Best Free Things to Do in San Jose, CA in 2023

by Rachel Garza

Whether you have come to San Jose for business or as a tourist, you will definitely find a lot of things to do here, and also there are lots of places to visit in your spare time. San Jose has a lot of attractions that do not take too long to enjoy: spending some hours downtown at the popular San Jose museum of art and the children discovery museum. If you and your family are looking for a hands on way of learning about Silicon Valley's computer industry, or checking out the tech museum of innovation. For a full day of family fun, just go to the California's Great America amusement park in Santa Clara. There you can have a good meal, blow off some steam, and also make your way to Santana Row.

List of Best Free Things to Do in San Jose, CA in 2023

Tourists can explore the entire city on a budget, with several museums that offers free admission year round or on chosen free days. The fans of apple technology can visit the apple park and visitor center, whereas those that loves nature can choose from various nearby recreation areas and city parks to explore. For low cost transportation, tourists can make use of the city's VTA public transport system, which offers light rail and bus services throughout the city. San Jose is infused with technology, on the modern VTA light rail, on the campuses of tech giants, interactive museums, cinequest, movie festivals and championing virtual reality.

Rosicrucian Egyptian museum - Place Link

Rosicrucian egyptian museum
Rosicrucian Egyptian museum

This museum looks like an old settlement of Egypt with a very different style. This park always cause a complete city block in San Jose. The complex dates back to the 1920's and now it has a research library, Rosicrucian labyrinth, a temple for the Rosicrucian order, alchemy garden and alchemy exhibit. The main thing that pulls in over 100,000 people in a year is the Egyptian museum, which is in a building that is modeled on the karnak's Temple of Amon. This museum houses the largest arrays of ancient Egyptian artifacts in North America, which starts in the predynastic times over 5000 years ago. And also extending to the beginning of the Islamic era.

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The museum has some 4000 pieces and as you would guess, the mummies arouses the most fascination. There are also sculptures, ritual objects, textiles, writing materials, some absorbing pieces from Babylonia and Assyria, toiletries, tools and vessel, and jewelry.

History park - Place Link

History park

This is a living history museum and park that is located at the south edge of the San Jose's Kelley park, it showcases businesses, 32 preserved and replica buildings, landmarks that detail the 19th and 20th century of the great Santa Clara valley. The history park is open from Mondays to Fridays all year round between 8am to 5pm, it gives free admission to walk it's ground and also meander through ancient exhibits and demonstrations including reconstructed dentist offices, a fire house, a prints shop, a blacksmith shed, doctor's offices and various preserved hotels and houses.

Artifacts and photography that are related to the agricultural history of the region are all showcased at the complex fruit ban, whereas rotating art exhibits are showcased at both the Arbuckle Gallery and the David McKay and Leonard Gallery. Visitors and tourists can stop at Candy shop to purchase turn of the century milkshakes and the O'Brien ice cream parlor.

The Tech Interactive - Place Link

The tech interactive
The Tech Interactive

If you are curious about how new age technology is changing our lives, then Silicon Valley is the place to be. And just as you would expect from an attraction in San Jose, Tech interactive is kitted with gizmos, robots, virtual reality, hands on craziness and gadgets. In summary, your own digital world can be composed at Reboot Reality, learn about the latest advances in biotechnology at the BioDesign Studio and get clued up about internet security at cyber detectives. Body World Decoded began in 2019, a long term exhibition at the museum, it uses augmented reality and other emerging technologies to showcase the human bodies in a new light.

Santana Row - Place Link

Santana row
Santana Row

Where does Silicon Valley moguls spend their money? To the Santana Row, it is a shopping development that is a short drive west of downtown San Jose. You will find various designer shops like Kate Spade and Gucci, delectable eateries and movies theater. The hotel and apartments Valencia built above ground floor creates an urban vibe which takes off at night when the Santana Row becomes a nightlife hub. Many recent tourists claim that this is the best watching spot in the city. There are also nice exotic cars on the parking lot: sports car like Ferraris and Lamborghini are often spotted here.

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The restaurants and shops open around 10am and close at 9pm, however, some shops and restaurants that cater for late night crowds sometimes remain open well past 9pm. It is important that visitors be aware that parking can be very limited at busy times, this might cause you to leave your car across the street at the less crowded Westfield valley mall. For more informations about specific store hours and special events, check the website of Santana Row.

Cathedral Basilica - Place Link

Cathedral basilica
Cathedral Basilica

Architecture enthusiasts will definitely want to find time to go visit the great cathedral Basilica, a huge Catholic Church that is located downtown of San Jose. This great building is the 5th reincarnation and it sits on the very site of the previous basilicas that were destroyed by fire or earthquakes in the nineteenth century. It attracts tourists with its architectural beauty, both the inside and outside. Many reviewers were specifically enchanted by its domes and it's glass windows that are stained (which are about 39 colorful panes to behold). The cathedral wins praises for it's peaceful atmosphere aside from its impressive structural elements.

This great church offers a daily mass (both in Spanish and English on weekends). You can also admire it's interior decoration during a tour. The cathedral is located in downtown San Jose on market street. If you want to book a formal tour, you will need to fill a reservation form online, which can be accessed on the website of the cathedral. Entry into the church is absolutely free, but it suggests that each person booking for a tour makes a small donation of $2.

The Tech Museum

This Tech museum is a site of attraction in San Jose, an amazing city in Silicon Valley. This great facility in San Jose attracts several school children by busload. This outstanding museum thrives off the curiosity of young individuals and offers many hands-on learning opportunities which serves to educate those that goes to the museum about various scientific concepts, such as the science of sound, genetics, biotechnology, space exploration and clean energy. Recent tourists that visited the museum raved about the educational and yet fun exhibit for their children like the robots gallery, a section that enables kids to design, program and build real robots using sensors, actuators and controllers.

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This museum has an IMAX theater that shows various educational films. Those that entered with children gave an advice to future visitors, saying: the facility is best suited for school kids and not necessarily an entertainment stop for teens or adults. The museum opens everyday from 10am to 5pm. The admission cost is $19 for kids aged 3 to 17 and $24 for adults, and combined educational IMAX museum and film tickets are available ($23 for kids and $29 for adults). There are many parking lots close to the museum, many of which charge a daily rate of about $5. For more information, visit the Tech museum's website.

Winchester's mystery house - Place Link

Winchester's mystery house
Winchester's mystery house

In the street from Santana Row, the Winchester's mystery house is a tourist trap, and as reviewed by some, it is also a piece of San Jose history. The very superstitious Sarah Winchester (the heiress to the firearm fortune) built this great and monstrous structure in late 19th and early 20th centuries. The estate has about 161 rooms and a lot of mind blowing designs, such as secret passageways, staircase to nowhere, a seance room and hall of fires, that is equipped with three hot air registers and four fireplaces. However, some tourists appreciate the architectural oddities, while other becomes bored of the furniture less rooms. Nevertheless, you can still consider a visit: this mystery house is among San Jose's oldest homes, and if you don't make a quick stop here, some people will not believe you have truly seen the city.

Furthermore, it is a historical landmark for California. Tourists who visited the mystery house with teens and tweens said it proved an amazing activity for the entire family. A very short drive west of downtown, the mystery house offers mansion and grand estate tours, behind the scenes, and the costs varies depending on your type of tour, it ranges from $25 too $44 per individuals. The schedule of the operating hours is quite complicated, so it is important that you visit and check their webpage before your trip.

About Rachel Garza

Rachel Garza is a passionate writer with a deep fascination for technology and science. Born and raised in an intellectually stimulating environment, she developed an early interest in exploring the latest advancements and breakthroughs in these fields. Rachel's love for writing and her insatiable curiosity led her to pursue a career as a tech and science writer.

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