Magazine article Sunset

Getting to Know the New San Jose

Magazine article Sunset

Getting to Know the New San Jose

Article excerpt

Redevelopment and a hockey arena have brought new energy to the city's center. Have a look for yourself on our downtown walking tour

LAST SPRING, HOCKEY fans flocked by the thousands to the new Sharks arena in San Jose for the National Hockey League play-offs. On the way, they met San Jose's transformed downtown. For many, it was love at first sight. They beheld a downtown that had become vibrant, attractive, and colorful--especially when awash in the seasonal flood of teal-clad hockey fans.

With the Sharks taking to the ice again this month, it's a good time to renew your acquaintance with the city center. You may hardly recognize the place. Once, San Jose deserved the knocks it received for its featureless downtown, urban sprawl, and lack of development planning. Overcoming those problems and that image took a long time: today's revitalized urban core has been a decade and $585 million in the making, and comprises several office towers, three major museums, four new hotels, a convention center, and a light-rail line, as well as shops and restaurants.

It's an eminently walkable area, with level streets, balmy weather, and well-marked attractions. Come early on a game day and have a look around. We've marked out a route that takes you to three museums, a river parkway, a restaurant hub, and the city's oldest building.

START AT THE ARENA

Whether or not you're going to a hockey game, you can join a tour that will take you behind the scenes of the sleek, 20,000-seat San Jose Arena. On the 1-hour tour, you'll visit the arena's private club and--when not in use--the Sharks' locker room or a star's dressing room. Then go rinkside to watch a practice if the Sharks, Rhinos (a pro roller-hockey team), or Grizzlies (a pro indoor soccer team) are in town. Die-hard fans may also enjoy the arena's Sharks Store, selling logo-slathered T-shirts, shark earrings, and hockey-stick pencils.

From the arena, you can stroll about half a mile on a handsomely landscaped pathway along the once-derelict bank of the Guadalupe River to Guadalupe River Park and the Children's Discovery Museum (2). Go early, before crowds and decibel levels have maxed out. Pick up the free map to the 150 exhibits, from a streetscape including a walk-through ambulance to a rhythm exhibit that lets kids conduct their own orchestra. Hit the most popular areas first: the "Doodad Dump" (art projects) and the face-painting room. If you're with children ages 4 and under, stop in at the Early Childhood Resource Center, a quiet space with books and games. …

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