San José Neighborhoods
The San Jose 8K & Half Marathon began in 2012 as the 408K Race to the Row. The Race Directors, J.T. Service & Scott McConville, wanted to create something that celebrated San Jose, unlike any other local race. Since its inception, it has supported and raised over $100,000 for the Pat Tillman Foundation Scholars, which honors this San Jose legend who grew up in the Almaden neighborhood and attended Leland High School where J.T.’s father was the Track & Field coach.
Working with community partners we’ve also celebrated San Jose’s rich Latino culture with Folklorico dancers and Mariachi Bands to bring together the now famous Mariachi Mile. Runner’s have been motivated by the energy that traditional Mariachis, new Mariachi’s as well as youth Mariachi bands bring them as they near the Santana Row finish!
Recently, the event has partnered with the Boulevard Bombs Foundation for a unique low rider lead race vehicle parade through San Jose’s neighborhoods. Thanks to all of our participants and partners who support the event we’re also proud to support them year round on a variety of fundraising initiatives.
All that is to say that Run Local’s original running party and celebration of its community runs deep in San Jose and we hope you feel that on race day. In the meantime, we encourage you to explore San Jose’s varied neighborhoods, shop local and support our small businesses wherever possible.
We’ve made this 200-plus year old historical corridor a bit of a Run Local home of sorts with runners enjoying it as they head out from the 408k starting line or the final dash to finish of the Silicon Valley Half. While you explore ‘The Beautiful Way’ you’ll be treated to delicious food and drink anchored by local’s favorite Greenlee’s (hint: get their cinnamon bread). The Alameda neighborhood is also home to The Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center, which opened its doors in 1981 and today serves all nine Bay Area Counties.
The Alum Rock neighborhood provides for an epic vantage point of the San José valley and it also allows you to get away from all of the hustle and bustle. You’ll be able to enjoy a morning hike or run in California’s oldest municipal park, Alum Rock Park, and cap it off with dinner and drinks from Mt. Hamilton’s Grandview restaurant.
- Visit San José – Alum Rock
- Alum Rock Park History by Judy Thompson, New Neighborhood Voice
- Run Local Staff Favorite: Peter’s Bakery
The southwest corner of San José features a runner’s favorite, Quicksilver County Park, with mining relics of a bygone era as well as Almaden Lake which connects to Santa Teresa Park to the south and the Guadalupe River Park Trail to the north.
- Visit San José – Almaden Valley
- Almaden Quicksilver County Park: Hiking through history by Tom Managan
- Run Local Staff Favorite: Sabores of the Valley
- Honorable Mention: Brittania Arms
San José’s window to the Bay, the Alviso neighborhood will transport you to a time before semiconductors and microchips. It was once home to the now ghost town of Drawbridge, which is slowly sinking into the Bay and whose last resident left in 1979. Chinese immigrant, Thomas Foon Chew also operated the Bayside Canning Company, one of the most successful canneries in the United States in the early 1900s.
Today, take a kayaking trip from Laine’s Baits and Rentals to learn about this history before enjoying tacos at El Taco de Oro or Mole at Rosita’s De Basilio Deli & Market. You can also get away from it all by heading over to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (home to Drawbridge), the first urban wildlife refuge in the United States, to take in the views.
- Visit San José – Alviso
- Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
- Ghost town of Drawbridge is going down into bay, Carolyn Jones, SFGate.com
- Los Altos History Museum Explores the Life of Cannery Pioneer Thomas Foon Chew
- Run Local Staff Favorite: El Taco de Oro
- Honorable Mention: Rosita’s De Basilio Deli & Market
From the Shamrock Run beginning and ending at San Pedro Square Market to the San Jose Half Marathon course taking you through its streets, if you’ve done a Run Local San José event, you’ve enjoyed Downtown unlike anyone else. You can spend your day at a number of San José’s museums, including the can’t miss Tech Museum of Innovation or the San José Museum of Art. Then enjoy food, brews and cocktails at San Pedro Square Market, the SoFA Market or any number of delicious eateries that call downtown home.
In 1850, San José was the first city to incorporate in California and also became the state’s first capitol. What is now Downtown, continues to maintain some of this history with many of the buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places including Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Today it is also home to San Jose State University and the award winning Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a collaboration between the City of San José and SJSU, as well as Plaza de César Chávez, which is the host to a number of events throughout the year.
This neighborhood has some of the newest developments in San José and boasts a number of must-see locations, including Santa Clara County’s largest Park, Joseph D. Grant County Park, staff favorite cement slides at Brigadoon Park and the welcoming Sikh Gurdwara Sahib.
One of three remaining Japantowns in the United States, Nihonmachi or J Town as it is commonly referred to has supported the San José Japanese community for over a hundred years. You can learn more about the rich history of J Town at the Japanese American Museum of San José before settling down to enjoy one of the many delicious restaurants in the neighborhood.
Looking to shop? Start with Run Local partner, artists and J Town business, Cukui, who have designed many of our 408K ‘Race to the Row’ shirts and medals. Stop into their flagship shop on Jackson Street after a stop at the weekly farmer’s market or picking up homemade Tofu at the San José Tofu Company. And don’t leave before enjoying Japanese delicacy, Manju, at the Shuei-Do Manju Shop. Karaoke you’re thing? Pop into 7 Bamboo Lounge.
With its roots dating back to the 1880s, the Little Italy San José organization has been revitalizing this historic cultural center by hosting events, attracting Italian business, installing a Gateway Arch (pictured above) and recently breaking ground for the Little Italy San Jose Cultural Center & Museum. Little Italy is located in the River Street Historic District and is the oldest historic district in San José.
A short walk to Downtown, don’t miss the Little Italy Street Festival in October and if you can’t wait to enjoy Little Italy, it is likely one of the few neighborhoods in the country offering its own Wine Club!
If you’ve driven on highway 101 past downtown San José then you likely caught sight of the towers and stained glass windows of the Five Wounds Portuguese National Parish. Founded in 1914, it has served as a hub for the Portuguese immigrant community settling into the neighborhood. Today, this stretch of Alum Rock Avenue is also home to Adega, which earned San José its first Michelin Star and only the second Portuguese restaurant in the country to do so.
With the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam itself, come to Little Saigon to learn about this community’s history at the Viet Museum located at History Park within Kelley Park. Then enjoy some of the best Vietnamese Cuisine you’ll find in the United States from traditional phở to modern twists such as what you’ll enjoy at TeaLyfe, started by young locals fusing Vietnamese and Mexican flavors.
On Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, take in the celebration at Lion Plaza, which has served as Little Saigon’s central hub for generations. Also, located near Little Saigon don’t miss the local, family favorite Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.
Since the early 1900s, one of San José’s oldest neighborhoods was and still is home to first and second generation Mexican-origin families, which today also welcomes immigrants from the Philippines, Vietnam & India as well as other countries. Rooted in grassroots community organization, this neighborhood is famously known as the home of César Chávez, labor leader and founder of United Farm Workers.
The history of the neighborhood and of Chávez himself manifests itself today in Somos Mayfair, an organization founded in 1997 to support families and address systemic inequalities. In 1999, the City of San José built the Mexican Heritage Plaza on the site of one of Chávez first grocery store boycotts for farm workers’ rights and today serves as a School of Arts & Culture as well as a hub for events, community engagement, leadership development and more.
Reflect on the legacy of the neighborhood along the César Chávez Memorial Walkway, which begins at Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San José and heads up to Mayfair with stops at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, Cesar Chavez Elementary School, Mayfair Community Center, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, where Chávez organized. You’ll end of the Walkway at the former Chavez Family Home, which is privately owned, but dawns a plaque commemorating his life’s work.
- Visit San José – Mayfair
- SOMOS Mayfair
- School of Arts & Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza
- Run Local Staff Favorite: La Costa
- Honorable Mention: El Pirrin
Sitting just outside the downtown neighborhood, wander through to take in some of the oldest estates in San José as well as enjoy its parks, including Watson Park, where you can catch the Coyote Creek Trail system for a nice walk or long ride all the way down to Morgan Hill. Naglee Park is also home to the San José Woman’s Club, one of the oldest women’s organizations in California, established in 1894, and to this day continues to serve the community in a variety of ways from its historical California Mission Revival style building.
NORTH SAN JOSÉ
North San José is known for being home to some of the biggest tech companies and everything that is new. This includes Earthquake Stadium, where you can enjoy one of Major League Soccer’s best fan experiences from the largest outdoor bar in North America. But, move beyond the urban streets and in less than a half hour’s drive you can be soaking up beautiful vistas after a hike or ride at the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve.
One of San José’s oldest neighborhoods, it is home to America’s Best Rose Garden, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium and the vibrant community at The Alameda Artworks. Run Local also features this neighborhood during the 408k ‘Race to the Row’ as well as the Silicon Valley Half events.
The 408k ‘Race to the Row’, Run Local’s first event celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020, provides participants with an iconic Santana Row finish line experience beginning with the final Mariachi Mile just outside of the Valley Fair Mall and ending with Mexican folk dancers. Beyond running a race in this neighborhood, you can also shop till you drop and then enjoy some of San José’s best dining.
SOUTH SAN JOSÉ
If you enjoy getting away from the urban streets of San José for your run or walk you are likely very familiar with the variety of parks that make South San José so incredible. The trio of Almaden Quicksilver County Park, Hellyer County Park, and Santa Teresa Park provide you endless possibilities whether you’re out on a 10 mile Half Marathon training run or simply getting out with your family for a hike.
Stretching from Downtown all the way to Morgan Hill, this neighborhood also has great breweries, golf or for family-friendly activities enjoy the Silvercreek Sportsplex as well as San José’s only drive-in movie theater, the West Wind Capitol Drive-In.
- Visit San José – South San José
- Almaden Quicksilver County Park: Hiking through history by Tom Managan
- Run Local Staff Favorite: Tony DiMaggio’s Pizza
- Honorable Mention: Regal Bagel
WEST SAN JOSÉ
People flock to this neighborhood from around the world to visit the quirky and ornate, 160-room Winchester Mystery House complete with doors and stairs to nowhere to try to unlock the mysteries of the mansion. During your visit you can also try your hand at axe throwing in the stables or take a stroll through its victorian gardens.
West San José is also highlighted by abundant shopping at Westfield Valley Fair and the Westgate Mall. After a day of mystery and shopping, choose from a diverse group of restaurants including Ethiopian, French, Japanese, Mexican and Middle Eastern to name a few.
It can be said that Run Local literally started in this neighborhood. This is where founder, J.T. Service, grew up and planted the seeds to start a running empire in San José, CA. It’s also the boyhood home to Stone Temple Pilot’s Eric Kretz who attended Willow Glen High. We’ll leave it up to you to decide which is cooler. With that aside, don’t miss Willow Glen’s charming dining & shopping district and even take a drive by tour of the Fairglen Eichler homes tract.
- Visit San José – Willow Glen
- Eichler Crazy in Fairglen, by David Weinstein, Eichler Network
- Bonus: The Unsung Story of Eichler Homes and How They Helped Integrate American Neighborhoods, Jennifer Baum Lagdameo, Dwell
- Run Local Staff Favorite: Yuki Sushi