There are a great deal more than 11 exciting things to do in San Jose, California at night, and much more variety than people might initially think. Indeed, San Jose is so much more than just the little sister of San Francisco. There is a bumping nightlife, resplendent with bars and clubs that cater to a whole range of party goers. However, there are also subtler pleasures to be had. These include a plethora of excellent dining experiences, a bustling night market and a classic drive-in movie theater.
Other activities such as live music are also not difficult to come across, as you explore California’s first state capital city (from 1849 to 1852). From Jazz lounges to Karaoke bars and everything in between, if you have an ear for music, San Jose offers quite the spectrum of venues to enjoy. In addition, thespians may be attracted by the Tabard Theater, which hosts a number of community-based performances and workshops for those wanting to improve their acting skills. Visitors can even appreciate some Japanese culture, with a visit to exotic J-Town.
San Jose has been christened on multiple occasions as the capital of Silicon Valley, with some incredible density of the world’s technology firms basing their HQ in and around the area. This means being at the very epicenter of cutting edge tech, providing tourists with the chance to visit attractions such as Apple’s Infinite Loop. Whatever it is that you might be looking for to do on your night out, chances are that this glittering Californian city has it in spades.
Just picture it, you are strolling along downtown San Jose. The refreshing sea breeze is curling around you. You look up and see the dancing lights of the bars and restaurants ahead and become at once both excited and curious by the seemingly endless possibilities of the night in front of you. San Jose here you come.
Vintage Wine Merchants and Bar
The Vintage Wine Bar is a wine lovers dream and a perfect place to spend a sophisticated evening without the overblown posturing or pretension of some of the more classical wine bars. They have a very expansive wine list, covering vintages from home-grown Californian classics, to some of the best wines to be found in Europe. It is also worth mentioning that in addition to the extensive variety of wines on offer, the bar also stocks an impressive collection of whiskeys for tasting and purchase. Enjoying the rare and delicious wines at The Vintage Wine Bar is definitely one of the best exciting things you can do at night in San Jose. So if you have a nose for grape variety or if you just enjoy your red on a night out, a visit to the Vintage Wine Bar is an excellent thing to do once the blazing sun has set on this characterful city and the nightlife fully kicks into gear. The groaning yet delicately arranged wine shelves are also a fantastic sight to see and definitely worth a photo.
Getting to this most delicious of venues is easy, as the Vintage Wine Merchants is located on Santana Row in the center of the city. The easiest method to travel to the bar, is to order a taxi either from your hotel or the street, as all drivers will know this well-established venue.
Winchester Mystery House
As any guest of the Winchester Mystery House will tell you, on the list of San Jose things to do at night, they don’t come any better than this . This architectural wonder was once the residence of Sarah Winchester, who was the widow of William Wirt Winchester, the founder of Winchester® Repeating Arms. With an incredible fortune left to her, she became something of a hermit, and dedicated her time to building this incredible yet bizarre house. Many mysteries abound about the house’s construction. These range from inspiration given to her from her dead children, to the powerful influence of a psychic. In addition to the reported paranormal activity, the building also has some of the most pioneering architectural innovations of its time. Since its opening in 1923, the house has attracted the incredible sum of 12 million guests who have made the effort to travel to its halls to ponder its many mysteries.
Exploring the house and its history (especially at night) is a wonderfully thrilling, yet spooky experience. The house is located at 525 S Winchester Blvd and is easy to get to by taxi or by walking down Santana Row.
San Pedro Square Market
Open until 12 midnight, the San Pedro Market is an exciting food and drinks market unique to San Jose that is free to walk through. Here you can find fare from around the world, from interesting craft beers to delicious and authentic global food. Perhaps if you are starting your night here and intend to go drinking afterward, it might pay dividends to frequent the famous Taco Bar. Here you can get some of the best Tacos in the city. If Tacos aren’t your thing, there is also a fantastic Pizza stand, called Pizza Bocca Lupo, which serves beautiful pizzas at a fair price. In addition to food and drink, the market also hosts a number of music and comedy acts to amuse and entertain visitors well into the night, as they sample the amazing variety of products.
This is a fun and relaxed activity perfect for individual travelers and families with kids alike. Getting to the market is easy via taxi or with a rental car, as there is parking at the location. The market is located just south-west of St James Park in down town San Jose, on 87 North San Pedro Street.
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
If for one evening of your trip you feel that you don’t have the energy for the bars and clubs and instead would prefer a touch of culture, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is a must visit spot and a perfect pick for those wanting to look around a quality San Jose museum. Open until 6pm on weekends, the museum houses the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the USA’s western hemisphere. With over 4,000 items from across the ancient period, there is so much to explore from this fascinating window in time. If you go to the museum, pay special attention to the building itself, as it was constructed to imitate the beautiful Temple of Amon, in Karnak, Egypt. Some of the most famous exhibits include the Baboon Mummy, the huge sculpted head of the famous pharaoh Akhenaten and a statue of Taweret, the Egyptian Hippo God. The museum is especially diverting if you have kids, as it contains a variety of educational activities designed for children.
To get to the the museum, visitors can take a bus, taxi or private car to 1660 Park Avenue, just north-east of the Municipal Rose Garden. If it is not too late in the day, it might also be worth having a look round this garden after your trip to the museum, as it is one of the most beautiful in the city.
Haberdasher Cocktail Bar
This stylish bar is one of San Jose’s best if you enjoy expertly blended cocktails in an exciting and convivial atmosphere. Drinks are served by waistcoat wearing mixologists, with an encyclopedic knowledge of cocktails from the humble gin and tonic to the powerful sidecar. Drinking in the Sofa district doesn’t come more hip than this. One of the cocktails that they are best known for is called the Devil’s Soul, which is a Rye, Mezcal and Aperol mix not for the feint of heart, with a bold and heady taste that is sure to get you in the partying mood. Usually open until late, this is a great place to start your night (or end it).
As mentioned, the Haberdasher is located in the happening Sofa district in downtown San Jose south west of the State University. Travelling to the bar is easy with taxis and buses both available to take you into the area.
ADEGA Portuguese Restaurant
Boasting San Jose’s only Michelin star, ADEGA is one of the finest places to eat in the city and offers diners authentic Portuguese fare in an elegant but relaxed atmosphere. Among their most famous dishes are several outstanding seafood options, such as the Salted Cod. However, fish is not only what they are known for, as they also offer one of the best selections of wine available in all of California to enjoy, full of rare Portuguese vintages unavailable anywhere else. If you are a food blogger, this place will fill you with inspiration, as well as provide plenty of opportunities for a great photo.
ADEGA is located on the eastern side of the city near the Mexico Bakery, in the charming part of the city known as Little Portugal. The restaurant is quick and easy to get to from the center of town, being a very well known eatery. You can get here via cab or bus, as well as by private car.
Catching a live performance at the Tabard Theater (which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary) has to be one of the best things to do in San Jose at night. Not only does the illustrious venue show its own fabulous dramas, tragedies and comedies but also acts as a venue for travelling acts which tour California. The range of performances available will obviously depend on when you arrive, however the theater has an excellent reputation for putting on a great show all year round. Such performances have included: War of the Worlds, Chamelot and It’s a Wonderful Life. The theater also puts on the delightfully dark comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, which is perfect for those who like blue comedies.
For all the latest box office titles and to purchase tickets, go to their website. To travel to the theater company, you can take a taxi to San Pedro square, in the middle of the city. The theater’s exact address is 29 San Pedro Street.
West Wind Capitol Drive-In
Classic American past-times don’t come more iconic than drive-in movie theaters. Luckily, San Jose has one of the very best, called the West Wind Capitol Drive-In. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a drive-in movie theater, as some visitors will be, the basic idea is that you drive into a open space surrounded by other drivers, park your car and watch a film which is projected on massive screen at the top of the ground. Its a fabulous alfresco experience, dating all the way back to 1933. Being amid a sea of cars in the closing dusk, as the film begins to role on a humongous screen, is quite the experience and will surely provide an excellent sunset photo to send to jealous relatives at home. Visitors are advised to book tickets online and make sure that they are early for their movie, as parks fill up fast, especially for the big premieres.
If you want to enjoy watching one of these pictures from the comfort of your car, you can find West Wind Capitol Drive-In on the southern side of the city in the Ranco district. Public transport and taxis will both be able to get you to the theater. However, for the full experience, it is recommended that you come in a car and park under the night sky yourself.
ENSO Bar and Nightclub
This venue is one of the city’s top night clubs and a place where you can find new and exciting DJ’s playing only the best club music. This large party venue has two spacious dance floors, one designed for more relaxed intimate dancing, the other for energetic dancing to club hits. This is one of the smarter night clubs and as such has high quality drinks, excellent sound equipment and a good staff to visitor ratio. This slightly higher status club does mean that it has a dress code though, so it is worth making sure that you are up to standard before frequenting this thumping party spot. ENSO Bar and Grill grants punters the best time in San Jose to be had on a dance floor.
ENSO Bar and Nightclub is located on Santa Clara Street, opposite Dive Bar, just south of St James Park. Arriving early will probably secure you a place at the bar before you are ready to cut loose on the convenient dance floor. Once again, public transport and taxis will be able to take you to the venue with little difficulty.
If you want to experience authentic Japanese food, culture and museums, Japan Town or J- Town as it is often referred to, combines all of these elements in an easy-going area of the city. J Town is just as exciting day or night and offers an amazing range of activities for all types of visitors. An essential stop once you are in J Town, is the excellent Kumako Ramen restaurant, which serves some of the most delicious Ramen in California. Perhaps after lining your stomach at one of the numerous restaurants, you might like to go to 7 Bamboo Karaoke Bar, where you can watch live music or even create some yourself. Another option in the town is to check out Japanese art and anime, at Nikaku Japanese Arts. If this is not enough to slake your thirst for art, there are plenty of other places to check out including the Nagareda Studio. This famous photography studio has some fantastic and award-winning photographs of Japanese iconography and history. J -Town is especially exciting during its Obon festival, which happens every July. It is a festival dedicated to the celebration of Japanese culture.
San Jose’s J Town is one of the major Japanese communities thriving in the United States and rivals Little Tokyo in New York for its variety and density. To find Japan Town is not hard, as it is in the center of San Jose, just east of Guadalupe River Park. It is very close to the airport, from which you can order a taxi or take a bus. If you give them the address of the Sushi Maru restaurant on 262 Jackson street, this will take you to the heart of J Town.
Are you finding that normal off the shelf beers are not really doing the trick for you anymore? Then maybe you should spend an evening tasting some of the most novel and exciting beers that San Jose has to offer. At Hermitage Brewing, they are making beers that really push the envelope of tasting experience. Some of their innovative creations include their Staycation Pineapple and Mango IPA, and the amazing Fudge It! pastry stout, which is brewed with coco nibs and vanilla extract. If you want a beer drinking experience that you will never forget with exciting drinks and laid-back music, Hermitage Brewing is the spot for you. Sometimes drinkers are even treated to a food truck parking up outside the venue to feed the hungry punters.
The artisan brewer can be found south of the center of town close to the CEFCU Stadium. Its exact address is 1627 and 7th street. If you are taking public transport, you should aim for the Tamien Station, from which you can easily walk to the brewery. Alternatively you can get a taxi straight to the venue.