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72 Hours in San Jose, CA

The San Jose Museum of Art features ten exhibitions annually, highlighting modern and contemporary artists from the Bay Area and beyond. Image courtesy of Nabr.

Do you know the way to San Jose? Now the tenth most populated city in the country, San Jose has a growing cultural and dining scene. The activity is concentrated in SoFA, a walkable neighborhood filled with independent businesses and artist studios, dubbed “Silicon Valley’s Creative District.”

The growth of SoFA is part of a larger construction boom in Downtown San Jose: over $30 billion in real estate investment is happening within a one-square mile radius of SoFA. By 2030, 10 million square feet of new office space and 10,000 residential units are set to debut — and SoFA’s small businesses are rising to the occasion. The transformation that is already occurring resembles the growth of neighborhoods like DUMBO in New York City or Wynwood in Miami.

Nabr is proud to be building in the heart of SoFA, at 415 South 3rd Street. We often get asked how to spend a long weekend in the neighborhood — short for “South of First Area” — and wanted to share some highlights. Whether San Jose is next on your weekend getaway list, you’ve signed up for the SoFA One waitlist or are a Californian eager to learn more about the area, we’ve got you covered. Better yet, all of these spots are walkable, averaging around ten minutes from point A to B — no car needed.

FRIDAY: Dynamic and Design-Centric

Take a digital tour of Friday’s agenda.

9 a.m. @ Academic Coffee (499 South Second Street): Start the weekend with a strong cup of joe that’s impeccably roasted. Academic Coffee’s selection of fresh baked goods, from almond croissants to buttermilk donuts, make for a classic pairing — or get creative and order their Espresso Elderflower Tonic.

10:30 a.m. @ Heroes (450 South First Street): If you’re looking to get some exercise in, head over to Heroes, a martial arts studio that has operated at the heart of SoFA since 2009. Specializing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Heroes has classes catered to all skill levels and ages.

1 p.m. @ Pizza Bocca Lupo (87 North San Pedro Street): Located within San Pedro Market, Pizza Bocca Lupo brings Neapolitan flavor to San Jose. Boasting an authentic wood burning oven imported from Italy, the restaurant specializes in thin-crust, personalized pizzas.

3 p.m. @ MACLA (510 First Street): Short for Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, MACLA is home to impressive contemporary exhibitions highlighting the top Latinx artists in the Bay Area. Admission is free, and the museum’s programming spans visual, literary, and performance art.

5 p.m. @ Paper Plane (72 South First Street): One of the best places to start — or end — the night. We highly recommend the cocktail spot’s “Escape Artist,” the perfect combo of spicy and sweet.

7 p.m. @ Serpentine Pavilion (300 South First Street): On the first Friday of each month, all of the galleries and museums in SoFA open their doors for extended hours, in what’s known as the South First Fridays. As you peruse, be sure to check out Bjarke Ingels’ iconic Serpentine Pavilion, which was recently relocated from London to San Jose.

The 408 Collective performing in the Serpentine Pavilion. Image courtesy of Nabr.

SATURDAY: Playful and Pup-Friendly

Take a digital tour of Saturday’s agenda.

8 a.m. @ Pasteleria (30 East Santa Clara Street): Grab the famous egg tarts at Pastelaria Adega, the new bakery concept from Portuguese Michelin-star chef, David Cosa. Meant to resemble a cafe in Lisbon, it offers a full range of coffee, pastries, and breads.

10 a.m @ Hart’s Dog Park (194 West Santa Clara Street): If you have a pet downtown, head to Hart’s Dog Park — a green space meant to accommodate the growing population of pups in Downtown San Jose. A big mural by local artist Tom Colla demarcates the space, which is named after a former long-time downtown department store.

11 a.m. @ Boba Bar (310 South First Street): Get that late morning pick-me-up at Boba Bar, which has a diverse range of teas. Their Vietnamese Coffee is a crowd favorite. A comfortable place to hang out with friends in the shade, given its wide porch.

1 p.m. @ Higher Fire (499 South Market Street): The team at Higher Fire, a teaching studio and contemporary ceramics gallery, makes getting crafty easy. You can buy a membership or try out a class led by one of their in-house artists, like wheel throwing.

3 p.m. @ San Jose Museum of Art (110 South Market Street): A leader in Bay Area modern and contemporary art, the San Jose Museum of Art rotates ten exhibitions annually. Placing particular emphasis on California artists, the galleries bring to life the vibrant cultures of the state’s diverse communities.

5 p.m. @ San Pedro Social (163 West Santa Clara Street): Filled with playful decor, arcade games like pinball and hoops, and plenty of bowling alleys, there’s no shortage of entertainment at San Pedro Social. Book a slot for a few hours…perhaps you will even be tempted by the karaoke.

A crowd favorite at Petiscos is the octopus salad. Image courtesy of Nabr.

7:30 p.m. @ Petiscos (399 South First Street): Still reminiscing about the egg tartlet from this morning? You’re in luck — David Cosa also runs nearby Petiscos, a dinner spot known for its Portuguese small plates. Reservations recommended.

SUNDAY: Social and Relaxed

Take a digital tour of Sunday’s agenda.

10 a.m. @ The Studio (396 South First Street): A former movie theater built in the 1950s, The Studio is now home to an impressive 40-foot climbing wall. For those scared of heights, there’s a robust offering of other activities: from yoga to weightlifting, plus fitness equipment like ellipticals and treadmills.

11 a.m. @ Nirvana Soul (315 South First Street ): Co-founded by sisters, Nirvana Soul leverages the power of coffee and tea to bring people together. Playful twists on traditional drinks are their forte: get creative with a Sweet Potato Pie Latte or Teamosa, a sparkling tea drink with pineapple and peach.

1 p.m. @ Vietnoms (387 South First Street): San Jose has the largest Vietnamese population in the U.S. and many of the top Vietnamese food spots are hole-in-the-wall joints. Vietnoms is within SoFA Market, making getting quality Vietnamese food a breeze.

4 p.m. @ Camino Brewing Company (718 South First Street): The best place in town to grab a cool one. Their team is informative and friendly — especially Kimberly, the head brewer. There’s also a biergarten in the back to chill and pretend the Sunday Scaries aren’t hitting…yet.

6 p.m. Guildhouse (420 South First Street): Come to relax solo with their playstation setup or join in on a game of giant Uno. At over 18,000 square feet, Guildhouse supports crowds of all sizes. Better yet, there’s an extensive list of craft cocktails (get the Shock Jockey), local beers and hearty snacks like soft pretzels and hot pockets.

8 p.m. @ Miniboss (52 East Santa Clara Street): Round out the night with a few more games at this hotspot. The arcade bar has classics like Donkey Kong and Pac Man, plus pinball machines in themes ranging from Stranger Things to Star Wars. Get in the winning spirit with the help of their playful cocktails, like “Killer Queen”.

The Studio has a range of climbing walls, perfect for every age and skill level. Image courtesy of Nabr.

Anything to add? Let us know during your next visit (or move) to SoFA!

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