California is full of great places to visit and exciting things to do. If you find yourself based in Santa Clara, you’re exceptionally well-positioned to experience the full range of Northern California’s numerous attractions. There are a number of cities full of great things to do within driving distance of Santa Clara. A short road trip will drop you at such exciting places as:
- San Jose
- Santa Cruz
- San Francisco
The city of San Jose is only a short car ride from Santa Clara. It’s home to a number of different attractions:
- Winchester Mystery House: The Winchester Mystery House is a mansion that was once the residence of Sarah Winchester, widow of William Wirt Winchester, treasurer of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Allegedly, she began constructing the house after a medium channeled the ghost of her husband, who told her she needed to continuously build a home for all the people killed by Winchester rifles. As such, the house has no architectural plan and its construction is random and nonsensical at times. The mansion has 160 rooms, 40 stairways, 47 fireplaces and 6 kitchens. Recently, they discovered a previously unknown room, hidden for 90 years. Tours run daily and last at least an hour. If you like ghosts, check out the Friday the 13th and Halloween candlelight tours.
- Raging Waters: “Northern California’s largest waterpark.” Raging Waters is a 23-acre water park featuring a range of attractions for visitors of all ages. In addition to things like a lazy river and a wave pool, Raging Waters has some high-velocity waterslides, as well as a number of multi-person inner tube slides.
- Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum: Located in the Rose Garden neighborhood, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is devoted to Ancient Egypt. Not only is it the largest exhibition of Ancient Egyptian antiquities in the Western United States, but it’s also the only museum in the world with buildings constructed in the architectural style of Ancient Egypt. The museum contains a replica of a rock-cut tomb that was created using sketches made by a Rosicrucian expedition to the tombs of Beni Hasan.
If the coast is more your style, Santa Cruz is only 45 minutes from Santa Clara. Home of the University of California, Santa Cruz, this town is famous not only for its beaches, but a wide variety of activities. Check out things like:
- Live Oak Farmer’s Market – In operation since 2000, the farmer’s market has become a weekly, year-round market. This market offers far more than seasonable produce. In addition you can find things like seafood, pastries, organic meats, and other baked goods. You can be just like a local; stop by Sunday morning and do all your shopping for the week.
- Surf School Santa Cruz – These guys have everything you need to catch some waves. In addition to providing boards and wetsuits, Surf School Santa Cruz employs some of Santa Cruz’s top professional surfers. They offer private lessons, group lesson, even corporate lessons. Whether looking for some weekend fun or embarking on a life-long activity, Bud Frietas and the staff at Surf School Santa Cruz are excited to get you started.
- Chardonnay Sailing Charters – If you thought that charter boats were just for fishing, Chardonnay Sailing Charters will show you how much more they can be. They offer private charter for events ranging from weddings to team-building. Additionally, they offer a number of public charters. If you’re so inclined, you can sample local California wines and beers while enjoying a light snack and a beautiful sunset. If wildlife is more your thing, sign up for their Wildlife Ecology Charter and enjoy locally-made snacks while you cruise the Santa Cruz shore in search of whales and other marine life.
An hour’s drive north will take you to the famous San Francisco. Home of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Haight Ashbury, and the crooked Lombard Street, San Francisco packs quite a bit into 46 square miles. There’s something for everyone in the City by the Bay:
- Pier 39 – Providing both amazing views of the bay and a host of over attractions, like a sea lion colony, Pier 39 is the most-visited destination in San Francisco. It’s home to shops and restaurants of all varieties. You can also find the entrance to the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39, as well as stunning views of a number of other famous San Francisco attractions, like Alcatraz.
- Alcatraz Island – Home to the first lighthouse in the Western United States, Alcatraz is perhaps better-known as the site of a prison that held some of the United States’ most notorious criminals, like Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert “The Birdman of Alcatraz” Stroud. The cells that held these men are just a short ferry-ride from San Francisco and tours run daily.
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – The SFMOMA was founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum of modern or contemporary art. It includes over 32,000 modern and contemporary works, like the Habitat-Horticulutre-designed living wall. Its 19,000 plants run up several stories. There are also a number of more-whimsical exhibits, like a fake security guard and wildly-lit bathrooms.
Whether you are a resident of or a visitor to Santa Clara, there is no reason to confine yourself to the activities available in the city. A short road trip can take you anywhere from the beaches of Santa Cruz to the Haight Ashbury in San Francisco. So rent a car, set your GPS, and get ready for an adventure.