Ghost stories, ancient Egyptians, world-class wineries and a visit to the Old West top our list of attractions on a day trip to San Jose, California.
San Jose rests at the heart of Santa Clara County, one of the most affluent counties in the United States. According to Kyle Schatzel, communications manager at Visit San Jose, the city is home to more than 6,600 tech companies, giving it the world’s largest concentration of technology expertise. It’s almost an embarrassment of riches that the city also enjoys gorgeous weather most of the year and is home to numerous world-class museums and dining establishments. Oh, and it’s wine country too.
The only thing hard about traveling to San Jose on business is that you may not have the free time you need to truly enjoy it. Make it a point to visit these top stops the next time business brings you to town.
Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester mansion was once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of Winchester Rifle heir William Winchester. William’s death in 1881 reportedly left Sarah with a broken heart and the belief that her family was haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester rifles. Strangely, Sarah believed the only way to appease the spirits was to move west away from Connecticut, build a home, and continuously add to it.
She didn’t employ an architect, and the home soon took on a haphazard layout, with stairways that lead nowhere and doors that open to reveal walls. The house contains approximately 161 rooms (with new rooms found fairly frequently), two ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, two basements, and three elevators. Make it a point to ask your tour guide which of the 40 bedrooms Sarah slept in. The response is certainly interesting. A visit to the Winchester Mystery House offers a peek into a sad, brilliant, troubled mind.
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum features the largest display of Egyptian antiquities on the West Coast. H. Spencer Lewis established the museum in 1928, although the current building was constructed in 1966 in the architectural style of an ancient Egyptian building. With more than 4,000 pieces that date from the pre-dynastic to the early Islamic era, the museum makes you feel like you stepped back in time.
Be sure to venture down into the interior of the “pyramids” to learn more about Egyptian burial practices and their beliefs regarding the afterlife. Stroll the grounds to see buildings inspired by both Egyptian and Moorish architecture, or just relax in the stunning Egyptian gardens. You can find the museum at 1660 Park Ave.
History Park at Kelly Park
For a sense of what Santa Clara Valley was like in the 19th century, visit History Park, located within the larger Kelly Park. It houses 32 original and reproduction homes, businesses, and other landmarks that make you feel like you’re in the Old West. To be thoroughly charmed, check out the array of historic buildings on the grounds, ride the trolley, and enjoy a cold treat at the old-fashioned ice cream shop.
Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains 10 miles west of San Jose in Cupertino, Ridge Vineyards is the winery Kyle Schatzel says put California on the map as a world-class wine destination. It has been under the direction of winemaker Paul Draper since the 1960s, and it was Draper who adopted the vineyard practice of using only natural, ecologically sustainable farming techniques. Because an estimated 90 percent of the wine produced today is considered “industrial,” Ridge Vineyards refers to its products as “pre-industrial.” The vineyard still uses 19th century techniques to create wines that are properly aged and deeply complex.
When visiting, don’t leave without trying the signature Monte Bello, a wine aged in a combination of 95 percent American Oak and 5 percent French Oak.
Do you travel to San Jose frequently on business? Share all your favorite can’t-miss haunts with us on Facebook.