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The (Unofficial) Downtown San Jose Public Transit Guide
(revised December 19, 2010)

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Downtown San Jose has plenty of things to do and places to go.  From a world-class convention center, several museums, and a Performing Arts center, there is something to do for everyone.

Bus and rail options to the H.P. Pavilion are covered in a separate guide, Bus and Rail Options to the H.P. Pavilion.

Please note that businesses mentioned in this guide are not necessarily endorsements of those businesses.  Such mentions of businesses are made simply to illustrate what downtown San Jose offers as a destination.  As with all of our other guides, this guide is created as a public service.  Thus, it is NOT endorsed by any business, association, or any government agency whatsoever.

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San Jose Convention Center, San Jose Civic Auditorium, Children's Discovery Museum, the Tech Museum, and the Center For the Performing Arts

These downtown destinations are located on West San Carlos Street, between Highway 87 and South Market Street.  VTA's 23 bus line directly serves these destinations.  In fact, there is a dedicated bus stop for the 23 right at the front entrance to the San Jose Convention Center

The Convention Center light rail station is directly in front of the San Jose Civic Auditorium and is a short walk from the San Jose Convention Center.  

The Children's Discovery Museum, at W. San Carlos Street off Highway 87, is directly served by the Children's Discovery Museum light rail station and the 23 and 81 bus lines. 

The San Jose Center For the Performing Arts, on W. San Carlos St. and S. Almaden Boulevard, is exactly 1 short block from the Children's Discovery Museum light rail station and the Convention Center light rail station.  

The Tech Museum of Innovation is at 201 S. Market Street (between Park Ave. and West San Carlos Street).  From W. San Carlos and Market, walk a short distance north to the park in the middle of Market (Cesar Chavez Park) bearing to your left.  The entrance to the Tech Museum of Innovation is just after the curve ends, at the left (west) side of Cesar Chavez Park, on your left.

TIP: Taking light rail to a show at the Center For the Performing Arts?  If you are taking light rail from South San Jose, get off at the Children's Discovery Museum station and walk one block east to the Center.  If you are taking light rail from northern or eastern San Jose, Milpitas, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, or Mountain View, get off at the Convention Center light rail station and walk one block west to the Center.

TIP: Visiting the Convention Center, Civic Auditorium, Children's Discovery Museum, the Tech Museum of Innovation, or the Center for Performing Arts from San Jose's Diridon train station?  Go to the far (west) end of the station to the VTA light rail platform at the end of the station tunnel.  There, take any Mountain View-bound light rail train to the Convention Center station.  Make sure to buy your light rail ticket at the VTA ticket vending machine at the light rail platform first before you board, or you risk being cited by a fare inspector!  If you know you will be returing to Diridon Station for your return bus or rail trip, and your bus or rail ticket does not already include fare credit aboard VTA light rail, buy an 8-hour light rail excursion pass at the VTA ticket machine at the light rail platform.  As an alternate, you can ride the FREE DASH downtown shuttle bus VTA provides (typically the red and blue tour-like bus), which loops within downtown San Jose to and from San Jose Diridon Station. 

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San Pedro Square

San Pedro Square is located on West San Carlos Street and N. San Pedro Street.  It is considered San Jose's "Restaurant Row" featuring bars and restaurants like Britannia Arms and the Old Spaghetti Factory to name some of the many businesses in San Pedro Square.  San Pedro Square is home to the Theater On San Pedro Square and the Hotel De Anza.

San Pedro Square is two short blocks west of VTA's Santa Clara Street light rail station.  In addition, the 22, 68, and Highway 17 Express bus lines stop nearby on Santa Clara & Almaden Ave. and Santa Clara & Market Street.  

TIP: the Highway 17 Express bus does not serve San Pedro Square on weekends or holidays.  At San Jose Diridon Station, transfer to an Eastridge-bound 22 bus or a Gilroy-bound 68 bus and get off at Santa Clara and Almaden Ave.  Walk across the street from where you got off the bus and you are at San Pedro Square.

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San Jose City Hall

Located at 200 E. Santa Clara Street, San Jose City Hall is where decisions affecting the quality of life in San Jose are made.  It is also the main headquarters for city services like building code enforcement and family services, to name a few.

The City of San Jose maintains its own transit guide for bus and light rail access to San Jose City Hall.  San Jose City Hall is only a short two-block walk east of the Santa Clara Street light rail station.

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San Jose State University

The Associated Students program at San Jose State University maintains its own guide of public transit service to and from the downtown campus.  Check out their transit guide for getting to San Jose State University.

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San Jose Museum of Art

Located at 110 S. Market Street (at the Circle of Palms Plaza), the San Jose Museum of Art features modern, contemporary works of art.  The San Jose Museum of Art is on the northeastern end of Cesar Chavez Plaza, 1/2 block north and across the street from the Tech Museum.  

Use the transit tips above to get to Ceasar Chavez Plaza but stay on the eastern side of the plaza until you reach the Circle of Palms Plaza - the Museum of Art's entrance is within the plaza.

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Little Italy

The Little Italy neighborhood of San Jose is just off Highway 87, and encompasses North Almaden Boulevard, West Julian Street, and West St. John Street.  Little Italy is one (1) block north of the H.P. Pavilion and two (2) blocks north of the San Jose Diridon Station and Transit Center.  Little Italy is within one block of VTA buses like the 22, 63, 64, and 522 Rapid at H.P. Pavilion.  It is also a short walk from VTA light rail, the Highway 17 Express Bus, Caltrain, ACE, the Capitol Corridor, and Amtrak's Coast Starlight trains at San Jose Diridon Station.

TIP: From San Jose Diridon Station or H.P. Pavilion, walk one (1) block north on Cahill Street to Santa Clara Street.  From there, walk one (1) block east on Santa Clara Street to North Autumn Street.  Make a left on N. Autumn Street - you should be between the H.P. Pavilion and Guadalupe River Park at this point - and walk one block to the start of the Little Italy neighborhood.

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Greyhound Bus Station

Located at 70 S. Almaden Avenue (between Post Street and W. San Fernando Street is the San Jose Greyhound bus terminal.  There, you can take Greyhound to San Francisco (transferring there to points north and east), Gilroy, Salinas, and points south to Los Angeles and San Diego.

The VTA's 22 and 68 bus lines to Santa Clara and Almaden, then walk 1 1/2 blocks south to Post.  The Greyhound bus terminal is the aqua-colored building on your left. 

Alternately, the bus stop on W. San Fernando and South Almaden Avenue is only a short walk to the Greyhound bus terminal.   The 63, 64, 65, 68, 79 (run by Monterey-Salinas Transit to the Presidio of Monterey), 168 express, 180 express, 181 express, and the (free) DASH Downtown San Jose shuttle bus lines stop at this location.  In addition, the 55 San Jose/Monterey Express run by Monterey-Salinas Transit also stops at this location.  From this bus stop, walk about 50 feet to South Almaden and turn right.  The Greyhound bus terminal entrance will be on your right, only a few steps away.

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San Jose Diridon (Amtrak) Station and Transit Center

In addition to serving as a stop for Amtrak's once-daily Coast Starlight train between Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle, San Jose's Diridon Station also serves as the southern terminus for Amtrak's Capitol Corridor service to the East Bay, Oakland, Sacramento, and points northeast.

At San Jose Diridon Station, Amtrak Thruway buses connect San Jose Diridon Station to Gilroy, Monterey (via the 55 San Jose/Monterey Express run by Monterey-Salinas Transit), Salinas, Stockton, and Santa Barbara.  The most well-known Amtrak Thruway bus route is the Highway 17 Express bus line to Santa Cruz.

It is also a primary stop for Caltrain commuter rail service to San Francisco via the Peninsula.  On weekends and holidays, San Jose Dirdon Station also serves as Caltrain's southern terminus, with a connecting shuttle van to the Tamien light rail & Caltrain station. 

San Jose Diridon Station is a prime bus stop or end of the line for the 63, 64, 65, 68, 79 (run by Monterey-Salinas Transit to the Presidio of Monterey), 168 express, 180 express, 181 express, and the (free) DASH Downtown San Jose shuttle bus lines.  These local and express bus lines will take you throughout San Jose, as well as Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Milpitas, and the Fremont BART station.

Across the street from the San Jose Diridon Station is the H.P. Pavilion and Santa Clara Street.  There, you can transfer to the 22 bus line (or 522 Rapid bus line) to downtown San Jose and East San Jose (bus stop in front of the parking lot on Santa Clara Street), or to Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Los Altos, and Palo Alto (at the bus stop in front of the H.P. Pavilion).

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SoFA (South of Market) Neighborhood

According to the San Jose Downtown Association, the South of Market (SoFA) district serves as downtown San Jose's arts and entertainment district.  The SoFA district is bounded by E. San Carlos St., E. 3rd Street, E. Reed Street, and S. Market Street.  

Amongst the restaurants, clubs, theatres, and art galleries that are part of SoFA are Original Joe's Italian Restaurant, Caffe Trieste, Agenda Lounge, Voodoo Lounge, South First Billiards, and the California Theatre.

The SoFA district is home to the biennial ZER01 Art & Technology Festival.  Some clubs in SoFA also serve as venues for the San Jose Jazz Festival held every August.  The SoFA district is also the home of the Left Coast Live music festival and conference held every June.

VTA's 66, 68, and 82 bus lines primarily serve the SoFA district on S. 1st Street (northbound) and S. 2nd Street (southbound).  The northern boundary of SoFA is served by the 23 bus line and the DASH FREE Downtown Shuttle on E. San Carlos Street.  VTA Light Rail's stop for SoFA is the Convention Center station on San Carlos and Market - only one block west of SoFA.

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