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Destination Guide


Entertainment in San Jose

With such a large and diverse population, San Jose is a melting pot
of entertainment options. You can find it all right here. Everything from
upscale, high-brow drinking establishments to hole-in-the-wall pool halls. San Jose is so sprawling that it tends to seep into its surrounding communities, and because those communities have some very interesting personalities, we decided to include a few of those establishments also. So, lets take a look at some of the hot spots (and local hangouts) that keep San Jose hoppin'.

Let Us Entertain You!

Downtown San Jose is San Franciscos sophisticated younger sister (at least as far as nightlife is concerned). Although the number of clubs do not equal that of San Francisco, there are still a large assortment from which to choose. Most locals enjoy after-work libations in the lobbies of the finer hotels. The beautiful lobby of the Fairmont, for example, is very inviting with an atmosphere of sophistication and upscale elegance.

As far as clubbing it in the San Jose area, there are a few really good spots where the locals love to hang out. The first, Mountain Charlies, is just outside downtown San Jose in Los Gatos. At this dance club, you come as you are and dance to live bands playing mostly 70s and 80s music. Frankly, with all the dance clubs along Los Gatos' Santa Cruz Avenue, if you stroll along that thoroughfare, you are certain to find something. For more club options, see the Drinking and Dining City Guide.

Cyber cafes are few and far between here in Silicon Valley, probably because everyone who lives here owns his or her own computer. However, visitors can send an e-mail to a loved one back home at either the Mountain View Cyber Cafe or the Cyber Cafe in Sunnyvale.

A fun little side jaunt is into and Leather Masters on Park Avenue. Its full of the most incredibly exotic items (leather, lace, hobbles, diamond-studded chains and collars, handcuffs--you get the idea). Or, visit Paramount Imports on Meridian Avenue, a shop for the fearless and a trip back to the 60s. And for the cigar connoisseur, try the Premium Cigar Shop on Satatoga Avenue in San Jose. They stock an excellent selection of stogies and supplies.

Antique lovers will not be disappointed with what San Jose has to offer. And you can hit almost every antique store worth hitting on one street--San Carlos between Meridian and Bascom. Expect to spend the day here, since its strictly one antique shop after the next.

Those who like to try their luck should visit a little piece of Las Vegas right here in San Jose at the Garden City Casino. This card club is known by those who frequent it for its famous Prime Rib.

Movie buffs are in luck with some of the most high-tech theaters in the nation. The new AMC Saratoga 14 Theatre in San Jose boasts stadium seating and awesome sound. The Cinema 3 Cinema and Cafe on Second Street in San Jose shows non-mainstream movies and offers a cafe serving both food and microbrews. For a bit more history, visit the refurbished (but still quaint) Los Gatos Cinema on Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos. It, too, has an outstanding state-of-the-art sound system while retaining the charm of its historic-landmark architecture.

For a taste of cabaret, try the French Quarter Cabaret on Murphy Avenue in downtown Sunnyvale. Locals flock to this place every weekend. And finally, the American Musical Theatre on Technology Drive in San Jose offers a musical experience for everyone your family.

There are a lot of museums in San Jose; some for kids, more for adults, and all for fun! One of the most unusual is the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum featuring artifacts from Egypt and an authentic, reconstructed tomb built in the basement. Kids love the Childrens Discovery Museum where the hands-on atmosphere give kids a real chance to learn while they play. The Youth Science Institute offers incentives for children to focus on science and technology. The big winner for the kids is the Tech Museum of Innovation. Everyone loves this place and its ever-changing exhibits. Kids might also enjoy a quick tour through the San Jose Trolley Barn.

For more family fun, visit the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo and Jungle Fun and Adventure. These are great places to let the kids be kids while they get their kinks out. They can yell and race around with other kids. They love it. Another great spot for kids is Vasona Park in Los Gatos. Here, you can rent canoes or paddleboats and glide along the beautiful parks lake while checking out the ducks and geese who live on the islands and swim around with their babies.

Also, check out Golfland on Blossom Hill Road. Its second to none for miniature golf. And for those who want to really have a thrill, visit Paramounts Great America off Great America Parkway in Santa Clara. This amusement park is open seasonally, so be sure to check their website to confirm operating hours.

If amusement parks is not your thing, then take the kids to Raging Waters, a huge water slide development that is fun for the whole family. For concert-goers, Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View is known not only for the top-notch performers who play here but for the incredible outdoor architecture built for acoustic excellence. Contact TicketMaster.com for event information.

Adults enjoy the San Jose Museum of Art, the Museum Of Quilts and Textiles and the Perala Adobe Fallon House Historic Site.

Art gallery lovers will find some of what they want in San Jose at Bingham Gallery, Bagi and the Machu Picchu Gallery and Museum of the Americas. But, for more galleries, visit Los Gatos, Saratoga, and Palo Alto, which tend to cater to a more artsy clientele. The Cahn Marjorie Gallery of Fine Art and Native American, located in Los Gatos offers, authentic jewelry, artwork and crafts, all for sale. Other galleries in the area include Nirvana, the James Bond Gallery, and Iguana. Saratoga offers the Aegis Gallery Of Fine Art, the Greenleaf Gallery, and Galley Saratoga. Also, don't miss the San Jose Convention and Cultural Center or the Hal Todd Studio Theatre at San Jose State University.

A sports fanatic? Well, San Jose is known for its outdoor lifestyle, and as locals will tell you, there is more than enough to do if you want to stay out in the warm California sunshine. For runners, consult RaceGate.com where you can find information on every race in the U.S. including San Jose. Its a great resource. For those of you who like to mountain bike, try San Antonio Park and for rollerbladers, use the Vasona Trail (a loop from downtown San Jose to the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains).

For a whole different type of fun, try the Celebration Balloon Rides offering hot-air ballooning or the Alum Rock Park and Stables for horseback riding and hiking. The Winchester Mystery House is also a fun place to visit with all its trap doors and miles of ghost stories.

Those interested in the performing arts will enjoy the competent Opera San Jose. The San Jose Symphony is well known for its international performances and is growing in fame and stature. And finally, the San Jose Chamber Music Society offers some great performances.

Just as an aside, the best Farmers Market is held in downtown Mountain View on Evelyn Street. Every Wednesday, the City closes one entire block from 3pm to 6pm. If you want to taste the glorious fruits from this valley, here is where to find them, along with art booths, vegetable stands, and home-made jams, jellies, and other fare.

Local team sports are a favorite, too. The San Jose Arena is home to the San Jose Sharks (hockey) and plays host to numerous other national tennis, basketball, and other professional sporting events. The arena also hosts many rock concerts. Its a very popular venue. Log onto TicketMaster.com for ticket information and event schedule. Visit Georges Arena Grill while you are there. Other local teams play at Spartan Stadium, home to the San Jose Earthquakes (soccer).

For those who love to shop, there are several malls throughout San Jose. The main mall is Valley Fair, a two-story, indoor mall on Stevens Creek Boulevard. For outlet lovers, the short drive to Gilroy offers a huge factory outlet center with top names such as Nike, Guess, Chicago Cutlery, Danskin, Eddie Bauer to name a few. You could spend the entire day (at least) in this one outlet center. The Great Mall in Fremont (10 miles northeast of San Jose) is home to over a hundred outlet stores. And finally, a trip north to Palo Alto will reveal the fabulous Stanford Shopping Center, an outdoor mall featuring only the best in boutiques and brand name department stores.

If you'd like to visit one of the numerous houses of faith while visiting San Jose, try the absolutely stunning architecture and stained glass of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph. Originally built in 1877 and more recently refurbished, this cathedral boasts an Odell mechanical organ that seems to lift the roof every Sunday. The Jubilee Christian Center on North Technology Parkwayis best known for its performing artists put on quite a show for the parishioners. MC Hammer (among others) has been known to belt out some incredible vocals on a Sunday morning. Eastern religion is represented with the beautiful Duldzin Dragpa Buddhist center on Campbell Avenue in Campbell. This is worth a visit even if you're not of the Buddhist faith.

Heather Shaw