6.9 out of 10

Downtown

Ranked 7th best neighborhood in San Jose
37.336029083315 -121.897566280755
Great for
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping Options
  • Clean & Green
  • Internet Access
  • Public Transport
Not great for
  • Childcare
  • Cost of Living
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Schools
  • Safe & Sound
Who lives here?
  • Singles
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
2yrs+

"A Bustling Metropolis"

Framed by US Route 101, Highway 880 and Highway 280, Downtown is (as you might expect) the heart of San Jose. It is one of the most bustling metropolitan cities in the nation, encapsulating all that is new and innovative in the world of business technology. With the dozens of mid-rise commercial buildings, the area headquarters some of the most rapidly expansive businesses in the nation. This includes Adobe Systems, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and smaller, but up-and-coming tech companies. For visitors, Downtown has a myriad of fun activities from fine dining to the opera to art shows to the Children’s Discovery Museum, to the Tech Museum of Innovation and to the HP Pavilion where you can watch the San Jose Sharks play their home games.

Downtown’s residential terrain is situated within the fringe of the area and divided into smaller, micro-neighborhoods. There are a wide variety of options for the prospective resident. Many of these surrounding residential neighborhoods share an early 1900’s charm, but home styles can vary from Victorian homes, Craftsman, Mission and California Bungalow architecture. They elicit a certain modest, middle-class atmosphere, but many homes don’t sell for more than $2 million. For the renter, there are also a handful of newly constructed, high-rise condominiums and residential towers dotting the area. These can range from skinny, two-story developments nestled in the nooks and crannies of the district to towering buildings that, quite frankly, are hard to miss. If you’re looking to visit, Downtown offers plenty of lodging options including the historic De Anza Hotel and the fancy and well-known Claremont Hotel. And you’ll also be interested to know that you’ll be living amongst one of the highest educated populations in the nation.

Its easy to fall in love with San Jose’s vibrant downtown culture. The downtown quarters is host to many unique festivals, art galleries, special tech events and Farmers’ markets that fill each calendar month. As a result, visitors have a myriad of attractions to plan for. If you visit during lunch time, you’ll see the district buzzing with the business professional types heading to restaurants for every taste and budget. At around 5 o’clock, yuppies tend to gravitate towards happy hour spots (the various brew pubs and downtown bars), eliciting a lot of foot traffic. As a matter of fact, the neighborhood is very pedestrian-friendly with busy bike lanes and joggers taking up every urban route. One of the biggest perks of the neighborhood is the public, free, Wi-Fi network that spans through most of the public areas.

For the student, the district is also home to the main San Jose State campus, which enrolls 30,000 residents each semester. Many locals choose to travel by Caltrain. The rail stops just at the base of the district and connects residents to the university from various San Francisco peninsula locations.
Pros
  • Great Culture
  • Great Nightlife
  • Home to major corporations
  • Some good bars
  • Some nice restaurants
Cons
  • Abundance of homeless people
  • Terrible Traffic
  • Weak Schools
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"SFs Got Nothing on Us"

San Jose often gets overshadowed by our more famous neighbor to the north, San Francisco. People often think of San Jose as a sort of satellite to SF—kind of the way people sometimes think of Oakland actually. This image persists despite the fact that San Jose has long since passed SF as in terms of population (we are nearing 1 million residents), is just about as old as SF (was the capitol of Alta California way back when), and dwarfs SF in terms of economy.

This disrespect for our city really irritates those of us who live in San Jose and see it as a major US city in its own right. One of the points that irks us the most, are those who think that there is no culture, nightlife or haut cuisine here in San Jose—that it is some kind of wasteland relative to San Francisco. Anyone who has been in Downtown San Jose on a weekend, however, can tell that is far from a ghost town on the weekends or that it completely empties out.

Here are just some of the offerings that San Jose has to offer inside of the triangle created by the meeting of the Bayshore, Nimitz and Sinclair Freeways:

Museums: It’s not just the amazing Children’s Discovery Museum that brings people down to San Jose. There is also the Tech Museum, the Japanese American Museum, the Textiles Museum and the SJ Museum of Art. The De Young and Legion of Honor may get more press, but you don’t have to leave SJ to get some culture.

Live Theater: The San Jose Repertory is just the most prestigious of the performing arts companies here and well worth the trip into SJ by itself. The performances are just as strong as any you will find by the renowned companies up in SF. The San Jose Ballet and the Performing Arts Center are also here. And San Jose Jazz Festival is also a yearly event.

Bars: San Jose definitely does not play second fiddle to SF on this front boasting a diverse array of bars ranging from 1920’s style watering like “single barrel” (mentioned in a review below), and the Hookah bar, Tangerine to the more traditional bars like Jack’s sports bar and O’Flaherty’s pub.

Dancing: And if you are more a of cut-a-rug sort of gal or guy rather than a drink until you end up with a rug face, you can find any number of dance floors, from gay clubs like Brix Nightclub to Satori. My favorite is the Hedley Club.

Restaurants: Downtown SJ also has a number of tasty (and pricey) restaurants, including several steak houses (Morton’s, Arcadia, and The Grill on the Alley), sushi bars like Bluefin, French joints like Emile’s, and Mediterranean places like Saint Peter. The range and breadth is just as impressive as SF.

Sports: And it’s not just about high culture either. Want to catch a football or basketball game—just jump down to San Jose State and check out the Spartans. Or, if you prefer to blood on the ice, the San Jose Sharks circle their skates right by the HP Pavilion.

Hotels: The Fairmont, the Marriot, the DeAnza—SJ has your accommodations covered.

Convention Spaces: From the SJ Convention Center to the plethora of hotels with convention halls, you will not lack for areas where the comic book association or the restaurant convention can come to stage their events.

Put simply, this is a major metropolitan downtown area that if it were just a little further away from SF would probably get its due. It is certainly more central to California than Sacramento and if it were located there would probably get its due, as it deserves.

And what is it like living here?

The average home price is around $475K with a handful of homes breaking the $1 million dollar range on the upper range. Rents run from around $1600 for a studio to around $2300 for a two bedroom with a fair number of condos and apartments.

And schools?

Schools are not very good in the downtown area—like most downtowns, though just to west you can find some pretty good schools. Overall, however this is an area more appropriate for singles or young couples without kids than families.

So, in a nutshell: a great area to spend weekends and for entertainment—expensive if you are a student looking for digs near SJSU, and not particularly family friendly overall. But definitely just as important a CA city as any other.
Pros
  • Great Culture
  • Great Nightlife
  • Great Restaurants
Cons
  • Weak Schools
  • Terrible Traffic
  • Abundance of homeless people
  • Paid parking only (daytime)
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
2yrs+

"Nice on the Surface..."

Like many major urban downtown areas, San Jose feels a little bit like a room that has just been sprayed down by Lysol - appears nice on the outside, but needs a lot of cleaning up below the surface.

By day, it is a vibrant urban area with major technology corporations galore and five-star restaurants to fuel their hungry, well-paid staff. As soon as five o'clock rolls around, however, the commuters start to disappear and are replaced by homeless people. The restaurants empty out. The businesses close down.

Nightlife is a bit more of a "local" scene, with individuals flocking to the loud array of dance clubs in what appears to look somewhat like a red light district. There are some good places (Single Barrel is my favorite 1920s-style bar), but overall it feels a bit trashy at night.

The tech museum is probably the highlight for out-of-town visitors.
Pros
  • Home to major corporations
  • Some nice restaurants
  • Some good bars
Cons
  • Somewhat sketchy at night
  • Abundance of homeless people
  • Paid parking only (daytime)
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
5/5
2yrs+

"vibrant downdown area, but still small town feel"

I took my family to the tech museum of innovation in downtown san jose last winter to see a special exhibit of machines built after Da Vinci's designs. The exhibit was absolutely fascinating. The rest of the museum was most excellent, full of hands-on exhibits to keep the kids busy. There is also an imax theater there as well. We were also blown away at how clean the downtown area was. At the time, there was also a large christmas tree in the center square in front of the museum. There was also a merry go-around at that time as well as a manger scene. It was as festive and Christmassy as a CA town is going to get. There were lots of shops and restaurants in the area as well.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees

Travelling to Downtown?

Find Hotels

Best Streets in Downtown

1

South 2nd St

4/5
"Night life at down town San jose"
37.3319270120201 -121.885955814249
"Great food and art"
37.3315300578811 -121.888657965502
"Night Hang out at Toons"
37.3434487087423 -121.87523257675
"Happening Downtown Street"
37.332826292907 -121.897612748705
"a lot of stuff going on on this long street"
37.3244989108756 -121.900669194272
"Great San Jose Nightlife"
37.3455608915103 -121.900670114007
"Beautiful College Living"
37.3354765643052 -121.878573309853

Unranked Streets in Downtown

"Very quiet street, great for anyone to live on. "
37.340335194736 -121.897260728107
"Quiet residential neighborhood and one way street."
37.3396556974457 -121.868275047502
"Loud street with dangerous elements."
37.348027339278 -121.878071494061

Best Neighborhoods to Live In

Best Cities to Live In

Tell everyone what you love about your neighborhood!

Leave a Review

Have a question?

How are schools? Is the area safe? What about public transit options?" Why not ask our community of locals!

Ask Now

Selling or Renting Your Home?

Maximize the selling price of your home by sharing what you love about your suburb to increase its appeal...

Leave a Review

Corporate Relocation Manager?

Enable your employees to share local knowledge in a private, trusted environment with those relocating... while building community.

Learn More