Apple’s, and to the collective dread of the developer community and press, the conference has ceased its 12-year run in San Francisco and is forcing thousands against their will to descend upon San Jose, California.
Little do people know, however, that San Jose (aka: my hometown) is the best city in the world*. San Francisco natives in particular have a whole complex about hating it for some reason. Something about it being boringly suburban with too many strip malls and a hockey team that chokes. Also it’s really expensive to live there despite its rising crime rate (who told you about that anyway? I WILL PUNCH THEM).
But one should be so honored to visit the third-biggest city in California (and 10th in the US!) because it’s really poppin’. I would know because I use words like poppin’.and were held there; we’re home to supersexy tech companies that make headlines every day, like Cisco Systems and Western Digital; and legendary punk rock band No Use For a Name is from there (RIP, Tony Sly).
So if you’re one of the lucky ones to have to visit San Jose because your job depends on it, and/or you didn’t realize that was where you were going before you applied for the ticket lottery, here’s CNET’s guide to WWDC as it makes its triumphant return to downtown San Jose.
*I’ve been told that this is “debatable.”
Places to geek out
The Tech Museum: Bright orange with a purple dome up top, you can’t miss the museum. (Visually you can’t miss it. But you can miss out on it if you want, I’m not your boss.) In addition to exhibitions about tech and robots, there’s an earthquake simulator that is so scary it can make a young child (not me) burst into tears (again, not me) during her elementary school trip (definitely not me). Fun!
De Anza College: Yes, De Anza is technically in Cupertino, but it’s still close enough for Apple fans to visit for its place in tech history. Steve Wozniak went here after getting kicked out of another university for hacking its computers. In 1984, Steve Jobs unveiled the original Apple Macintosh at De Anza. And I can personally attest that the school’s outdoor benches are especially comfortable for napping between classes.
Lick Observatory: Located on top of Mount Hamilton, it featured the world’s largest telescope back in its heyday. Make sure you visit during operating hours though, because you will get stopped for trespassing by that one cop who’s up there on Mt. Ham. Don’t ask me how I know.
Places to go
Winchester Mystery House: Because this is a list about San Jose, I am contractually obligated to mention the Mystery House. It’s a Victorian mansion built for widowed gun heiress Sarah Winchester. Convinced that she was haunted by ghosts, she continuously built out the house to confuse them. That meant stairs that went nowhere, hidden rooms and decoy bathrooms so the ghosts didn’t know where to poop. Daily tours are given to underwhelmed out-of-towners and local schoolkids, but it’s the most historically famous thing we got so just go and say you went before the movie comes out. (Yes there really is an upcoming movie and it stars Helen Mirren!)
Santana Row: Nearby Winchester is a bougie outdoor mall. I go there to look at things I can’t afford, touch the expensive washi paper at the Japanese stationary store Maido while the cashier eyes me and sit alone outside eating overpriced yogurt from Pinkberry.
San Jose Improv: During the week of WWDC, Gilbert Gottfried and other comedians I’ve never heard of will perform stand-up. True story, in highschool I went to see Brian Regan there and choked on my drink while laughing and coughing at the same time. I ended up throwing up my drink right there on my table. The waitstaff was nice about it though, but the Improv has this two-drink minimum and since I was a teenager, that $6 soda I threw up was, like, a lot.
Places to eat
San Pedro Square Market: This indoor food market is similar to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, but much smaller. It’s still cool though, and it has lots of food vendors and bars to accommodate large groups. If you plan to party through the night, know that it closes early at midnight like a loser.
La Victoria Taqueria: La Vics is the closest to an SF Mission burrito™ you can get. It’s famous for its delicious orange sauce that you should drizzle on everything. There are two locations and both get sloppy after midnight. So if you still want tasty burritos but want a tad chiller ambiance, walk over to Iguana‘s nearby.
Any Vietnamese restaurant, anywhere: Second to LA, SJ has the best Vietnamese food in California. Not every place is spectacular, but even mediocre Viet food in SJ is better than anything you’ll find elsewhere (including SF). Go to Dac Phuc for the pho, Vung Tau for the downtown location and Com Ga Nam An for the hainanese chicken. Oh and yes, the service is aloof, but deal with it.
Places to drink
Old Wagon Saloon: OWS’ saloon theme and beer pong tables (per request) attract a lot of bro-y clientele, but it can still be fun. It’s where I learned to play shuffleboard, and my friends and I have a tradition of eating post-Thanksgiving-Thanksgiving-dinner there to this day, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Cinebar: Super divey and cash-only, the bartenders here usually give heavy pours. Go and order a $7 LC. Just don’t ask what’s in it.
Trials Pub: Though not as central in downtown, this pub is great if you’re looking for something low-key. Fun fact, its basement used to be a jail, and it’s haunted by a ghost (not the Winchester ones). People can’t decide if the ghost is a warden or a prisoner, but it probably has ace taste in beers by now and is a Premiere League fan.