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Why rent a car in San Jose?

San Jose is a city in the Santa Clara Valley, in Northern California. Overlooking San Francisco Bay, the city is the thriving hub of the Silicon Valley tech region, yet it’s also rich in art, culture and history. It’s a great location for visiting nearby Californian destinations by hire car, such as San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley and Salinas.

How to get to and around San Jose?

If you’re arriving via San Francisco Airport then it’s a 37-mile drive by rental car to San Jose. En route, you could take a detour to visit Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, a huge green area with amazing views of the Santa Clara Valley.

Hiring a car in San Jose city centre

Finding a hire car in San Jose is simple. You can rent a car from a range of providers at both San Francisco Airport and within San Jose city centre itself. San Jose has a number of paid parking facilities, including San Pedro Square Lot, EZ Park Fly and Victory Parking. San Jose also has a wide variety of hotels to suite a range of budgets, including Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, The Fairmont San Jose and Motel 6 San Jose Convention Center. Various hotels offer free parking for guests so do check before booking.

What brands are available?

There are various hire car providers to suit your budget and preferences, including Alamo, Thrifty and Dollar. Many offer extras like free cancellation, unlimited mileage and zero excess collision cover.

Must-sees within an easy drive of San Jose

There’s much to see and do by hire car in San Jose. Highlights of the city include the San Jose Museum of Art, which celebrates the work of west coast American artists, the massive San Jose City Hall, which includes an 18-storey tower, the 19th century Cathedral Basilica of St Joseph, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and the Children’s Discovery Museum. Other sights to see by rental car in San Jose include the quirky Winchester Mystery House, a 19th century mansion built by an eccentric heiress. The house has 161 rooms and many odd features, including a ‘stairway to nowhere’. You might also enjoy playing a game of Monopoly on the massive board in Discovery Meadow, or visiting Drawbridge, an atmospheric abandoned ‘ghost town’ with a disused railroad track, a 17-mile drive from the city. San Jose is also a great location for exploring nearby beaches, mountains and vineyards.

San Francisco is a 49-mile drive from San Jose by hire car. This iconic city in Northern California known for its world-class arts scene, stunning bay area, mix of architectural styles and fabulous dining. There are plenty of wonderful sights to see by hire car in San Francisco. Highlights include the art deco Golden Gate Bridge, the shopping and dining hub of Union Square and the historic Alcatraz prison, which is open for tours. San Francisco is also famed for being a counterculture hotspot, so don’t forget to visit the iconic City Lights bookstore, home of the 1950s beat scene, and the legendary Golden Gate Park in Haight-Ashbury, famous for being one of the central sites of the 1960s ‘flower power’ movement. Other highlights to visit by rental car in San Francisco include Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Exploratorium science museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Glittering, glamorous, mythical Los Angeles is a 342-mile drive from San Jose. There you can enjoy classic attractions such as Hollywood Boulevard, Universal Studios Hollywood, and nearby Disneyland. Or you could simply enjoy people-watching on vibrant Venice Beach, or sample quirkier attractions like the Velvetaria, a gallery of velvet paintings, or Angels Flight, the shortest railroad in the world.

Tips and tricks for driving in San Jose

Bear in mind that the San Francisco Bay Area has a number of tolled bridges. In California, pedestrians always have right of way. The US is right-hand drive and remember to keep an eye on your mirror, as drivers don’t always indicate a direction change. Every state has different driving laws, so make sure you familiarise yourself with the California ones before your visit.

Ready to plan your San Jose city break?

Feeling inspired to explore San Jose and the rest of California? Check out this City Guide and use the Expedia search tool to help you find the best car hire, flight and hotel deals and to research the best attractions and activities.

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