San Jose, the bustling heart of Silicon Valley, isn’t just a tech haven; it’s also home to a thriving college scene that knows how to let loose. College life in this dynamic city isn’t just about textbooks and lectures; it’s about creating unforgettable memories at the best college bars. In this guide, we dive into the vibrant tapestry of San Jose’s nightlife, highlighting the go-to spots for students and locals alike. Join us as we explore San Jose’s top college bars, where every night feels like a celebration of youth and camaraderie.
43 W San Salvador St, San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 792-7356
An upscale and one of the best college bars in San Jose is Haberdasher. This bar is in Downtown San Jose and features velvety seating bartenders in 1920s garb, and is a fun place to get drinks. Haberdasher has a fully stocked bar, so everyone can find something they’ll love. The atmosphere makes me want to order a cocktail, particularly an espresso martini, but they also have plenty of beer and wine.
87 N San Pedro St, San Jose, CA 95110
Phone: (408) 849-4716
The San Pedro Square Market Bar is just north of Downtown San Jose, near St. James Park. This casual spot is one of the best college bars in town, with live music, great drinks, and a fun atmosphere. The bar menu features classic and signature cocktails, craft beers, and plenty of California wine. If you haven’t been here before, I suggest trying local wine, but their signature cocktails are stunning. They have a lavender one that is almost too pretty to drink.
265 N First St, San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 947-0497
Trials Pub is just a short walk from San Pedro Square Market Bar. It’s where to get a drink when you want a classic British pub vibe. It’s casual, lively, and offers something for everyone. If you love scotch and whiskey, then you’ll love Trials Pub. They have several beers on tap and in bottles and a relatively large selection of whiskey and scotch for a college bar. I usually get a beer, but they have 12 12-year Macallan that is super smooth.
55 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 288-6000
55 – Fifty Five South is another excellent college bar in Downtown San Jose. It’s just a block from the San Jose Museum of Art and blends casual and upscale. It’s modern yet rustic, making it one of the most interesting spots. Like other bars on this list, 55 – Fifty Five South has a fully stocked bar. They also do spirit tastings regularly that are fun to attend. I love the tropical cocktails that they serve in tiki glasses. I’m partial to their Mai Tai.
98 Almaden Ave, San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 995-6220
The Caravan Lounge is one of the most fun places to go out when you want an unassuming spot with live music and a more grunge/punk vibe. It’s the kind of place you go to drink and dance all night. You’ll have plenty of choices for drinks at The Caravan Lounge. Since most people are here to dance and listen to live music, you’ll see people ordering simple mixed drinks or beer. I recommend getting a bucket of beer or seltzers to share with friends.
72 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 713-2625
You’ll find Paper Plane across from the comedy club San Jose Improv. It’s not just a college bar; plenty of college-aged people flock here. It’s a relaxed bar with exposed brick, knowledgeable bartenders, and a welcoming atmosphere. I love Paper Plane because they have almost everything on their bar menu and a large selection of spirits. They break their cocktail menu down by their profile, like bold, easy sipping, etc. The Amba Mamba is my favorite, with gin, mango, and prosecco.
167 E Taylor St, San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 287-5225
Downtown San Jose is one of many places to find fun college bars. Jack’s is on East Taylor Street in Hyde Park. This bar is laid back but has everything college kids want. They have great music, drinks, and beer pong. You must look at their cocktails while they have beer and wine at Jack’s. I love the basil gin because it’s refreshing, but if you’re there for brunch, you can’t leave without trying their breakfast shot.
25 N San Pedro St, San Jose, CA 95110
Phone: (408) 947-8007
O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub, among other bars and restaurants, is just north of San Jose Downtown. It’s your typical Irish bar with Irish food, live music, and a laid-back atmosphere perfect for any night of the week. Beer is usually my go-to here, but they have a fully stocked bar for those who aren’t beer drinkers. If you are a beer drinker, you can order a flight to sample a few.
349 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 982-3461
You’ll find the Continental Bar Lounge and Patio next to The Ritz. It’s a large bar with exposed brick, concrete flooring, and almost a brewery vibe. You might want a different type of drink depending on the time of day you visit. During the day, there are a lot of beer drinkers, and the spirits are flowing at night. I love grabbing a rum and coke at night and a local craft beer during the day.
1711 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA 95128
Phone: (408) 292-6777
Red Stag Lounge is closer to Burbank but worth the drive. It’s a karaoke bar that college kids frequent for a nice night out. It’s a fun place to sing without being judged and meet new people. It’s one of the best college bars in San Jose and has all the standard college bar drinks. They serve a lot of shots, mixed drinks, and domestic beer. I always visit during happy hour to get cheap beer and food.
233 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 286-1000
A more upscale college bar in San Jose is Hedley Club. This lounge has a grand piano with a pianist frequently, great food, and is the ideal spot for a more refined night out in San Jose. Hedley Club has an impressive drink menu, and they strive to serve something everyone will love. For those wanting something more classy, they make one of the best dirty martinis I’ve had.
99 First St, San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 292-4300
Not every bar in Downtown San Jose is upscale. Rookies Sports Lodge is perfect if you want a casual bar but want to be in the center of town. It’s a more modern sports bar with TVs everywhere and a lively crowd. I order a beer at a sports bar, but they have a fully stocked bar if that’s different from your thing. A classic whiskey sour is my go-to if I’m not getting a beer. It’s lively and one of the best college bars in San Jose because of the drink selection.
73 N San Pedro St, San Jose, CA 95110
Phone: (408) 971-9346
If you want a college bar with delicious barbeque food, The Old Wagon Saloon and Grill is the spot for you. It’s only a minute or so north of Downtown and has a massive wagon on the patio with Wild West decor everywhere. You have to make time to eat here because the food is fantastic, but if you can only stop in for drinks, their mojito, Juanito’s Ranch Water, and Frontier Mule are my favorites. Also, The Old Wagon Saloon & Grill is near the SAP Center, home to the San Jose Sharks NHL team.