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Off-the-Beaten-Path Things to Do in San Jose, CA

Posted by: Sonesta San Jose Milpitas
10 May
Off-the-Beaten-Path Things to Do in San Jose, CA

Quirky Attractions & Off-the-Beaten-Path Things to Do in San Jose, CA
You probably already know that Silicon Valley is a tech wonderland with amazing shopping, incredible restaurants, and huge venues for the biggest concerts and events. But go off the beaten path to discover another personality to the region that is quirky, wacky, and straight-up bizarre. From Egyptian mummies and giant monopoly to secret passageways in a haunted mansion, discover the coolest non-touristy attractions and off-the-beaten-path things to do in San Jose, CA.


Giant-Sized Games: Monopoly in the Park & Chess in the Plaza
Feeling up for a game? You'll find the world's largest monopoly board in San Jose at California's Discovery Meadow, a granite game that covers over 900 square feet. And it's 100% playable. You can rent the space online, which comes with enormous playing dice and hats shaped like the familiar Monopoly pieces: the dog, the car, and the battleship. Prefer chess? Head to Santana Row's Chess Plaza for giant chess as well as normal-sized chess with tables and chairs. It's a shady, relaxing stop for a break during a day of shopping on the upscale retail strip.


Bigfoot Discovery Museum: Track the Furry Giants
Do you believe in the yeti? You might after visiting this funky museum, which is located in Felton (about 30 miles southwest of San Jose). See photos and proof of Bigfoot sightings in the area - over 150 in all. The roadside attraction is small but packed with Bigfoot artifacts, including footprint casts, videos, and mysterious hominid skulls.


Historic Winchester Mystery House: Weird Architectural Wonder
Beautiful yet incredibly bizarre, this 1884 mansion was the personal home of Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Winchester. The Queen Anne Style Victorian house is more like a mysterious labyrinth of architectural curiosities - and it's reputed to be haunted. Built with no master plan, the mansion is a maze of hallways, dead-end staircases, secret passageways, and crawl spaces. New rooms are still being found, including an attic in 2016 that contained a pump organ, sewing machine, dress form, and Victorian couch. The best way to explore this enigmatic attraction is on a guided evening tour by candlelight.


Cool Outdoor Sculptures: Quetzalcoatl, Lupe the Mammoth & Black Power
California does public art in a big way, and you'll find several unique sculptures in San Jose.

  • Quetzalcoatl - Created by Mexican-American artist Robert Graham, this giant snake-dog sculpture is an image of one of the most important Mesoamerican deities: Quetzalcoatl. It's controversial for many religious and cultural reasons, but mostly for its resemblance to a giant pile of poop.
  • Lupe the Mammoth - Found along the Guadalupe River Trail, this life-size sculpture of a mammoth is located right on the spot where a dog-walker found a mammoth skeleton in 2005. You can see the actual remains nearby at the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose.
  • Olympic Black Power - Located in the Paseo de San Antonio, this statue commemorates the silent protest of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the Olympic medalist podium at the 1968 Summer Olympics. The athletes raised their fists in a political gesture intended to draw attention to the plight of African-Americans. Criticized at the time, their gesture is now a famous moment in the ongoing fight for civil rights.


Explore a Real Live (Dead) Ghost Town: Drawbridge
Once known as Saline City, this tiny town just northwest of San Jose was once a busy stop on the Union Pacific's railroad track. It was abuzz with people and buildings from the 1880s to 1920s, a town where passengers could take a break, gamble away their fortune, relax in a speakeasy, and hit up the local brothel. That all changed after the end of Prohibition, and the town has been completely abandoned now for 40 years. All of the buildings are slowly sinking into the swampy land, and will someday be gone. To see the ghost town before this happens, it's a two-mile walk from the town of Alviso. Please note: while the town is abandoned, the train tracks are not. Be sure to watch out for trains, which run frequently through the area.


Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum: Ancient Mysteries & Secret Orders
The Rosicrucians are an ancient, secretive order and Rosicrucian Park is their American headquarters. Rosicrucianism swept across Europe in the 17th century as a spiritual/cultural movement with esoteric teachings that combined alchemy, sacred geometry, mysticism, Christian Gnosticism, and Kabbalah. Their park in San Jose is a delightfully designed green space with a peace garden, papyrus trees, statues, and a planetarium. But the main attraction is the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, where you can admire a vast collection of Egyptian antiquities - the largest on the West Coast. See four human mummies plus mummies of baboons, cats, and sharks. You'll also find recreated temples, ancient sculptures, and 4,000 other artifacts.


Connect with San Jose's Unique Spirit at Our One-of-a-Kind Hotel
Dig a little deeper on your trip and discover the hidden gems and secret charms of California's third-largest city. Enjoy easy access to top attractions and unique things to do in San Jose when you stay at Sonesta San Jose Milpitas. We're moments away from top corporate headquarters, fantastic restaurants, and shopping centers - including Milpitas Square and the Great Mall of Milpitas. From great golf courses to museums and parks, everything is close at hand. And we offer a free local shuttle to local destinations, which includes the San Jose International Airport - less than 10 minutes away. With delicious dining at Sevens Bar & Grill, high-tech amenities, and comfortable rooms - our friendly hotel is a smart choice for your business trip or vacation to Silicon Valley.

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