WWDC is once again held in San Jose, aka the best city ever, and nobody can tell me otherwise

Did Apple force you to go to San Jose against your will? Here's where to eat, drink and chill.

Lynn La Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones
Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.
Lynn La
5 min read

Apple's  kicked off its WWDC developers conference on Monday, introducing several products and software updates including the Apple Pro Display XDR, MacOS Catalina and  iOS 13, and the new Mac Pro. Though the audience sounded excited enough about the devices, it was to the collective dread of the developer community and press that the event was once again being held in San Jose, California. Yes, just like the last couple of years when the company ceased its 12-year run in San Francisco in 2017, Apple forced thousands against their will to descend upon this great giant suburb. You're welcome!

Little do people know, however, that San Jose (aka my hometown) is the best city in the world*. San Francisco natives in particular have a whole complex about hating it for some reason. Something about it being boring or being populated with too many strip malls or having a hockey team that chokes. Also it's really expensive to live there despite its rising crime rate (who told you about that anyway? I WILL STAB THEM).

But one should be so honored to visit the third-biggest city in California (and 10th in the US) because it's really poppin'. I would know because I use words like poppin'. Silicon Valley Comic Con and Facebook's F8 were held there; we're home to supersexy tech companies that make headlines every day, like Cisco Systems and Western Digital; and legendary punk rock band No Use For a Name is from there (RIP, Tony Sly).

So if you're one of the lucky ones to have to visit San Jose because your job depends on it, or you didn't realize that was where you were going before you applied for the ticket lottery, here's CNET's guide to WWDC 2019 as it rises again in downtown San Jose.

*I've been told that this is "debatable."


Haters hatin' to 2017's WWDC announcement.

Lynn La/CNET

Originally published May 31, 2017.
Update, June 1, 2018: Adds WWDC 2018 context and updated information about Cinebar.
Update, June 3, 2019: Adds WWDC 2019 context.  

Places to geek out

The Tech Interactive (formerly the Tech Museum): Bright orange with a purple dome up top, you can't miss the museum. (Visually you can't miss it. But you can miss out on it if you want, I'm not your boss.) In addition to exhibitions about tech and robots, there's an earthquake simulator that is so scary it can make a young child (not me) burst into tears (again, not me) during her elementary school trip (definitely not me). Fun!


This is a piece of tech history.

Lynn La/CNET

De Anza College: Yes, De Anza is technically in Cupertino, but it's still close enough for Apple fans to visit for its place in tech history. Steve Wozniak went here after getting kicked out of another university for hacking its computers. In 1984, Steve Jobs unveiled the original Apple Macintosh at De Anza. And I can personally attest that the school's outdoor benches are especially comfortable for napping between classes.

Lick Observatory: Located on top of Mount Hamilton, it featured the world's largest telescope back in its heyday. Make sure you visit during operating hours though, because you will get stopped for trespassing by that one cop who's up there on Mt. Ham. Don't ask me how I know.

Places to go

Winchester Mystery House: As an SJ native, I am contractually obligated to shoehorn the Mystery House into any conversation about San Jose. It's a Victorian mansion built for widowed gun heiress Sarah Winchester. 

You've probably heard about it because of the 2018 movie "Winchester," which is basically a documentary that is 100 percent accurate and stars Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke and some kid that walks around with a bag over his head (I'm serious).

Convinced she was being haunted by ghosts as well as low-key annoyed by bag-head walker, Sarah Winchester continuously built out the house to confuse the ghosts. Stairs that went nowhere, hidden rooms and decoy bathrooms so the ghosts didn't know where to poop. Tours are given out daily to underwhelmed out-of-towners and local schoolkids. It's the most historically famous thing we got, so just go so you can say you went, OK?

Winchester Mystery House

Come to SJ and be haunted by ghosts!

Richard T. Nowitz/Getty Images

Santana Row: Nearby Winchester is a bougie outdoor mall. I go there to look at things I can't afford, touch the expensive washi paper at the Japanese stationary store Maido while the cashier eyes me and sit alone outside eating overpriced yogurt from Pinkberry.

San Jose Improv: During the week of WWDC, MADTV actor Amir K will perform stand-up. True story, in high school I went to see Brian Regan there and choked on my drink while laughing and coughing at the same time. I ended up throwing up my drink right there on my table. The waitstaff was nice about it though, but the Improv has this two-drink minimum and since I was a teenager, that $6 soda I threw up was, like, a lot.

San Pedro Square in San Jose

San Pedro is like NY's Chelsea Market or Seattle's Pike Place or SF's Ferry Building. Only smaller than all those places and with less stuff.

Richard Cummins/Lonely Planet Images

Places to eat

San Pedro Square Market: This indoor food market is similar to San Francisco's Ferry Building, but much smaller. It's still cool though, and it has lots of food vendors and bars to accommodate large groups. If you plan to party through the night, know that it closes early at midnight like a loser.

La Victoria Taqueria: La Vics is the closest to an SF Mission burrito™ you can get. It's famous for its delicious orange sauce that you should drizzle on everything. There are two locations and both get sloppy after midnight. So if you still want tasty burritos but want a tad chiller ambiance, walk over to Iguana's nearby.

Any Vietnamese restaurant, anywhere: Along with LA, SJ has the best Vietnamese food in California. Not every place is spectacular, but even mediocre Viet food in SJ is better than anything you'll find elsewhere (including SF). Go to Dac Phuc for the pho (note: It's closed on Mondays), Vung Tau for the downtown location and Com Ga Nam An for the Hainanese chicken. Oh and yes, the service is aloof, but deal with it.

Places to drink

Old Wagon Saloon: OWS' saloon theme and beer pong tables (per request) attract a lot of bro-y clientele, but it can still be fun. It's where I learned to play shuffleboard, and my friends and I have a tradition of eating post-Thanksgiving-Thanksgiving-dinner there to this day, so it holds a special place in my heart.


Come to SJ and drink beer and be haunted by ghosts (again!)

Courtesey of Victor Solanoy

Cinebar: What used to be a super divey, cash-only bar that served $7 LCs with a heavy pour (don't ask what's in it), Cinebar has since been remodeled with some skate theme. It may not have the same charm as it used to have, but at least it's cleaner and roomier now?

Trials Pub: Though not as central in downtown, this pub is great if you're looking for something chill. Fun fact, its basement used to be a jail, and it's haunted by a ghost (not the Winchester ones). People can't decide if the ghost is a warden or a prisoner, but it probably has ace taste in beers by now and is a Premiere League fan.