This Thanksgiving, I want to list 25 top things we have to be grateful for here in beautiful Silicon Valley.

  1. Silicon Valley Weather: we enjoy a subtropical climate and usually have 300 sunny days a year and just 20″ of rain on the valley floor annually.
  2. Scenic beauty in the Santa Clara Valley: our valley includes coastal foothills with lush vegetation on the west and dry chaparral hills on the east.  Get up close!  Enjoy the redwoods!  Walk the trails at Alum Rock Park!
  3. Low crime in Silicon Valley: we are in one of the safest areas in the US (San Jose is often ranked #1 for safest large city, Sunnyvale often #1 for safest mid-sized city and the Almaden Valley Country Club neighborhood of San Jose was just named as one of the safest 29 communities in the nation)
  4. Fabulous parks in the San Jose area: both the Santa Clara County Parks and the local city or town parks provide wonderful opportunities to enjoy all that good weather.
  5. Local wineries: you don’t need to go to Sonoma or Napa Counties to enjoy world class wine tasting!  Santa Clara County has more than 2 dozen wineries right here, mostly in “south county”, downtown Los Gatos, Saratoga or in the Santa Cruz Mountains but not exclusively there. J Lohr is in central San Jose, probably just 2 miles from the airport! You can find a partial list of local wineries on the Santa Clara Valley Wines site (but I noticed several missing, such as Ridge in Cupertin0).
  6. The San Jose Sharks: there’s no shortage of support for our beloved hockey team, the Sharks.  If you live in or near San Jose, you’ll find that once in awhile, shark fins turn up in odd places, such as a police car….
  7. Higher eduction: we have some great community colleges but also enjoy having three fantastic universities right here in Santa Clara County:  San Jose State, Santa Clara University, and Stanford University.
  8. Silicon Valley is very Kid-Friendly: Money Magazine listed San Jose as #2 on its short list of America’s 10 Best Places to Grow Up. Great activities, low crime, lots of kids and good weather all contributed to the high ranking.
  9. Diversity: Silicon Valley attracts people from all over the world to live and work here.  It’s a wonderful melting pot.
  10. Theatre:  we have so many great companies, big and small, in Silicon Valley! (We miss AMTSJ, the popular musical theatre venue which closed down two years ago.)
    1. San Jose Reperetory Theatre (aka “the rep”)
    2. The Children’s Musical Theater San Jose
    3. City Lights Theater Company
    4. And many more places outside of downtown San Jose!
  11. Architecture: San Jose and Silicon Valley have some beautiful buildings, both commercial and residential.  In downtown San Jose (thinking of theater venues), check out the California Theatre – it is stunning! Go to Stanford’s campus and take in a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hannah House.  Or drive through the beautiful Rose Garden area of San Jose or the Glenridge neighborhood of Los Gatos. In addition to all those tract homes that dot the south bay, you can also find splendid Spanish Style homes (esp in Willow Glen and Japantown) and beautiful Victorians and Craftsman homes (Shasta-Hanchett and downtown San Jose).
  12. Food: whether you’re looking for classic American food, something foreign, a salad or a world class restaurant, it’s here.  Want it all in one place? Visit downtown Mountain View!
  13. Shopping in Silicon Valley: if it’s raining, there are plenty of typical American shopping malls to choose from.  If not, I prefer outdoor shopping in either downtown Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, Willow Glen or maybe a visit to Stanford Mall or to Santana Row. There are unique shops dotting the valley, too, not always in a dense shopping area.  If you want it, Silicon Valley probably has it.
  14. Museums:  we are so lucky to have all kinds of museums here: history museums, art museums, the Tech Museum of Innovation, the San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and many, many more.
  15. More pro sports:  in addition to the Sharks, we have Bay Area sports teams to cheer on in baseball, basketball, and football too.
  16. Excellent Produce: south county and a few other places right in Santa Clara County still provide fresh produce. There are fruit stands outside of Morgan Hill and Gilroy, though.  Sunnyvale still has Olson’s Cherry Stand (you can also order their goodies online). In Los Gatos there’s one on Winchester near Hwy 85 and I am certain there are others.  You don’t have to visit a produce stand to get great fruits and vegetables, though.  Cosentino’s Market is perhaps the best known place to get exceptional produce, and you’ll find that they are very knowledgeable too so a great resource.
  17. Great Schools: our schools are not uniformly excellent but there are many outstanding schools in the San Jose – Silicon Valley area, and many neighborhoods are “trending up”, such as in the Cambrian area of San Jose (where school scores are moving from good to great, making this area extremely popular as it’s affordable given the scores).   Best known for exceptional schools: Palo Alto, Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Almaden Valley (southernmost part esp.).
  18. Spirit of innovation: entrepreneurship is highly valued here and Silicon Valley is the home to many amazing products and services.  Startups are not at all uncommon.  Sit in a coffee shop in many of the upscale communities and you may well overhear the birth of a new company.
  19. Educated population: this goes with the spirit of innovation and the diversity mentioned above, but is worthwhile to record on its own too.  San Jose – Santa Clara – Sunnyvale area made #3 in the nation for most educated population in a recent Brookings study and #4 was San Francisco – Oakland – Fremont.  This has a lot to do with the strength of our schools.
  20. Proximity to so many good things: San Francisco – 1 hour.  Santa Cruz – about a half hour.  Monterey & Carmel – about 90 minutes.  Yosemite – about 3 to 4 hours.  Lake Tahoe – about 4 hours.  (And if there aren’t enough wineries here: Napa or Sonoma – about 2 hours.)
  21. Opportunities to worship: there is an abundance of churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, meditation centers and other places where you can gather with like-minded people and deepen your spirituality, worship, and get involved in community service within your own religious tradition.  Most religions  have some sort of presence in Silicon Valley (and if not, it should be found somewhere in the greater Bay Area).
  22. Exercise: Silicon Valley offers many opportunities for taking care of your health, including hiking trails (the Los Gatos Creek Trail is extremely popular in the west valley), private clubs, the Y, summer camps, parks & rec classes and many more. Some parks (Campbell) include par courses too.   The south bay area is one of the “fittest” in the country.  Our weather doesn’t hurt that effort!
  23. Nice people: ok, this one’s hard to measure, but generally speaking, Silicon Valley is a pretty friendly place.
  24. Health care: we have world class health care available in Santa Clara County and the San Francisco Bay Area generally, some but not all of which are associated with Stanford University. (If you’re with Kaiser, they have a beautiful, brand new hospital and campus in Santa Clara.)  Different hospitals have different areas of expertise (Good Samaritan – heart, San Jose Medical – trauma).
  25. Being part of the greater San Francisco Bay Area: we are able to enjoy benefits of the larger bay area but being less crowded and having milder weather than you’ll find in The City (SF) or Berkeley/Oakland.

These are what come to my mind on Thanksgiving but I’m sure I have missed some really important aspects of living in Silicon Valley for which we should be grateful.  What’s on your list?