Written by Teresa Alvarado

SPUR is an urban think tank that has, for 108 years, worked to make the cities of the Bay Area the best they can be. Whether it’s through addressing our housing shortage and transportation challenges, or promoting economic development, sustainability and resilience, great urban design, integrated regional planning and good government, SPUR is all about investing in and celebrating our community.

We love our region and understand fully why it is one of the most spectacular places to live, work and play.  

Here are a few special places and events that will make you fall in love with San Jose.

1.     Japantown (Nihonmachi)

With a history shaped by our country‚Äôs ongoing conflicts over immigration and war, the community has always been a place for first Chinese and then Japanese immigrants to find cultural support, employment, goods, shelter and social life. And this is still readily available to all who venture a short distance north of downtown.

While there is still strongly rooted and celebrated Japanese-American cultural institutions—Buddhist Temple, Japanese-American Museum and Yu-Ai Kai Senior Center—Japantown is now a vibrant cultural business district. With both traditional Japanese festivals that celebrate spring and the harvest, there are also mural festivals, a monthly art walk, boutique retail shops, restaurants, galleries, a tattoo parlor, dance studio, and a bustling coffee spot where the entire community seems to congregate.

And soon it will be home to a state-of-the-art Creative Center for the Arts.

2.     Alum Rock Park

The first municipal park established in the state of California, Alum Rock Park has been a special gem appreciated by residents and visitors since 1872. It lies in the low foothills of the Diablo Range in east San Jose. At the beginning of the 20th century, the park was a bustling draw for those seeking the healing powers of the mineral springs. There was a steam railroad that brought visitors from downtown San Jose.

The park now encompasses 720 acres of a variety of habitats to explore, from creekside picnicking to rugged hillside exploring. You can walk, run, bike and horseback ride in the park. Park staff offer a variety of educational programs for school children and the nonprofit Youth Science Institute operates a nature center that has been open to the public since 1953.

After 146 years, the park continues to provide a place for rest, reflection and recreation for those who want to escape the city.

3.      San Jose Jazz‚Äô annual SummerFest

A favorite weekend for thousands of music fans, this is the largest outdoor festival in the country and features the largest selection of Latin jazz music on the west coast. The three-day festival occurring annually the second weekend of August, kicks off with a name R&B or funk group in a Friday night dance party and features nearly a dozen stages that host some of the best emerging and established performers all weekend long. The main stage at Plaza de Cesar Chavez park features big name acts from all genres of jazz. Other stages—both outdoor and in some downtown theaters and restaurants—include the salsa stage, the Big Easy/blues stage, swing stage and next gen stage.

The festival has been featured in national and international publications and brings thousands of people to San Jose annually, filling our hotels, restaurants and streets with a buzz.

All three of these special gems are places where people of all backgrounds gather to enjoy and celebrate our wonderful city.

In the spirit of love that is associated with this month, we are running a series of guest blog posts from our SVO members, like this one, who offer all the reasons to fall in love with San Jose. Follow along on social media with the hashtag #HeartofSV.

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