On October 26, 2012Amanda Arnold answered the question:Whether you’re looking for a relaxed dinner with drinks or a margarita and live music, Santana Row offers the best nightlife in San Jose and is sure to have a few spots to suit your needs and mood. If people-watching on the patio of a Parisian-themed brasserie sounds tempting, we suggest stopping by The Left Bank. Vintage is a lovely spot for wine tasting and light bites, while El Jardin is a Mexican-style tequila bar and restaurant covered by the shade of a huge California oak. If pub grub and live music is more your style, look no further than Rosie McCann’s.
On October 26, 2012Amanda Arnold answered the question:While some of the locations in downtown San Jose, from the HP Pavilion to a few of the museums and galleries, are within walking distance of each other, your best bet for seeing San Jose in one day is to rent a car while you’re in the area. This ensures you’ll get a good overall feel for all the great experiences the city has to offer, from riding roller coasters at Great America to strolling around beautiful downtown Los Gatos and sampling wine in the Santa Cruz Mountains — plus you can do it all on your own schedule.
Begin your day by fueling up at Psycho Donuts or Stacks, then head to the Santa Cruz Mountains for an afternoon of wine tasting. Once you’ve found a favorite and picked up a bottle or two to take home with you, head to Santana Row to squeeze in a little shopping. Afterwards rejuvenate with a massage at Burke Williams Spa, refuel with a delicious dinner at Blowfish Sushi or the Yard House and if you still have enough energy afterwards, cap off your day with cocktails at Parisian-themed brasserie The Left Bank.
On October 26, 2012Amanda Arnold answered the question:Some of the best one-stop shopping in San Jose can be found in Santana Row and Westfield Valley Fair Mall, since these two retail hot spots are located right next to each other. Santana Row’s well-manicured plazas and relaxing fountains make for a lovely stroll while you peruse the likes of Burberry, Gucci, Kate Spade, Lululemon Athletica and Ted Baker. We suggest signing up for Santana Row’s free rewards program at the concierge desk before you get going. Westfield Valley Fair Mall is home to all of the usual suspects like Forever 21, J.Crew, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Co. and even Nordstrom, which just started carrying British fashion favorites Topshop and Topman in September 2012.
On October 26, 2012Amanda Arnold answered the question:Bringing the brood to San Jose? Here are our picks for the best things do with kids in the city:
1. Great America. Kids of all ages are bound to have a blast at San Jose’s premier theme park. Little ones can have fun buzzing around Planet Snoopy, while others may prefer to lounge in the area’s largest lazy river, Castaway Creek. If high-speed twists and turns are more your style, thrill seekers can give The Grizzly or Flight Deck a whirl.
2. Winchester Mystery House. The mysterious and marvelous Winchester Mystery House is worth adding to your family’s to-do list. Sarah L. Winchester built the beautiful, bizarre Victorian-style home after the death of her child and her husband. The heir of the Winchester rifle fortune spent nearly 38 years building the 160-room mansion, which comes equipped with mazes, strange secret passageways and even a staircase that leads to a ceiling.
3. Gilroy Gardens. With over 40 rides, gardens, exhibits and even its very own railroad, the Gilroy Gardens can be wonderful stop for the wee ones. Tiny tots are sure to get their fill of fun on rides like the Banana Split, the Garlic Twirl and the Strawberry Sundae.
4. The Tech Museum. Since you’re in the heart of Silicon Valley, use your visit as an opportunity to unleash your inner innovator. The Tech Museum has hands on exhibits and IMAX presentations that will help your family uncover the spirit of the Bay Area’s tech scene.
5. Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. If you happen to have kids that are interested in exploring and experimenting, you may want to consider bringing them to this excellent museum. CDM is one of the largest museums of its kind in the country, with 150 exhibits providing kids with an ample opportunity to learn and play.
On October 26, 2012Amanda Arnold answered the question:Here are our picks for the best things to see and do in San Jose:
1. Stroll downtown Los Gatos. This is a wonderfully relaxing way to experience a different side of San Jose and the towns that surround it. Los Gatos has a plethora of local shops perfect for browsing and plenty of restaurants you can stop in for lunch or dinner.
2. Wine Country. Napa and Sonoma tend to get most of the attention when it comes to breathtakingly beautiful wine country, but the Santa Cruz wine region remains a bit of a hidden gem for most tourists — and many locals would love to keep it that way since the lines are shorter, there tends to be less traffic and you rub elbows with fewer wine snobs in the tasting rooms. While the wineries may be a bit farther apart than those in Napa and Sonoma, the drive is lovely and it’s not too far from downtown San Jose by car.
3. Horseback riding. In addition to wine tasting, you may want to experience the Santa Cruz Mountains by horseback. Garrod Farms offers both horseback-riding lessons and easy access to the Cooper Garrod Estate Vineyards, allowing you to kill two birds — exercise and wine tasting — with one stone.
4. Live sporting events. Sports fans will have plenty of live events to choose from throughout the year in San Jose. The NHL’s San Jose Sharks and MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes are probably the area’s best-known teams, but the minor-league baseball San Jose Giants are another outfit worth catching while you’re in town.
5. Live music. The Bay Area is known for a great music scene, and San Jose is no exception. The Mountain Winery is a fantastic venue with awe-inspiring views, while Shoreline Amphitheater is another venue that draws in some fairly impressive bands and performers; it’s also right by Google’s headquarters.
On October 22, 2012Amanda Arnold answered the question:You’ll find enough to see and do in the Willamette Valley to fill a weekend or longer. But should you want to see even more of the postcard-worthy countryside beyond this top wine growing region, we at Forbes Travel Guide have scouted a few side trips from Willamette Valley that are worth the drive.
1. The Oregon Coast. You can’t go wrong if you point the car toward the coast. Experience an authentic fishing town in sea-soaked Newport, home to the West Coast’s largest commercial fishing fleet. You can walk the working docks and watch ruddy-faced fishermen bring in the daily catch, then visit the acclaimed Oregon Coast Aquarium. After taking in the town, feast on Oregon Dungeness crab at the seafood market and restaurant Local Ocean, complete with a view of the Yaquina Bay and colorful fishing boats.
2. The Columbia River Gorge. One of the most majestic roads in the state winds along the deep blue Columbia River, the largest North American river that flows into the Pacific. The radiant blue meanders by craggy peaks, mossy hilltops and breath-taking waterfalls. Even if you aren’t an avid trekker, the Multnomah Falls hike is a must. The basic hike is short and winds to a lookout for the 620-foot cascade -- the second highest year-round waterfall in the nation. You won’t forget the view and the soft mist on your face. If you drive 20 more minutes, you’ll reach Hood River, a mecca for windsurfing and kiteboarding and a fun spot for people-watching, shopping and lunch.
3. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. If you have time, plan an overnight trip to Bandon. It’s a picturesque mix of dramatic ocean views and beautiful cranberry bogs. While you can easily spend a day in the town eating fish and chips right on the docks and discovering local artwork, the worldwide draw to the area revolves around tee time. The wind-swept courses at Bandon Dunes are perched 100-feet above the Pacific Ocean, on a landscape that could easily be mistaken for Scotland. Whether you golf at sunset or sunrise, the view is awe-inspiring.
On October 22, 2012Amanda Arnold answered the question:While most travelers come to the Willamette Valley for its wineries, you’ll still find plenty of charming boutiques to explore in the small towns that fill the area. The tree-lined Third Street in downtown McMinnville is a slice of Americana, brimming with independent boutiques and bookstores, cafes and farm-to-table restaurants, and art galleries and wine shops. If you pop into local favorite Mes Amies for designer shoes, scarves or the perfect dress, you may run into one of many area’s resident food writers or the co-owner of the cozy R. Stuart Co. Winery and Bar, located just two doors down. R. Stuart is the perfect spot for a snack and a glass of their bright cherry Oregon pinot noir.
After some wine and cheese, it’s time for art. The galleries on Third Street spotlight local artists—you can find landscapes painted on barrel staves and vibrant pastels of lavender fields by local plein air artists. Take a break from shopping to taste treats handcrafted by a local chocolate maker, salami crafter or artisan jam maker, followed by cocktails on the rooftop of the valley’s Hotel Oregon.
Art collectors will want to visit the nearby Lawrence Gallery in Sheridan, which showcases some of the finest art in the Pacific Northwest and represents more than 150 nationally recognized artists ranging from painters to sculptors.
On October 22, 2012Amanda Arnold answered the question:Willamette Valley is populated with folks who are passionate about place. Locally made products abound—and they’re all delicious. You’ll want to bring a little of the Willamette Valley home with you, so be sure to save room in your suitcase for wine, chocolate, nuts and other locally produced foods. Most wineries can facilitate shipping, and other gourmet products can be tucked into your bags. Besides wine, Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the top things to bring home from the Willamette Valley include:
1. Chocolates. Don’t miss the handmade chocolates at Honest Chocolates in McMinnville. You’ll find decadent flavors that range from blueberry-pinot to currant-claret ganache.
2. Truffle oil. Oregon Truffle Oil, made by mushroom guru (yes, there is such a thing) Jack Czarnecki of the Joel Palmer House in Dayton, Ore., is the first all-natural truffle oil ever produced in the United States and is flavored entirely from wild Oregon white truffles.
3. Homemade jam. After you sample a flight of jams at the Republic of Jam store, take home a tasty trio of preserves. Flavors like apricot vanilla Riesling, bacon, and rhubarb rosemary are pretty irresistible.
4. Charcuterie. Bring back a few salamis from Fino in Fondo, owned by the husband-and-wife team from Nick’s Italian Café. A few to sample? Tartufo, Soprassata and Calabrese.
5. Nuts. Freddy Guys Hazelnuts are harvested from a family-run orchard in the mid-Willamette Valley. The dark chocolate covered hazelnuts will make you swoon, and the all-natural, dry roasted hazelnuts have the perfect crunch.