Travelers in search of the best viewpoints near San Jose will be spoilt for choice as several pretty panoramas sit scattered around town. And the tech-centric Californian city certainly is scenic, wedged between rolling green sierras and the glittering San Fransisco Bay.

    Some of our favourite viewpoints for taking in the scenery reside within the city proper while others are found in the outlying hills. They may differ in foregrounds and natural features but all have at least one thing in common: breathtaking views.

    1

    Communications Hill

    An upper-class suburban neighbourhood sitting on top of a hill

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    Communications Hill is the easiest place to reach for an overview of the city as this hilly suburban neighbourhood lies just 10 minutes from downtown San Jose. It’s possible to drive all the way to the top, but it’s better to hike up the beautifully manicured Grand Staircase and get some exercise en route.

    Upon reaching the summit, Vieira Park is a lovely spot to catch your breath and soak up those sweeping city views. Communications Hill is a residential area, so remember to keep the noise down and respect the locals.

    Location: 356 Mullinix Way, San Jose, CA 95136, USA

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    2

    Groesbeck Hill Park

    A popular place for exercise with gorgeous vistas

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    Groesbeck Hill Park resides on the outskirts of town, although it’s only 15 minutes’ drive from the centre so you won’t have to venture far. Locals love coming here in the late afternoon to exercise on the panoramic hill, with hikers, bikers, and joggers plying its winding paths.

    It’s also a popular spot for recreation with several high-quality facilities at hand: tennis/basketball/volleyball courts, a kid’s playground, and a wide-open field. Sunsets are especially lovely from the peak as the twinkling lights of Silicon Valley unfold below.

    Location: Norwood Ave & Klein Rd, San Jose, CA 95148, USA

    Phone: +1 408-793-5510

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    3

    Fowler Creek Park

    A family-friendly park in the southeast of the city

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    Fowler Creek Park sits in the quiet Evergreen neighbourhood in the southeast of the city, about 15 minutes from downtown. The palm tree-studded plaza is a hit with young families as an impressive ensemble of kid’s play equipment surrounds the space.

    Picnic tables and a tennis court give reasons to linger and soak up those gorgeous city views. Do try to plan your visit for the daytime, however, as high school kids are known to loiter and make mischief here after sundown. Plenty of free parking is available, and it’s an easy stroll to the top.

    Location: Altia Ave & Cortona Dr, San Jose, CA 95135, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 408-535-3570

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    photo by Don DeBold (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    Alum Rock Park

    San Jose’s favourite natural playground

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    Alum Rock Park sits perched on the foothills of the Diablo Range, right outside San Jose, making it a great place for city slickers after a quick nature escape. Several hiking and biking trails wind their way through the wooded hills, affording spectacular views of the city and scenery below.

    The park has been welcoming nature lovers since 1872 (it’s one of California’s oldest parks) and it gets rather busy on weekends, so rock up early if you can. Either way, you should still be able to find a quiet spot to chill somewhere in the rugged 720-acre expanse. Keep an eye out for the remnants of an old locomotive and the hollows of the abandoned mineral springs.

    Location: 15350 Penitencia Creek Rd, San Jose, CA 95127, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 8.15 pm

    Phone: +1 408-259-5477

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    photo by four years (CC BY 2.0) modified

    5

    Mount Hamilton

    Beautiful views with a fully functional observatory

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    The peak of Mount Hamilton offers the best possible views of San Jose, but the catch is you’ll have to drive an hour each way. Still, the road to the top is stunning, and the view from above spectacular, making it well worth the drive for locals and visitors alike.

    Budding astronomers get a bonus upon arrival: the Lick Observatory. As the oldest mountaintop observatory in the world (established 1888), the site is both educational and entertaining for young minds. Don’t miss the 36-inch Great Lick Refractor inside the telescope dome.

    Location: Mt Hamilton, CA 95140, USA

    Open: Observatory open Thursday–Sunday from noon to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 408-274-5061

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    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

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