ยป The best scenic drives in San Jose

San Jose, the vibrant capital of Silicon Valley, is not only known for its technological advancements but also for its stunning natural beauty. Nestled in the heart of Northern California, this city offers a plethora of scenic drives that showcase the region’s diverse landscapes. Whether you’re a local looking for a weekend getaway or a visitor exploring the area, these picturesque routes will take you on a journey through breathtaking vistas, charming towns, and hidden gems. So buckle up and get ready to explore the best scenic drives in San Jose.

1. Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35)

One of the most iconic drives in the area, Skyline Boulevard, also known as Highway 35, offers panoramic views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. This 31-mile stretch of road winds through dense forests, rolling hills, and picturesque meadows, providing a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Along the way, you’ll encounter several scenic overlooks, such as the famous Alice’s Restaurant, where you can stop for a meal and enjoy the stunning vistas. The drive is particularly breathtaking during the fall season when the foliage turns vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow.

2. Mount Hamilton Road

If you’re a fan of stargazing and breathtaking views, a drive along Mount Hamilton Road is a must. This scenic route takes you to the summit of Mount Hamilton, where the Lick Observatory is located. As you ascend the mountain, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas of the Santa Clara Valley and the surrounding countryside.

Once you reach the summit, make sure to visit the Lick Observatory, which houses one of the world’s largest telescopes. On clear nights, you can even attend a stargazing event and witness the wonders of the universe.

3. Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1)

No scenic drive list would be complete without mentioning the iconic Pacific Coast Highway. While not directly in San Jose, this world-famous route is just a short drive away and offers breathtaking coastal views that are worth the trip.

Starting from Santa Cruz, you can embark on a journey along Highway 1, hugging the rugged coastline and passing through charming beach towns like Capitola and Aptos. The drive offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, rocky cliffs, and sandy beaches.

4. Almaden Road to Calero County Park

If you’re looking for a scenic drive closer to the city, Almaden Road to Calero County Park is an excellent choice. This route takes you through the picturesque Almaden Valley, known for its rolling hills, vineyards, and equestrian estates.

As you drive along Almaden Road, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and stunning views of the valley. Once you reach Calero County Park, take some time to explore the park’s hiking trails, picnic areas, and serene reservoir.

5. Quicksilver County Park Loop

For nature enthusiasts and history buffs, the Quicksilver County Park Loop offers a unique and scenic drive. Located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, this route takes you through the remnants of the historic New Almaden Quicksilver Mine.

As you drive through the park, you’ll be surrounded by oak woodlands, wildflowers, and remnants of the mining operations. The park also offers several hiking trails, allowing you to stretch your legs and explore the area on foot.


1. How long does it take to drive Skyline Boulevard?

Driving the full length of Skyline Boulevard can take around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and the number of stops you make along the way.

2. Are there any entrance fees for Calero County Park?

No, Calero County Park does not charge any entrance fees. It is open to the public and offers free parking.

3. Can I visit the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton Road?

Yes, the Lick Observatory offers public tours and stargazing events. However, it’s recommended to check their website for the latest information and availability.

4. Are there any restaurants or cafes along Pacific Coast Highway?

Yes, Pacific Coast Highway is dotted with numerous restaurants and cafes where you can stop for a meal or a quick snack while enjoying the coastal views.

5. Are there any hiking trails in Quicksilver County Park?

Yes, Quicksilver County Park offers several hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels. It’s a great place to explore on foot and immerse yourself in nature.


San Jose, with its proximity to stunning natural landscapes, offers a variety of scenic drives that showcase the beauty of Northern California. From the panoramic views of Skyline Boulevard to the stargazing opportunities on Mount Hamilton Road, these drives provide a perfect escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Additionally, the Pacific Coast Highway, Almaden Road to Calero County Park, and Quicksilver County Park Loop offer unique experiences and breathtaking vistas. So, hop in your car, hit the road, and explore the best scenic drives in San Jose.

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