Are you new to San Jose? It’s okay, so was I about a year ago. With a growing population of over a million people, it’s easy to get lost in how many things there are to see and do. With a part-time job off-campus and the eagerness to explore, I became an avid-user of the public transit system in San Jose and saw a lot of things I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. Everything here is easy to access by public transit or on foot. Sadly, due to COVID-19, new students cannot freely explore what San Jose has to offer, but here are some activities to do and places to see when life gets back to normal!
Japanese Friendship Garden
San Jose’s Japanese Garden is a tiny, quaint place to visit with friends or a partner. Although it’s petite, the garden is an excellent place to escape from the fast-paced life we have as students. The best time to visit is in the spring when nature is in full bloom and the waterways are full. The entry is free which is a plus for college students on a budget. I recommend having a picnic there with your friends!
If you and your friends are ever bored and are looking for a weekend activity, Willow Glen is the place to go! This neighborhood is vastly different from downtown San Jose. Willow Glen gives off a small-town vibe with its charming looks and cute little shops. As I mentioned, there are plenty of options when it comes to shopping and restaurants. If you are feeling up to it, some food places may offer outdoor seating during COVID-19. Just keep social distancing and the safety of others in mind before you make the decision to head out.
Plaza de César Chávez
If you are a local, you may be confused about this place because it’s just a small little area nestled in between downtown San Jose. But as someone who was new to this area, I found this little plaza to be a great place for quality time with friends. Down past Philz Coffee and a variety of businesses, you will be greeted by a small patch of green grass with benches. When I first arrived in San Jose, my friends and I walked to the Plaza de César Chávez quite often. During the summer, you can find activities placed outside by different volunteer groups or you can sit on the benches and enjoy the warm weather. When it gets close to wintertime, the plaza will turn into a little taste of Christmas. Overall, it’s a close-by, free place to hang out with friends and just chill.
While smaller than the Japantown in San Francisco, San Jose’s Japantown is a fun place to check out. It is a small street filled with sushi spots, a Japanese grocery store and indie shops. I recommend San Jose’s Japantown to be one of your first explorations in the city. It is accessible by a bus that goes through downtown. It’s a great weekend activity to dip your toes into the enormous city of San Jose.
A shopping and residential district, Santana Row is a fantastic place to visit post-COVID-19. At the beginning of my first semester at SJSU, it seemed like everyone from the dorms took a day trip to Santana Row. It is an extremely pedestrian-friendly area, giving you the ability to explore everything it has to offer. You can also get some Instagram-worthy pictures in front of all of the different architectural buildings. It offers a bunch of trendy retail shopping spots, including Brandy Melville, Anthropologie, and more! Some of my favorite places to visit include Blue Bottle and Paper Source.
Checking out one of these spots? Make sure to mask up and snap a pic! Tag us on Instagram @HerCampusSJSU!