Downtown San Jose Transit Guide

Table of Contents


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.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus and light rail options to the H.P. Pavilion are covered in a separate transit guide, Bus and Rail Options to the H.P. Pavilion.

Will this be your very first time riding VTA buses or light rail? Our first-time transit rider’s guide shows you how to ride and pay fare for it.

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.

Transit Service and Fare Information to/from Downtown San Jose

San Jose Convention Center Area

(Also includes the San Jose Civic Auditorium (now known as City National Civic Auditorium), Montgomery Theater, Children’s Discovery Museum, the Tech Museum, the Fairmont Hotel 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 local and 523 Rapid buses stop bus lines directly serve these destinations.  In fact, there is a dedicated VTA bus stop right at the front entrance to the San Jose Convention Center, and in front of Civic Auditorium.

The Convention Center light rail station is directly in front of City National Civic Auditorium and is a short walk from the San Jose Convention Center. It’s served by VTA’s Green Line and Blue Line.

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.

Montgomery Theater is located at 271 South Market Street. The theater’s entrance is just north of San Carlos Street.

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 (Plaza de Cesar Chavez) bearing to your left.  The entrance to the Tech Museum of Innovation is just after the curve ends, at the left (west) side of Plaza de Cesar Chavez, on your left.

The Fairmont Hotel is at 170 S. Market Street, between Park Ave. and West San Carlos Street. The Hotel’s entrance is on the east side of Caesar Chavez Park. Travel to the Hotel is in opposite direction you would go for the Tech Museum of Innovation.

Children’s Discovery Museum & Guadalupe River Park

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 VTA’s 23 and 81 bus lines. These are detailed on the map below.

Light Rail Tips to Events In the Area

  • 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.
  • 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.

San Pedro Square

San Pedro Square is located on N. San Pedro Street between W. San Carlos Street and W. St. John Streets in downtown San Jose.  This is detailed in the map below:

San Pedro Square is considered downtown 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.

NOTE: 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.

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. This is detailed in the map below:

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.

San Jose State University

San Jose State University’s main campus boundaries are E. San Fernando Street, S. 4th Street, E. San Salvador Street, and S. 10th Street. This is detailed in the map below:

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 from anywhere in San Jose or Silicon Valley.

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 San Jose Convention Center transit tips to reach Cesar Chavez Plaza. At Cesar Chavez Plaza, 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.

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.  This is detailed in the map below:

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.

Accessing Little Italy from SJ Diridon or HP Pavilion

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.

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.

In addition, intercity buses from Greyhound and Megabus stop at Diridion Station,

San Jose Diridon Station is a prime bus stop or end of the line for the 63, 64, 65, 68, 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).

SoFA (South First Area)

According to the San Jose Downtown Association, the South First Area (SoFA) 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.  This is detailed in the map below:

Amongst the restaurants, clubs, theatres, and art galleries that are part of SoFA are 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.

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.

Paseo de San Antonio

VTA’s Paseo de San Antonio light rail station serves two major theaters in downtown San Jose – the Camera 12 Cinemas and the San Jose Repertory Theater – also known as the “San Jose Rep.”

Here are additional, specific walking/biking directions for the Camera 12 Cinemas from Paseo de San Antonio station.

In addition to light rail on both sides of the Camera 12 Cinemas, VTA’s 23, 66, 68 and 82 bus lines stop within a short walk of the Cinemas and the San Jose Rep.

San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles & San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is located at 520 South First Street in San Jose. The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art is located at 560 South First Street in San Jose.

VTA’s 66, 68 and 82 bus lines stop within a short walk of both of these museums.


Any problems with this guide? Please comment below or email

Eugene Bradley
Founder & CEO, Silicon Valley Transit Users

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