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Santa Clara – In the Heart of California’s Silicon Valley

Santa Clara – In the Heart of California’s Silicon Valley

Today’s post is a guest post from Maria Perez of Sew Travel Inspired!

Sunday, February 7, 2016 is the Big Game!  Super Bowl 50!  All eyes will be on Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California.  If you’ve come to Santa Clara for the game, why not stay for the city?

Located 45 miles south of San Francisco, Santa Clara is a small city of big contrasts. If any city can claim to be “the center of Silicon Valley,” it is this town.  Home to high tech companies such as Intel, AMD, WebEx, NVIDIA, and National Semiconductor, Santa Clara is one of the oldest settlements (by Europeans) in Northern California. The Mission Santa Clara de Asís was established in 1777.  The Jesuit-run Santa Clara University, founded in 1851, is the oldest university in California.  Dozens of 19th century homes are well-maintained by their 21st century owners in the “old quad,” the earliest residential area, adjacent to the university.

Santa Clara has lots of fun to offer the family!

Photo Courtesy of the Santa Clara Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of the Santa Clara Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Levi Stadium – Home of the 49ers

If you are a sports fan, you can’t visit the area without taking a Levi’s Stadium Tour. Billed as the “ultimate fan experience,” the tours are ideal for anyone who wouldn’t mind a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a professional stadium like this one. Included in the tour is a stop at the 49ers Museum.  As one of the greenest stadiums in the National Football League, the stadium has a lot to show off.  Ideal for kids as well as adults, this tour is a must for hardcore football fans. 


Photo courtesy of the Santa Clara Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Photo courtesy of the Santa Clara Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Mission of Santa Clara de Asis – On a Mission

Mission Santa Clara de Asis is the 8th mission in the chain of 21 Franciscan missions established by Padre Junipero Serra and it was the first to bear the name of a woman, St. Claire of Assisi, an early companion of St. Francis.  The original Mission Santa Clara de Asis was built in 1777. The current structure is a version of the fifth church, which was built in 1825 and destroyed by a fire in 1929.  The mission is named for Saint Clare of Assisi, a 13th century Italian nun and cofounder of the Order of Poor Clares.  It is the only mission on a university campus.

In front of the church, see the hitching ring and step for dismounting from a carriage.  In Mission Gardens with the giant sago palm and Sacred Heart Statue, are rose gardens, a wisteria arbor, and olive trees that date back to the late-Mission period.  One of the four bells in the mission, which have rung every evening for the last 217 years, was donated by King Carlos IV of Spain in 1798.   

Today Mission Santa Clara continues to serve as an active Catholic church, the spiritual hub, and student chapel for the community at Santa Clara University.  You can visit this lovely historical mission for free.

Triton Museum – Priceless Art – Literally

The Triton Museum of Art is a beautiful geometrical building located across the street from the Santa Clara Civic Center. It opened in 1965 and has become one of the cornerstones of Santa Clara culture.

Now through April 3rd the museum is hosting the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s largest traveling exhibition in its history – Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  The exhibit features hundreds of artifacts from the Hall of Fame’s collection and presents a panoramic view of the story of professional football– from its humble beginnings in the early 20th century to the sports phenomenon it has become today.

The Museum provides free parking and free admission to their exhibits as well as many of their events.  The outside sculpture garden provides a lovely spot to have a picnic lunch and let the kids run off some steam before or after you peruse the art inside.

Photo courtesy of the Santa Clara Convention and Visitor Bureau

Photo courtesy of the Santa Clara Convention and Visitor Bureau

Intel Museum – Go Behind the Scenes                     

See what it’s like inside an ultra-clean, highly automated silicon chip factory, and connect with technologies that give us new ways to work, learn, play, and communicate.  The Intel Museum is a 10,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility that features everything silicon chip: its history, the process for making them, the history of Silicon Valley, and other high-tech related topics. The cool, high-tech interactive exhibits provides fun, interactive fun for children and adults.

You may be able to score a guided tour if a docent is available, or you can take the self-guided tour at your own pace.

Westfield Mall – The Mall That Has It All

A mall is pretty much a mall, and Westfield Valley Fair is no exception. True it is home to more than 250 top brands, signature dining, and seasonal entertainment experiences, but what is exceptional about this particular mall is the wide range of services they provide to shoppers. There’s a family lounge where you can breast feed, change the baby, or take your over-stimulated preschooler for some low-key, kid-friendly TV, and there’s a ginormous play area with all manner of brightly colored animal characters. You can charge you dying phone at one of the charging stations, find a personal stylist to help you find the right clothes, and exchange your foreign currency. And if you have any questions, you can get answers through the text concierge service known as Answers on the Go. Also free valet parking. 

Westfield Valley Fair offers out-of-town visitors a complimentary Passport to Savings book, filled with hundreds of dollars in shopping and dining savings from participating retailers and restaurants.

You don’t have to wait for another Super Bowl to visit Santa Clara.  It’s a year round playground for families.