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Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?

frederick, md
Level Contributor
23 posts
Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?

We'll be in San Jose first, for a week (but there's nothing we want to do there other than the business we're there for). Is it reasonable to drive from San Jose to San Fran in the evenings to eat & sightsee, or is that crazy? Is there any public transport between San Jose & San Fran? We will have a rental car.. I just didn't know if traffic would make it impossible to spend evenings in San Fran.

THEN, we have ONE DAY in San Fran.. where to stay for the night? What to do? Guided tour? Do you recommend a particular one?

We've never been to San Fran.

Thanks so much for any help!

San Francisco...
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5,400 posts
24 reviews
1. Re: Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?

The drive from San Jose to San Francisco will take between 1 hour and 1 1/2 hours, depending on traffic. Caltrain runs trains from downtown San Jose to San Francisco, and the San Francisco station is adjacent to the MUNI N trolley line, which will take you downtown. I would try making the trip for an evening and see how exhausted you are the next morning!

You could also drive from San Jose to Fremont or San Bruno and take BART the rest of the way to San Francisco.

The first thing to check is whether your location in San Jose is anywhere near the Caltrain station.

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
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33,383 posts
6,456 reviews
2. Re: Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?

Cal Train is best way to get to San Francisco and avoid the traffic....

In San Jose, a few areas to check out if you decide not to drive or commute to San Francisco each day is:

1) Santana Row - This is a fun place to visit with lots of shops, several good restaurants, movie theaters, Winchester Mystery House, and fun outdoor areas. Its worth going to. Thea is good for Greek Food and quite trendy there; there are a number of good restaurants.


2) Palo Alto is also good place to go for restaurants.

3) In San Francisco, there are lots of posts of what to do.....Its really depends upon what you want to do. A sample day might be:

1) Alcatraz Tour in Morning

Book in advance at Blue and Gold

2) Walk through Fisherman's Wharf;

enjoy a bowl of clam chowder and enjoy watching the bakers at Boudin Bakery.

3) Walk through Pier 39 and see the sea lions. Then stop at Gheridelli Square for an Ice Cream Sunday.

4)Go to the Ferry Building and enjoy visiting the many boutique food places there; this is also a good place to see a good view of the Bay Bridge.

5) Enjoy dinner at one of San Francisco's trendy restaurants -many to choose from.

6) See a play at the Orpheum.

7) Late night drinks at Top of the Mark or another fun place in San Francisco.

There are tons of other things to do such as go to Golden Gate Park; museums; etc. See San Francisco posts for lots of great suggestions.

san francisco
Level Contributor
20 posts
3. Re: Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?

it is perfectly reasonable to drive to sf from san jose for an evening.for less traffic, take highway 280 to the city, and when nearing the city, be sure to keep to the right...you do not want to head out towards 19th ave...stay on 280 and be cure to go towards downtown....do not re connect to 101...that sections gets clogged. an hours drive is about what it will take. have fun!

Down Under
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
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8,048 posts
47 reviews
4. Re: Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?

Have you thought of staying in San Francisco and Cal Training it to San Jose everyday.

Level Contributor
1,045 posts
12 reviews
5. Re: Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?

If you are in SJ, make it a trip to Palo Alto for a day and visit Stanford.

Henderson, Nevada
Level Contributor
699 posts
25 reviews
6. Re: Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?

You didn't ask about this, but since you're apparently staying in San Jose, you must dine at Hobees at least one time (most popular for breakfast but their meals at other times are equally scrumptious. I just wish they had a branch where I am in Southern California! Here is their website where you can find out more information about them.


Also, for something else to do in the San Jose area, you might take drive to Saratoga and the surrounding communities in the foothills. I was very impressed with that area when I previously visited there. Santa Cruz is a fun beach/college town not far from San Jose and I think you can take a bus there and back. Hopefully a local will shed more light on this and other ideas for visiting the area.

San Jose, CA
Level Contributor
48 posts
7. Re: Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?

I just moved to San Jose from San Franciso and go up all the time. It is a about an hour drive, more at rush hour. If you want to stay around San Jose, because it is too much, go to downtown Los Gatos, Saratoga and Palo Alto. These all have good restaraunts and shopping. You will still need a car to get around unfortunately. If I had one day in San Francisco, I would not take a tour. Stay on Union Square, take the Hyde Street cable car to Fisherman's wharf for lunch. Go to North Beach for dinner. Have fun.

San Jose, California
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56 posts
12 reviews
8. Re: Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?


Also lived in San Francisco and have lived here for 15 years. Maybe I'm just too old, but I don't think even in my younger days I would have driven on a weeknight from San Jose to San Francisco for dinner,---but that's just me. Making it in 1 1/2 hours anywhere from 4 pm -7:30 pm is, in my experience, not really likely . There are some great restaurants withing 15 minutes of downtown San Jose, in Los Gatos and Saratoga, and within 25 minutes in Palo Alto. There are also a couple in downtown San Jose. Los Gatos and Palo Alto (also Menlo Park, right next to Palo Alto) as well as Castro Street in Mountain View (20 mins) all are fun, small one or two street "downtown "areas that are fun to walk around and that have some really good restaurants. In Los Gatos (closest to me) I like Tapestry (California food), Green Papya (upscale Vietnamese), Pigalle (country French), and Marcella (California-Italian), as well as I Gatti (Italian.) These are all within a 6 minute walk of each other in a quaint area. Then there is Manresa--I think it just made the MIchelin or Zagat guide or something else--you'll definitely need to book in advance (as you might also for a few of the others--it is a crowded place here.) In Saratoga (a little quieter area) you can also eat at several good places, inlcuding Sent Sovi (where Mick Jagger ate on his last tour through the area) and also in Zagats. And check the books for places in Palo Alto--lots, many very good, and too numerous to mention.

In San Francisco, for sure book ahead if you are going anywhere for dinner.

I would not do the alcatraz tour, unless you just like boats. You can get great views of the city itself from within the city, from the top of Russian Hill, or Coit Tower, etc .. It is a great walking city for those who are athletic and have good shoes--lots of hills, rewarded by lots of views. Start at Union Aquare, head through Chinatown, go up to the top of Nob Hill, walk over to the Russian Hill area, head down To Fishermans' Wharf, or go from Chinatown to North Beach (old Italian area) and then to Fisherman's Wharf. check out the Ferry Building along the water. And if you can, I'd take a cab to the Cow Hollow/Marina area, and walk around a bit there, and perhaps have lunch or dinner out there--lots of good places, and fun to see the residential areas, especially the mansions with incredible views in Pacific Heights. Hope that helps.

New York City, New...
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9. Re: Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?

How long will it take to drive from SF to the Redwood Forest?

Los Altos...
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6,111 posts
30 reviews
10. Re: Help! 1 Day in San Fran, 1 week in San Jose - What to do?

If I were you, I might drive up to San Francisco one night for a look around or something special like a play or show, but each night sounds like too much work, frankly. It's not as though there's NOTHING to do in San Jose in the evenings, and gosh, why spend 2-3 hours on the road each night? Sounds like a colossal waste of time.

Mini's suggestion of an itinerary for your one day is a good one. If you want ideas for San Jose and the surrounding areas, ask. Tell us more about the kinds of things you like to do. Many of us are suggesting restaurants because the Bay Area is full of foodies. But there is some theater in San Jose, amusement parks nearby and outdoor activities.