Winchester Mystery House

#9 in Best Things To Do in San Jose
Winchester Mystery House picture
Courtesy Winchester Mystery House

Key Info

525 South Winchester Boulevard

Details

Historic Homes/Mansions, Parks and Gardens, Tours Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
2.9scorecard
  • 3.0Value
  • 2.5Facilities
  • 3.0Atmosphere

Across the street from hip Santana Row, the Winchester Mystery House is both a piece of San Jose history and, according to some, a tourist trap. The incredibly superstitious Sarah Winchester  heiress to the firearm fortune  built this monstrous structure in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The estate boasts 161 rooms and a bevy of mind-boggling designs, such as a staircase to nowhere, secret passageways, a séance room and the Hall of Fires, which is equipped with four fireplaces and three hot air registers. While some visitors appreciate the architectural oddities, others quickly grow bored of the furniture-less rooms. Still, you might consider a visit: The house is one of San Jose's oldest homes, and some people won't believe you've truly seen the city if you don't make a quick stop here. What's more, it's a California Historical Landmark. Reviewers who visited with tweens and teens said it proved an entertaining activity for the whole family.

Just a short drive west of downtown, the Winchester Mystery House offers Behind-the-Scenes, Mansion and Grand Estate tours (prices vary by tour type, ranging from $25 to $44 per person). The estate maintains a complicated schedule of operating hours, so check the website before your trip.

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Time to Spend
#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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