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el2995 San Jose - A travel report by USC
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San Jose,  United States - flag United States -  California
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el2995's travel reports

San Jose and Vicinity

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San Jose, about 50 miles South of San Francisco, is the largest of the cities that make up Silicon Valley, and is usually associated with innovation and cutting-edge technology. The victim of sibling rivalry at the hands of “The City By The Bay” to the North and generally held in lower regard, the city is up and coming, with a once shabby downtown that has evolved into a center for commerce and entertainment. The city has taken quite a hit given the demise of the dot.com sector and the economy in general, but continues to thrive. The city and its surrounding communities (Milpitas, Fremont, Santa Clara, Cupertino) have a lot to offer the visiting tourist.

Favourite spots:
San Jose is home to several museums that definitely warrant a visit. The San Jose Museum of Art, housed in a structure that artfully merges modern architecture with an old sandstone building from the 1800’s, hosts a variety of traveling exhibits from both local and well-known artists. The nearby Tech Museum of Innovation showcases the fruits of the valley’s labor with a myriad of hands-on displays of leading-edge technologies. The Rosecrusian Museum and Planetarium, near San Jose’s Municipal Rose Garden, contains a collection of authentic Egyptian antiquities, including an impressive assortment of human and animal mummies, in addition to high-fidelity recreations of other historical artifacts. The famous Winchester Mystery House is another top draw to the area, which also houses a collection of historic Winchester rifles. In East San Jose is Kelly Park, with its children’s amusement park, zoo, and sizeable Japanese Friendship Gardens. Also check out San Jose's Japantown.

What's really great:
Perhaps the best thing about San Jose and the surrounding area its the cultural diversity. San Jose still retains its Mexican heritage with a large Latino population, but in part because of the draw of high-tech jobs has become home to a thriving Asian community, of which the Vietnamese make up a major part in East San Jose. This cultural mix means an abundance of ethnic restaurants (Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean, Korean, Filipino, Burmese, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican), a variety of ethnic festivals and numerous ethnic neighborhoods with indigenous business establishments, community centers, movie theaters and houses of worship (e.g, Hindu Jane temples, Chinese, Burmese, Japanese and Vietnamese Buddhist temples).

Sights:
Santa Cruz Beach/Boardwalk is about an hour's drive South on Hwy 880/17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains (scenic but not for the motion sickness-prone). Milpitas has the Don Edwards Wildlife Preserve at the South end of the San Francisco Bay and Ed Levin County Park with hiking trails. Check out Fremont's Mission Peak Park for a hike that will give you a view of the whole valley and even San Francisco. Vasona Lake and Park in Los Gatos is nice, as is Hakone Japanese Garden in Saratoga.


Accommodations:
There are several nice hotels right in downtown San Jose, the most noteworthy being the Fairmont Hotel in the city center, which is walking distance from the Museum of Art, The Tech Museum, the Center for the Performing Arts, movie theaters and a wide selection of ethnic restaurants, pubs and clubs.

Nightlife:
J.J.'s Blues Cafe; locations in Santa Clara and San Jose. If you go in for gentlemen's clubs, check out The Pink Poodle in San Jose and The Kit Kat Club in Sunnyvale (both fully-nude clubs follow the "No Clothes, No Booze" rule; if you'd rather drink and see girls in bikinis gyrate, try The Brass Rail in Sunnyvale.)


Restaurants:
My favorites are Banana Leaf in Milpitas (Malaysian), Sneha in Sunnyvale (Indian buffet), Seoul Restaurant in Milpitas (Korean barbeque), Straits Cafe in Palo Alto (Singaporean), Fu Lam Moon and Mayflower in Milpitas (Dim Sum), Jade Garden in San Jose (good Chinese and Thai), Ike No Hana in Cupertino (Japanese), Todai in San Jose (All You Can Eat Chinese/Japanese buffet), Minh in San Jose (Vietnamese). Check out Milpitas Plaza (Hwy's 880 and 237), the area's largest Asian shopping center with numerous Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurants and one Singaporean/Malaysian place (Penang Garden) if Banana Leaf is too crowded, as it often is; note that Banana Leaf is closed on Sundays. For cheap fast eats try New Tung Kee (Vietnamese/chinese noodles, numerous locations in San Jose) and In-N-Out Burger in Milpitas. Also try Katana-Ya Ramen in San Jose's Japantown (Japanese noodles, curry rice plates). For doughnuts, it's got to be Krispy-Kreme's in Mountain View.

Other recommendations:
Two firing ranges with rental firearms available: Target Masters in Milpitas and Reed's Firing Range in Santa Clara. Parkway Lakes in South San Jose off Hwy 101 is a stocked pay-to-fish lake with rentals and no license required. Numerous golf driving ranges and a few golf course in the immediate area. Major shopping malls are The Great Mall in Milpitas and Valley Fair in San Jose.


Published on Friday October 25th, 2002


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