The South Bay
Santa Clara County
Of Heart’s Delight
Whatever you call it,
It’s a great place to live
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Los Gatos is the most charming town in Silicon Valley. It is nestled at the base of the coastal mountain range and is the gateway to San Jose and Santa Clara County. The beauty is both natural – from the foothill and valley vistas to the abundance of parks and stunning Vasona Lake – to the amazingly beautiful historic neighborhoods filled with Victorian, Craftsman, and many other inviting home styles.
With about 30,000 residents and 10 square miles, Los Gatos is big enough to be a truly “self contained” town. Here you’ll find great schools, both public and private, first class medical care, strong businesses of every size (Los Gatos is home to Netflix), and a shopping and dining array that is second to none. The downtown area is vibrant and includes many coffee and tea shops, wine tasting, dessert venues, and it’s easy to find live music, too. The Los Gatos Library is nearly brand new and is the pride of the town.
The much smaller City of Monte Sereno, with about 4,000 residents, is adjacent to Los Gatos and shares many services with the town, including schools, parks, police, and the library, as well as many community events. Monte Sereno has no businesses, restaurants, etc. – it is 100% residential.
Summer activities are abundant and include three free musical concert series: Jazz on the Plazz, Music in the Park, and Vasona Vibrations. June features the Plein Air Art Show. Independence Day festivities last the better part of each July 4th at and near the Civic Center. And in August, the town’s Art and Wine Festival brings locals and visitors both in for fantastic shopping, dining, and imbibing.
Looking to buy a home in Los Gatos or Monte Sereno? There are many nuances that can impact home value, such as the local school district or school of attendance. (Los Gatos has a few school districts, to the surprise of newcomers, and even tiny Monte Sereno has two.) Here, and also at my Live in Los Gatos blog, you can learn the ins and outs of this gorgeous area.
Next to Los Gatos and Monte Sereno is the city of Saratoga, which also sits comfortably snuggled at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Like Los Gatos, Saratoga features exceptionally good public schools, a lovely (if much smaller) downtown, known as Saratoga Village, and beautifully manicured neighborhoods.
Saratoga enjoys two famous art and concert spots: The Mountain Winery (once known as the Paul Masson Mountain Winery) and the Montalvo Arts Center. Both bring world class musicians to town, both feature stunning natural beauty and should not be missed.
The Village is well known for fine dining and a break from the faster pace of life found in most of Silicon Valley. This is a great place to stroll, perhaps do some wine tasting, meander through Wildwood Park, and then top it off with a meal at a favorite eatery.
The City of San Jose is the 10th largest city in the U.S. and is comprised of many districts or areas. The two closest to Los Gatos are Cambrian (sometimes called Cambrian Park) and Almaden (often known as Almaden Valley).
Unlike Los Gatos, Saratoga, Los Altos, or the Willow Glen area of San Jose, neither Cambrian nor Almaden have a local downtown per se. They are more affordable than Los Gatos & Monte Sereno and most of Cambrian and Almaden have really great public schools.
So it’s a “bang for your buck” situation for parents trying to buy a home with the best schools they can afford. If you love Los Gatos, but find it just a bit out of budget, check out Almaden (San Jose 95120) and Cambrian (San Jose 95124 and 95118). You may find that living close to Los Gatos, and enjoying what it has to offer but at a lower cost, may be exactly what you want.
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What is the Valley of Heart’s Delight?
The Valley of Heart’s Delight is an old moniker for Silicon Valley. Before semiconductors, computers, cloud storage, social media, Netflix, Facebook, Apple, biotech, and all that goes with all of them, there were orchards here. The Santa Clara Valley was home to an array of trees: prune, peach, cherry, walnut, and citrus of all kinds. And there were vineyards in every corner, pre-prohibition especially, too. It was a veritable cornucopia of delicious produce.
If you grew up in the San Jose area, you probably played in orchards, saw vineyards on Blossom Hill Road and elsewhere, frequented Olson’s Cherry stand in Cupertino, and recall the Mirrasou Champagne Tasting Room on Saratoga Avenue. I sure do. I grew up near Santa Clara University and then my parents moved to Saratoga when I was 13 (and we had the Pittman’s Horse Ranch directly behind us).
I love the Santa Clara Valley. It’s changed, of course. But there are hints of the area’s history everywhere you look.
Most yards seem to have at least a lemon tree. Small vineyards are popping up again. And places like the City of Saratoga include a historic orchard as part of its park system.
My home and office are both in Los Gatos, and I help nice folks to buy and sell homes throughout the Santa Clara County and San Jose area. I hope that my love of the region will be contagious. I’ve been selling homes since early 1993, am a 2nd generation Realtor, and writing is a favorite pastime of mine – so you will find quite a few articles on this site on the Silicon Valley real estate market, neighborhoods, contract and disclosure info, buyer and seller tips, and more. Looking for a Realtor to assist you to buy or sell a home or real estate here in Silicon Valley? Please reach out to me – I’d love to hear from you.