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Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

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Frisco, CO
posts: 45
reviews: 4
Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

I am flying into San Jose for a 2 day conference at the Airport Holiday inn. I've never been there and have no idea what that area is like. I'll have one afternoon/evening free and i'm looking for an area to walk around, shop/browse and have dinner. Is there much around the Holiday inn? Is it safe for a woman to walk around that area?

I won't have a car, but don't mind taking a cab for this one excursion from the conference site. What about Santana Row? how far is it from the airport area where I am staying? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I leave in less than a week.

Thanks

Pacific Grove...
Destination Expert
for Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, Monterey Peninsula
posts: 5,234
reviews: 25
1. Re: Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

Santana Row would be perfect. There are many nice (some quite expensive) shops, lots of restaurants to choose from, and comfy chairs to sit in outdoors to read or people watch. It's completely safe. Across the street from Santana Row is a Westfield shopping center, Valley Fair, It's a huge indoor mall and has shops that are less pricey than the Santana Row shops in case you want to do some serious shopping. My guess is that they're about 3 or 4 miles from your hotel, and a cab would be the easiest way to get there.

Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
posts: 33,069
reviews: 344
2. Re: Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

Santana Row is a bit sterile for my tastes, a bit too much "Trendy Mall, Anyplace USA"; think The Grove in Los Angeles, Cherry Creek in Denver instead of LoDo & Farmer's Market in LA.

But.... you don't have that long so it is probably the best bet, but I'd shop there and then go to Downtown San Jose to eat dinner at Original Joe's or Cafe Stritch.

San Jose
Destination Expert
for California
posts: 8,450
reviews: 74
3. Re: Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

San Jose is a fairly safe city, so I wouldn't worry too much about safety - just use regular common sense like you would anywhere. I wouldn't plan on walking much after dark though except in the downtown core or around Santana Row (or other areas with a high concentration of restaurants, etc.). It isn't that anything is particularly dangerous, just that San Jose is quite spread out so there isn't a lot of pedestrian or bike traffic after dark except in certain areas. It isn't like some other large cities with a higher population density where you have people walking around at all hours.

The area around your hotel is fine - it is a mix of residential, commercial, and hotels - nothing of particular interest there though. The lightrail does stop in front of your hotel, so you can take that into downtown, to Mountain View, to Campbell. It runs fairly often and into the night, so you can get back to your hotel after dinner - I wouldn't hesitate to take lightrail alone at night - and since it stops in front of your hotel, it is quite safe. And taxis are also a good choice - they aren't cheap here, but they aren't terribly expensive - good if you want to get somewhere more quickly or if you are just uncomfortable alone on the lightrail later in the evening.

Here is a good site for estimating taxi fare: http://sanjose.taxiwiz.com/?lang=en

Santana Row has been mentioned - it is a nice area built maybe 10 years ago - restaurants, high end shops, condos and townhouses. The lightrail doesn't go there, so I would take a taxi - there are buses, but a taxi is easier. When the weather is nice, it is great for sitting outside for dinner and drinks. Very safe area.

Valley Fair across the street is a standard indoor shopping mall like you will find in any large city - it is a nice mall anchored by Macys and Nordstrom with all of the standard mall stores that you would expect. If that is the type of shoping you are interested in, then this is an excellent choice.

Downtown has a lot of restaurants and bars, not much for shopping - it is a direct shot on the lighrail from your hotel to downtown, so very easy to get to. A taxi ride would be fairly cheap too. If you are interested in technology, the San Jose Tech Museum is very good - it is right downtown. The SJ Art Museum is also there - it has some good exhibits. The library on 4th and San Fernando often has interesting exhibits too - this library is a joint venture between the city and the university.

I have to disagree with the recommendation for Original Joes though - it is a SJ institution and has been around forever, but I think they are resting on their reputation - it makes me sad to report that, but so it goes. I keep hoping they will revamp their menu, but they probably won't - the restaurant still gets a lot of business, maybe people going there out of habit. I have eaten there a couple times in the past few years and the food is quite bland - you would expect the marinara in an Italian restaurant to be flavorful, but Prego from a jar tastes better. There are tons of other choices - almost any type of food that you want to eat is available. I can give you some recommendations if you choose to go down there - just let me know what you like.

Mountain View is a bit farther away, but easily reached on the lightrail - direct train from your hotel. Castro Street has a lot of restaurants and shops and the lightrail stops right at the end of this strip.

Campbell is another good choice - also easily accessible on the lightrail - you would take the lightrail through downtown and continue onto Campbell, but you don't have to change trains, so it is easy. Campbell is a smaller town, but as with all the towns in this area, they kind of blend together at their borders. Campbell Ave has several blocks of shops and restaurants, a couple cool bars. It still maintains its unique character.

Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
posts: 33,069
reviews: 344
4. Re: Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

I guess it depends on what you order at Original Joe's, but I usually get a steak or chop and I've never had a bad one and it is my go to place for Liver & Onions since Little Joe's in Los Angeles closed.

I've never had pasta other than ravioli as a side to my steak, which is the only civilized way to eat steak.... take away that baked potato!

And in 40 some years, maybe longer, of eating breakfasts there I don't think I've ever had anything other than Joe's Special and I've never had a bad one of them either.

San Jose
Destination Expert
for California
posts: 8,450
reviews: 74
5. Re: Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

Food is very subjective, but I would expect an Italian restaurant to have good marinara and I would never in my life eat liver and onions except under extreme duress - LOL.

Frisco, CO
posts: 45
reviews: 4
6. Re: Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

Thanks everyone for the information. Santana Row sounds perfect for me and the time I'll have. I actually like Cherry Creek :) and an outdoor mall will be great since we still have snow where I live - looking forward to warm weather! Now I just have to figure out where to eat dinner. I was looking at something called Village Cali bistro and wine bar. Tell me it's not horrible? Or maybe a drink there and food somewhere else?

Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
posts: 33,069
reviews: 344
7. Re: Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

I like Cherry Creek too especially for functional shopping (actually needing stuff as opposed to wanting to experience something local), but it could be any place in the country, there is nothing uniquely CO about it like the charm of Breck or LoDo.

And I like Santana Row too (as I like The Grove), but it has a certain sameness about it too with its chain restaurants and chain stores.

For something different than you can get in Frisco, you might look at Straits or Sino, two restaurants from the same company doing Asian fusion food; very good noodles and some nice mains. If you are there after 4PM, check out Cielo on the roof of the Valencia Hotel (if it is a nice night).

Pacific Grove...
Destination Expert
for Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, Monterey Peninsula
posts: 5,234
reviews: 25
8. Re: Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

I've eaten at Maggioro's and Consuelo's and both are OK. If you want a really casual meal, The Counter is kind of fun. They specialize in burgers (beef, turkey, chicken), but they have other things on the menu. I like their turkey burgers a lot, and you customize all the toppings, the bread, and the sides. On a nice day, I just love to sink into one the comfy outdoor chairs at Santana Row and read a book or just relax. Have a nice time.

San Jose
Destination Expert
for California
posts: 8,450
reviews: 74
9. Re: Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

I haven't been to the Village, but friends have and said it was good.

For sitting outside for drinks, El Jardin Tequila Bar and Restaurant is cool - I have not actually eaten there, just drinks, but it has nice chairs and tables under the trees, great for people-watching. They often have music in the evenings.

Cielo is another good bar - as mentioned already.

If you like beer, the Yard House is great - usually pretty crowded, but great beer selection.

For food, Straits is definitely a good place. It is a restaurant for lunch and dinner and then more of a club later the evening.

If you are interested in a french-style bistro, Left Bank is good.

For Indian, Amber India is great - definitely upscale Indian, but the prices aren't too bad.

Frisco, CO
posts: 45
reviews: 4
10. Re: Need suggestions for brief walking/shopping/restaurant area

Thanks everyone. Sounds like I have several good options. We have Yard House here in Denver and I like their menu/food. Gets a bit loud so have to be in the mood for a sports bar, though if they have outdoor seating, its a possibility . I like the idea of trying some of the places we don't have here, so I will definitely walk around and check them out. Which I had more time.

I will be back asking for lots more advice in the future - my husband and I hope to spend a week on the central coast in September.

Thanks again!