When people hear the words Silicon Valley, images of computer chips and technology fill their minds. Silicon Valley does have a technological focus, which allows visitors to San Jose and the surrounding area to engage in some fascinating activities. The NASA Ames Research Center provides exhibits and interactive opportunities for all ages. History enthusiasts appreciate the History San Jose Museum, which features over 500,000 historical artifacts depicting the area’s past. For visitors seeking outdoor pursuits, golfing, kayaking and scuba diving are popular pastimes in Silicon Valley. Sports fans enjoy watching major soccer, minor baseball, pro roller hockey and the San Jose Sharks NHL hockey team. Silicon Valley is also home to a large student population, as there are a number of universities and colleges located in this area. Whether looking for specialty museums, art galleries, eclectic shopping opportunities or visiting a winery, Silicon Valley is guaranteed to please.
Encompassing an area from the San Francisco Bay west to the Skyline Ridge, Palo Alto is a community with much to offer residents and visitors alike. Nearly one-third of Palo Alto’s area is open space, creating a comfortable environment in which to enjoy the sights and attractions of this California city. The area is a mix of the old and the new, featuring architecture that highlights the historic side of the city. Decorating some of the city’s architecture are several mural paintings by local artist Greg Brown, which are unique in that they are life-size and painted with a degree of realism that makes it hard to tell if the subject exists in two or three dimensions. Visitors also enjoy perusing the collections at the Museum of American Heritage, where interactive exhibits showcase American inventions. Outer space enthusiasts appreciate the NASA Ames Research Center, a museum that features exhibits on recent developments in space technology.
Google has really put Mountain View, California on the map – and not just Google Maps. In the heart of Silicon Valley, this city is home to Google head offices, as well as many other high-tech companies, such as AOL, Mozilla, and Nokia – all documented at the Computer History Museum. Indeed, Mountain View is much more than the stagecoach stop it was originally in the late 19th century, linking San Francisco and San Jose. While it retains a modest population of under 100,000, its shared borders with Los Altos, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto give it a larger shadow population. And Mountain View’s attractions bring in many visitors, for business as well as pleasure.
This city was named for its view of the Santa Cruz Mountains, which provide a scenic backdrop for work and play. The pedestrian-friendly downtown core drives foot traffic along Castro Street for about six blocks of shops, cafes, and restaurants. At the center of it all is the Plaza, a popular locale for events like the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival. The City Hall, the Mountain View Public Library, and the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts are also located here. Behind it all is Pioneer Park as an oasis from the hubbub. Getting farther away from downtown, Shoreline Park offers recreation galore, with opportunities for windsurfing, kayaking and other boating activities, as well as golfing; it’s hard to believe this area was once a landfill for San Francisco. The hottest concerts in town are held here too at the Shoreline Amphitheatre.
San Jose is gaining increasing importance as the main city of Silicon Valley—the world center for the computer software industry. There is much in the area to attract visitors and San Jose is a great base from which to see the whole region. In San Jose itself, visitors enjoy examining the educational exhibits at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium and the intriguing Winchester Mystery House. No matter what time of year it is, San Jose hosts a wide array of festivals, ranging from the San Jose Jazz Festival in August to the Evergreen Fine Arts Festival in May. Those who love shopping are fans of the San Jose Flea Market, which features over 2,000 vendors showcasing their wares, ranging from comic books to furniture to jewelry. Over 25 food vendors are also found at the flea market, which is open Wednesday through Sunday during daylight hours.
SoFA (South First Area) Entertainment District
Highly regarded as San Jose’s arts and entertainment district, SoFA (South of First Street) features restaurants, nightclubs, theaters and art galleries in a five-block radius.
Santana Row San Jose
This hip area features unique boutiques, national and regional stores, and local restaurants.
Japantown San Jose
This over a 100-year-old neighborhood features a Japanese American Museum, a Farmers’ Market every Sunday morning and an abundance of Asian restaurants and shops.
Santa Clara, CA
Part of the world-renowned Silicon Valley, Santa Clara mixes the high-tech industry with the laid-back atmosphere of sunny California. Whether visiting Santa Clara for business or pleasure, the city offers plenty to do. Attractions include the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University and the Intel Museum, where visitors can discover how microprocessors are made and how they work. A great way to pass a Saturday morning is to visit the Santa Clara Farmers Market, which features a large selection of farmer-direct produce, baked goods, and food vendors. Thrill-seekers flock to Paramount’s Great America Amusement Park, where spine-tingling rides, a large waterpark, and live family entertainment are found. Santa Clara also boasts a large student population, as the city is home to Santa Clara University. As a result, the city features a number of trendy nightclubs and pubs that are frequented by the vibrant scholastic community.
The city of Sunnyvale is ideally situated in Silicon Valley, just 40 mi (64 km) from San Francisco and approximately 10 mi (16 km) from San Jose. Sunnyvale is a popular base for business travelers, as more than 1500 corporate headquarters are located in the area. Pleasure travelers are also drawn to the city because of its proximity and easy access to area attractions in San Jose, Santa Clara and Mountain View. A popular year-round attraction in Sunnyvale is the Farmers’ Market, which occurs every Saturday. Featuring an assortment of fresh produce, flowers, crafts and fine foods, the market draws many visitors from surrounding cities. Golf is a major activity in Sunnyvale and there are numerous championship courses in the area, including the 18-hole Sunnyvale Municipal Golf Course. Sunnyvale also boasts a number of fine lodging choices, restaurants and shops, making it a convenient holiday destination.
Family Sights & Attractions
Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
There are over 150 interactive exhibits and programs, providing learning experiences for children. Address: 180 Woz Way | San Jose, CA | 95110. Telephone: 1 408 298-5437
History San Jose
There are over 500,000 historical artifacts from San Jose in this museum. They have recently moved to a large 45,000 square foot facility. The collection includes Victorian scrapbooks, seaweed, cigar bands, telephones, tools, glasses, cameras and more. Address: 1650 Senter Road | San Jose, CA | 95112. Telephone: 1 408 287-2290
NASA Ames Research Center
Ames Research Center features an information center that displays major research and technology developments for space research. Tours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, and is closed on federal holidays. Admission is free. Telephone: 1 650 604-6274
Raging Waters is the Bay Area’s largest water theme park. Address: 2333 S. White Rd. | San Jose, CA | 95148. Telephone: 1 408 270-8000
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium
Architecturally inspired by the Temple of Amon at Karnak, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum houses the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the Western United States.
Address: 1342 Naglee Ave | San Jose, CA | 95191. Telephone: 1 408 947-3600
Tech Museum of Innovation
The Tech Museum of Innovation is an educational resource established to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in exploring and experiencing technologies affecting their lives and to inspire the young to become innovators in the technologies of the future. Hours: Regular Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer Hours (April 1 – Labor Day): Daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open all Monday holidays. Closed Christmas and Thanksgiving. Address: 201 South Market Street | San Jose, CA | 95113
San Jose Museum of Art
A visual arts center, the San Jose Museum of Art presents special exhibitions as well as a permanent collection of works. Address: 110 S. Market St. | San Jose, CA | 95113. Telephone: 1 408 271-6840