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Guide To A Family Vacation In Downtown San Jose, CA


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Preeti Dhakappa

Image by Wikimedia Commons

The most economical, cultural and political center is located in Silicon Valley on the southern shore of San Fransico. Downtown San Jose California is a center of innovation, affluence and loved for its Medeterrian climate. Undeniably, San Jose is encompassed by the stunning backdrops and modern architecture. But beyond those concrete walls, this city is an ideal destination for any families to go on an excursion.


Not only are there luxury shopping streets for adults, but there are also kid-friendly places to keep them entertained. From toddlers to teens, there is for sure something for everyone. Why wait? With its updated technological environment, social and cultural activities, we are certain you’ll end up screaming for more. Let’s dig deeper for the must-see attractions. And stop worrying for not finding something for your kids on this trip to Downtown San Jose. 



Enjoy a theatrical performance in San Jose Performing Arts Center 

SJ Performing Arts

Image by Wikimedia Commons


Not only are there popular theatres in Chicago or New York City, but there’s a famous theater in San Jose as well. The San Jose Performing Arts Center holds up to 215 seats and is always up to date on popular theatrical performances. Also, they have a history of musicals and live performances from the time it was first built in 1972. The San Jose Performing Arts Center has multiple large windows at the entryways. This then provides spectacular views of downtown San Jose. Also, the theatre was the home of the  San Jose Civic Light Opera; the American Musical Theatre of San Jose from 1975- 2008. 


The San Jose Arts Center is one of the best places to watch a live performance with your family. It hosts major performances of Broadway touring shows as well as prominent productions all year-round. These performances are downtown San Jose events shown every day and are not to be missed. It’s a place guaranteed families would show love.



Admire the unique arts in Museum Of Quilts And Textiles

 Quilts Textiles

Image by Wikimedia Commons


Among the many interesting museums in downtown San Jose, there are two just for art lovers. These two popular art museums are The Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and the San Joes Museum of Art. Not only do these museums offer a great time and learning experience, but they also have places for children to create their own pieces of art. 


The San Jose Museum of Art is known for its large collection of west coast arts done by artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. In every visit, the museum offers inspiration for new ideas, encourages creativity. It also gives visitors different perspectives on each work of art. Also, to keep the experience fresh and exciting, the museum changes its exhibitions a few times each year. Through its continuously changing exhibitions and programs, the museum indicates trends in international contemporary art, architecture, and design. 


For art lovers who want a unique experience, San Jose’s Museum of Quilts and Textiles awaits your visit. Devoted solely to quilts and textiles as an art form, this family-friendly museum shows a history of traditional, cultural, and ethnic art. The range of works displayed is changed every 6 – 12 weeks so visitors can continuously return to observe new exhibitions. 



Fun time at Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

 kids dicovery CA

Image by Allie_Caulfield on flickr


There are many things for children to discover; a whole world full of things to see and learn about. Discover San Jose’s Children’s Discovery Museum where exploration and adventure are brought into your child’s life. The Children’s discovery museum of San Jose is a cultural institution for kids and families. This is one of the best places to visit on a downtown San Jose family vacation. Located in the Discovery Meadow Park, there are 150 different exhibits families can enjoy. Also, the park offers the best way for children to learn. Both adults and kids learn by being able to interact with different objects and more. For example, children can experience being in the driver’s seat of a life-size fire truck and participate in an awesome archeological dig for dinosaur bones. 


Discovery Meadow Park San Jose is a large lawn outside of the children’s discovery museum. In Summers, it’s used mainly for exciting festivals. Many downtown San Jose events are held here for anyone to join. Also, the Riverwalk trails along Discovery Meadow Park are aligned with the river and are lined with comfortable park benches for a rest, or a picnic. Discovery Meadow San Jose is one place parents can’t let their kids miss out on. 



Feast in San Jose Family Restaurants

Original Joes

Image by Catchpenny on Flickr


It’s said that a hungry person is an angry person. However, tourists never have to worry about being hungry and angry because downtown San Jose restaurants are always around to give a full-feeling time. Many downtown San Jose restaurants and cafes are great for families. One reason for this is because they are operated by families. Because these restaurants know what families are like, they know exactly how to serve up a magnificent time for families with kids of all ages. Some popular kid-friendly restaurants include Ludwig’s German Table, Scrambl’z, and Aqui Cal- Mex.


However, the most popular San Jose restaurant is San Jose Original Joe’s. This restaurant is a tourist and local favorite. Here they have all types of food for everyone. They have a combination of Italian and American food for meat-eaters, while at the same time cater to vegetarians. Unlike many other restaurants, Original Joe’s also has Vegan Options.




Be a kid in the Happy Hollow Park And Zoo

Park and Zoo San J

Image by JOH_1492 on flickr


One of the best places to visit when on a family vacation is the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo. It is a part playground, part amusement park and a total of 16 acres of fun. One of San Jose’s family attractions since its opening in 1961, it has always brought smiles to both parents and children. It’s a unique combination of family rides, amusements, a Puppet Theater, play areas, and Zoo is an amazing time rolled into one. However, the zoo area is a family favorite. Children have the opportunity to interact with different types of animals in the petting zoo.


Also, One of the main attractions for adults and teens is the Sloth Yoga class. Here, visitors can have an amazingly fun and relaxing hour of yoga with Paco, the three-toed sloth. While in this class, visitors will learn animal stretching poses. However, there are only 25 open slots per class. 



Look out for interesting events in San Jose Civic

Civic Center SJCAUS

Image by BWChicago on Flickr


The San Jose Civic, also known as the San Jose Civic Auditorium is a sports arena and concert venue. Large enough for hundreds of people to gather, downtown San Jose events are usually held here. Many popular entertainers and public figures have appeared at the San Jose Civic, creating memorable events for the city and its people. For example, entertainers who have held concerts in the San Jose Civic are The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross, and many more. While vacationing in downtown  San Jose, make sure to check if there are any events occurring at the  San Jose Civic. They may have children’s concerts and comedians just for families to enjoy. 


However, while your family visits the San Jose Civic, they can also pop by the Montgomery Theater that is attached to it. This theatre was named after the people who gave their land for the theatre to be built. Externally, the building has a look of a medieval castle. However, don’t judge appearances for internally. It’s up to date with all the latest technologies.



Pamper yourself with a stay in San Jose Mariott Hotel

Marriott Hotel

Image by San Jose Marriott


When traveling, a place to stay is always needed.  San Jose offers affordable hotels just for families to enjoy. One of the best hotels in downtown San Jose is the San Jose Marriot Hotel. Located in a perfect spot downtown, this newly renovated stylish hotel has everything a family can ask for.  Expansive layouts, luxurious bedding, and awesome city views, families can have a good night’s sleep after a full day of fun and exploration. One of the best parts of the San Jose Marriot is it has connections to all three of San Jose’s major airports. Accessing downtown San Jose events is also easy. This is because the San Jose Marriott is surrounded by multiple tourist attractions.



Unravel the Winchester Mystery House

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Image by Gregg O’Connell on Flickr


One of the things to do in San Jose is to go tour the Winchester House as a family. Many kids today love to have a good scare while exploring in an adventure. The Winchester Mystery House gives them just the excitement they want. It is said to have been built because the 19th-century owner Sarah Winchester was haunted by ghosts. She wanted to create a place to confuse them. Hence, there are staircases ascending through several levels before ending abruptly, doorways opening to blank walls, and corners rounded to dead ends. Both parents and kids are guaranteed fun and excitement while taking a walk through this 160 roomed house. Tours through the house at night by flashlight is one of the best events many look forward to as it gives a scarier ambiance. However, if you have kids that scare easily, stick to the standard daytime tour.



Who says San Jose is excellent just for adults? Hop in your car and start traveling away with your family, you wouldn’t believe how much you can do here. Ditch the stereotype that San Jose is a rich man’s world, there are plenty of free attractions waiting for you to explore. The best part, these curated attractions are here to stop you from stressing-out researching for an attraction that is suitable for your kids. If you’ve been here, share with us your experience. If not, enjoy the guide and travel away!