The pool at the Hotel Valencia
Courtesy Hotel Valencia
We duck inside the market, scanning opportunities for an early lunch: cheese and charcuterie platters at the Little Cheese Shoppe, thin-crust Neapolitan pizzas from Pizza Bocca Lupo, French crepes at Cre Paris and even fusion hot dogs from CaliDog. Cheese and charcuterie win out, followed by some sweet horchata ice cream from Treatbot, a “karaoke ice-cream truck from the future.”


If You Go

LUÍS MARÍA PERALTA ADOBE AND THE FALLON HOUSE HISTORIC SITE
175 W. Saint John St./(408) 287-2290
www.historysanjose.org

SAN PEDRO SQUARE MARKET
87 N. San Pedro St.
www.sanpedrosquaremarket.com

JAPANESE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF SAN JOSE
535 N. Fifth St.
(408) 294-3138
www.jamsj.org

WINCHESTER MYSTERY HOUSE
525 S. Winchester Blvd.
(408) 247-2000
www.winchestermysteryhouse.com

HOTEL VALENCIA
355 Santana Row
(408) 551-0010
www.hotelvalencia-santanarow.com

THE TECH MUSEUM OF INNOVATION
201 S. Market St.
(408) 294-8324
www.thetech.org

Across the street, we visit another symbol of San Jose’s early days. The Fallon House was built in 1855 by Thomas and Carmel ­Castro Fallon. Thomas came to Alta California with the Frémont expedition and went on to become one of San Jose’s earliest mayors after California became part of the United States. The pear orchards that once surrounded the home are long gone, with Victorian gardens the only greenery that remains on the property. Nancy’s takeaway: the “coffin corners” at the top of the staircase that allow an occupied coffin to be carried downstairs without disturbing the body.

Just north of downtown San Jose, the city’s Japantown joins San Francisco and Los Angeles as one of three remaining historic Japantowns in the United States. We walk along the neighborhood streets and note the details: the Issei stone symbolizing the journey first-generation Japanese immigrants took; the Nikkei Lantern marking Feb. 19, 1942, the date that Executive Order 9066 authorizing Japanese relocation to internment camps was signed; the concrete benches evoking wooden benches at the 10 internment camps.

Among the neighborhood’s highlights — specialty shops, a tofu factory, grocery stores laden with culinary treats, a Sunday farmers market and restaurants that serve traditional Asian cuisine — is the Japanese American Museum of San Jose. Reopened in 2010 after an extensive remodeling and expansion project, it collects and preserves the Japanese-American history of the region.

We wander through exhibits displaying equipment used by early Japanese ­immigrant farmers, a replica of a Tule Lake Segregation Center barracks room and post-World War II photos and essays describing reintegration to society. If I didn’t want to show Nancy two more San Jose landmarks, we could spend all afternoon here.

Despite living less than an hour away, I haven’t seen the next spot on our tour since I was a kid. After the deaths of her child and her husband, Winchester rifle heir Sarah Winchester moved west, bought an unfinished farmhouse and, over 38 years, produced the sprawling complex known today as the Winchester Mystery House. Some think that Winchester believed that spirits would haunt her should construction on her home ever end. The 160-room Queen Anne-style mansion’s bizarre features, from doors opening into blank walls to a staircase that goes from the floor to the ceiling, also include technology considered advanced for the time, such as a call-box system designed to communicate with the 18 house servants from anywhere in the home. Winchester also had her own gas and electrical plant on the property, as well as an early Otis electric elevator.