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Destination Guide


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 Clara Valley.

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 Highway).

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 San Jose.

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.

Heather Shaw