Japanese Friendship Garden

#7 in Best Things To Do in San Jose
Japanese Friendship Garden picture
Meg Lauber/Flickr

Key Info

1300 Senter Rd.

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
3.6scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Visitors frequently describe this small garden as "tranquil" and a nice place to let the kids run around. Built in 1965 as a symbol of everlasting friendship between the city of San Jose and its sister city, Okayama, Japan, the garden features Japanese bridges, waterfalls and koi fish (a favorite attraction among youngsters).

Recent visitors said the garden provided a peaceful backdrop for a relaxing stroll, though some were disappointed with its size, describing it as underwhelming. Because of its picturesque landscaping and romantic ambiance, it's also a popular spot for engagement photos and outdoor wedding ceremonies, according to reviewers.

Situated a little more than 2 miles south of downtown San Jose in Kelley Park, the Japanese Friendship Garden is free to enter, but you'll have to pay $6 to park. To avoid fees, heed the advice of travelers and park on East Alma Street, across from Kelley Park. You'll also find restrooms, picnic facilities, playgrounds, a small zoo and barbecues within Kelley Park. 

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#1 Santana Row

Where do Silicon Valley tycoons go to spend their money? To Santana Row, a chic shopping development just a short drive west of downtown San Jose. Here you'll find delectable eateries, a movie theater and designer shops like Gucci and Kate Spade. And the apartments and the Hotel Valencia built above the ground-floor businesses create an urban vibe that particularly takes off at night when Santana Row becomes a nightlife hub. Many recent travelers claim that this is the best people-watching spot in the city. Also keep your eyes on the parking lot: Exotic sports cars like Lamborghinis and Ferraris are often spotted here.

The shops and restaurants open around 10 a.m. and close around 9 p.m., although many that cater to the late-night crowds will stay open well past then. Visitors should be aware that parking can be extremely limited at busy times, so you might have to leave your car across the street at the less-trendy Westfield Valley Fair mall. For more information about special events and specific store hours, check out Santana Row's website.

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