're in Felton, which has a couple of restaurants and is a nice little town to walk around. I haven't been there in awhile but I used to like the Cowboy restaurant. Or head down to Santa Cruz to walk along the beach and eat someplace there.

Another alternative, less hiking but more plant viewing, is the arboretum at UC Santa Cruz, followed by a walk around the campus so you'll still get a chance to see some redwoods.

You'll want to leave San Jose as soon after 2 as you can -- Hwy 17 gets pretty jammed up during the afternoon commute, as does the Hwy17 - Hwy1 connector in Santa Cruz.

Enjoy yourself!
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by jane1 »

Based on what you like -

Take train from SJ to SF (livesoft's suggestion) - that is what I would have done but if you are visiting in Fall with GF, skip this

Rent a car. Hike Stanford Dish, wander around Stanford, see Computer History Museum, walk near Palo Alto baylands/Shoreline Park, see Google campus and then eat on University Ave in Palo Alto.

Or visit Levi's Stadium (home of recent superbowl), hike Mission Peak, great views of Bay (it is like a popular local pilgrimage in a non-religious way).

Or go to Santa Cruz (boardwalk, lighthouse, Natural Bridges state beach) . Stop by Mystery Spot if you are interested (a slight detour). If you want to hike as well as do Santa Cruz, go to St Josephs hill in Los Gatos (enroute). Big Basin might be a little out of the way (I personally have never been impressed by it). You will see plenty of Redwoods on the way.

For dinner (based on where you go) - Palo Alto (University Ave), Mountain View (Castro St), Sunnyvale (Murphy Ave), Los Gatos (Main St & Santa Cruz Ave), Saratoga, etc all have cute one-street downtowns with plenty of restaurants.

Traffic will be heavy in the afternoon, so you want to start as early as possible.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by FoolStreet »

caticind wrote:Ok, on further research I have been convinced to rent a car. Didn't realize it would be so easy to pick one up right next to the convention center. Leaning towards the Big Basin and Santa Cruz trip several of you suggested.

Thanks all for the awesome suggestions! Keep it coming if you have a favorite place that hasn't been mentioned yet.

Everyone telling you to go to SF doesn't realize you are a nature living introvert :-)

I think you should do less and embrace it more.

One idea is to head to Los Gatos, walk the creek trail (flume trail to the top of Jones trail for a nice view and exercise) and eat dinner there. Take your time and enjoy. Don't pick too much in.

Another option is Big Basin. From the convention center go to Saratoga (via Saratoga Ave or follow Waze or Google Maps GPS). Take hwy 9 up to Hwy 35.

Activity option 1: Park at the intersection of 9/35. Heading north, there is a trailhead on the northeast corner that will have a 10-20min walk on single track through redwoods. Then it will cross back over 35. There is a stunning view of the santa Cruz mountains after a 5-10 min of walking. Enjoy.

If that was enough, you could pivot and skip Big Basin and instead drive north on 35 for a scenic drive. Take Page Mill to Stanford for the statues etc.

Otherwise, Go back to your car then keep driving west on 9.

Activity option 2: pull off 236 toward Big Basin and walk through more Redwoods

Keep driving west/south down 9 until you hit Santa Cruz. It will be windy but beautiful filled with redwood trees. Be careful of carsickness.

Check out the Boardwalk, E Cliff Drive or Natural Bridges depending in time.

Maybe sit in some hot tubs for that Santa Cruz granola vibe

Drive back along 17. Dinner either in Santa Cruz or Los Gatos.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by westcoastinvestor »

If you like the grassland ecosystem, here is an option.

Rent a car.

Drive up Mt. Hamilton Road (state route 130) to Joseph Grant County park. Park and hike north on Canada De Pala Trail. It has elevation gain, but it is a hike where you are on top of a ridge. You can hike as far as you like. There is abundant wildlife.

Hike back to car. Have dinner around sunset at the Grandview restaurant that overlooks Santa Clara Valley.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by sbaywriter »

Be aware that driving up highway 17 to Big Basin etc - you are in the Santa Cruz mountains. But also on a main highway. I always find it a bit terrifying - winding switch back'y type roads that people drive as though they are on a freeway. But the redwoods are spectacular of course.

Here's some closer in places for nature if you have shoes for hiking/hiking type clothes:

Rancho San Antonio park on the edge of Los Altos, up in the hills.
https://www.sccgov.org/sites/parks/park ... tonio.aspx

There are beautiful hiking trails that go up into the hills with gorgeous views of oak covered hills and grasslands. It will be warm in the afternoon and cool off as the sun starts to set. In the evening, lots of sighting of deer, watch out for rattlesnakes, I've seen bobcat there.

Another hillside hike with views - the satellite dish area near Stanford.

http://www.destinationpaloalto.com/page ... info_id=27
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by SimonJester »

Years back I has a similar trip to yours. I did have a rental car however. I decided to drive to San Francisco and visit the golden gate bridge. I parked and walked the bridge, well to the 1/2 way point. It was some very nice views of the bay. I then did the tourist gift shop.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by dm200 »

Years ago, my then employer's headquarters were in the San Jose area. I had several trips there for 1-2 weeks (and had a rental car).

If you have (or have access to) a car, I would consider going to San Francisco for the afternoon/evening. LOTS of interesting things in San Francisco! China Town, the wharf area, baseball game (if the Gants are in town), parks, etc. At another time, when my wife and then young son and I made a California vacation week, we took a 1-2 hour bus tour of San Francisco.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by jane1 »

FoolStreet wrote:
caticind wrote:Ok, on further research I have been convinced to rent a car. Didn't realize it would be so easy to pick one up right next to the convention center. Leaning towards the Big Basin and Santa Cruz trip several of you suggested.

Thanks all for the awesome suggestions! Keep it coming if you have a favorite place that hasn't been mentioned yet.

Everyone telling you to go to SF doesn't realize you are a nature living introvert :-)
Doesn't sea of people qualify as nature :) Lot of Introverts are happy being left alone in the anonymity of the urban jungle.

There really is plenty of nature in SF and lots of areas without a lot of people - hike land's end, walk parts of GG park and Presidio.
Compare that to hiking in Rancho San Antonio (near Los Altos) where on weekends you are elbowing your way up the trails!

But given the limited time, I agree with you that sticking to South Bay is a better bet.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by tavore »

If you're spending the week in downtown, check out San Pedro Square. Plenty of options to eat and a popular hangout for the locals. Plus, with both the Warriors and the Sharks (Hockey) in playoffs, you'll have good crowds.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by JD2775 »

Thursday night is Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals (Sharks vs Blues) in San Jose at HP Pavilion. Expect lots of crowds downtown and people wearing teal in the streets!

I'll be at Game 4 on Saturday! Go Sharks!
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by happyhiker »

I think that San Jose and Los Gatos, or possibly Santa Cruz, are your best bets. The hills you see from the hotel can be great hikes. Sierra Azul Open Space is both remote and steep. Not as remote but in the same general area is Quicksilver County Park. There are some great hikes there and May is wildflower season. If you go enter at the McAbee entrance in Almaden Valley and pick up a park map at the kiosk about 1/4 mile inside the gate. Bring water. There is about a 4 - 4.5 mile loop with several hundred feet elevation gain that will take you past old mine structures and and the Guadalupe reservoir. The park is never crowded but it is not remote either, probably because dogs on leash are allowed there. It is one of my favorite places in San Jose. The Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Dept. has a great website with trail maps for all county parks, so you can plan your route in advance is you want to.

Rancho San Antonio is another county park in Cupertino. It is so popular that parking in the after work hours may be a problem. The hiking (for the most part) is a bit less strenuous than Quicksilver.

The Los Gatos Creek Trail is another option. Near Vasona Park in Los Gatos the trail is pretty and flat. If you start downtown Los Gatos you can hike up the trail toward Santa Cruz to the Lexington reservoir where you can connect with the St Joseph's Hill trail/Jones Trail back to downtown Los Gatos. There are nice restaurants there.

If you have time for Santa Cruz by all means go for it. I'd recommend the Boardwalk area and West Cliff Drive up to Lighthouse field and on to Natural Bridges State Beach. The restaurants in Santa Cruz are ok, but not as good as Los Gatos/San Jose. If you don't have the time to go to Santa Cruz (or the inclination to drive Hwy 17) you can have a perfectly lovely time in San Jose and surrounding towns.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by TTBG »

A couple posters have recommended Los Gatos / LG Creek trail / St. Joseph's Hill http://www.openspace.org/preserves/st-josephs-hill. That's a good choice if you decide not to rent a car. You can take light rail to Winchester, then a bus (48 or 49? check vta.org) to Los Gatos. From anywhere in Los Gatos, find the creek trail and head south to the Flume trail / Jones trail / Manzanita trail going up. It's an urban hike so you won't be alone and you can hear the freeway in parts, but you get a nice view of Lexington reservoir and at the top you can look north to Silicon valley and the hills around it.

Los Gatos has lots of places to eat. PizzaMyHeart or Andale come to mind as casual enough that you wouldn't feel out of place as a solo diner.

The Sharks have a playoff game on Thurs so the light rail will be a sea of teal before and after the game. It might be fun to just to see that!
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by tavore »

JD2775 wrote:Thursday night is Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals (Sharks vs Blues) in San Jose at HP Pavilion. Expect lots of crowds downtown and people wearing teal in the streets!

I'll be at Game 4 on Saturday! Go Sharks!
Ahhhh .. I can't make it this round, and traveling next week. I'm so hoping Sharks make it through to the Stanley Cup.
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by gunn_show »

panhead wrote:If you are just going to stay in the general area Santana row is an interesting place to go to get a bite to eat, a cocktail and to people watch a bit. I'm not sure of your time schedule, but if you like to hike there is mission and monument peak. Big basin is up in the santa cruz mountains and you will need a car (or uber) to get there but is nice hiking. Santa cruz is a fun beach place with microbreweries and interesting restaurants and the like. Winchester Mystery house and I think it's called the fun spot or something where gravity is supposed to be screwed up. Last two are huge tourist attractions. If you get to san Francisco you can do the self guided Alcatraz tour, but be sure to get tickets well in advance as they sell out quickly.

There's plenty more, but that's a few ideas.

Edited to add:

Half moon bay has some cool walking trails along the ocean and a couple nice seafood restaurants with decks overlooking the ocean. Again, you will need uber or a car. Also, there some wineries in the area for wine tastings.
+1 for a simple answer, Santana Row was going to be my suggestion as well. Some great restaurants in there. Also some nice shops. Go sit in a Tesla...
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Re: Free afternoon and evening in San Jose, CA

Post by Tamarind »

Here's what I ended up doing. A co-worker and I drove to Big Basin and were awestruck by the redwoods. We continued down to Santa Cruz and paused a while at Natural Bridges State Beach. Dipped our feet in the Pacific and warmed up again in the sand. We went on to the wharf and ate at Olitas. Great weeknight specials and really amazing food. On our way back to the car we investigated the odd noises coming from the side of the wharf and found a massive group of sea lions sacked out on the boat dock below. Must have been 30 of them. Also got to observe seals, cormorants, and some very bold surfers.

A great relaxing evening to blow off steam after a long week. Thanks so much to all who gave suggestions.
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