Say no to traffic. Stay local. Celebrate local. Shop local. San Jose has shopping and holiday activities for all ages and tastes and loads of unique experiences to share with your loved ones. Below are just a few key shopping opportunities as well as unique holiday activities and traditions found only in the South Bay.
Retail with a Twist
Here are some great options for shoppers looking for a traditional retail experience.
- Santana Row: This South Bay favorite has both shopping and events like the Holiday Maker’s Market in the Park (Dec 3) and Silicon Valley-centric experiences like the Tesla Showroom.
- Westfield Valley Fair: Located right across the street from Santana Row, this local shopping center offers high-end retail experiences along with unique opportunities to “Shop Small/Local” like the Local Artisan Market Pop-Up, which features 10 different local food producers and crafters (now thru end of year).
- Eastridge Center: This local shopping center offers both traditional holiday opportunities like photos with Santa [and photos with Santa while dressed as your favorite super hero] to Pet Photos with Santa (Mondays thru end of year).
Only in San Jose/the South Bay
For those looking for the alternative to the traditional, these are a few options you will find only in San Jose.
- San Jose Craft Holiday Fair: The largest independent shopping experience in San Jose this holiday season with over a hundred local small businesses offering unique gifts for everyone, Dec. 17 & 18
- Christmas in the Park: A San Jose tradition for more than half a century that includes more than 500 Christmas trees and over 40 dioramas, complete with animatronics.
- Downtown Ice: For over 20 years, the only place in the world where you can ice skate under a circle of palm trees.
- San Jose Nutcracker: A twist on a tradition, this brand new take on the Nutcracker is set in 1905 San Jose and includes local visuals like the famous electric light tower and dancing poppies.
- Spirit of Christmas at the Winchester Mystery House: Turn the clock and take a nighttime tour of this landmark, adorned in traditional holiday decorations, complete with holiday treats and drinks.
- California’s Great America – Winterfest: This local tradition offers beautiful decorations, ice skating in front of a carousel, live shows and more. BONUS: This event is in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Silicon Valley and on Dec. 19, 400 boys and girls get to come out and enjoy the festivities!
- HARK! 11th Annual Holiday Show & Sale at KALEID Gallery: More than 100 original works of art at holiday gift-giving prices by South Bay artists. Artists’ Reception: First Friday Dec. 2, 7pm–11pm. Part of the South FIRST FRIDAYS Art Walk in downtown San Jose.
- 7th Japantown Beerwalk: For the adults, this local tradition offers up some holiday cheer on Dec. 10 in one of only three existing Japantowns in the US. BONUS: Mr. Claus himself will be making an appearance.
- Fiesta Navideña at the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza: This annual community tradition takes place on Dec 9 and includes live performances, vendors and a tree lighting.
Give Back for the Holidays
This time of year, some are opting out of the retail experience, instead looking for ways to make an impact. Here are just two of the local organizations – one established, one emerging – both with great impact on our local communities.
- Second Harvest Food Bank: This local charity is one of the largest of its kind nationwide and feeds a quarter of a million people in the Santa Clara and San Mateo counties every month.
- Exhibition District: This organization is striving towards covering 40,000 square feet of blank wall space into colorful murals by 2020, making people’s lives more beautiful and adding beauty to our community.
- The Tech Museum: This local favorite is hosting a food drive to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. Bring in five cans between Dec. 10-23 and you will receive a free admission ticket