Are you wondering where to stay in San Jose and Silicon Valley? In this blog we’ve highlighted the best areas. Downtown San Jose, North San Jose, Santa Clara, Palo Alto or South San Francisco are great places to stay in San Jose and Silicon Valley.
Whether you are visiting for business or pleasure, San Jose is always a fun place to be. The city is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, and many tech giants are found here. Also considered the gateway to the Bay Area, San Jose has a lot going for it.
Visitors who are interested in history, technology, culture and even the great outdoors will find something to entice them here.
Of course, if you’re going to make the most of your time, you need to find a great place to stay in San Jose. Fortunately, that’s not too difficult.
The region has a thriving tourism industry and a wide selection of hotels with prices ranging from the ultra-affordable to the super-luxurious.
Let’s explore some of the best places to stay in Silicon Valley and San Jose
Where to stay in San Jose and Silicon Valley: 5 Best Areas
1. Downtown San Jose, where to stay in San Jose for first time visitors and nightlife
If you want to stay in San Jose in the center of the action, then downtown is the neighborhood for you. Downtown is located a brief, four-mile drive from Mineta San Jose International Airport.
It’s an ideal spot if you’re hoping to frequent bars and nightclubs, and it’s also the place to be if you want to attend live entertainment, which can even include the national touring companies of Broadway shows.
With so much going on in a relatively compact area, it’s no surprise that this is one of the best places to stay in San Jose.
One of the top attractions in Downtown is the Tech Museum of Innovation, a natural institution to find in the center of Silicon Valley.
Whether you love technology or find yourself baffled by it, the museum is a fun spot to do some hands-on learning, sometimes with technology that isn’t even in stores yet.
Of course, San Jose isn’t all about the future. The city celebrates the past as well. Visitors might want to partake in a history tour.
Considered the first civilian settlement in Nueva California, San Jose was once the state capital. It was established in 1777, and if you visit Kelley Park, you might feel like you’ve traveled back in time.
Among other attractions, the park is where you’ll find the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, the Japanese Friendship Garden and History Park.
Keep exploring the past with a stop at San Pedro Square, which is the city’s oldest district. Today, you’ll find lots of vendors selling food and drinks here from around the world.
Adjacent to the square is the Fallon House, a Victorian-era structure that was once the home of former San Jose mayor Thomas Fallon and his wife, Carmelita.
The Downtown Farmers’ Market is located nearby, and it’s a highlight for visitors who arrive between May and November.
Museum enthusiasts will love institutions like the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles and the San Jose Museum of Art.
If you enjoy discovering local beers, then don’t miss your opportunity to take a tour with San Jose Brew Bike, which lets you conveniently pedal your way through a variety of breweries and dive bars.
Kids love downtown too as it’s the home of the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. Entertaining the kids has never been easier than it is in this colorful and interactive institution.
The whole family might enjoy a San Jose Sharks hockey game at SAP Center or a tour of San Jose State University’s lovely campus.
Take in a show at the San Jose Repertory Theatre, and don’t forget to drop in at the De Anza Hotel, a National register of Historic Places structure that was built in 1931 in a distinctive Art Deco style.
If you’re up for a short drive or ride by public transit, then travel a little to the west of downtown to visit one of the strangest tourist attractions in America.
Known as the Winchester Mystery House, this one-of-a-kind destination is a favorite with those who love history, architecture and the paranormal.
Built by heiress Sarah Winchester, who was struck by several tragedies before moving to the San Jose area, construction continued on the structure on a non-stop basis until her death many years after her arrival.
Winchester believed that the constant construction was the only way to escape the curse on her family, and she claimed to receive plans for construction after communing with the spirits.
Daily tours will help you uncover more of the mysteries at Sarah Winchester’s house.
On your way back to downtown, schedule a visit to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. Whether you are fascinated by mummies and other Egyptian artifacts or not, this is an extraordinary facility that houses western North America’s largest collection of such items.
The Tomb Tour is especially memorable, and is considered by many to be a can’t-miss experience.
Downtown also is the perfect place to stay in San Jose if you love to dine in style. Even the most eclectic palate will be satisfied here, with cuisines from around the world being represented.
Paesano Ristorante Italiano is one of the best places to enjoy Italian food in the city, while tapas takes center stage at District San Jose.
If you enjoy your meals with a side of sports, visit Da Boccery, a unique spot where you can indulge in bocce, foot pool, shuffleboard, ax throwing and other thrilling pastimes while you dine.
Whether you are looking for Greek, German, new American, seafood, Mexican, Vietnamese or an entirely different cuisine, you’ll find it in downtown.
After enjoying the Guadalupe River Trail and the Downtown San Jose Public Art Walk, you’ll want a cozy place to end the day.
Fortunately, this neighborhood has plenty of options for lodgings. Most selections are surprisingly affordable for a downtown district.
At the more expensive end of the spectrum are representations of major brands like Marriott, Westin and Hilton.
However, what’s really interesting in downtown are spots like the De Anza Hotel, the Hotel Clariana and other independent choices housed in historic buildings. Relatively affordable but well-appointed, these hotels have quite a bit of personality.
If you’re looking for accommodations that definitely won’t break the bank, you may be in luck when you choose downtown. Some inexpensive choices, mainly constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, offer good choices for the budget-conscious traveler.
These are solid alternatives for travelers who generally prefer hostels, as downtown has a notable lack of this type of accommodation.
San Jose’s downtown generally is considered a safe neighborhood, but it is wise to exercise common-sense precautions, especially when enjoying nightlife.
Thanks to downtown San Jose’s central location, you’ll have no trouble exploring this neighborhood or the surrounding communities. An extensive light rail system connects all parts of San Jose and neighboring cities, so if you don’t want to rent a car, you don’t have to.
2. North San Jose – San Jose International Airport, where to stay in San Jose on a budget
If you want the largest possible selection of places to stay in San Jose, then you can’t go wrong with North San Jose. Thanks to the proximity of the airport, this neighborhood boasts the greatest concentration of hotels and accommodations of all descriptions.
North San Jose also is a good place to stay because it provides visitors with convenient access to downtown and plenty of attractions in its own right.
This is where you’ll find the San Jose Flea Market. A sprawling open-air market, you’ll definitely want to explore Produce Row and pick up some priceless antiques.
The kids won’t be able to resist a ride on the vintage carousel, and live music is available to delight the entire family. Pick up a casual meal on the go from a variety of vendors.
Attend the Berryessa Night Market, a weekly vendor and food truck event, for an unforgettable and quintessentially San Jose experience.
If flea markets aren’t your thing, then you may want to buy a ticket for a pro soccer game at Avaya Stadium or visit the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve.
The preserve promises breathtaking views and miles of trails. In addition to hiking, some trails are open to cyclists and horseback riders. It further encompasses Alum Rock Park, which is distinguished as the state’s first municipal park after it was established as a pueblo in 1777.
North San Jose also is home to Japantown. Recognized for its incredible dining opportunities, Japantown is the place to sample traditional Japanese cuisine as well as dishes that are mixed with American and Hawaiian influences.
The streets are bustling, so be prepared to have company as you shop for souvenirs and clothing, tour hip art galleries and sing your heart out at the karaoke bars.
This also is where you’ll find the Japanese American Museum where it is possible to explore internment during World War II and stories of immigrants from Japan.
Golfers consider this district as the best place to stay in San Jose because it’s the site of the San Jose Municipal Golf Course. This challenging course is suitable for players of all levels of ability.
When it comes to accommodations in this neighborhood, you’ll be spoiled for choice. You’ll quickly discover affordable options that are priced at well below $100 per night.
Most of these properties are independent, locally owned hotels that might appeal to travelers who want to break away from the major chains while still saving some money. That said, if you have a favorite brand, you’ll probably find it represented here.
Many of these hotels are clustered along either the Bayshore Freeway, as Highway 101 is called at this stretch, or El Camino Real.
The proximity to these major arteries makes it a snap to explore San Jose and its surrounding cities. Once again, you’ll have plenty of public transit options as well.
3. Santa Clara, best area to stay in San Jose for families
Immediately adjacent to San Jose, Santa Clara is a thriving tech center in California. Several tech giants are headquartered here, among them Intel, Applied Materials, Agilent Technologies, Nvidia, National Semiconductors and many others.
Not surprisingly, Santa Clara is the home of the Intel Museum, which is located at Intel’s headquarters.
Exhibits include an historical overview of semiconductor technology in general as well as some of Intel’s biggest products. With free admission, this can be a fun attraction for anyone who enjoys technology.
Whether you are traveling with kids or not, thrill seekers will want to visit the amusement park called California’s Great America. Rides include pulse-pounding roller coasters as well as carousels, bumper cars and several rides that are designed just for little ones.
A wide selection of water park attractions helps you to keep cool in the summer, and the Peanuts-themed area is a delight to everyone who loves Snoopy and the gang.
Enjoying the sunny California weather is a cinch when you’re playing a round at the Golf Club at Moffett Field. The 18-hole course is 6,517 yards and has a par of 72. Located adjacent to the civil-military airport known as Moffett Field, this is a unique place to enjoy some golf.
If you’re a football fan, then Santa Clara is a great place to visit. This is the home of Levi’s Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play.
Also located here is the 49ers Museum. With nearly a dozen exhibit spaces and galleries, this enormous facility offers a fascinating look at the past, present and future of one of the NFL’s favorite teams.
Art lovers may want to spend a relaxing afternoon viewing work by local artists at the Triton Museum of Art. Established some 50 years ago, this is the foremost venue for local artists to exhibit their work, often alongside the work of regionally and nationally known artists.
Regular special events will appeal to many who appreciate the arts.
Santa Clara is a safe place to be with relatively low crime rates. This is a major residential city as well as a community with many thriving businesses.
Fewer nightlife experiences are available here, but numerous bars represent options for enjoying a night on the town.
As it lies immediately to the west of North San Jose, Santa Clara boasts plenty of accommodation options. The vast majority of these represent some of the most well-known brand names in hotels across the world.
Whether travelers are on a strict budget or are amenable to sampling a truly upscale experience, they will find numerous choices available. Most of these have amenities like outdoor swimming pools, hot tubs, restaurants and room service.
4. Palo Alto, one of the best areas to stay in Silicon Valley for entertainment and nightlife
Located to the west of Mountain View, California, Palo Alto is another favorite place to stay in San Jose and the Silicon Valley. Stanford University is found here, and this institution, which was founded in 1891, is one of the city’s main attractions.
Known to many as “the Farm,” Stanford admits just over 50,000 undergraduates each year. Many more people visit the campus every year, with the Main Quad being a central attraction.
With California Mission Revival architecture against the backdrop of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Main Quad offers stunning views in every season. An even better view can be obtained by taking the elevator to the top of nearby Hoover Tower.
Those who are interested in visiting the campus may take either a student-led or self-guided walking tour. Stops along the way include the Stanford Memorial Church and the Cantor Art Center.
With a layout that is reminiscent of a public park, this is a fantastic place to enjoy a hike or a bike ride as well as view some gorgeous gardens.
The Cantor Art Center boasts a world-class collection of art, all of which can be viewed for free. More than 38,000 pieces are distributed across 24 galleries.
In addition to their permanent exhibits, the Cantor Art Center regularly hosts international touring collections. If you visit, be sure to make time for the Rodin Sculpture Garden.
Visitors who love to shop will want to schedule a visit to the nearby Stanford Shopping Center. Department stores like Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus are represented as are luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton.
A Summer Jazz Series is hosted here as well.
At Baylands Nature Preserve, visitors can relax and enjoy some of the Bay Area’s most scenic landscapes. On the east side of Palo Alto, the preserve borders San Francisco Bay and contains some 2,000 acres of pristine marshland.
Anyone who is looking to escape the overall hustle of Silicon Valley will love this retreat with its 15 miles of hiking, running and cycling trails. A sailing station is found nearby for launching boats into the bay.
Another quiet retreat is found at the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden. This free public garden encompasses more than two acres on the historic property of the granddaughter of Frances Gamble, one of the men who founded the Procter & Gamble company. Her restored 1902 home is open to visitors.
Palo Alto has the distinction of being known as the Birthplace of Silicon Valley. In fact, you can visit the Hewlett Packard Garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established what became a Fortune 500 company. Limited tours are available, so call ahead if you’re interested.
History buffs will want to schedule a stop at the small but fascinating Museum of American Heritage. Through its exhibits, the museum explores technology from 1750-1950.
Its permanent exhibits include an early 20th-century kitchen, a general store from the 1920s, a print shop, garage and garden.
This is one of the safest places to stay in San Jose. Plus, with the Stanford campus, you can be certain to find all sorts of opportunities for enjoying nightlife.
Palo Alto is definitely an upscale city, so visitors will find many hotels that are potentially budget busters. Some can easily cost several hundred dollars per night, but if you are interested in a particularly luxurious stay, one of these could be the right choice for you.
Fortunately, Palo Alto boasts a large number of hotels, and many of them are far more affordable. While most of them cost more than $100 a night, those who look carefully and plan well in advance will find accommodations costing less than $100 too.
Limited hostel options are available here as well. You’ll want to book well in advance to ensure a space.
5. South San Francisco, convenient and laid-back place to stay in San Jose and Silicon Valley
Sometimes referred to as “South City” by those in the know, this is a popular and laid-back place to stay in San Jose and Silicon Valley. It’s located on the San Francisco Peninsula, several miles north of the other locales described here.
However, because it’s located adjacent to San Francisco International Airport and has easy freeway access to the rest of Silicon Valley, many people choose to make South San Francisco their home base.
History buffs will definitely want to schedule a visit to the Plymire-Schwarz Hous
It’s an early 20th century structure that first served as a hospital before it became home to Dr. H.G. Plymire. Later, Ernst and Marguerite Schwarz moved in, giving the house the name that it still bears today.
Visitors will find the house filled with period-correct pieces and a full collection of original editions of South San Francisco’s local newspaper.
If you’re looking for something more exciting or are simply feeling competitive, make your way over to K1 Speed. These fast-moving go-karts race in groups of 12, and this is an exceptionally popular spot in South San Francisco for locals and visitors.
Those in the mood for something completely different can make their way up to Oyster Point where they will find the Wind Harp. Recognized as being among the world’s tallest Aeolian harps, the Wind Harp promises spectacular views of San Francisco and beautiful music on every windy day.
Oyster Point Park features a public marina and plenty of outdoor activities. Take a stroll to see the boats and the bay views, and be certain to bring along some food for a picnic. The fishing pier is the perfect place to catch lunch or supper.
Oyster Cove Beach is found here too. It’s exceptionally family friendly, and the swimming is fine.
A little outside of town is the perfect place to get away from it all. Known as Gray Whale Cove State Beach, this breathtaking spot is easy to get to and impossible to forget. Be sure to wear your walking shoes so that you’ll be ready for a trek.
While you’re exploring Gray Whale Cove, set aside a bit of extra time to visit adjacent McNee Ranch State Park. The park overlooks the cove and features inspiring views of San Francisco as well.
The hike is relatively easy, so even if you’re not an experienced trekker, you’ll do fine here.
South San Francisco is a largely industrial city with plenty of residential neighborhoods as well. It’s rather a crowded and bustling place so although crime rates are fairly low here, it’s wise to be aware of your surroundings, especially if you’ll be roaming after dark.
Gourmands will find plenty to interest them here. South San Francisco has an extremely diverse population, and that means that a wide variety of international cuisines are represented here.
You’ll have opportunities to dine in upscale locations or grab a quick burger on the go depending upon your mood. Be on the lookout for local eateries serving scrumptious breakfast specialties, sushi, Mexican food and many other options.
South San Francisco will appeal to shoppers as well. All of the big box stores are here as well as plenty of grocery stores and drugstores. If you’re looking for a fashionable new outfit, head to one of the malls such as Bayhill Shopping Center, San Bruno Town Center and the Shops at Tanforan.
South San Francisco doesn’t have a lot in the way of nightlife, but with San Francisco a short drive away, you could easily be spoiled for options.
Most accommodation options are centrally located around Highway 101, though El Camino Real immediately to the west also boasts plentiful options.
Compared to the options in San Francisco proper and other more upscale communities like Palo Alto, hotel rates are pretty affordable here.
Most prices average around $100 per night, and it’s possible to find some real bargains, particularly if you shop well in advance of your arrival date.
Your best chance for saving some money on a hotel stay is to choose one of the smaller, independent properties, of which there are several in the city. That said, if you have a favorite chain, you will probably find it represented here.
Expect to pay more of a premium rate if your select accommodations that are anywhere close to the bay or Oyster Point as these may feature waterfront views