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Silicon Valley, California Travel Guide

Silicon Valley Summary


  • Beautiful landscape, with preserves, state parks and redwoods
  • Easy day trip to San Francisco
  • Many accommodation options
  • Generally very safe
  • Good wineries in the area
  • Sunny (especially the inland communities)
  • San Jose, a thriving city with many restaurants, shops and attractions
  • Several airports in the region


  • Some parts have no tourist attractions
  • Sprawling area
  • The cities closest to the Bay can be foggy and chilly
  • Only expensive accommodation in some cities, such as Palo Alto
  • Far from the Pacific beaches

What It's Like

Silicon Valley, also known as Santa Clara Valley, is a sprawling area that makes up the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. It's home to the world’s leading technology corporations, and gets its name from the element silicon, used in the computers and semiconductors that are at the core of many of the area's businesses. Silicon Valley is also known for its thriving startup culture; the numerous venture capital firms lining Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park control $150 billion in risk capital used for funding new companies, many of which are based in the region.

This diverse area is packed with corporate offices (but high-rises are not the norm), and encompasses several towns, each of which has a very different vibe and character. San Jose, northern California’s largest city, is a thriving place full of restaurants, shops, entertainment and sports venues, and hotels of every category. The cities that most commonly come to mind in association with the term "Silicon Valley" include Palo Alto (home to Stanford University), Menlo Park (where Sand Hill Road is located), Cupertino (the headquarters of Apple), and Mountain View (the headquarters of Google). Visitors should expect wide, clean streets lined with businesses, expensive cars, and upscale residences.

The area caters mostly to business travelers, but there are some quaint, small places suited for romantic getaways, and a bunch of good wineries without the crowds and the prices of Napa Valley. However, visitors will have to go to the main towns -- namely San Jose and Santa Clara -- to find other major tourist attractions, as well as affordable accommodation and dining options.

Where To Stay

Silicon Valley is such a big area that choosing where to stay is essential -- and it depends mostly on what you are there for. Business travelers will likely want to stay in whichever city their business takes them to. Outdoor enthusiasts will have easy access to the beautiful state parks and preserves if they choose a hotel close to Highway 280.

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