visit to San Jose CA; day trip or 2 day trip

I’m familiar a bit with the area and have been dragged around to Monterrey Bay Aquarium, San Francisco, Mt. Hamilton etc. and very likely will do something like this again.

Any specific ideas on where I should consider. We will have 3 days total to tool around and I’m very much ok with going out into the state away from the Bay area for that time…or we can spend the time going from place to place sticking close to the Bay.
Open for suggestions!

Can you narrow down your ideas of what makes a fun activity? From your OP, I can’t tell if you enjoyed your previous visit. (“Dragged around”…) Hiking? Birding? Skiing? Shopping? Museums? Dining? Wine tasting? Rock climbing? Whale watching? We have all these and more within a day of San Jose.

What time of year will you be here?

Tech Museum.

What sort of things do you like to do?

Youre not going to be there on superbowl weekend?

The Tech Museum is the obvious one. Japantown is okay. If you are into tech stuff, you can visit the Intel Museum. It’s free, I think and won’t take you that long, but it is mildly interesting. Even better is the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. You see a theme? The Stanford Campus is not bad to walk around. There are a few good used book stores, if that appeals.
But San Jose in general is not a tourist-friendly city. All the Superbowl events are happening in San Francisco for a reason. Not that I’m complaining - I work just a few blocks from Levi’s, and I’m glad we’re not getting major road closures or demonstrations.

This will be mid April.
My wife is not a fan of museums for some reason, but expressed an interest in Fisherman’s Wharf. She might be interested in Napa valley; seeing the ocean is probably a must, though I expect the weather to be poor for much enjoyment in the water.

I’m thinking a drive out to Reno and Susanville and back. I know there are volcanic type things in the area. Anything along that route that might be a must stop and see?

Another vote for the Computer History Museum. I think the Tech Museum is kind of meh, but sometimes the traveling exhibitions are worth the price of admission.

The Winchester Mystery House is way overpriced, but I think it’s worth a visit.

If you like redwoods head for the Santa Cruz Mountains. Henry Cowell State Park is the most accessible, but other parks like Big Basin, Butano, Portola, etc are just as nice. You can go zip lining from tree to tree in Mount Hermon. If you like road trip kitsch and have a few minutes to kill, there’s the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton.

A great day trip is to drive up 280 from San Jose, cut over to Pacifica and spend the day cruising down the coast to Santa Cruz, stopping wherever the mood suits you.

Stanford has a couple of good art museums–The Cantor and The Anderson Collection. There’s a cool Andy Goldsworthy “sculpture” there too, the Stone River.

edit–missed the bit about your wife not being a fan of museums.

SJ-Reno-Susanville isn’t a trip I would recommend to anyone wanting to see volcanic stuff. The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway is a neat drive with lots of stuff to check out, but the road through Lassen and Crater Lake’s Rim Drive won’t be open in April.

Do you realize it’s like a 4 hour drive to Reno from San Jose? Susanville is like 5½ hrs. Are you thinking you will stay over in Reno? It is not a day trip from the Bay Area.

Lassen is great but it isn’t a day trip from San Jose either - not if you want to spend any time there, that is.
Muir Woods could be a good bet.

Fisherman’s Wharf is pretty touristy. I prefer the Ferry Building myself, and you can take a ferry to Jack London Square in Oakland. And there is Alcatraz.

But you see the problem - you ask about San Jose, but you talk about San Francisco.
The Santa Cruz Boardwalk is fun. The weather should be fine, but it will probably be a bit too cold to swim.
BTW, when planning, don’t expect to be able to get from one place to another at the speed limit unless you are far from rush hour, which is 6 am - 10:30 am and 2:30 pm to 7:30 pm on good days. Our economy is booming and the roads are in a state of near gridlock.

I’m actually expecting to spend overnight outside of San Jose, so hoteling it was the plan all along, sorry for the misunderstanding with me calling it a ‘day trip’. We actually will* have* to spend the night (or two) away from our San Jose accommodations…its Mom’s house, and I don’t want to cause undue stress on her by sticking around for multiple nights.

The Redwoods suggestions sound like a good idea I hadn’t thought of.

Been to Yosemite? Perfectly reasonable overnighter from SJ; usually really nice in April.

April is also some of the nicest weather on the coast. But it’s always too cold to swim in the ocean in northern California.

April can be some of the best times at the ocean. The water is cold year-round, so don’t even think about that-- you don’t swim w/o a wetsuit. What you want is fog-free, and April is one of the best months for that. I would forget Napa and do a wine/ocean trip. Plenty of excellent wineries in the Santa Cruz mountains. If you go “over the hill” to the ocean, hit Bonny Doon tasting room in Davenport (10 miles north of Santa Cruz) and then head back down the coast for more tasting in the Capitola/Aptos area. Santa Cruz itself is worth skipping.

If you’re really interested in a wine tour of the area, I can give you lots of suggestions.

That’s a lot of driving, mostly thru empty country. I’d put that on the back burner and do something over on the coast.

Some more stuff. Bodega Bay is a nice little town, especially if you are a fan of The Birds. The schoolhouse in the movie is in the town of Bodega a few miles inland. There are lots of nice little parks to stop and look over the ocean - but it’s rocky and in most places you can’t get to the water - and won’t want to, seeing the waves. Just north of there is Fort Ross, which was build by the Russians when they were in California. South of that is Point Reyes, with a nice lighthouse.

There are a few nice quaint towns, like Sebastapool, between Bodega Bay and I5. And lots of forest. Even further up is Ft. Bragg and Mendocino. I like Ft. Bragg better myself.

I second John Mace. There’s lots of stuff to do in the Santa Cruz Mountains. All kinds of wineries. Great Redwoods. Fantastic views. Great hikes. If you decide to head that way, I can throw some suggestions out too.

Another vote for outdoorsy day-tripping and scenery-seeing, if that’s your thang. I suggest points Northward, in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa counties, and maybe even as far as Lake County (northeast of Napa County), or Mendocino area (north of Sonoma County), as several others above have mentioned. Lots of redwoods. Lots of places to go hiking, both mild and strenuous. Lots of coastline. Lots of those little “bucolic” villages, many of them rather touristy these days.

But there’s a fair amount of a lot of similar, south towards Santa Cruz and beyond, all much closer to San Jose area. Big Basin, and Sanborn-Skyline County park are very close. Redwoods fu! Hiking trails fu! Banana slugs fu!

If you’re in the Fisherman’s Wharf or Ferry Building area (as mentioned above), consider also the brand-spanking-sparkling-new Exploratorium. If you visit the brand-spanking-sparkling-new Cal Academy of Sciences (thoroughly fugly on the outside, IMNSHO) or anywhere else in Golden Gate Park, there’s also that big art museum just across the path from there and the Strybing Arboretum just across the path on the other side – a HUMONGOUS international botanical garden.

A word of caution, since no one has mentioned it: State Route 9: Very scenic drive through San Lorenzo River canyon, from Saratoga area (vicinity of San Jose), redwoods, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, other parks, “bucolic” villages, the works – to Santa Cruz —

Road is closed just a bit north of Santa Cruz and south of Felton, last I looked, and apparently has been for the last year or so. No idea if or when it will be open again. You have to make some detours to get around that spot.

ETA: Last couple times I was in that area, the big warning sign on the road said something like “Road Closing in February”, but that seems to mean LAST February (2015) or maybe even the year before that (2014).

Exploratorium web site if you’re interested.