Things to do with an afternoon/evening in San Jose CA?

My wife and I will be flying into San Jose, CA at the end of July for a two week trip exploring the California coast. We’ve already got the bulk of our itinerary figured out, but our in-coming flight arrives in San Jose at around noon on a Sunday after about 5 hours of flying time, and we’ll have the rest of the afternoon to kill while recuperating from the flight and dealing with several hours of time-change. We’re staying overnight in San Jose, and planning to visit the Winchester House the next morning before heading to San Francisco for several days. The rest of the trip will be spent exploring the PCH & the wine country within about a 200 mile radius of the bay area.

So, I turn to the Teeming Millions looking for suggestions (other than the Winchester House) for ways for a couple of old fogeys in their mid-60s to kill a few hours in town between lunch and crashing for the night. We’re not real big nightlife types, but the San Pedro Square Market looks like a possibility for some interesting supper options. Are there any nice parks, old residential neighborhoods, sites of historical interest, etc. or other must see/do things anyone would care to recommend? Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.

If you are into museums, there are a few of interest in downtown (near San Pedro Square, or not too far):

  • Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. The Rose Garden is a block away.

  • The Tech Interactive (not just for kids). The (in)famous Quetzalcóatl Sculpture is across the street (when it was installed it was called the worlds largest dog-poo sculpture).

  • Children’s Discovery Museum (for kids, but also not bad for adults)

  • There are also a few art museums around the area, including one in J-town (Japan town, just north of downtown - also good eats and architecture in that neighborhood).

  • This site give some suggestions for neighborhoods that have a lot of Victorian-style homes, mainly in the central city area.

I have not lived in that area for 20+ years, but I remember those places as worthwhile and/or unique. Hope that helps!

Both are excellent suggestions.

If you are walkers, try Alum Rock park, do the creek trail, look at all the old mineral springs. Historical, and a nice Sunday walk. If you are lucky the little nature center might be open.

The Downtown Library, which is a combo City and College library is worth a stop.

Recycle Books, down not too far from the Rosicrucian is fun and unique.

The Camera3 Theater can be fun what with that donut place there.

Thank you both. Those all do sound interesting and worth checking out. Is the downtown area fairly pedestrian friendly? From the suggestions so far we might just find a good parking spot and wander around on foot to see what we can see. And if anyone else would like to chime in, any and all suggestions would continue to be greatly appreciated.

Yes, it is, but there is like NO shopping. Some very nice places to eat, three museums, IMAX, a park, etc.

The owners of the Westfield mall basically arranged it so all the downtown SJ shopping is gone.

There is a good parking structure, between 2nd & 3rd, South of San Fernando.

Mission Santa Clara is actually closer to San Jose than Mission San Jose – if you’re interested in California missions.

And, even though I’m not – on paper – interested in tech, I found the Computer History Museum really fascinating.

I agree with the suggestion of the Rosicrucian Museum. I’ve been to the Tech several times, but I’m not a big fan of it. I’d add the Computer History Museum in Mountain View (not far away) since you’re old enough to remember a lot of the machines in there. They have the PDP-1 used to develop Spacewar, and one of the guides there was one of the Spacewar programmers.

Take a ride up Mount Hamilton and visit the observatory.