This morning I drove to downtown San Jose and parked in the surface parking lot closest to the Fairmont. The parking programs have changed of late downtown, but free weekends 6 am - 6 pm are currently in force, and the parking lot entry and exit gates were both open, and the machines would not dispense tickets. I assume that if you exited after 6 PM, there would be someone there collecting the $3 flat rate. What I don't know is how they handle multi-day parking. For instance, if someone drove down there on Thursday and parked, leaving his/her vehicle there for several days, then left mid-day Saturday, would there be any charge? How would they collect it? The gates are open and there is no attendant. In any event, I did confirm that there was a surface parking lot across the street from the Fairmont; however, the Fairmont's entrance on that side of the building is for hotel guests only, and therefore I would recommend that anyone driving to an event where they're staying at the Fairmont (WFC, FurCon, and I hope the 2011 Westercon) drive to the forecourt, unload stuff, then go park in this lot or one of the others like the large garage between 2nd and 3rd streets before coming back to the hotel. I also hope (but can't expect) that people with vehicles that easily fit in the garages (6'6" or less in most cases) park there rather than the surface lots, leaving those to people (like Lisa) with over-height vehicles that won't fit in a garage.
For about an hour before I had to head off to the Stealth game, I took photos around the Fairmont, in particular taking pictures of every restaurant I could find near the hotel. One of the big complaints at ConJose was that people would come out the front door of the hotel and convention center and see no place to eat -- which is true because there aren't many in direct sight from those two places -- and then conclude there was no place to eat in downtown San Jose, which is emphatically not true.
After shooting both stills and video -- I couldn't resist shooting video of light rail trains passing by -- I stowed my camera under the seat and walked over to the Shark Tank for the Stealth game. That's about a 10-15 minute walk, and I felt smug about parking downtown for free when parking in the lots near the Arena is $10 and up.
After the game, I retrieved my camera and continued shooting more photos, now with the light coming from the west rather than the east. Besides restaurants, I photographed things I think potential con attendees might be interested in knowing were nearby, such as ATMs, a Walgreen's, a Kinko's FedEx Office, UPS Store, US Post Office, and the grocery store located a short walk from the Fairmont. I also took pictures of some of the local attractions, such as the Tech Museum, the Children's Discovery Museum, and so forth.
As my time permits, I plan to put together these photos and video with a map of downtown San Jose to point out where things are relative to the Fairmont. There really is a lot to see, do, and eat in the downtown area if you're wiling to walk more than a block and don't get disheartened just because the only thing you can see out the front door of the hotel is the Plaza de César Chávez.
If things go really well, I hope to make a custom slide show video that we'll be able to show at our room parties. (Yes, if it works, we'll put it on the bid's web site as well.)