1. The Fairmont's lobby is pretty swank and very convenient; lots of places to sit and chat and have an expensive drink. The Sunday afternoon tea is apparently quite nice.
2. That said, get the heck out of the Fairmont if you can. I know you won't have tons of time, but definitely check out these restaurants and bars:
- O'Flaherty's - a great Irish pub with Strongbow and Guinness on tap. Live Irish music on Tuesday and Sunday nights. A five-minute walk
- Picasso's - awesome tapas and a good selection of wine. A five-minute walk.
- 5 Spot Chivas Grill - have only been there for breakfast, but their chilaquiles are the bomb and the 5 Spot Omelet (with nopales) is, according to my husband, delish. A 15-minute walk south on first street
- Viva Taqueria - awesome hole-in-the wall in Santa Clara with great chile verde and huge burritos; only if you have a car - a 10-minute drive
- Dia de Pesca - another awesome taqueria featuring seafood - again, only if you have a car - a 10-minute drive
- E&O Trading Company - it is part of a small chain, but their food and cocktails are delish; a 3-minute walk
- Gordon Biersch is pretty convenient, and their garlic fries are legendary. A 5-minute walk. The Gordon Biersch brewery and bottling facility is in the Japantown area of north San Jose.
- Again, if you have a car, drive 5 minutes north to Japantown. Lots of good Japanese and Hawaiian restaurants in a 4-block area. A 5-minute drive.
- Want something fancy? Well, the Grill on the Alley has some pretty decent steaks and nice old-school cocktails, but I'd say get out and walk over to the Marriott (across Plaza de Cesar Chavez) and have dinner at Arcadia (a 3-minute walk), or walk up to the Hotel De Anza and have dinner at La Pastaia (A 10-minute walk).
- Want something to help you with your hangover? La Victoria (La Vic to locals) has two locations, about equidistant from the Fairmont - one near SJSU (a 10-minute walk) and one near San Pedro Square (a 5-minute walk). Breakfast burritos and badassed orange sauce FTW!
3. The San Jose Museum of Art is literally right next door to the Fairmont. The collection focuses on 20th and 21st century art; the Alexander Calder exhibit will be on during World Fantasy.
4. The San Jose Sharks will be hosting the LA Kings on October 28, and the Colorado Avalanche on October 30.
5. Take a few moments to visit the Cathedral Basilica of San Jose. The first church on the site, dedicated to St. Joseph, was established in 1803. The current church is the fifth on the same site, and was built in 1877. There are often free concerts in this lovely building; check the website for the latest information.
6. If you have a car, and some extra time, take a drive over Hwy 17 to Santa Cruz. The beaches south of SC are family-friendly and more like SoCal beaches. The beaches north of SC are much more wild (and I think more interesting) with excellent surf. Davenport has two excellent places for breakfast (Whale City Bakery and the Davenport Roadhouse).
7. The official World Fantasy site suggests going to Napa or Sonoma, which is fine, but pretty far away. There are some AMAZING wineries in the Santa Cruz mountains. Ridge, just above Cupertino, is well-known for their award-winning Montebello, and the David Bruce winery is also justly famous for their fantastic pinot noir. Do yourself a favor - visit the wineries of the Santa Cruz mountains - it's closer than Sonoma or Napa (only 30 minutes vs. 90), the wineries are smaller, tasting rooms friendlier (and not overrun), and the scenery is incredibly beautiful.
Let's see, what else? San Jose is a great place to live, and has some amazing history. The pueblo was founded in 1777 by Juan Bautista de Anza - the first civil settlement in California (the Missions and military encampments preceded it). The city was under Spanish rule until it came under Mexican rule in the early 19th century, and then came under American rule in 1846. It was California's first incorporated city (1850) and its first capitol; the San Jose Normal School (now known as San Jose State University) was founded in 1854. It is now the 10th largest city in the United States.
If you have any questions or want any other suggestions, please feel free to drop me an email! juliekrose at gmail dot com.