Mike and I moved to Silicon Valley in April 2019, and I had visited over 50 times prior to that while we were living in Southern California for work as there are so many companies in the Silicon Valley area. In this post, I talk through some of my favorite places we have visited. Also refer to my post on San Francisco, Big Sur/Monteray/Carmel, and Redwood Forest/Napa/Sacramento, for some other posts that are just a short drive away.
Silicon Valley for the most part is on the west side of the San Francisco Bay. I will describe my favorite cities and places below starting north, working my way down south, and then going across to the coast.
Mike and I lived in downtown San Mateo for a month during his internship at Facebook in the Summer of 2018. Our favorite part about the downtown is how many restaurants there are. Some of our favorites were Yu Raku Ramen, Pacific Catch, Kaffeehaus, B Street & Vine, and Icicles Ice Cream. We also joined a yoga studio for the month, and we’ve never had so many people in our class before!
Mike and I lived in Redwood City for a few months during his internship in the summer of 2018. We lived in a really nice furnished apartment right downtown Redwood City, and we made sure to take full advantage of living downtown. The city is super cute, and they have summer concerts and a farmers market every weekend.
Mike had an internship at Facebook in the summer of 2018, and began working there full time in April 2019. Facebook’s campus is a Disney style theme, and there are many different restaurants sprinkled all around the campus. Facebook provides free food to all of the employees, and I’ve visited many times to have dinner with him. Facebook also has large parties for all of the employees in the summer and winter. It is a really fun place to work (and visit!).
Palo Alto is one of the largest cities in Silicon Valley. I’ve visited many times for dinner since they have so many great restaurants. One of my favorites was when I visited Vino Locale for my 27th birthday, and Gravity Bar for Mikes 29th.
Stanford University is also located in Palo Alto. I have visited MANY times as Stanford is the hospital system that I went to while I was pregnant. The campus is gigantic and beautiful. It will always have a special place in my heart as I visited so many times during my pregnancy. I was pregnant during the COVID-19 outbreak, so it was definitely not what I expected, but everyone at Stanford was so professional; they tried their hardest to make it the best experience for me.
My Pregnancy at Stanford
The HP Garage is located Downtown Palo Alto, and it is known to be the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley”. HP founders William Hewlett and David Packard were Stanford students that created HP in this house and garage.
Los Altos is also a very special city to me, as it is where the Barre work out studio that that I always went to with my coworkers was located. Everyone at the Barre3 Studio was always so friendly and welcoming to me when I moved to Silicon Valley. At first, I didn’t know if I liked it because I was used to Pure Barre, but I actually really started to love the fun music they played during class, and I felt a lot stronger after doing it too. Right next door was my favorite Whole Foods store; they always had the freshest cut fish, so I loved swinging by after a great workout to grab something to prepare for dinner.
Also, Los Altos has one of my favorite restaurants in it: Pacific Catch. It is technically a chain restaurant in Silicon Valley, so there are a few, but I visited this one the most. My favorite item on the menu is the Hawaiian Teriyaki bowl, which is made with the following: chicken or salmon, grilled pineapple, stir fry of glazed shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, edamame, teriyaki sauce, rice, and lettuce.
Los Altos Art and Wine Festival
Downtown Los Altos hosts an Art and Wine Festival every year. We went and had a great time sipping our wine and walking around and looking at all of the art. It was super packed, there was live music, and everyone was just generally really happy. Parking was pretty crazy, but they have free buses that take you from the high school to downtown, which was convenient. It was fun to be with all of the locals.
Every Sunday, downtown Mountain View hosts a pretty large farmers market. We really enjoyed going to get fresh fruit and produce. They also always have good desserts and komboucha. Everyone walks from their houses downtown to the market, so its always really packed. We really enjoyed coming here.
Mountain View Art and Wine Festival
Similar to the Los Altos Art & Wine Festival, Mountain View hosts one every summer as well. We enjoyed this one too. It was very spread out, and much larger than Los Altos. We were surprised how big it was! We had a really nice time walking around and enjoying the art.
The Mountain View Computer Museum is a pretty unique place to visit; and it is perfect to be located in the middle of Silicon Valley. The museum presents stories and artifacts of the information age, and it explores the computing revolution and its impact on society. We really enjoyed walking around and seeing the history of computers! They also had “accounting machine” computers, which I particularly liked. 🙂
Mountain View Amphitheater
The Mountain View Amphitheater is located right next to the Google Campus, and it hosts large concerts and events. We went to the Wazzmatazz Wild 949 radio concert with Halsey, Ellie Goulding, Fletcher & CNCO in June 2019 with a bunch of my coworkers. People bring picnic blankets, and you can buy full bottles of wine and enjoy it in the grass. It was a really fun time!
Downtown Sunnyvale reminds me a lot of my hometown I grew up in; there is one main street with restaurants and shops lining both sides. The city also closes the main road for summer concerts. We lived in Sunnyvale for the entire time we permanently lived in Silicon Valley, so we have visited downtown many times. My favorite restaurant was a Mediterranean restaurant called Dish Dash. It was always so busy, so you had to make sure to get a reservation or get there early!
We lived in an apartment complex called Encasa. It was a luxury style apartment complex with stylish & spacious floor plans and sophisticated amenities. We really enjoyed our time living here. I will make a separate post on just our apartment.
Google was one of my favorite places to go in Silicon Valley. Everything about the way Google treats its employees is great. They have free breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and food trucks every day), they host many fun team events, and all of the office furniture was modern, creative, and ergonomic. I will always cherish my Google memories I made with so many smart and talented people.
Mike and I grocery shopped at the Whole Foods in Santa Clara every week. We loved how fresh all of the food always was in the store. The team members were always so helpful, and they were always out on the floor stocking fresh food all day long too.
Downtown San Jose
I stayed in Downtown San Jose many times when I used to visit for work. The downtown itself is pretty small, but San Jose is one of the largest cities in California. I always felt safe walking around, but I believe there are “bad” parts of the city, as there are for any major city in the world. I loved the musical swings that they had downtown; I thought they were so unique!
My team and I also participated in an Escape Room in Downtown SJ. Escape rooms are always a fun team activity. We escaped with just minutes to spare!
Santana Row is a retail and residential area in San Jose, California, and it has every brand name store you could think of. In the summer, they offered free yoga in their common area every Saturday morning for free, sponsored by Lululemon, so of course I had to check it out. It was so much fun, people even brought their dogs!
Downtown Campbell is another cute downtown area with many restaurants, and also a farmers market every weekend. Mike and I went to a yoga studio downtown for a few months, and I always loved how cute the downtown was.
Ebay is also located in Campbell. It was my first “Silicon Valley” tech company experience, so I will always appreciate Ebay as a company.
Los Gatos is the “Boujee” area of Silicon Valley. It is pretty luxurious, but also most people are really humble. Mike and I ate at Verge on our way to Big Sur once, and we had an amazing dining experience.
Saratoga Springs is an outdoor venue area in the middle of the redwoods. I went to a work team event here, and it was super fun and in a beautiful place. If I lived in the area with all of my family and friends, I would definitely want to have another event here. It was such a unique place for an event.
Testarossa is a vineyard in Saratoga, and I also went to a work event here. It was also very beautiful, and also a very unique space for an event.
Half Moon Bay
If you keep driving west to the water from Silicon Valley, Half Moon Bay is only 30 minutes away (also only 30 minutes south from San Francisco). It is the perfect little beach get away. We passed many small beach towns on the way with lots of surfers. It was a very pleasant drive!
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
We stopped at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company for lunch, and it was very crowded!
Half Moon Bay Harbor
We walked along the Half Moon Bay Harbor after lunch, and it became very foggy. They even had a fog horn going off every few seconds. It was the first time I heard one for its intended purpose.
Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton
I loved the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Beach so much, perched up on the cliffs, so I wanted to see if the one in Half Moon Bay was nice as well. We took a nice walk along their paved path. We also enjoyed drinks overlooking the golf course and the ocean. There was also a wedding going on as well!
I visited again with some of my coworkers for a coworkers Bachelorette Party. We had a “high tea” party. It was so lovely.
The Halfmoon Bay Coastal Trail is 11 miles long, and you can walk or bike along it and take in the beautiful views of the ocean (if it is sunny!). Even if it is not sunny, like when I walked the trail, it was still really nice. I loved smelling the ocean and listening to the waves crash against the cliffs.
The Santa Cruz Boardwalk reminded me a lot of the Santa Monica Boardwalk. Mike and I visited for the 4th of July in 2018, and it was not that crowded. We went pretty early in the morning, and we were not blessed with great weather. We made the most of it and walked around the boardwalk and played a few games. It was fun, but not my favorite place in Silicon Valley.
I also went on a Women’s Retreat at 1440 Multiversity, which is located just in the outskirts of Santa Cruz. I had an amazing time in this redwood retreat. See my 1440 Multiversity post for more information.