Skip to main content.

A City Guide to San Jose - Discovering Downtown, Walking Willow Glen, and Shopping in Japantown

Find a place to stay

A city known for its affluence and influence in the world of technology, San Jose is an exciting place to visit year round. Downtown is the place to be for easy access to the city's museums, art galleries, and hip cafés, while Little Saigon has some of the best Vietnamese food you'll find anywhere. Japantown is the hub for truly authentic Japanese food, clothing, and handicrafts.

Discovering downtown San Jose


The core of this renowned tech town is where you'll find several landmarks, like The Children's Discovery Museum on Woz Way (named after Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak). It features interactive, self-directed learning exhibitions to stimulate kids' creativity and curiosity. There's also The Tech Museum of Art and Innovation, a celebration of Silicon Valley's contributions to technology (you can even build your own robot.) Excellent coffee and people watching is a favorite pastime in this chilled out city, so you'll never be far from a gourmet café where you can relax and enjoy San Jose's free public WiFi


Wandering through Japantown


Also called “J Town” or Nihonmachi, Japantown lies north of downtown San Jose and is the hub for the city's Japanese culture, including a bevy of authentic restaurants. Small shops selling imported goods from Japan, karaoke bars, and the Japanese American Museum are also key features of the neighbourhood. You'll want to take your time at Kogura, a large shop with an assortment of fascinating finds, like silk kimonos, chopsticks, and ceramic teapots. Then you can head to Nichi Bei Bussan, opened in 1902, for even more imported gifts, like home ware and traditional Japanese clothing.


  • Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 535 North 5th Street, San Jose, CA 95112; Tel: +1 408 294 3138; Website: Japanese American Museum of San Jose

  • Kogura Company, 231 Jackson Street, San Jose, CA 95112; Tel: +1 408 294 3184; Website: Kogura Company


Exploring Little Saigon


Just southeast of downtown, Little Saigon is the place to experience a taste of authentic Vietnamese culture. The area has the one of largest Vietnamese populations in the world outside of Vietnam. There's plenty of delicious eateries, like Lee's Sandwiches, a popular spot for mouthwatering banh mi sandwiches, and smoothies in flavors like avocado, banana, and apple. The Viet Museum tells the story of Vietnamese Americans and their journey to North America. At Grand Century Shopping Mall, you'll find plenty of yummy food and gift shops selling goods imported from Vietnam.


  • Lee's Sandwiches, 990 Story Road, Suite 30, San Jose, CA 95122; Tel: +1 408 295 3402; Website: Lee's Sandwiches

  • The Viet Museum, 1650 Senter Road, San Jose, CA 95112; Website: The Viet Museum


Walking around Willow Glen


This area is defined by its warm, friendly vibe and vibrant tree-lined streets. The high number of great local shops and delicious restaurants means it's best to get around on foot, in line with the neighbourhood’s preference for keeping it walkable. You can head to Hicklebee's Children's Books for one of the most fabulous selections of kids' books and toys. San Jose has 300 days of sunshine a year, so enjoying a delicious wood-fired pizza on Willow Street Pizza's outdoor patio is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. Three Sisters is a fun shop to peruse for eclectic finds.


  • Hicklebee's Childrens Books, 1378 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose, CA 95125; Tel: +1 408 292 8880; Website: Hicklebee's Childrens Books

  • Willow Street Pizza, 1072 Willow Street, San Jose, CA 95125; Tel: +1 408 971 7080; Website: Willow Street Pizza