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Sightseeing



Putting together an itinerary for seeing all the best sights this vacation? Perhaps you've got a few hours to kill between business meetings, and want to know the best stuff to see. Either way, our 10Best list should have you covered. While there are always great things to experience, there are typically things you wish you would have passed on as well. Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph located in the Downtown area is among our top picks for sightseeing in San Jose.


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Mexican Heritage Plaza

This is one of the states largest multipurpose centers dedicated to the furthering of Latino culture. The Mexican Heritage Plaza contains beautiful thematic gardens, a Pavilion area, a 500-seat theatre, a 4000-foot exhibition space called La Galería, and several offices and classrooms. This facility hosts several exhibits, concerts, and festivals each year and offers suitable facilities for corporate meetings.

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Peralta Adobe


Dating back to the late 18th century, Peralta Adobe is the only vestige of the original El Pueblo de San José, one of the state's earliest Spanish settlements. Inside, the pueblo is furnished in much the same fashion as it was 200 years ago, and outside is an outdoor fireplace. Your ticket also gets you into the Fallon House across the street.

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This multi-domed basilica dates to the 1870s, although it's actually the fifth incarnation of the church. Furthermore, the cathedral basilica stands on the former site of the city's first church, St. Joseph Church, an adobe structure dating to 1803. Inside the building are stunning stained glass windows and a unique pipe organ. Open, airy, and elegant, the cathedral basilica is a lovely place to worship and to marvel at art, history, and architecture.

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Guadalupe River Park and Gardens


Guadalupe River Park and Gardens is a 150-acre natural haven in the heart of San Jose. In addition to being a refuge for migratory and song birds, the three-mile long riverside park offers 2½ miles of scenic walks and jogging trails. Located adjacent are the Guadalupe Gardens, which feature over 3700 varieties of roses. River Park and Gardens hosts several festivals and concerts each year and provides ample picnic facilities for folks with outdoor dining in mind. A benefit of the park is that it serves as a buffer for potential river flooding that could harm downtown San Jose.

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California's Great America


California's Great America, located just north of San Jose, offers some of the best family-oriented fun in the South Bay area. The park is a great place to spend an afternoon, and you'll find a wide range of entertainment from rides and play areas to games and shows. Great America is the home of such rides as the "Demon," the "Drop Zone," a James Bond ride called "License to Thrill," "Stealth," the world's first flying roller coaster; and an IMAX theater.

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In the heart of San Jose, nestled between Taylor and Spring Streets, is this five-acre rose garden. Dedicated in 1995, it's maintained by volunteers and features more than 5,000 rose bushes and 3700 varieties. If you're looking for a peaceful place to enjoy a lunch break or just to stare in awe at spectacular, fragrant specimens, then scout out one of the benches and do just that. Heritage, modern, and miniature roses are all on display.

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Kelley Park, a 160-plus acre public park, offers an excellent break from the traffic and noise of downtown San Jose. This picnicker's paradise includes several ponds, the idyllic Japanese Friendship Garden, and several lawn areas. San Jose's Happy Hollow Park and Zoo and the San Jose Historical Museum also are located here.

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Drop Zone


The "Drop Zone" is one of Great America's most popular attractions. This thrilling ride gives you all of four seconds to take in the view of the surrounding valley before dropping you over 200 feet at speeds that are in excess of 60 miles per hour. This freefall is one of the longest in the world.

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Sarah Winchester, heiress of the famous rifle family, began this Victorian mansion in 1884. She firmly believed that, if construction ever stopped on her home, spirits would harm her, so she had carpenters work on the house for the rest of her life – until 1922. The result was this 160-room behemoth located in downtown San Jose. All of the antiques and oddities inspired locals to dub the home "The Mystery House." When you tour the home, you'll see silver and gold chandeliers, forty-seven fireplaces, Tiffany windows, and numerous dead-ends and stairs that lead nowhere. The "Behind the Scenes Tour" allows you to tour previously unopened sections of the home. There is also a Winchester rifle exhibit on the grounds that is a "must see." Children 9 and under not allowed on the Grand Estate tour and the Behind the Scenes tour due to safety concerns.

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