Finding scenic places in which to live in Silicon Valley

View from Montevina Road in Los Gatos, Scenic Silicon ValleyIf you arrived into Silicon Valley via Highway 101, driving south from San Francisco, you might believe that the Santa Clara Valley, the San Jose area and Silicon Valley as a whole has got to seem to be the ugliest place on earth. Although heavily traveled, that is not the “scenic route”.

So, too, if you are looking for a place to live and are groping to find a place that is reasonably priced, fairly safe and not a terrible commute distance. You might not even have “is nice looking” on your wish list. You might not think it’s possible if all you ever see are the ugly concrete tilt-up buildings in north San Jose, Santa Clara, Alviso, or anywhere along the 237 corridor.  That area is an architectural wasteland.

Let me assure you: there are a lot of beautiful places in Silicon Valley where you can rent or buy a home. But how do you find them? It helps a lot to have a local give you a few pointers.  I’ll give you some tips today on finding a scenic place to live.

Hills – An easy way to find a scenic location to make your home is to settle near the hills, especially those in the west valley (the Santa Cruz Mountains or the Coastal Range) as they are green year-round. Communities at the base of the west valley foothills include, in Santa Clara County, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Los Gatos, and the Almaden Valley area of San Jose. All of these areas are adjacent to the hills or mountains and offer far better than average schools (many of them qualify as great – compare costs between these areas). (more…)

Summer’s cool but Silicon Valley entertainment is hot!

The summer of 2011 will go down as one of the coolest in decades for Silicon Valley (or, as my hairdresser joked, “summer was canceled“).  Live entertainment goes on and daytime productions are more comfortable than usual so get out there and enjoy the offerings in the west valley areas of Los Gatos, Saratoga and San Jose before we finish out the warm season!

Free music in Los Gatos:

Did you know that the town of Los Gatos features three different concert series each summer?  There’s Music in the Park (Sundays), Jazz on the Plazz (Wednesdays) and Vasona Vibrations (Saturdays).  I posted every concert date/time and info on each venue on my Live in Los Gatos blog.  See the entire list of the free summer music in Los Gatos here (there are 10 still to go!).

Fiesta de Artes in Los Gatos – art and wine festival

An annual tradition in Los Gatos each summer is the Fiesta de Artes on the Civic Center Lawn (on Main Street near Los Gatos High School) and this year it’s back on Aug 13 & 14 2011. Running from 10am to 6pm both Saturday and Sunday, this is a much beloved Art & Wine Festival (the only one in Los Gatos).  Visitors will enjoy loads of musical entertainment, a variety of food and wine, and more than 150 vendors.  Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, the Fiesta de Artes has been a part of summers in Los Gatos for over 30 years.  Come on out and enjoy!

For more information, please visit

Shakespeare in Silicon Valley

Take in some of the magic of the bard!  The Los Gatos Shakespeare Festival runs through August 6th – this year the offerings include Macbeth (we saw it opening night – well done!), Twelfth Night and Charley’s Aunt.  Check out showtimes and other info on the website at  or get tickets online:

Another venue with Shakespeare is Shady Shakespeare, up at Sandborn Park in the hills over Saratoga.  This year’s run began just a couple of days ago and continues through early September. What’s playing?  Henry V and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Read more at

And finally, you can view Shakespeare at Montalvo this year, as Shakespeare Santa Cruz comes over the hill to perform.  (If my memory serves me correctly, they used to do so at the Paul Masson Mountain Winery in Saratoga in the 80s and early 90s – at least I recall taking in some of Shakespeare’s plays there in my younger days!).  This series runs only in September and includes The Comedy of Errors plus a more contemporary show, Danny Scheie.  (As always with Montalvo, this is not the most affordable of the venues – but the setting is lovely.)  Learn more at

Looking for a weekend getaway in the San Francisco Bay Area?  Consider Los Gatos or Saratoga – great dining, shopping and entertainment year round, but never more than in summer!




Relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area: Understanding the Local Regions

Often I get emails from people relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area and sometimes folks are confused about what’s in or near Silicon Valley. That makes sense because some of the “regions” we discuss don’t have completely hard and fast boundaries.

The SF Bay Area includes nine counties that touch the bay or are nearby, but additionally some areas that aren’t so neatly defined, such as “Silicon Valley” or “The Delta”. So to help out people who are relocating, I sketched out on Google Maps the larger regions of the San Francisco Bay Area, which include (with map colors below):

    • San Francisco – light blue
    • the Peninsula – dark blue
    • the South Bay (Santa Clara County) – in orange
    • the East Bay – pink
    • the North Bay – yellow
    • the Delta – green
    • the Monterey Bay – light blue

Click on the different colored areas for more information on each one. (Defined areas are only approximate.)


View San Francisco Bay Area Region in a larger map


The Delta is a set of waterways that empties into the SF Bay at a northeast point and crawls through part of the San Joaquin Valley and Stockton areas – it’s part East Bay but part central valley. The Monterey Bay is not really part of the San Francisco Bay Area but is so close that it’s worth including too.

What about Silicon Valley? It’s primarily in the “south bay” and nearby areas. Silicon Valley is mostly Santa Clara County with a little of Santa Cruz County, Alameda County and a fair amount of San Mateo County.


View Silicon Valley in a larger map


Disclaimer: maps are approximate only!