This past Fourth of July, due to astronomical holiday prices we reluctantly traded in Monterey’s rugged coastline for skyscrapers and the slick headquarters of tech industry giants instead.
The South Bay is a part of the Bay Area that I often pass over on my way to Santa Cruz or Monterey, but never considered as an actual destination. What is so exciting about being in the center of the tech industry if you’re not there to work? More importantly I was worried that there would be a lack of recommendable, reasonably priced restaurants. I had my concerns.
But, again I was wrong proven wrong.
Silicon Valley it turns out is not just about business, but is an engaging and delicious travel destination.
Upon arrival we headed straight to San Jose’s Japantown for some Japanese comfort food and homemade mochi. If you are looking for an alternative to sushi, Gombei is great for bento boxes, udon and donburi.
Later in the evening, curious to explore the nightlife in downtown San Jose, we went to Original Gravity Public House that is known for its extensive beer selection and delicious bar food. My cider was crisp and had the ideal amount of tang to it, but my sausage left something to be desired.
The next morning was dedicated to all things Google. The Googleplex headquarters is located in nearby Mountain View, and all the buildings are only accessible to employees and their friends and family. I didn’t seem to mind at all though, since the grounds alone were enough to hold my attention. The Google colors were a constant theme throughout the grounds and I had to keep reminding myself that I was in a workplace, not a resort. The highlight? Sitting on the colorful employee bikes (but not actually riding them because that is not allowed as we found out firsthand).
Since it was the Fourth of July and we had a great view of Santa Clara from our hotel room, we got a front row seat to multiple firework shows across the city and enjoy pie and beer without having to fight any crowds. Highly recommended.
On our last morning, we stopped at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. I have always been fascinated by space and recently been going through a bit of a space craze lately with watching The Astronaut’s Wives Club and reading Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars, so this was a nice addition to learning more about all things space-related. Mustafa being the engineering enthusiast that he is was in heaven. The center is small, but worth it especially if you are space curious like we were.
For our last meal, we stopped for lunch at the iconic Falafel’s Drive In in San Jose. The family who owns it has been serving falafel since 1966 and was one of the first restaurants to serve this type of Middle Eastern cuisine in Silicon Valley. At first it was the hippies who came and then the businessman and now it’s an institution. The falafel had just the right amount of crisp to it and their homemade tahini sauce was a welcome addition. The banana shake looked tempting too, but I practiced restraint.
To walk off our lunch (falafel is surprisingly filling), we wandered through the nearby Municipal Rose Garden, where the fragrance of the hundreds of roses filled the air the moment we got out of the car.
This trip gave me only a brief introduction to Silicon Valley, but I knew I would be back soon to explore further.
Have you been to Silicon Valley? What were some of your favorite moments?