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Over the centuries San Jose has been settled by many groups of people - Native Americans were encountered by European missionaries, who were followed by Mexican conquerors before California became part of the United States. Today, of course, San Jose is dominated by the microchip. The capital of Silicon Valley, tech hub of the world, San Jose is base of operations for Facebook, Netflix, Google and Apple and dozens of other dotcom success stories. With its sprawling urban area and sunny Mediterranean climate, this is a city overflowing with attractions for the visitor, from enthralling museums to world-class restaurants, outdoor activities to family-friendly theme parks.
Downtown - This is a city known for its diversity, and nowhere is this more evident than San Jose’s Downtown district where you’ll find an eclectic range of restaurants catering to every budget and every appetite, from seafood to burritos, steaks to pizza. If you have the family in tow, the huge Children’s Discovery Museum is absolutely unmissable, brimming with fun scientific discoveries.
Willow Glen - An affable community featuring tree-lined walkways and all manner of independent shops, bars and coffee shops. Willow Glen is where you come when you want to get away from it all for a while. Browse vintage shops, people-watch from sidewalk cafes, or grab a spot of lunch at this week’s trendy eatery.
Japantown - Rich in heritage, Silicon Valley’s Japantown is one of the last-surviving in the United States, and though today it presents a modern face, still it retains a uniquely Japanese character, welcoming and peaceful. Sunday mornings see a fascinating and mouth-watering Japanese farmers’ market take place.
West San Jose - Upscale dining and entertaining make West San Jose a popular stop for visitors, but perhaps the biggest attraction here is the Winchester Mystery House, built in various architectural styles ranging from the confusing to the outright bizarre. It’s said by many to be haunted, and that the stairs-to-nowhere and windows that overlook other rooms are deliberately placed to trick the ghosts.
You can easily lose a day in the Tech Museum of Innovation, with four huge zones dealing with everything from genetics to energy efficiency. Older kids will love the section where they can design and build their own robots. There’s a vast collection of contemporary art on display at the San Jose Museum of Art, while just out of town you can climb into the Santa Cruz Mountains for hiking trails, sumptuous views and even a spot of wine-tasting.
Exploring the Winchester Mystery House is a fun way to spend a morning with the kids, as is the Children’s Discovery Museum where they can learn about everything from woolly mammoths to water vortexes, and how to create giant bubbles. Splash out on some stylish fashion creations when you visit outdoor mall Santana Row in West San Jose, or explore temples and Buddhist culture in Japantown.