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Entertainment & Nightlife in San Jose


A lively nightlife scene has developed in previously sleepy San Jose, especially in the many clubs of the city's trendy SoFA (South First Area) district. Some of the local favourites include Gordon Biersch Brewery, Vbar and Agenda for live music. Sports fans stop by the Mission Ale House or Tied House Cafe & Brewery for a beer before heading over to the HP Pavilion for a hockey game. Santana Row has a number of upscale clubs and bars and has been the new hotspot since 2005. Closing time for most bars is 2 am.

For performing arts, some San Jose offers some excellent selections, including the San Jose Repertory Theatre, the American Musical Theatre of San Jose and Opera San Jose.

Places to Unwind

Performing Arts

The quality of San Jose's performing arts organisations has risen in recent years to rival those of San Francisco's. The San Jose Symphony has grown from a regional ensemble into one of national stature. It is in fact the oldest symphony in the West. Guest artists such are regularly featured with the orchestra, which plays at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts, as well as Cupertino's Flint Center. The San Jose Chamber Music Society offers impeccable performances of robust late Classical/early Romantic fare at the Le Petit Trianon Hall. There is, too, the Opera San Jose, whose productions are staged in the Montgomery Theater, and the renamed reconstituted, and revitalised Ballet San Jose. The ballet can be seen at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts. Additional ensembles include the San Jose Symphonic Choir, the San Jose Wind Symphony, the Lyric Theater (for light opera in the Gilbert and Sullivan tradition), and the folkloric Los Lupenos de San Jose.

San Jose's theatre scene is led by the highly regarded San Jose Repertory Theater and the San Jose Stage Company, both of which have their own downtown stages; as well as the Northside Theater Company, the daring City Lights Theater Company, Latin-themed (but English speaking) Teatro Vision, and smaller comedic stages such as Big Lil's Barbary Coast Dinner Theater. Musicals thrive in San Jose, as well, at the American Musical Theater (San Jose Center for Performing Arts) and the San Jose Children's Musical Theater.


Cinema is, as everywhere, the go-to entertainment choice. There are plenty of theatres in and around the Valley. Most of them, not surprisingly, feature state-of-the-art technology. However, as an antidote, one can take in a flick at the Capitol Drive-In, corner of Capitol Expressway and Snell Avenue. While international and revival houses are a bit harder to come by than they are in San Francisco, Camera Cinemas are conveniently located downtown and show heady art-house fare. One thing to keep in mind about San Jose is that if you're in the right place at the right time, you may get to catch a major Hollywood blockbuster weeks or even months ahead of its release date. Also worth noting is the Naz 8, which shows first-run, mainstream, non-art films from India.

Bars & Clubs

Bars and nightclubs come in every description, and are to be found in the greatest concentration in San Jose's downtown area. The lobby bars of the finer hotels like The Fairmont Hotel and the Hyatt Sainte Claire are quite popular with the Silicon Valley's middle and upper management for after-work libations. Jazz fans will find cool sounds at the Garden City Casino in San Jose, #1 Broadway in Los Gatos and JJ's Blues in Santa Clara. Mambo kings hungry for salsa can find it at Club Miami on Santa Clara Street, as well as north at Mountain View's King of Clubs and Jose’s Caribbean Restaurant in Palo Alto.





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