Home #WHERETONEXT USA A Resident’s Guide to Outdoor Activities In and Around San Jose, CA

A Resident’s Guide to Outdoor Activities In and Around San Jose, CA

Sitting on the southern shore of San Francisco Bay, in the center of the Santa Clara Valley, San Jose stands as a major technology hub for over a million residents working in a mix of tech-based jobs and tourism. 

While Silicon Valley might be a tech hub, a whole world of outdoor adventures is waiting for you. Since the work-from-home culture is rife here, residents mostly unwind by engaging in some outdoor activities in San Jose.

So, are you tired of staring at computer screens and what to get your groove on?

Here’s a guide to some of the best outdoor spots in and around the area, with detailed descriptions to help you plan your visits.

  1. La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park

Located in Costa Rica, La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park is a nature lover’s paradise. It features five stunning waterfalls, lush rainforests, and a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, butterflies, and birds. 

The largest animal sanctuary in Costa Rica, with over 100 species of animals, is found in La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park.

Although located in Costa Rica, many visitors from nearby cities and even San Jose use local movers to get a tour guide of the park area. 

Whether you or your family need a fun adventure, the park is a perfect getaway for those looking to immerse themselves in nature. 


Don’t miss the hummingbird garden in this park, where you can see up to 26 different species of hummingbirds. Admission is from $150 for adults.

  1. Mount Umunhum

Considering how centered some of San Jose’s hot spots are and how career-centric the city is, many ask, ‘Is San Jose outdoorsy?’. 

If you’re in doubt, visiting Mount Umunhum within the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve in Santa Clara County will convince you.

Standing at 3,486 feet, Mount Umunhum offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the Bay Area. This spot features a well-maintained trail to the summit that is approximately 3.7 miles long, suitable for both novice and experienced hikers. 

At the top, you’ll find the iconic cube, a remnant of an old Air Force radar station. The hike itself is rewarding, with wildflowers in the spring and colorful foliage in the fall. 

Moreover, for the photophiles and those looking for a peaceful escape, Mount Umunhum is a perfect spot to capture all the beauties nature has to offer here. 


You can conquer this summit from 7 AM until 30 minutes after sunset. Entry and parking are free, and no permit is required.

  1. Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

If your idea of outdoor fun is a family-friendly place, the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo in San Jose is perfect. 

The park combines a zoo with a play area and features a variety of animals, a petting zoo, and numerous rides and attractions for children. 

Highlights include the Double H Ranch, which allows kids to interact with goats and sheep. Then, there’s the Redwood Lookout, which is a multi-story playground for extra fun and the Puppet Castle Theater offering charming puppet shows that are a hit with younger children. 


Children aged 0-1 gain free entry, while adults under 60 pay an admission fee of $18.

  1. Los Gatos Creek Trail

Getting in your daily steps is a good health goal. The Los Gatos Creek Trail stretches 9.7 miles from San Jose to Los Gatos, CA, for pedestrians and cyclists to ride on. 

An excellent extra advantage? It also offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

The trail, which follows Los Gatos Creek and provides beautiful scenery along the way, is perfect for walking, jogging, biking, and even fishing. 

It passes through several parks, including Vasona Lake County Park and Los Gatos Creek County Park, where you can rent paddle boats or have a picnic. 

Moreover, the trail is also a great spot for a morning run, a leisurely weekend stroll, or even a day out with family and friends. 


For the cost, you can get yourself an annual parking pass or pay $2 hourly for a vehicle pass.

  1. Arenal Volcano

Wondering, what is the most popular outdoor activity in San Jose? 

For those planning an international adventure, the Arenal Volcano, about 90 km northwest of San Jose in Costa Rica, offers a magnificent backdrop for hiking, hot springs, and wildlife spotting. 

The surrounding area is rich with activities for nature enthusiasts, including canopy tours, white-water rafting, and horseback riding. 

You can also branch off to the nearby town of La Fortuna, which provides a great base from which to explore the area. It offers numerous hot springs where you can relax and enjoy the volcanic scenery. 

Just put it simply like this: Arenal Volcano is a fantastic destination for those looking to combine adventure with relaxation. 


Cost varies depending on activities and tours but it usually starts from $179.

  1. Municipal Rose Garden

Your exploration of outdoor activities in San Jose is incomplete without a stroll through this historic garden—Municipal Rose Garden. 

Established in 1927 in the Rose Garden District, the Municipal Rose Garden is a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy over 3,500 rose bushes representing 189 rose varieties. 

It’s perfect for a peaceful afternoon walk, a picnic, or even a romantic date. The garden is meticulously maintained and is a popular spot for photography, especially during the blooming season from April to November. 


What makes the garden even better? Entry to this paradise comes at no cost.

  1. Cesar Chavez Memorial Walkway

Downtown San Jose, CA, is a must-see location for any activist or individual who places either a tiny bit of expressive value on the place of justice in the world. 

The Cesar Chavez Memorial Walkway honors the life and legacy of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. This special spot features informative plaques and artwork that make it both an educational and inspirational experience. 

But if you’re simply pondering, ‘Where can I walk around in San Jose?’ The walkway is just around the corner in Plaza de Cesar Chavez, a historic park in the heart of downtown San Jose. It’s a great way to learn more about local history while enjoying a pleasant walk downtown.


Entry and touring the location is free.

  1. Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

Explore Egypt right at your doorstep in San Jose, California. The unique Rosicrucian Egyptian museum offers a fascinating glimpse into ancient Egypt. 

With an extensive collection of artifacts, including mummies and statues, it’s a captivating place for history buffs and curious minds. 

The gardens in the museum are also beautiful places to relax and reflect—offering educational programs and workshops. A tip for potential visitors: don’t miss the replica of an ancient Egyptian tomb, which provides a dramatic and immersive experience.


Admission is $8 for individuals aged 7-17 years. Adults aged 18-64 years get to pay $10, while $8 is the entry fee for seniors and students.

  1. Silicon Valley Tech Tours

Silicon Valley’s largest city, San Jose, CA, allows you to dive into the heart of innovation with a tech tour of Silicon Valley. 

While touring this zone, you can visit the headquarters of tech giants, see the latest in technology, and get a behind-the-scenes look at how these companies operate. 

Some popular stops include the Apple Park Visitor Center, the Googleplex, and the Computer History Museum. Consider it a must-do for tech enthusiasts and anyone curious about the industry that has influenced this ever-evolving world. 

The tours here often include knowledgeable guides who can provide fascinating insights into the history and future of technology. 


Cost can vary depending on the tour. Some tours are free, while others start from $149.

Wrapping Up—Outdoor Activities in San Jose

San Jose isn’t just about tech and gadgets—it’s also an outdoor lover’s paradise! 

From the breathtaking views at Mount Umunhum to the scenic Los Gatos Creek Trail, there are plenty of outdoor activities in San Jose to explore. 

Families can have a blast at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, while history buffs will love the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and the Cesar Chavez Memorial Walkway. 

Either way, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses at the beautiful Municipal Rose Garden and if you’re up for a little adventure, Costa Rica’s La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Arenal Volcano are just a short trip away.

Have an amazing adventure!