The Willow Glen Neighborhood in San Jose

Things to Do in Willow Glen, San Jose
Cassie Kifer

Willow Glen is one of San Jose's most popular neighborhoods with a historic downtown that makes you feel like you've stepped back in time. On weekends and evenings, the neighborhood is filled with local families and visitors enjoying the charming, walkable downtown -- a town within the city. Downtown Willow Glen is a great place to go shopping or dine out. The community hosts frequent festivals and events and a weekly farmer's market.

Most Downtown Willow Glen businesses are clustered on and around Lincoln Avenue between Willow and Minnesota.

Willow Glen History

The community of Willow Glen was named for the willow trees that once filled the natural wetlands surrounding the Los Gatos Creek and Guadalupe River. In the 1900's as the Santa Clara Valley started to grow into an agricultural community, the area was drained and planted with fruit orchards. In the 1930's the Town of Willow Glen was incorporated into the City of San Jose. Lincoln Avenue grew up as the center of the community's downtown business district.

Where to Shop

Here are some unique, independent Willow Glen stores and boutiques worth checking out:

  • Hicklebees Bookstore (1378 Lincoln Avenue): An award-winning independent bookstore with a focus on children's books and literature.
  • Willow Glen Home and Garden (1123 Lincoln Avenue): More than 5,000 square feet of furniture, home decor, gifts, and garden treasures. 
  • Park Place Vintage (1318 Lincoln Avenue): One of the Bay Area's top vintage stores featuring vintage and mid-century furniture, clothing, and collectibles.

Where to Eat

There are lots of places to eat on around Lincoln Avenue, but here are some good picks for Willow Glen restaurants:

  • Aqui Cal-Mex (1145 Lincoln Avenue): Natural and organic (California-inspired) Mexican dishes. Good cocktails and lots of vegetarian and vegan options.
  • The Table (1110 Willow Street): A modern neighborhood cafe using featuring ingredients. A very popular daily brunch (reservations are only accepted during the week, come early and expect to wait for weekend brunch).
  • Opa! (1100 Lincoln Ave): Fresh and authentic Greek cuisine.
  • Willow Glen Creamery (1100 Lincoln Ave): Frozen sweet treats including ice cream, custard, frozen yogurt, and--a taste of Disneyland--"Dole Whip".

Where to Park in Willow Glen

Free public parking is available in the following lots:

  • Bank of America parking lot (1245 Lincoln)
  • Parking lot behind Le Boulanger (enter from Brace or Minnesota)
  • Parking lot behind Thrift Box (enter from Minnesota)
  • Parking lot behind the Garden Theater (1165 Lincoln, enter from Lincoln or from Willow, across from Bill’s Cafe)
  • First floor of the Town Square parking garage (Lincoln and Willow)

There is metered street parking along Lincoln and on side streets.

For more information, visit the website for the Downtown Willow Glen business association.

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