Cen­ter for high-tech, in­no­va­tion, mu­se­ums and more

Travel Guide to California - - CONTENTS - BY LAURA DEL ROSSO

88 Santa Clara

San Jose and Sil­i­con Val­ley, known world­wide for tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion, have come of age as cen­ters for the arts, cul­ture and at­trac­tions. Down­town San Jose’s vi­brant ur­ban scene con­tin­ues to grow with mu­se­ums, gal­leries and ro­bust din­ing and nightlife. San Jose Jazz, which presents more than 100 live music events an­nu­ally, is one of many dy­namic cul­tural groups.

The val­ley has un­der­gone a dra­matic change since the mid 20th cen­tury when farms, or­chards and ranches lined what was then called Santa Clara Val­ley, or “The Val­ley of Heart’s De­light.” With the tech­nol­ogy boom came the de­vel­op­ment of acres of of­fice parks and an in­flux of bright, young en­trepreneurs—and the new name, Sil­i­con Val­ley.

In the last decade, the vig­or­ous econ­omy led to a re­vi­tal­iza­tion of cities whose res­i­dents are known more for their long work­days than nights on the town. Vis­i­tors find pedes­trian-friendly burgs, such as charm­ing Saratoga and Los Gatos, with Miche­lin-starred restau­rants and chic shops. Moun­tain View’s Cas­tro Street and Palo Alto’s Univer­sity Av­enue are hop­ping, and San Jose’s down­town is filled with nightlife and at­trac­tions, in­clud­ing the Tech Mu­seum, which pays homage to the val­ley’s in­no­va­tive spirit.

Dur­ing the val­ley’s warm evenings—and there are many, with an av­er­age of 300 days a year of sun­shine—vis­i­tors fill San­tana Row, a chic shop­ping

and din­ing district with a cen­tral Euro­peanstyle prom­e­nade lined with bou­tiques, eater­ies and land­scaped gar­dens. A farm­ers mar­ket, live music, cul­tural events, restau­rants rang­ing from French bistros to Mex­i­can taque­rias are also big draws to San­tana Row.

Palo Alto, home of Stan­ford Univer­sity, also fea­tures a tiny mu­seum sig­nif­i­cant to Sil­i­con Val­ley his­tory: the HP Garage, the garage where Stan­ford class­mates Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded Hewlett-packard in 1939.

Nes­tled at the foot of the moun­tains are Saratoga and Los Gatos, ham­lets with pic­ture-per­fect Vic­to­rian homes and Crafts­man bun­ga­lows. Vast stretches of parks, open space pre­serves and rows of vine­yards and win­ery tast­ing rooms clus­ter in the sur­round­ing moun­tains, as well as south of San Jose, along the Hecker Pass High­way and around the city of Gil­roy, which is home to an an­nual Gar­lic Fes­ti­val that draws thou­sands.

With its Mediter­ranean cli­mate and lo­ca­tion 50 miles south of San Fran­cisco and 30 miles in­land from the Pa­cific Ocean, it’s no won­der that Sil­i­con Val­ley de­vel­oped as a world cen­ter for in­no­va­tion, draw­ing some of the best and bright­est en­gi­neers in the world to a quiet val­ley where once only fruit trees blos­somed.

City & Town

San Jose, the county seat of Santa Clara County, was founded in 1777 and to­day is the largest city in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia and tenth largest in the na­tion. Down­town has un­der­gone sig­nif­i­cant re­vi­tal­iza­tion over the last decade, with his­toric build­ings such as the Cal­i­for­nia The­atre on the same block where dozens of soft­ware com­pa­nies have re­lo­cated. In 2014, the ad­ja­cent city of Santa Clara wel­comed the open­ing of Levi’s Sta­dium, home to the San Fran­cisco 49ers NFL team and Su­per Bowl 50 venue in 2016.

Her­itage and Cul­ture

San Jose of­fers a big-city cul­tural scene with first-rate mu­se­ums that in­clude the Tech Mu­seum, where vis­i­tors dis­cover what made Sil­i­con Val­ley suc­cess­ful, the Chil­dren’s Discovery Mu­seum, the San Jose Mu­seum of Art and the West Coast’s largest col­lec­tion of an­cient Egyp­tian ar­ti­facts at the Rosi­cru­cian Egyp­tian Mu­seum and Plan­e­tar­ium. About 10 per­cent of San Jose’s pop­u­la­tion is Viet­namese, and this eth­nic group has a strong pres­ence par­tic­u­larly in restau­rants along Story Road and at the Mu­seum of the Boat Peo­ple in charm­ing His­tory Park, which also fea­tures build­ings rep­re­sent­ing Por­tuguese, Chi­nese, Ital­ian and other eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties that were in­stru­men­tal in the city’s long his­tory.

The Great Out­doors

Wher­ever you are in Sil­i­con Val­ley, beau­ti­ful open space is not far away. In down­town San Jose, Guadalupe River Park is a con­ve­nient green­belt. Nearby Alum Rock Park of­fers 720 acres filled with tree­lined walk­ing paths.

The val­ley’s park sys­tem con­tin­ues to grow with the lat­est ad­di­tion, Mar­tial Cot­tle Park, which fea­tures a work­ing or­ganic farm that dates from 1864 and cov­ers 180 acres, show­cas­ing farm­ing tech­niques and trac­ing the val­ley’s long agri­cul­tural his­tory.

Miles of roads in the Santa Cruz Moun­tains lead to a di­verse col­lec­tion of county and state parks and open space pre­serves in red­wood forests ideal for camp­ing, hik­ing, moun­tain bik­ing or a sim­ple pic­nic.

Fam­ily Fun

For fas­ci­nat­ing lo­cal lore, head to the Winch­ester Mys­tery House, the 160-room Vic­to­rian es­tate built by Sara Winch­ester, the heiress of Winch­ester Ri­fles. The huge house is creepy but beau­ti­ful at the same time, with its weird “Stairs to the Ceil­ing” that lead to nowhere, séance cham­bers and fine wood­work.

Cal­i­for­nia’s Great Amer­ica theme park of­fers the most thrill rides in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia and in­cludes the mas­sive Great Bar­rier Reef wave pool. Ad­di­tional fun is found at 23acre Rag­ing Wa­ters in San Jose, which bills it­self as the re­gion’s largest wa­ter park. San Jose’s Happy Hol­low Park and Zoo and Los Gatos’ Va­sona Lake County Park, a lovely oa­sis with a train and 1915 carousel, are two other parks that kids love.

TESLA MO­TORS show­room, op­po­site right; down­town San Jose, op­po­site left; Roger Berry’s sculp­ture Per­spec­tive, a.k.a. The In­fi­nite Loop, in Cu­per­tino, top right; San Jose Obon Fes­ti­val, be­low.

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