Silicon Valley – Bay Area Highlights


Silicon Valley is comprised of a number of cities in the rough geographical area of Santa Clara Valley, including San Jose, SunnyvaleSanta ClaraRedwood CityMountain ViewPalo AltoMenlo Park, and Cupertino. The name Silicon Valley was given to this area for the boom of semiconductor and integrated circuit chip (electronic components that are comprised of silicon) companies popping up in the area. Now, Silicon Valley is the tech hub of the world, home to thousands of start ups and the biggest tech companies in the world.

Need to Know:

Currency: USD

Language: English


San Jose – SJC

San Francisco – SFO

Electrical Outlets: 120V supply voltage and 60Hz

Things to See and Do in San Jose

Downtown: There is a lot going on in downtown San Jose. You can embrace your inner tech nerd at the Tech Museum of Innovation in the Plaza de César Chávez, or do what I usually do, go out and enjoy the hundreds of unique bars and restaurants. One of my favorites is Paper Plane

Sharks Game: A classic San Jose experience – catch a Sharks game at the SAP Center

Santana Row: The main shopping area of San Jose, Santana Row is an outdoor complex of countless stores ranging from high fashion to H&M, from a Tesla store to the Container Store. Santana Row can cover all of your more upscale shopping needs. This is also a popular destination for restaurants and bars, with one of my favorites being Meso Modern Mediterranean.

San Pedro Square Market: In the heart of San Jose, San Pedro Square Market is a grouping of restaurants and food vendors with a central seating area. You will find all kinds of great culinary options with everything from street tacos to Old Spaghetti factory, from farm fresh salads to artisanal coffee. This is an extremely popular spot on the weekends, so be prepared to wait in line for your food, or make a reservation at the restaurants that accept reservations. I frequent San Pedro Square Market to shop at my favorite store, The Source Zero. My one-stop-shop for zero waste essentials and home and body product refills. This store is awesome and you should definitely check it out!

San Jose Sharks Andrea Abroad
Santana Row Andrea Abroad
San Pedro Square Andrea Abroad

Things to See and Do in Palo Alto

The Stanford Dish: This is a great 3 mile hike with moderate hills and great views of Palo Alto. There are a couple different entrances that augment the length of the hike depending on where you get on the trail. The main parking on Frenchman’s Road fills up quickly, so if you’re arriving at 10 AM on a sunny Saturday, forget about parking there. Your next best bet is the Stanford Dish Trail Parking on Alpine Road. The trail is paved for the entire loop and is popular for runners, hikers, and meanderers alike. Check out my other favorite South Bay hikes here! 

Stanford Campus: This iconic college campus is a great place to visit and wander around. When you arrive you will first encounter the Oval which is a park, featuring the Stanford “S” in a field of flowers. A great spot to set up a blanket and hang out, or throw a frisbee. I also recommend checking out the Stanford Memorial Church located on the main quad. Be sure to swing by the Stanford bookstore to pick up any college gear or souvenirs you might want! Finally, climb up the Hoover Tower for a stunning view of the surrounding area, and even the skyline of SF on a clear day.

Watercourse Way: If you’re feeling beat from exploring all of Silicon Valley, visit Watercourse Way in Palo Alto for a relaxing retreat. This spa and bathhouse is a favorite of mine because of the unique hot tub rooms. You can rent the rooms for a period of time to have a private hot tub with a selection of cold plunge, sauna, and/or steam room. Soak away your stress and worries, then continue your visit with a spa service such as a massage or facial. You’re guaranteed to leave Watercourse Way feeling completely zen.

University Ave and Downtown: Stroll the lovely downtown streets of Palo Alto, stopping in at the local stores, Books Inc., or one of the countless restaurants. 

Stanford Shopping Center: A collection of high end and regular shops to satisfy all your shopping needs. This shopping center includes my favorite store, Madewell, as well as a wonderful healthy restaurant, True Food Kitchen. Or if you’re feeling less healthy, this is also where you will find one of the few Shake Shacks in the area. 

Foothills Nature Preserve: A lovely nature preserve tucked away in the hills of Palo Alto and Portola Valley. We hiked the Fern Loop Trail for a quick little after work stroll, and then wandered around the lake. We also enjoyed going to Alpine Inn Beer Garden afterwards for dinner. This is an extremely popular outdoor dining area with a nice drink selection, outdoor pizza kitchen, and good food options. 

Stanford Dish Andrea Abroad
Stanford Andrea Abroad
Palo Alto Andrea Abroad

Things to See and Do in Sunnyvale

Murphy Street: The main drag of what used to be sleepy Sunnyvale, is now an active little downtown area for all the Silicon Valley techies. It is home to an outdoor concert series on Thursday nights in the summer. The street is lined with bars and restaurants, some of my favorites being River Rock Taproom, Dish Dash, and The Oxford. If you’re looking to get down, the quiet Irish pub, Fibbar Magee’s, turns into a nightlife adventure when some of the tables are removed and it is turned into a dance floor with a DJ (cover after 10 PM). 

Farmer’s Market: Murphy street is home to a year-round and wholesome farmers market every Saturday morning from 9AM to 1PM. The market has a wide range of vendors selling everything from seasonal produce to locally made ice cream, from grilled elote to fresh-baked bread. I would also recommend grabbing a Philz Coffee while you’re wandering around the bustling market and a sandwich from The Don’s Deli on your way out. 

Bayland’s Park: I used to live biking distance from this park, so it was my favorite place to run or connect to local bike trials. There are public restrooms as well as lots of picnic tables and areas for family events. You can connect to the San Tomas Creek Trail, the Bay Trail, and the Lower Guadalupe Trail through Baylands park! Check out more hiking options here! 

California’s Great America: Technically in Santa Clara, this family friendly amusement park is a great activity for a day of thrill and entertainment. Daily passes start at $30 and gives you access to rides and the waterpark. 

Farmer's Market Andrea Abroad
Baylands Park Andrea Abroad

Things to See and Do in Mountain View

Castro Street: If you missed the Saturday farmers market in Sunnyvale, you can catch an even bigger farmers market right off Castro Street in Mountain View on Sunday morning. Castro Street has tons of great restaurants and bars, a very popular place for happy hour. Stein’s is one of my favorites with a huge outdoor space and a fun vibe. There are more choices and is also usually busier than Murphy Street. Just a few blocks away from Castro Street, you will find the Mountain View Public Library and the Center for the Performing Arts. Castro Street is also right by the Mountain View transit hub where you can pick up the Caltrain, VTA light rail, and VTA bus. You will also find many free parking lots and garages to leave your car if you want to venture out on public transit.

Shoreline: This is a great park area with tons of biking and walking trails. Shoreline also connects to Steven’s Creek Trail if you are interested in a longer bike ride or walk. Shoreline is a popular spot because there are non-motorized boat rentals available to use in the little reservoir. There is no swimming allowed, but it is a perfect little spot to kayak around for an hour on a hot summer day. 

Android Sculpture Garden: If you came to Silicon Valley because you’re interested in all the big tech companies out here, you’ll likely find yourself disappointed. There aren’t any attractions, mainly just office buildings that aren’t open to the public. Apple has a visitors center that is pretty much just an Apple Store. One of the attractions you can visit is the Android Sculpture Garden on the Google Mountain View campus. Again, not much to see here, but you get the Google photo op. 

Computer History Museum: Currently closed to the public because of COVID, usually you can explore this technology museum for $17.50 admission. You can check out this museum to learn about Silicon Valley’s history, computer technology evolution, and much much more. 

Stein's Andrea Abroad
Shoreline Andrea Abroad
Android Sculpture Garden Andrea Abroad

Planning Your Trip

Accommodation – I live in San Jose, so I have only once stayed at a hotel in Silicon Valley. There is big price inflation during the week for the hotels in this area because so many business people come here and expense hotel rooms to do business with the tech companies, so I recommend staying a bit outside the cities or looking for Airbnb options.

Food – There are a ton of great food spots in Silicon Valley thanks to the diverse population and stereotypical hard-working tech crowd that doesn’t like to cook. You will find some of the best Indian food and Mexican food that you can find anywhere in the country. Check out the map below for a bunch of recommendations, but some of my favorites are Falafel Stop, Mantra, Madras Cafe, and El Jardín.

Getting Around – Driving a car is the easiest way to get around Silicon Valley. Parking in the downtown areas is limited, but there are always options if you’re willing to walk a few blocks and it isn’t nearly as bad as being in SF. You can also take the VTA between some of the cities – you can check the routes here.


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