This blog is about my life. How I live it with the people I love. Adventures and misadventures in my life is journalled here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tips in San Jose, CA - Tip # 5 & 6

Tip # 5: Recommended places to visit

Warning: this post is long.

Recommended places to visit:
• Paramount’s Great America – nearest theme park, this is in San Jose.
• Six Flags – another theme park. If you love thrill rides, you’ll love this place. This is farther, it’s in Vallejo, California, 2 hour drive from San Jose.
• Napa Valley – if you’re a wine drinker, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of wines from California, these are made in Napa Valley, you can visit this and see for yourself the winery and vineyard.
• Monterey/Carmel – a very nice place. You’ll see here the pacific ocean, aquarium, seven-mile drive. If you want to see what to expect there, I’ll just show you the pictures.

Downtown San Francisco

I recommend either of the two ways to get there.

1. Bring your car and drive up to Millbrae BART (bay area rapid transit) station – Do not attempt to drive up to San Francisco if you intend to visit the stores as the parking is expensive (and medyo mahirap i-drive if first time driver). It’s better to take the train. Or instead of Millbrae station, you can also take the Caltrain from Palo Alto then transfer to BART in Millbrae, they also have a parking space there but parking lot is bigger in Millbrae.

2. Drive only up to the Caltrain Diridon station – Caltrain is the train that will take you from Diridon station in San Jose to Millbrae station where you can ride the BART. (

From Millbrae station, go down Powell station then look for the visitor center. Buy your city pass here (that city pass will give you unlimited ride to the cable car and other Metro buses). Don’t forget to visit the following in downtown San Francisco: crookedest street, Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Chinatown, Palace of Fine Arts, Coit tower, Postcard Row. If nobody will tour you around, you might want to consider joining the tours to give you a preview of San Francisco, at least, you will know where to go back. I also recommend driving to San Francisco when you’re more experienced already in US driving so you can drive by the Golden Gate bridge and visit the Golden Gate park. If you can, try walking the bridge, I’ve been wanting to do that but wasn’t able to do so. Alcatraz visit can be done with the Muir woods tour so reserve one whole day for this. There is a tour that combines these two, just check out in the web or from the brochures that you’ll get from the visitor center. Try eating at Cheesecake Factory, it’s on the top of Macy’s Union Square, they’re cheese cakes are to die for!

Los Angeles

If you plan to go to LA via long drive, it’s better if you go there on a long weekend kasi you need to have 3 full days to really enjoy LA. Leave San Jose in 2-3 am so you’ll be in LA or Disneyland before 10am. Traffic is bad in LA so you wouldn’t want to waste your time in traffic.
I actually recommend going to Disneyland first since this is the farthest, it’s in Anaheim so better if you go here directly.

Day one is to visit Disneyland in Anaheim, day two is to visit Universal Studios then day three to visit Hollywood blvd., Sta. Monica Beach, Malibu beach and Beverly Hills. It will take you one whole day to see everything in Disneyland even if you stay until closing and that is only by visiting the main park. If you intend to visit the other park, which is the California Adventure, you’ll then need two days for Disneyland alone pero for me, its ok na not to visit California Adventure. Also, would recommend if you buy the tickets ahead of time, either online or in the grocery so you will not be wasting time lining up to buy the tickets. For Universal Studios, its also recommended to stay there the whole day but if you don’t have a lot of time, you can go to Hollywood in the morning then after lunch na lang ang Universal Studios. Don’t forget to take the studio tour in Universal Studios, it’s scheduled and it will take one hour of your time.

If you have time, try joining the LA tour kasi you can only see the celebrity houses if you take the tours. What to see in Hollywood: Kodak theatre (Oscars!), Mahn’s Chinese temple, Hollywood stars’ stars on the side walk, hand and foot prints at Mahn’s Chinese temple.


The next and last long weekend of your stay will be the thanksgiving weekend. Last year (2006), thanksgiving was Nov. 23 then 24th is also declared holiday in the office (The office always declare the Friday after thanksgiving day as holiday). The office people usually take the whole week off so you can probably schedule your vacation during this time to visit east coast. Actually, this is the best time to visit east coast since it’s a long weekend and it’s better to be in east coast for the black Friday sale. If you intend to buy electronics like, laptop, IPOD, etc. it’s best to buy it on a black Friday sale since it’s their biggest sale but of course, you should research the internet first because Americans are so competitive on this sale. They even stay overnight outside the stores just to be the first ones to enter the stores. Some malls open as early as 5am on this day. (see tip #3)

Recommended places to visit in East coast:

Since your time in East coast is limited, I recommend the following itinerary:

Thanksgiving day, Thursday – stay in New York, they have the best thanksgiving parade. Watch the parade in the morning then tour in the afternoon, don’t schedule though to visit Empire state building on this day as the line will be long since there are a lot of tourists. You can probably explore Central Park on this day, this is a very nice park so don’t forget to visit it, there are a lot of movies filmed here. You can’t do much shopping as the stores are closed on thanksgiving.

Friday – go shopping!! Delaware is tax-free even for electronics. On this day, you should have a plan, prioritize what you want to buy, on sale electronics are always the fast moving items so if you intend to buy, go there really early, Best Buy is a good place to buy electronics.

Washington, DC – you can visit DC in one day but you have to be there really early since there are a lot of good places to visit. I definitely recommend to go there as this is the US state capital and this is the only place where the museums are free and all tourist spots are just nearby each other. Consider taking the hop on hop off tour, so you won’t get tired walking and there are some places na medyo malayo lakarin. Since you can’t visit all the museums, at least visit the Air and Space, and Natural Sciences museums. Don’t spend all your time trying to see all the museums as there are more places to see in DC.

In New York – take also the hop on hop off tour (of Greyhound) so you can go to all the tourist spots. It’s better to come from New Jersey if you intend to go to Statue of Liberty since mas konti ang sumasakay from there. Schedule the trip to the Liberty island separate with your New York tour kasi it will eat up a lot of your time. Tip on empire state, check first if its not foggy because if its foggy, sayang ang bayad kasi wala ka ring makikita.

If you still have time, visit also Philadelphia, this is where the history of US is, visit the Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. You’ll learn a lot about US history here.

Tip # 6: Other Matters

• Bring prepaid sim for roaming. Very useful in your first few days in the US.

• If you suddenly miss Filipino food or if you want to buy unfrozen meat and seafood, look for the map/direction to Seafood City, San Jose (or you can get the directions from me, I still have it in my notebook). This is a grocery that sells Filipino stuff and beside it is Red Ribbon and Chowking. You can also buy Globe prepaid load here and landline call cards for Philippines. (Note: It’s better to buy call cards that are specifically for the Philippines rather than the generic international call cards that can be bought in the grocery, it will give you longer minutes)

• If you want to take the public transportation. Try logging on to, it will give you the complete instructions on what to ride. This site is so good, you just have to enter your starting point and destination and it will give you the instructions of what to ride, how long and how much will the travel take.

• Plan for Labor Day weekend, last year (2006) it was from Aug. 31 – Sept. 4. Friday before the Labor Day is always a holiday. This is your first long weekend so take this opportunity to travel. If you’re already comfortable in driving. I suggest that you go to LA on this weekend so you’ll have enough time to explore LA. LA is 5-6 hour drive from San Jose. If you can’t take driving that long, you can also go to Monterey, CA (2 hour drive) and stay there overnight, they have a lot of B&B (bed & breakfast) there. A really nice place.

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