From the terrace of the GrandView Restaurant, 1,500 feet up Mount Hamilton, the vista stretches from Loma Prieta to San Francisco Bay. As dusk turns to dark, the twinkling lights of progress spread across Silicon Valley, as if someone has flipped the on switch at an immense data center.
Long before computers existed, the GrandView began operating as a roadhouse en route to Lick Observatory—a forerunner of the region’s tech industry, where Jupiter's fifth moon was first spotted in 1892 and astronomers continue to explore the cosmos today. The GrandView's new owners channeled some of that pioneering spirit when they renovated the restaurant and transformed a nearby 60-acre plot into a seed-to-table farm. Now fresh ingredients brighten dishes such as Tuscan kale salad and lobster truffle deviled eggs.
How Californian. Or, really, how San Josean. If there's one thing people in the nation's 10th-largest metropolis have mastered, it's ingenuity. So much so that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office put a regional branch inside City Hall. Originality abounds all over town, from such perennial attractions as Winchester Mystery House, the legendary mansion that’s starring in an upcoming Hollywood thriller, to upstart standouts including Adega, the first local restaurant to score a Michelin star.
Visitors who want to immerse themselves in San Jose's culture of innovation should head downtown. The city center beckons 21st-century explorers with cutting-edge arts, ambitious science, exceptional ethnic diversity, and cleverly crafted cuisine. What’s more, many of these contemporary assets spring from deep roots in California history.
Consider San Pedro Square, home to the oldest building in San Jose and a bustling food hall. The 220-year-old Peralta Adobe sits in the middle of San Pedro Square Market. Nearly 20 vendors whet appetites with novel takes on classic fare and inventive flavor combinations. Options include Reuben sandwiches heaped with corned beef smoked on-site, fried plantains with dried cranberries and chipotle crema, and eggplant-and-pepperoncini-spiked falafel wraps.