Ask A Local About Alum Rock
How long have you lived in Alum Rock? About a year now but I have some family who lives out here as well, so I’ve been visiting my entire life.
What do you like best about the Alum Rock neighborhood? I love being just a few blocks from Alum Rock Park, which is one of California’s oldest municipal parks. When I was young my family used to come to Alum Rock Park for picnics. The adults would barbeque while the kids played on the playground. Now, as an adult myself, I’ve found it’s great for hiking, running, biking and horseback riding.
What do you like least about your neighborhood? The commute is a bit hectic in the mornings. Passing by downtown San Jose really eats up some of your time before the road opens up. But once you adjust and plan for the flow of traffic you’ll never be rushed due to a slowdown.
What kind of transportation do you use? I like to have my car so I can get up and go at any point. Traffic can be a little tough to get used to so many people opt to take the VTA to get to work which can be much more convenient.
How has it changed over the years? Alum Rock has become a much more desirable location. While you can definitely still find some fixer uppers, the foothills boast massive homes on huge properties. I love to walk my dogs around and window shop as I pass each of the homes.
What's the neighborhood housing stock like? There are a number of homes that border the Fairgrounds and continue up in the foothills. But in the middle of east San Jose there’s not a lot housing stock...yet.
Better for buyers or renters? I’d say it’s pretty even, though compared to the rest of the bay area the price of homes here can be much more affordable.
Nearest grocery store? Lucky’s is the closest grocery store And there’s also a safeway about a mile or so away, and if I’m not finding what I’m looking for at either I’ll make the twenty minute trek to Trader Joe’s.
Good for kids? Definitely! There’s plenty of outdoor activities. Lake Cunningham has everything you could ever ask for. Volleyball and horseshoes are a huge thing. And if you’re into rollerblading or skateboarding they have that too. But if you’re looking for a fun place to cool off over summer, I’d suggest a trip to Raging Waters.
Best place to get a coffee? The Coffee Cup is an eastside gem! It’s close to home for a good cup of coffee in the morning. They have some delicious berry croissants, while they’re all good, the berry is just my favorite! Plus it’s always nice to support your local mom and pop shops, especially when they’re insanely affordable.
Beloved neighborhood joints? I cannot say enough good things about the burnt almond cake from Peters’ Bakery. You’ve got slices of cake sandwiching buttercream frosting, another layer of frosting on top of that, and a hefty sprinkle of toasted almonds. It’s the perfect combination of fluffy, sweet, and crunchy! I make sure to bring one to every dinner party I go to, it’s always a major hit.
Where is your favorite place to hang out in your neighborhood? If you go all the way up the foothills you can reach the Bay Area’s highest point. That’s where Lick Observatory is located. It’s the world’s first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory. A lot of people went up there during the eclipse, but I visit it quite a bit. There’s nothing quite like marveling at the enormity of the universe.
What’s something unique about Alum Rock? We have Emma Prusch Farm. It features lovely community gardens, a rare historic fruit orchard, and a huge grassy field for picnicking or kite flying. The farm is also closely linked to 4H, so if you bring a quarter or two you can feed the chickens and peacocks that roam free around here.
Favorite guilty pleasure? Shopping at the Flea Market of course! My grandma and I will go pretty frequently, we love the thrill of bargain hunting. Plus while you’re there you can enjoy some tasty ice cream, sip on a cool beverage, or listen to music if you need a little rest. The market is huge too. I got lost once, it’s a little embarrassing, but there’s 120 acres and you can buy anything from organic produce to electronics so I got a little carried away.
Most common sight? There’s no end to the number of fantastic and authentic Mexican and Asian restaurants you can eat at. My most recent find is La Costa, and I have to say that overall it one of the hands down best places to get great burritos. The price is right and the customer service is impeccable!
Your favorite fun fact about your neighborhood: Originally, Alum Rock Park hosted dozens of mineral springs. At one point it even became nationally famous as a health destination. Stone grottos were built around springs, along with bath houses, hotels, saloons, and a zoo.
Final words? Nestled in the foothills of San Jose, there’s nothing quite like being able to go for a short run to get to a lookout spot where you can overlook the whole Bay Area. And while there may be pockets throughout that are in a need of some development, Alum Rock is on the rise.