We here at Searchlight SJ focus on all things uniquely unusual and fun about San Jose so that you can stop yourself the next time you start to say to a visitor or friend that there is nothing to do in San Jose except go to Santana Row, the Winchester Mystery House, or a Sharks game. That’s not to say that we want to stop you from promenading around the Row, touring Sarah’s beautiful but bizarre mansion, or taking in a game from the best hockey team in the world, in fact, we encourage it! Best of all, these three oft visited San Jose hot spots have some zany attributes that we love and that you’ve probably never known:
Santana Row: San Jose’s answer for Rodeo Drive has quickly become a go to for expensive clothes, fine dining, and exhibiting adoration for all things upper class. Santana Row doesn’t just attract the rich and famous of the South Bay, it has also hosted its fair share of well known national personalities including Bill Clinton. The former President stopped by Rosie McCann’s during a 2004 book tour for dinner and, among other things, a mango mojito (because nothing says Irish pub like mango and mojito). Stop by Rosie’s and check out the photo of Clinton’s visit near the entrance but please, order a Smithwicks instead.
Winchester Mystery House: You’ve undoubtedly visited this California State Landmark on fieldtrips or while entertaining out of town guests and may feel like you could give the admittedly pricey tour. The next time your uncle is visiting fear not, there’s plenty more to be learned and seen in the mansion. The key to a good experience at the Mystery House is a quality guide. To minimize the chance of an overly scripted guide avoid summer months and try for a morning or early afternoon tour. If you still find yourself growing disinterested and need a way to spook your nephews ask your guide about the Hall of Heads. For years the Winchester House hosted a wax museum that focused on the history of Winchester and the rifle. In the 70’s the wax museum was disassembled and replaced by the current rifle museum and its wax figures were dismembered with it. Various waxy body parts are stored in un-toured rooms of the mansion including one room dedicated to the heads of the historical characters. If you’re lucky enough to end up on a small tour and with an adventurous guide the room can be seen (if you ask nicely) after touring the Grand Ballroom.
San Jose Sharks: A trip to the Shark Tank remains one of the hottest tickets in town and we can say (with bias) one of the best sporting environments around. Everyone knows that the Sharks’ winning ways haven’t been able to carry them to the Stanley Cup but since 1991 San Jose has built a respected and already storied franchise with a history that includes the only NHL game ever to be rained out. In March of 1995 downtown’s mighty Guadalupe River flooded its banks thanks to torrential rain and poorly constructed spillways and covered Highway 87 and nearly every road into the arena with several feet of water. While the floodwaters did not reach the arena the rain did not cease and the water continued to rise thus forcing the NHL to declare the game with the Detroit Red Wings a rain out, the first and only rain out in the league’s history. Check out the pictures of a flooded 87 and Guadalupe flood cycles (if you’re into that sort of thing) at the Oakland Museum of California’s website.