Tours within San Jose
Walking tours through San Jose are difficult because the city is so
expansive. In lieu of this, we have one walking tour (through a rose
garden and museum) and two driving tours. It is possible, however, to park
downtown (near South First Street) and make a day of visiting the
Discovery Museum, the Tech Museum of Innovation and an event at the Civic
Center because they all sit within two blocks of one another.
The tour through the rose garden and the museum can take as long as you'd
like it to take and no driving is involved because they, too, are all near
each other, within one city block. The tour is peaceful and informative
while keeping you within the city limits.
The first driving tour is an all day event and takes you through much of
the California countryside, through fields and across rustic bridges, over
mountain passes and into county parks. It also takes you past the Pacific
coastline and through Santa Cruz county. This tour is a loop. The drive is
rural and long, on sometimes windy roads. But it is worth it!
The second driving tour is more of a mix between a scenic journey and a
shopping excursion. It offers a much shorter drive to a vista overlooking
the entire Santa Clara Valley, then a drop into a wonderfully, quaint town
full of shopping treasures and options for food.
Tour One: A Walk Through the Park and Into a Tomb
San Jose Municipal Rose Garden and the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum are
within one city block of one another on Park Avenue and Naglee in San Jose
(about five minutes from downtown South First Street). This is a short,
excursion through one of the most beautiful rose gardens in all of Santa
From downtown, take Park Avenue to Naglee and turn right into the parking
lot of the Rosicrucian Museum. From there, walk one block west on Naglee
to the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden (about a quarter of a mile). This
is a great place for a picnic. Spend as much time as you'd like appreciating
the spectacular blooms and the rich scents that hang in the air when the
garden is in full bloom. When you've had your fill of roses, simply retrace
your steps back one block to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum where you
can view an authentic Egyptian tomb thats been painstakingly reconstructed
within the museum. You'll also find an assortment of smaller Egyptian
artifacts. This museum if often overlooked because it sits in a residential
area of San Jose and not downtown where the other museums reside. It is
fabulous and even the kids will enjoy the tomb tour!
Tour Two: A Scenic Day Drive Through Two Counties:
Ask your hotel concierge desk for the fastest way to get to McKean Road
via Almaden Expressway. From Almaden Expressway, exit on Almaden Road and
follow it until it dead ends. Then take McKean Road (a left) and begin
your journey. McKean road passes Calero Reservoir and County Park, the
Cinnabar Hills Golf Club and some beautiful countryside. Remain on McKean
until it becomes Uvas Road. You will drive into and out of Uvas Reservoir
Park--ideal for a picnic. Continue on Uvas until you reach the
intersection and fork in the road. Turning right puts you one Watsonville
Road and a left puts you on Day Road. Turn right onto Watsonville Road and
continue right on Hecker Pass Road (not to be confused with Hecker Pass
You will now be traveling through Mount Madonna County Park. Note the
difference in elevation and the landscape that turns from hills and
pastures to redwood forests. Continue on Hecker Pass Road and soon you
will cross from Santa Clara County into Santa Cruz County. You will then
enter the Pajaro Valley Memorial Park. Stop here and take a short walk to
stretch your legs. There are short (and long) hiking trails here. It is a
beautifully peaceful place to unwind.
After you exit the park and reach the intersection of Casserly Road, you
will notice that Hecker Pass Road turns into East Lake Avenue. Follow East
Lake to Main Street. Turn right on Main Street and follow to Highway 1. Go
North on Highway 1 (this is the coastal highway that runs along the
Pacific for the entire length of California). You are now in Watsonville
and traveling toward the beach city of Santa Cruz. Follow Highway 1
through the town of Santa
Cruz (to hit the beach, take the Beach Street exit and follow the signs)
and then take Highway 17 North to San Jose. Follow Highway 17 up and over
the Santa Cruz mountains. Again, you will notice the terrain that quickly
changes from beach and sand to dense forests. Highway 17 drops you off in
Los Gatos at the foot of the Santa Clara Valley. Follow the signs to back
Tour Three: A Road Trip with a View
This road trip should take half a day. Ask your concierge desk at your
hotel for directions to the town of Saratoga.
Once you are in downtown Saratoga (Big Basin Way, also known as Highway
9), stop for a cup of coffee at the fantastic International Coffee
Exchange, a great coffee shop and bakery. Get a cup of Joe to go and
continue your trek up Big Basin Way (be prepared to share the road with
raging bicyclists in large, road hogging groups). Follow Big Basin Way to
the top where you will hit Skyline Road (Highway 35). Turn left (south)
and park in the rest stop/vista. Sit on a big rock and watch the entire
Santa Clara valley enjoying a beautiful day.
From here, get back on Skyline (south or left) and follow the beautifully
scenic road, passing through the Saratoga Gap and Open Space Reserve and
the Sanborn/Skyline County Park until it drops you onto Highway 17. Go
north on Highway 17, passing the Lexington Reservoir. At the foot of the
valley, take the Los Gatos/Santa Cruz Avenue exit. You are now in the
quaint town of Los Gatos.
Drive down the main street of Santa Cruz Avenue and park in any of the
public parking spaces. Window shop or have lunch in any of the places on
either Santa Cruz Avenue or University Avenue (these streets run parallel
to one another, separated only by one block).
To return to San Jose, simply take Santa Cruz Avenue to Highway 9 and turn
right, then follow the signs back onto Highway 17 (toward San Jose) and
continue on. From here, follow the signs to San.