Little gems are everywhere its just a matter of if we take the time to look for them.
Alum Rock Park, San Jose CA
I've lived in San Jose for a little bit around the time I was in high school and even now being so close to the city, I barely know what I'm missing out on! Alum Rock is not an area that many prefer to visit but like all things, there are hidden treasures everywhere.
Located in east San Jose, this park surprisingly offers quite a bit of trails for exploring. The only downfall is that you'd have to pay for parking for some of the lots on site, there is a free one near the main entrance with (of course) limited spots. That being the case, parking on the streets is plentiful which is what my friends and I did and then we trekked into the park. I prefer hiking early in the day so that while you're climbing it doesn't get so warm. I suppose that really depends on the time of the year. Winter time, you can normally get away with starting at around 8 or 9am but during the summer I'm willing to go as early as 6 or 7am so I don't get the heat wave as bad.
We decided on a few spots while we were there (PDF map), most of the trails are pretty short. We started at Eagles Rock (approx 0.3 miles to the top) and then continued to Todd's Quick Trail which was about 6 miles round trip but when we reached the top, there was a split to Boccardo Trail (approx 3 miles around) that we decided to loop and then come back down. Most of the trail is open which has it drawbacks at times as the warm sun is beating down on you but for return you get a nice view of the hills, trails, and city below. Nothing spectacular but its a nice place to go for a weekend morning hike. It's pretty easy to get around. The one thing to watch out for are bikers, its a popular trail for bikers and hikers alike but people were super friendly so they'll let you know when they get close by so you can just move aside slightly and then everyone goes they're own merry way.
Santa Fe Taqueria: San Jose, CA
Leave it to me to eat all of my hard work back...so its a good thing to have worked it off beforehand so eating until my soul's content won't feel so guilty.
One of my friends mentioned carne asada fries she had one time at a nearby taqueria during the end of our hike and once that was imprinted into our minds, it was a must that we went there to check out the place for ourselves. Pretty standard taqueria, one thing that did stand out to me was their salsa bar. I was rather impressed and like my friend said, any taqueria that has a full sized salsa bar can't be half bad.
Of course, our main choice of food was the carne asada fries (to share because it was huge!) and we also got a beef taco each. It lived up to expectations and with some of the salsas, it was magical (my heart probably didn't appreciate it as much as my tummy...). My salsa to food ratio was probably quite skewed towards salsa but it was just so good, it had to be done.