The elevator doors were closing. With my usual frenetic pace, I sprinted across the foyer and wedged my body into the gap between the gray metal doors. Serendipity happens. There I was, face to face with Snoop Dogg and his entourage. Playing a gig at the Shoreline that night, they were staying at my hotel — the San Jose Fairmont.
After agreeing to a photo, Snoop and I parted ways. But if we’d had time to hang, here are the top 10 places I’d take Snoop Dogg:
1. Japantown. San Jose has one of just three historical Japantowns left in the United States. Five blocks north of downtown, this strikingly authentic neighborhood has the ornate San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, a pre-World War ll sweatshop, a 1947 gas station transformed into Roy’s Station Coffee and Teas and numerous other historical buildings and sites.
2. San Jose Tofu Company. Japantown’s popular tofu shop, founded in 1946 and still making some 700 handmade pieces of tofu daily for restaurants and Japanese markets. Anthony Bourdain featured this shop recently in his CNN show “Parts Unknown.”
3. Japanese American Museum of San Jose. Located in the onetime Eichler home of Dr. Eiichi Sakauye, the docents do a remarkable job of telling the history of this community and the hardships that Japanese Americans faced during internment. Here you can pick up a free walking tour guide of this 125-year-old neighborhood.
4. San Pedro Market. This place exudes cool, with art and live music and multiple gourmet food vendors from which to choose. Craft beers and wine make this a popular watering hole for locals who appreciate the rich history of the site of the Peralta Adobe and Fallon House — San Jose’s oldest historic structures.
5. The Tech Museum of Innovation. Directly across from the Fairmont, this is a must-see museum with hundreds of hands-on exhibits that immerse you in the Silicon Valley experience. It includes an IMAX theater.
6. San Jose Museum of Art. Kitty-corner from the Tech Museum, this engaging space has an excellent collection of modern and contemporary art. It’s connected to — and integrated with — an 1892 building that once housed the Post Office.
7. Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph. The first nonmission parish built in California, this multidomed house of worship has 39 stained glass windows and a Latin frieze on the ceiling that date back 136 years.
8. San Jose State University and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. With picturesque tree-lined grounds in the heart of downtown, it’s worth a walk around this easily accessible campus. The library is a collaboration of the university and city library systems, and the artwork and city views add to the ambience.
9. SOFA night life. The South of First Street scene is a blast at night, lined with nightclubs and neighborhood bars. Live music punctuates the twinkle of streetlights in this cozy and walkable downtown strip.
10. The Hedley Club Lounge in the De Anza Hotel. Hands down the best place to hear live jazz in an elegant Art Deco setting. Plush sofa seating and craft brews and cocktails make this a hot spot for locals and visitors.