Travel Page: San Jose and Silicon Valley

By

by Aaron Feigenbaum.

Best known as the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, San Jose is a beautiful, high-tech, modern city that is too often delegated as a rest stop on the road from L.A. to San Francisco.

Consider taking a day or two to visit San Jose, and you will be richly rewarded by the city’s cozy, suburban atmosphere and the many interesting attractions it has to offer.

The history of San Jose goes all the way back to 1777 when it was founded by the Spanish explorer José Joaquin Moraga who also built the Presidio of San Francisco. The town moved from its original location (now Fremont, CA) to what is now called Pueblo Plaza in the Downtown area. San Jose became part of Mexico in 1821 and the U.S. in 1849 after California joined the Union.

Around the time of WWII, a shift from agriculture to industry, as well as ethnic tensions, caused massive unrest in the still-developing city. However, the city began to boom soon after the war with companies including IBM making San Jose their home. With the digital revolution of the late 1990‘s and early 2000‘s, many other well-known tech companies including Ebay, Cisco, and Adobe decided that this third-largest city in California would be an ideal spot for their headquarters. San Jose is now a prosperous, forward-thinking metropolis that is at once sophisticated and friendly.

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What to See and Do:

Children’s Discovery Museum: Nationally renowned as one of America’s top 10 children’s museums, the C.D.S. is an absolute blast for kids. From climbing on a fire truck to building a foam-block fortress to frolicking in the water-play zone, your kids will have an unforgettable, fun-packed experience. Admission is $12 for both children and adults, but even that reasonable fee can be reduced significantly if you purchase a Groupon deal.

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Tech Museum of Innovation: For something a little more adult-oriented (but still kid-friendly), check out this beautiful science and technology museum located right in the heart of Downtown. There’s plenty of exciting activities like experiencing an earthquake, building and interacting with robots, composing a song, and even growing jellyfish DNA. There are also exhibits relating to the Internet and the pioneering research being done by Silicon Valley start-ups. Don’t forget to head over to the IMAX Theater (check the website for current shows). Admission for the museum is $15 per adult/$10 for children or $20 for adults and $15 for children if you go for the museum/theater combo.

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Santana Row: If you’re in the mood for some shopping, then definitely check out the upscale Santana Row. You can find everything from luxury clothes to furniture and electronics. Think of it as The Grove of San Jose.

San Jose Municipal Rose Garden: Feeling a bit worn out in the hustle and bustle of San Jose? Then why not take a free stroll through this idyllic park with over 4,000 roses representing almost 200 different species. All these beautiful flowers surround a gorgeous fountain which serves as a perfect spot for capturing a special moment.

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Just Outside San Jose:

Mountain View, CA: Just 15 minutes away from San Jose lies this one-time stagecoach stop which is now a high-tech wonderland. Perhaps the most renowned attraction is Google’s headquarters, the aptly named Googleplex. Feel free to drive by it, but tours are a no-no unless you have connections. Otherwise, the trip to Mountain View is well-worth your time just for the excellent Computer History Museum alone. This one-of-a-kind museum features many artifacts that were crucial to the development of computers and the Internet. Some of these include the first supercomputers, the Apple I, and Google’s very first web servers. You can also view an exhibit that traces the history of computing all the way from ancient times with the abacus to the Internet of now. Basic admission is $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and free for children 12 and younger.

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Santa Clara, CA: Just 10 minutes from downtown San Jose, Santa Clara offers two great attractions. One is the Intel museum located at Intel headquarters. You can see displays on the history of the company and on chip technology. The exhibits are a bit on the technical side so they may or may not be your cup of tea, but admission is free so you might want to consider it. For something a little more thrilling, take your whole family to California’s Great America amusement park. There, you have a huge variety of attractions including 8 different roller coasters, a gondola lift, bumper cars, a heart-pounding drop tower, a beautiful carousel set on a lake, and a 4-D theater. A 4-pack or more ticket is $37.99 while a two or more ticket is $42.99.

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Eat and Daven:

San Jose has a number of frum shuls to choose from including:

Am Echad: 1504 Meridian Ave, (408) 267-2591, amechag.org
Chabad of San Jose: 15405 Los Gatos lvd. #204, (408) 358-5530, chabadsj.com
Ahavas Torah (Sephardic): 1537A Meridian Avenue, (408)-266-2342, ahava.org

The closest kosher restaurant to San Jose is Jerusalem Grill and Bar in the suburb of Campbell, located at 1740 S. Winchester, (408)-866-2666, Jerusalemgrillbar.com. You can also head over to Pars Kosher Market right in San Jose at 3978 S. Bascom Ave S., (650) 996-2742.

Getting There:

San Jose is 5 hours from L.A. The most direct route is to take the 5 to the 152 to the 101 to the 85 and then the 87. If you prefer to fly, flights usually cost around $200 round trip. Both Greyhound and Amtrak tickets go for as little as $55 per person round trip.

Trivia:

-San Jose was briefly California’s capital from 1849 to 1852 and became connected with San Francisco as an agricultural distribution point in 1864.

-San Jose is #1 in the U.S. in both patent creation and median household income.

-San Jose had once been known as one of America’s safest cities, but according to a report last year crime is now above the national average.