Stay in an ice hotel, attend a winter festival and wander through an ice castle.
The San Jose area is known for being home to some of the world’s biggest Internet and tech companies—including Google, Apple, Facebook and Intel. As the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States and the largest in the San Francsico Bay region. However, its appeal extends beyond technology, with fine food and wine, scenic mountain hikes, and a young, multicultural population bringing international energy to both work and play.
Morning: Fuel up for the day with a breakfast burrito at downtown’s Cafe Rosalena. Then, tour a few of the tech giants: explore Apple’s headquarters via augmented reality at the new Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino, or take selfies in the colourful Android sculpture garden at Googleplex.
Afternoon: Back downtown, swing by Good Karma Artisan Ales & Cafe for tasty vegan food and craft beer on tap. Then head to Santana Row, San Jose’s chic outdoor shopping destination with hip brands such as Marine Layer and Warby Parker. If shopping isn’t your thing, tour Winchester Mystery House across the street. This haunted mansion inspired the recent Hollywood film Winchester, starring Helen Mirren.
Evening: Dine at Michelin-starred Adega restaurant, a contemporary Portuguese hotspot run by a husband-and-wife team who met while working together in Lisbon. Seafood is a highlight on the menu, with options ranging from local abalone to deep-sea Carabineros (prawns) from Spain.
Morning: Journey 45 minutes outside San Jose to enjoy Pacific Ocean views and to hike under giant redwoods at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Then, on your way back, stop in the town of Los Gatos for a croissant and monkey bread at famed Manresa Bread.
Afternoon: Tour the caves and cellars at Testarossa Winery before enjoying a wine and cheese pairing. From there, visit Ridge Vineyards, the largest wine producer in the Santa Cruz Mountains. You’ll need an appointment to try its famed Monte Bello Cabernet.
Evening: Stop in Saratoga for dinner at Plumed Horse. Its new chocolate shop across the street often sells out, but the restaurant’s chocolate trolley offers a sampling if you still have room after a decadent, tasting-menu meal, which can include dishes such as local black cod or a black pepper and parmesan soufflé.
Morning: Just north of downtown, explore one of only three Japantowns left in the United States. Start at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose to learn about the history of Japanese-Americans in the Santa Clara Valley, before browsing nearby Cukui for contemporary fashions and Shuei-Do Manju Shop for artisan Japanese confections. Enjoy a bento box from Kubota for lunch.
Afternoon: Feel like a kid at Raging Waters as you shoot water cannons at its Pirate’s Cove or plummet down a free-fall waterslide. After, watch daredevils show-off on their boards at Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park, California’s largest skatepark.
Evening: Pick up a platter of tacos at Tacomania on the way to West Wind Capitol Drive-In movie theatre to catch a new release. The retro drive-in is a favourite among locals on summer nights, and a nostalgic counterpoint to the modern digital age that San Jose helped create.
[This story appears in the June 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine]