7 Experiences To Have In San Jose, California

I spent a week in San Jose, California exploring the best of the area with the Tourism Board. I, like many others, know San Jose as Silicon Valley and a tech city, but to be honest – I didn’t do any tech tours or visits during my entire stay!  San Jose has so much to offer its visitors beyond the tech world and that was the focus of this trip.
So here are my favorite 7 experiences to have in San Jose!
Check in at the Luxurious Valencia Hotel 
Located in the beautiful Santana Row, Hotel Valencia is set among the shops. If you ask anyone in the area where Hotel Valencia is their eyes light up and they say “Oh that is right down the street!” The locals even know this property is a shining beacon of luxury and the only hotel in Santana Row.


Santana Row


Santana Row

Offering just 215 rooms and suites, this boutique property has it all. Besides its fabulous location, you will find two on-site restaurants, a full service bar, and a rooftop bar that is open seasonally .. where you can catch an amazing sunset! Did I mention they offer a full continental breakfast with their room rate? And it’s a pretty amazing breakfast with a lot of options.
During my stay I checked into a Deluxe Balcony room. My favorite part of the room was the balcony view overlooking Santana Row. You can’t help but love the area – it is really beautiful, even from new heights. Offering 350 square feet of generous living space, I found the room to be perfect for my stay. The bed was unbelievably comfortable with 300-thread count designer Egyptian cotton linens, and when I touched my head to the pillow each night, I was out like a light! The bathroom was gorgeous, offering an Italian white marble.

Hotel Valencia4

Hotel Valencia

Hotel Valencia5

Hotel Valencia

Room inclusions:
Guest Room Amenities:

  • Custom design by Rottet Studios of Houston
  • 16-foot oak credenzas with custom stenciling
  • Elegant plantation shutters
  • Custom-designed Hotel Valencia beds with oak-plank headboards
  • 50″ flat-panel televisions with High Definition
  • Complimentary wireless Internet
  • Individual climate control
  • Honor Bar
  • Iron and full-sized ironing board
  • Complimentary weekday newspaper, on request
  • Coffeemaker
  • In-room safes
  • Clock radios with smartphone charging and audio capability
  • Handicap Accessible rooms available*

Guest Bath Amenities:

  • Lighted makeup mirror
  • Hairdryers
  • Bath amenities by famed California modern apothecary LATHER®
  • Waffle-weave bathrobes

Sunrise Balcony Views

Hotel Valencia1



Outside the hotel


Balcony views


Santana Row

I would highly recommend dining at Oveja Negra, one of the on-site restaurants. The dining experience here was one of the best I had while in San Jose and the food was incredible. Every dish the chef created looked like a work of art. You could tell he had a real passion about his work and it shined through visually and in taste. If you only get one dish here I HIGHLY recommend the Beer Braised Mussels. I am STILL thinking about how good they were… and I was there about a month ago. Lasting impressions.
Eat your way around town!
You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t  eat some of the delicious food San Jose is serving up. I ate way too much during my stay so I could tell you guys all about how good the food is. Every place I ate at was better than the rest and never once did I eat something that wasn’t delectable!
Some of my favorite restaurants were:

Read more: Foodies Guide to San Jose!


Recess Ice


Huevos Rancheros – Fountain


Cheese and Charcuterie – Fountain


Mussels at Oveja Negra


Fondue Aux Fromages – Left Bank

Visit the Winchester Mystery House
Before visiting I had never even heard of the Winchester Mystery House .. and then after hearing its history I was scared to even go in (I scare easily).. BUT I went anyway because I was fascinated to see what the hype was about. I don’t want to give too much away because you actually learn about the history of the house during a tour – which I recommend you do while visiting. I have never seen anything like this before – the mansion has 160 rooms over 24,000 square feet. The sheer size of this house is incredible – but what is even more fascinating is the stairway that leads to nowhere, the window in the floor, the low level stairs with switchbacks, and why this house is so intense.


Winchester Mystery House


Winchester Mystery House


Winchester Mystery House


Winchester Mystery House


Winchester Mystery House

Find the Street Art 
I actually did not have enough time to see all that I wanted to – BUT I found the best piece in town and that makes up for it.
Visit Wineries
Just outside the city I had the opportunity to visit a couple wineries. They were easy to get to, the wine was amazing and each winery was beautiful in their own way.
These are a must when visiting the area:

Ridge Vineyard is a bit further of a drive than Testarossa and its uphill most of the way, but I promise the wine is sensational and the views are just as great. I would highly recommend doing the private tasting with the food pairing as you get in-depth knowledge and history of the winery. The vineyard almost did not exist and I won’t give anything away but it is definitely worth it to learn about it while there. I did get the chance to taste their current wines and some of their vintage. I am a big fan of red wine (Cabernet to be more exact) and their wines just blew me away. Each wine I tasted was unbelievable .. that typically does not happen for me. There is always a wine I do not like – but Ridge knows what they are doing and that is worth noting.


Views from Ridge Vineyard


Ridge Vineyard


Ridge Vineyard


Ridge Vineyard


Ridge Vineyard


Ridge Vineyard

Testarossa winery has a more laid back vibe with an abundant amount of indoor space of tastings, including several private rooms. We did a tour of the grounds and learned all about the history of the property and how they make their wine.One of my favorite things about this winery is their outdoor patio area – its expansive, beautiful, there was a band playing, and a cute man drawing portraits of people. He would just spot someone and draw them and then bring them their drawing. It was really fun.


Testarossa Winery


Testarossa Winery


Testarossa Winery


Testarossa Winery


Testarossa Winery


Testarossa Winery

Get a massage 
Now I know what you are thinking, “Nicki I can get a massage anywhere” and you are right. However, both my friend and I got a massage in Santana Row at InSpa and both had an incredible massage. This place is not the type of spa you find in a resort or luxury hotel, however it WAS one of the very best massages I have ever had .. and a 2 minute walk from the Hotel Valencia.
Catch a sunset 


Santana Row

If you don’t already know, I am a sunset chaser by trade and lately a sunrise chaser as well. While San Jose is not by the beach – it is a great place to catch some beautiful sunsets in the urban jungle. I was lucky enough to catch 2 during my trip, one of which I was in an UBER and the driver pulled over for me to photograph <3



These are my top picks for visiting San Jose – on my next visit I will make sure to cover the things I didn’t see on this trip!

A big thank you to the San Jose Tourism Board for hosting me during my stay. As always opinions are entirely my own. 



  1. February 24, 2018 / 4:47 pm

    This makes me want to take a road trip to San Jose. I would make a beeline for the Fountain restaurant–those huevos rancheros look ridiculously good!

    • February 24, 2018 / 5:10 pm

      Omg the food there is incredible!!! San Jose was one of those surprising visits for me – I didn’t know exactly what I was getting and came out being one of my favorite cities I have ever been to.

  2. March 1, 2018 / 12:42 pm

    nice post!
    thanks for sharing San Jose photos. it looks really beautiful place.

  3. March 3, 2018 / 11:29 pm

    The courtyard and those sunsets look amazing!

  4. July 14, 2018 / 4:39 pm

    You NAILED it! These are for sure all the things I recommend to tourists— except I haven’t been to those wineries and need to! I usually go to Mountain Winery, but have been wanting to branch out. Thank you for the awesome suggestions! Loveeeed every second of this post!

  5. Marc Fontes
    September 13, 2018 / 12:31 am

    How did you miss Origial Joes?

    • eatlivetraveldrink
      September 17, 2018 / 5:31 pm

      I couldnt eat everywhere – next time!

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