- Willow Glen is mostly comprised of the 95125 zip code, with a little sliver of 95124 toward the southwest corner.
- There’s a vibrant “downtown Willow Glen” on Lincoln Avenue between Minnesota and Pine with shops, restaurants, cafes, and more.
- Before it was annexed in the 1920s it had already developed an identity of its own, which residents feel strongly tied to today.
- Willow Glen has some of the most scenic neighborhoods in Santa Clara County, with older homes boasting a variety of architecture, such as Spanish, Tudor, Craftsman, Mid-Century Modern (Eichlers especially), and more.
- Willow Glen Elementary School is right in downtown Willow Glen and it’s where a lot of neat things happen, including free music concerts in the summer and Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
In Willow Glen there the sense of identity within the community that runs deep, as and so does the level of community involvement. If you ask someone from the San Jose 95125 zip code where he or she is from, you are most likely to hear “Willow Glen” rather than “San Jose”.
Where is Willow Glen?
Located adjacent to downtown San Jose along the Guadalupe River and bordering Campbell, this central area is one of the older residential neighborhoods in the valley with plenty of architectural and natural charm. Willow Glen is also adjacent to highways 280 and 87. To get a general idea of where it is, here’s a map showing much of Santa Clara County with Willow Glen just a little southwest of downtown San Jose.
Here’s a map showing the approximate Willow Glen boundaries per our local multiple listing service (or MLS):
Homes and neighborhoods in Willow Glen
What types of homes will you find in Willow Glen? Victorian, Craftsman, Spanish bungalow, Spanish revival, Tudor and mid-century modern architecture such as Eichlers are not uncommon, as are mature tree lined-streets, making for a lovely landscape. One area, known as Palm Haven, has a myriad of palm trees (both Royal Palm and Fan Palm) and older, diverse architecture surrounding a community park. Touching both the Guadalupe River and Los Gatos Creek, Willow Glen is also filled with native trees, and is a wonderful place to garden.
The Palm Haven neighborhood, below, can be identified when you fly into the San Jose airport by the abundance of tall palm trees. The area is a few miles south of the airport. Take a drive down Palm Haven Avenue to see a lovely historic area (homes built in the 1930s and 1940s). This is a historic conservation area.
During the Christmas Season, Willow Glen residents go all out with the décor. In Willow Glen there’s a tradition that most home owners participate in of putting a Christmas tree in the front yard with lights on it. It is a beautiful sight to see each December and it draws people from all over the county for a drive through on cold winter nights.
Not all of the homes are from the late 1800s to 1920s. There are some ranch style homes, especially further south and west. One highly sought after neighborhood is the Doerr Park neighborhood, which I’ve written about on my Valley of Heart’s Delight blog. That area is pretty much all small ranch style houses around a lovely park.
There are gorgeous pockets of Eichler designed houses, also, some of which are expansive. If you’d like to see a couple of streets featuring them do a drive down Fairglen and Fairwood, near Booksin and Curtner.
While most houses are not on huge lots, there are some sections of Willow Glen where everything is bigger. Those pockets are scattered throughout Willow Glen, but are most consistently found near Dry Creek Road, where you are more likely to find a spacious ranch style house.
Parks and trails
In summers you can enjoy free music in Willow Glen and throughout much of the year, make use of a huge variety of sports available in the parks. Most municipal parks include places for basketball or maybe tennis plus facilities for picnicking. But parks in Willow Glen also provide for handball, soccer, volleyball, baseball, and even bocce ball (an Italian recreation, also available in Los Gatos at Oak Meadow Park and at Campo de Bocce, a restaurant/Bocce Ball course).
Check out Willow Street Frank Bramhall Park, located at 1320 Willow St, San Jose, CA 95125. This large corner of WG has something for everyone with places to play, picnic, and relax. (There are even restrooms.)
Los Gatos Creek Trail: There’s a great trail for running, walking, rollerblading or biking along the Los Gatos Creek, too (it was renovated by the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association not too long ago). Additionally, an old train line that was removed is now a bike path / walking trail.
Just a few years old, the Three Creeks Trail used to be an easement for the railroad, but now can be enjoyed by pedestrians and bicyclist.
Learn more about the many trails and trail networks in Willow Glen and all of San Jose on the City of San Jose’s website
Willow Glen Schools
Most of Willow Glen is served by the San Jose Unified School district, which includes elementary, middle, and high schools.
A small portion in the southwest corner of Willow Glen is within the boundaries of the Cambrian School District (elementary and middle) and Campbell Union High School District.
While some Willow Glen schools are highly regarded, such as Booksin Elementary, that’s not uniformly the case.
Downtown Willow Glen
A charming downtown area packed with boutiques, shops, and dining, often celebrating holidays, festivals, music, and theatre events makes Willow Glen a community of its own. The Christmas season is special in Willow Glen, and the neighborhood is known for its displays. Many neighbors decorate their front yards with a single Christmas tree and lights, while other homes are fully decked out to the extreme. It is by far the most scenic area of Santa Clara County during the holidays!
Willow Glen Elementary School, located at 1425 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA 95125, boasts Farmer’s Markets on Saturday mornings and free musical events in the summer.
One of the most special shops in on Lincoln Avenue is Hickelbee’s, a children’s bookstore. As far as I know, it’s the only children’s bookstore in the county.
Willow Glen has a social conscience, too. There are organizations of religious groups, faiths and churches which meet to address social justice issues. One of the most popular sources of food for the hungry of Silicon Valley is the amazing Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. This is a full-circle kind of thing as Willow Glen was once very famous for the fabulous orchards that fed the Santa Clara County. It is probably no accident that the garden next to Second Harvest Food Bank includes fruit trees!
Dining: there are no shortages of good places to eat in WG! Depending on what you want, these are a few of my favorite places on Lincoln Avenue (all of these are low key, non dressy places)
Bertucelli’s La Villa Deli – a wonderful, low key Italian deli in Willow Glen (order a sandwich indoors and eat outside on the patio). Lots of great Italian food here generally.
John’s of Willow Glen – Italian, Greek, American diner – also low key atmosphere with delicious food.
Crepevine – they have several locations in the Bay Area, always yummy! I usually order my crepes with double salad and no potatoes. Patio and indoor dining.
Aqui – mouth watering Tex-Mex food
Powell’s Sweet Shoppe is a worthwhile stop if you are in search of a little something to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Transportation & commuting
The commute from Willow Glen to downtown San Jose is pretty fast, depending on your exact destination, and this has always been a big draw for WG.
Getting to CalTrain takes less than 10 minutes from downtown Willow Glen, per Google Maps. I’ll use one of my favorite eatery’s location as an example. From John’s of Willow Glen, 1238 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA 95125 to the San Jose Diridon Station, 65 Cahill St, San Jose, CA 95110 is approximately 2 – 2.5 miles and 8 or 9 minutes, depending on the route you choose, by car. (BART is coming, but not yet close to that CalTrain station.)
From downtown Willow Glen to downtown Los Gatos, it’s about a 20 minute drive.
What are the drawbacks of living in Willow Glen?
Every area has pros and cons! Willow Glen is oozing with charm, but it has some challenges, too.
- If you are close to Highway 87, you may get more airplane noise than you’d like as planes appear to follow the highway to the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.
- The old part of WG is near the Guadalupe River, appears to have a very high water table, and some of the historic homes have foundation problems.
- Some of this district is in a 100 year flood plain. You can check it out at the My Hazards Awareness site. Visit that website to see the details here and anywhere in California.
- The schools are a draw in some cases, but not all.
- No matter where you buy or rent, do always check the crime scores. A good website for that is CityProtect.com.
Real estate in Willow Glen
How’s the real estate market in Willow Glen? Check out the current data provided on my Re Report. This is updated monthly, usually around the 5th to 10th of each month. (You can also check out my article on the Valley of Heart’s Delight blog, and that’s also updated about once a month: Willow Glen real estate market in San Jose.)
You can also see the weekly Altos Research Report for 95125 here. Please note that Altos uses LIST prices. Sold prices are usually higher. In May 2021,houses were selling on average about 8% over list price.
As of today, June 14, 2021, here’s a peek at what single family homes are listed for in this part of San Jose.
Below please find a live Altos Research chart, showing the median list price of homes for sale in Willow Glen, which is 99% covered by the San Jose 95125 zip code – this will give you an idea of what a house might cost there.
Homes for sale in Willow Glen