Located in the tech-powered, beating heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose is an outstanding place to host events. There’s never a need to branch out too far, as most attractions are located within close quarters. Providing everything from mansions and mystery houses to breweries and eateries with incredible space for groups to meet, San Jose is an unsung destination in the event planning realm.
Meet and Sleep
One of the largest convention centers in the Bay Area, McEnery Convention Center offers 520,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. It’s nestled right in the tech capital, so you can only imagine the great events that are held there. They include F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference; TwitchCon, an annual convention for gamers; and WDCC, Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference.
This behemoth of a convention center is directly connected to two hotels: San Jose Marriott, which has 510 guest rooms and its own 21,000 sq. ft. of event space, and Hilton San Jose, with 353 guest rooms and nearly 33,000 sq. ft. of space. These conveniently located hotels erase all barriers to event tardiness. In the unlikely event that both properties are totally booked, 803-room Fairmont San Jose is just around the corner.
The 214-room Hayes Mansion is quite a unique space to host an event, and it has an even more unique backstory. In 1884, the home was purchased by the Hayes family. Five years later, one month after paying off the debt they incurred over the years, it burned down.
It wasn’t until 1905 that the mansion was completely rebuilt, and it took another 99 years for it to be repurposed into a convention center and resort space for all to enjoy. Boasting 33,000 sq. ft. of indoor-outdoor meeting space and located just 6 miles from the city’s downtown area, it is a hidden gem.
Just around the corner is The Tech Interactive, home to the world’s first IMAX dome theater with a laser projector—which sits at a jaw-dropping four stories. The entire museum can be rented out for events, so groups can explore the human body at Body Worlds Decoded or fly like a bird over Manhattan with Birdly, a first-of-its-kind, virtual-reality flying simulator.
A 10-minute drive north will take you to Santana Row, the city’s luxury shopping district. There, you’ll find brands such as Kendra Scott, Sephora, Bonobos, Gucci and Kate Spade. After shopping to your heart’s content, take it easy at the 214-room Hotel Valencia, Santana Row’s only hotel, which features 4,000 sq. ft. of event space.
Across from Santana Row, you’ll find Winchester Mystery House, the home that inspired the film. The Mystery House is ideal for groups looking for something different—and just a little ominous—to keep your attendees on their toes. In addition to offering tours of the home, it also hosts team-building activities.
Eat and Drink
Copious off-site outing options are available. One foolproof way to experience any city is through its food and drink scene. Whether you’re looking for wholesome premeeting dining or something unique, say a brewery tour on a bike operated by 15 people, you’re covered.
The brewery tour, hosted by San Jose Brew Bike, puts a whole new spin on team building. In a two-hour span, groups stop at three establishments where they can try out San Jose’s finest local beer.
Testarossa Winery in nearby Los Gatos is a wine-lover’s paradise, home to the most exquisite chardonnays and pinot noirs. After trying out the wine, groups can attend classes at Testarossa University, which teaches includes wine and cheese pairing, and vineyard exploration.