Visiting a museum is always a unique experience, as each one has its own distinct characteristics, style, and of course, content. Museum subjects vary greatly from city to city, and can range from firefighter's museums to fine art, to sports. If you need help making a selection, our 10Best list highlights the top spots to visit in San Jose.


The Computer History Museum is dedicated to preserving the artifacts and history of the devices that brought about the modern Information Age. On display are all types of computers spanning the first generation behemoths to new streamlined devices that easily fit in your pocket. Also on hand are some of the first mechanical computers ever invented such as IBM sorting machines and the 150 year old Babbage Engine along with well over 1,000 other artifacts for you to thoroughly geek-out over.

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The Center for Beethoven Studies finds its home on the campus of San Jose State University. If you are an aficionado of classical music, especially that of the great German composer, then this museum is a definite "must see." Included in the collection are early editions of his music, memorabilia, and original manuscripts.

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Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

The Children's Museum, a contemporary structure whose purple façade is fairly easy to spot, was designed with three concepts in mind: Community, Connections and Creativity. Indeed, kids – and their parents – are invited to participate in various interactive exhibits, ranging from technology to the arts. Many of the patrons' favorite exhibit is "WaterWays," an exhibit that teaches about the properties of water and includes a working canal system.

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San Jose is home to the oldest quilt museum in the United States, and the unique facility hosts ever-changing exhibitions of textile arts from around the world. In fact, if you visit expecting to see only a collection of traditional quilts, you'll be happily surprised to discover a wealth of contemporary items too. Great displays beautifully document where quilts have been and where the art form is going, thanks to talented folks from far-flung locales.

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Originally founded in San Jose in 1965, the Triton moved to Santa Clara shortly after its opening. The museum, as always, showcases modern art from the Valley and the Bay areas and hosts several international exhibits each year, along with offering lectures and classes. Photographs, watercolors, wood block prints, and more are among the media displayed, and Native American works from the 19th and 20th centuries are also highlighted. Among the facilities employed are four pavilions and seven acres of land.

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If you're entranced by the culture, technology, and philosophy of ancient peoples, you'll definitely want to visit this museum, which boasts one of California's most extensive collections of ancient Egyptian art and artifacts. Tour a replica of a tomb, see a garden of palms and papyrus, and marvel at a few mummies. The museum's planetarium shows films that coincide with the era, seeking to elucidate how people thought and responded to the world in their day.

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This open-air museum focuses on the history of the city and the Valley. Within its approximately 25 acres are a replica of San Jose's original Main Street, a fire station, and an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor. You can also visit a hotel, print shop, doctor's office, blacksmith, and one-room schoolhouse. In addition, the campus boasts an exhibit gallery and hosts several special events throughout the year.

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This marvelous art museum focuses on contemporary California art. The museum's collection includes paintings, photography, glasswork, and sculptures. Special exhibits by the likes of Dale Chihuly, whose chandeliers adorn the museum's main entranceway, are quite common. The museum also hosts poetry readings, seminars, and opera recitals. Patrons will find jewelry, books, and unique gift items at the Museum Store.

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The noisy Tech Museum of Innovation, located on the Cesar Chavez Plaza, isn't too hard to find for its bright orange exterior tends to capture the eye. This is a great place for kids to be kids and adults to follow suit. Here, you can hop behind the wheel of a remote control Martin or do a test run on the same virtual simulator that the U.S. bobsled team used during their training. Other exhibits include laser technology, robotics, and space exploration.

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The Intel Museum, despite its modest size, is an interesting place for adults and children of all ages. At this museum, you can learn a little about the history of both the Intel Corporation and Silicon Valley as a whole, including an interesting exhibit that explains the genesis of a computer chip. The museum store is located across from the museum and carries a nice selection of souvenirs and gift items.

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