48 hours in San Jose

By Edmund Vallance, California-based travel writer.

Photography by timnewman/Getty Images

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San Jose serves as the headquarters for some of the world’s most prestigious tech companies, but the so-called capital of Silicon Valley has much more to offer. California-based writer Edmund Vallance shares his lowdown on how to make the most of the city in just 48 hours.

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Leben Sie sich erst einmal ein

British Airways’ daily direct flight to San Jose arrives mid-afternoon – just in time to check into your hotel and head out for a cocktail and a bite to eat. Fairmont San Jose offers excellent upscale accommodation if you plan to stay in the heart of the action downtown. For tech-savvy travellers, the reasonably priced Aloft is located in neighbouring Cupertino, a few minutes’ walk from the Apple headquarters on Infinity Loop.

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Close to Cupertino and downtown, the palm-fringed boulevard known as Santana Row is a hip neighbourhood crammed with upscale restaurants, boutiques and bars.

21.00 – Post-flight indulgence

Close to Cupertino and downtown, the palm-fringed boulevard known as Santana Row is a hip neighbourhood crammed with upscale restaurants, boutiques and bars. Try Left Bank Brasserie for Parisian-style cuisine or Sino for top-notch Cantonese Dim Sum.

  • Enjoy a palm tree paradise at the Fairmont San Jose.

    Tech town

    Fairmont San Jose is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, home of Apple Inc, Facebook, Netflix and Yahoo’s headquarters, as well as a famously vibrant start up scene.

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  • Admire the decadent Jazz-age décor at the California Theatre, San Jose.

    State sign

    The California Theatre’s neon-lit vertical sign and marquee are topped by flashing red poppies – a homage to the official state flower of California, which grows wild through the state.

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  • Tuck into an elegant dinner at The Table in Willow Glen, San Jose.

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    Try one of The Table’s two signature burgers, including the ‘Impossible Burger’, a juicy, meat-tasting patty made entirely of plant-based ingredients designed to taste like the real thing.

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09.00 – Midtown morning

There’s no better way to start your day than a hearty meal at The Breakfast Club, a newly opened midtown eatery offering omelettes, pancakes, and steaks. If you’re feeling adventurous try The Bulldog, a rip-roaring alternative to a Bloody Mary consisting of gin, sriracha sauce and celery salt.

11.00 – Culture vulture

Venture into the heart of downtown, and check out the permanent collection of 20th- and 21st-century works at The San Jose Museum of Art. The building is small and easily walkable, ideal for an early morning culture fix. Afterwards, dive into the city’s colonial past on a tour of Mission San Jose, an 18th-century Franciscan monastery with a picture-perfect chapel.

13.00 – Say hello to Palo

If you’re keen to rub shoulders with the titans of tech, consider treating yourself to lunch in the well-healed neighbouring city of Palo Alto. Sample farm-to-table Californian fare at the wood-panelled Saint Michael’s Alley, a legendary brasserie that helped launch the careers of Joan Baez, The Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane.

15.30 – Tech tours

Embrace the modern age on a self-guided tour of San Jose’s top tech destinations. Start at the newly opened Apple Park Visitor Centre, which features an interactive 3D model of Apple’s brand new Cupertino campus. Afterwards, stop for a selfie at Facebook’s new Frank Gehry-designed headquarters. Then finish off with a trip to The Tech Museum of Innovation where you can try out a NASA jetpack at the space-engineering exhibit.

  • Drink, buy and play at the new Apple Park Visitor Centre, Cupertino.

    Apple of my eye

    At the Apple Park Visitor Center guests can shop exclusive Apple merchandise, take an augmented tour of the iconic Apple Park, and even order drinks and snacks at the iPad-controlled coffee bar.

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19.30 – Asian delight

With a population of over 150,000, San Jose’s Little Saigon has more Vietnamese residents than any other city in the world outside of Vietnam. The food court in Grand Century Mall offers a smorgasbord of Vietnamese specialties, including soups, spring rolls and shrimp cakes. After your meal, walk to nearby Nuoc Mia Vien Dong to satisfy your craving for sweet Boba tea and Pandan waffles – a match made in foodie heaven.

22.00 – Vintage adventures

Sip craft cocktails with the city’s movers and shakers at Five Points, a Manhattan-inspired speakeasy on one of downtown’s most fashionable strips. Try Paradise Square, a potent concoction of vodka, pineapple, orange blossom and egg white. Just around the corner, catch a classical concert or an opera performance at the California Theatre, a lovingly restored 1920s movie theatre-turned-music venue.

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11.00 – Run for the hills

After omelettes and bottomless mimosas at The Table, an elegant brunch spot downtown, burn off the calories with a walk in the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve. A 30-minute drive from the city centre, this 1312-acre park offers a range of trails through grassland ridges and redwood forests. Hikers are rewarded with sweeping views of Stanford University and the surrounding valley.

15.00 – Period piece

Fans of spooky period dramas should not miss Winchester Mystery House, the shooting location for Winchester, the 2018 movie, starring Helen Mirren. Take a guided tour of the Victorian mansion once owned by Helen Winchester, heiress to a firearms fortune. But keep your wits about you – the house’s 160 rooms have a reputation for being haunted.

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