Public transit seriously limits you at this airport. The only realistic way to get to Stanford is to take the free bus shuttle to the Caltrain station and then the train or bus to Palo Alto. This will take at least 90 minutes each way because the bus is slow (take the 522 "express") and the train only runs once each hour. When you get to Palo Alto, you'll have to take the free Stanford shuttle, Marguerite, to get to and from campus, and I think the express shuttle from the train station doesn't run on Saturday.
I guess then instead you take the free airport shuttle bus the other way to the trolley and go to downtown San Jose. There is an art museum and a science museum there and and assortment of restaurants, nothing special in my book.
Public transit in the entire Bay Area is the pits. Pay $25 and get a car to drive around in - you'll be able to get a lot more done that way.
You might get really lucky and find a $25 car through Priceline but I don't think there is any other way at SJC. Heck, the one time I had to take a taxi home (unexpected destination switch), the meter was reading $10 before we left the airport grounds!
The Tech museum exhibits are looking very old and faded, I was not impressed when I visited recently. The art museum is improving significantly but it's a smallish place and won't keep you busy for hours.
Programs: UA 1P, AA, *A Gold, Hyatt GP, HHonors, SPG, Priority Club
What do you like to do?
There are tons of options - depends on your interests. Food? outdoors? high tech?
You could take yourself out for a nice lunch at Manresa, Sent Sovi, Alexanders, or tons of global/regional cuisine options - search the restaurant and food threads, or OpenTable.com.
You could go for a walk (I hesitate to say "hike", given your time constraints)in the redwoods at Big Basin park, or many other preserves in the Santa Cruz mountains. Or drive out to the beach in Santa Cruz or Capitola (I'm partial to lunch at Zelda's) and go for a walk afterwards - just watch out for traffic on the return in the PM. Definitely need to rent a car for this.
If you are into techie toys, you could go shopping at Fry's, visit NASA/Moffett Field or the Intel or Computer Science museum (as well as the aforementioned Tech.) Or that mecca for Mac-heads: Apple.
Provide some more details and I'm sure you'll get better tips.
Once again, FTers to the rescue! Thank you all for your guidance.
I found a couple of sites where I can get a small car for $25 for the day, ($12 for the car, the rest taxes and charges) and will go that route.
The Tech museum looks interesting to me, so I'll give that a shot too. I did not realize Moffet Field offered anything for tourists; so will probably try that one too, or Hakone.
All of this hinges on Mother Nature wishing me her best. We have a winter storm supposed to hit tomorrow, so I may not be able to get to the airport on Saturday morning. One inch of snow can paralyze the area - they are predicting three.
I did not realize Moffet Field offered anything for tourists; so will probably try that one too
Unless you just want to drive around and look at the buildings, Moffett does not offer much in the way of a tourist attraction. There is a *very* small NASA exhibit and gift shop at the Moffett St. entrance (big white tent-like enclosure). You can view the outside of the wind tunnels and Hanger One, but that's about it.
Likewise Apple. There is really nothing at 1 Infinite Loop but a standard Apple Store.
Also, your timing coincide with the lunar new year this week. There is a large Vietnamese-American community locally. They used to do parade annually. But looks like they had transitioned into a fairground type of event, may also be interesting.