Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Santa Clara, CA

  • Published 2022/12/13

Silicon Valley is not just a significant part of the country’s major technological advancement.

It’s also a place of vibrant communities and beautiful attractions, which makes it worth visiting.

Despite being densely populated, Santa Clara maintained its natural beauty and charm.

The entire county has a population of 1.92 million, while the City of Santa Clara has around 128,000 residents.

Its community’s culture is also diverse and rich in history, while in terms of modernity, it’s also the home of a major tech company.

In terms of diversity, about a hundred languages and dialects are spoken from different ethnicities living there.

The county is also known as sports lovers and huge art aficionados, as seen in its colossal stadiums and colorful art museums.

If you’re planning to visit Silicon Valley, be sure to stop over Santa Clara.

Here are the 15 exciting things to do in Santa Clara, California to give you a fantastic way to enjoy yourself there.

Cheer for the 49ers at the Levi’s Stadium

Daytime view of Levi's Stadium

Lebid Volodymyr /

This man-made marvel home to the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League (NFL) can accommodate 70,000 people.

If you’re planning to catch up on a game of the 49ers, the NFL season runs from August (pre-season) to January.

The Levi’s Stadium is a significant place for Santa Clara and the rest of Silicon Valley for entertainment and sports.

Exterior of Levi's Stadium

Sundry Photography /

Aside from NFL games, the stadium is also host to world-class concerts and activities year-round.

You can still visit and see the stadium during the NFL off-season through its public tours that will take you to the 49ers Museum and the team’s official store.

The stadium is situated at 4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way in Santa Clara City.

Entrance gate of Levi's Stadium

Ken Wolter /

Be One With the Locals at the Santa Clara Arts & Wine Festival

If you want to experience the authentic hospitality of the Californians, then head to the Santa Clara Arts & Wine Festival.

By nature, Californians are known hospitable and love arts and wines.

To celebrate their passion, they hold the Santa Clara Arts & Wine Festival every year during early fall when the climate is dry and cool perfect for outdoor gatherings.

It’s an annual community affair that also has a charitable side on it.

The festival raises money for Santa Clara’s nonprofits and community groups.

It has more than 175 vendors, artists, and food stalls lining up at Central Park, featuring handmade products, gourmet food, exquisite bottles of California wines, and fine arts.

The festival also has a place for toddlers at the Kids Kingdom, wherein a theme park featuring carnival rides, kids’ games, and food is displayed for kids and kids at heart.

Experience California’s Great America’s Thrilling Rides

Carousel at California's Great America

Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz /

California’s Great America is one of the 38 amusements parks in the state.

Popularly known as Great America, this amusement park was opened in 1976 constructed by the Marriot Corporation.

It sits on a 112-acre property and boasts thrilling rides and attractions.

It has a water park, restaurants, and a lot more fun things to experience.

Rollercoaster at California's Great America

Jeremy Thompson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Its roller coasters, the 20-story drop tower, and the Xtreme Skyflyer are the most thrilling rides you shouldn’t miss.

Of course, the place also has rides for kids and those for the faint-hearted.

The Boomerang Water Park boats huge pools, waterslides, and a wave pool for you and the family if you want to cool down.

Water slide ride at California's Great America

Runner1928, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Test Your Driving Skills at K1 Speed

If you’re into motorsports, you should definitely try to hop on a go-kart and race at the K1 Speed.

This place boasts an indoor racecourse with a European-style design suitable for drivers of all skill levels.

K1’s 20-horsepower go-karts that have electric engines can reach up to 45 miles per hour at their speed, while young racers can drive the slower 20mph go-karts.

If you want to experience authentic and adrenaline-pumping racing, head to K1 Speed if you happen to be in Santa Clara.

If you’re done racing, the place also has a cafe that serves delicious food after an hour or two at the race track.

K1 Speed indoor race track is located at 2925 Mead Avenue in Santa Clara.

Breathe Fresh Air at the Ulistac Natural Area

A Sign in Ulistac Natural Area

Sundry Photography /

If you are looking for respite from the city noise, the Ulistac Natural Area is your best place to go.

It’s considered the lung of Santa Clara for having lush green vegetation and large trees that serve as your canopy from the afternoon heat.

It also has scenic views featuring the riverside park and gardens on 40 acres of land dedicated to providing the locals a place to unwind.

Trail at Ulistac Natural Area

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Most of the time, locals use this place to sweat out as it’s a usual destination for joggers, hikers, cyclists, and yoga practitioners.

In addition, the place is also teeming with wildlife.

Take pictures with local wildlife comprised of gophers, lizards, birds, butterflies, and jackrabbits.

Ultimately, the Ulistac Natural Area is a dedicated space to preserve the wildlife and vegetation of California.

A Bird in Ulistac Natural Area

itb /

Treat Your Tastebuds at the Santa Clara Farmers’ Market

There’s no more terrific way to enjoy local food and delicacies than a farmer’s market when visiting another place.

The good thing is that Santa Clara has its own farmer’s market packed with the best the locals can offer.

To experience good food plus great products you can’t find anywhere else, then head to the Santa Clara Farmer’s Market.

In addition, the farmer’s market is open to the public year-round.

It features a bit of the best things Santa Clara and Californians can offer.

You can buy and eat freshly-baked pastries and bread or enjoy the freshness of the seasonal produce.

The Santa Clara Farmer’s Market is situated at Jackson Street, just a stone’s throw away from downtown.

Visiting there is not just about rubbing elbows with the locals; it is also a great way to support small family businesses and local farmers.

Indulge in International Cuisines at 4th Street Market

Signage of 4th Street Market

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The 4th Street Market is considered Santa Clara’s destination for foreign cuisine.

This place is a hotspot for gourmet food wherein new-generation chefs share their fusion cuisines with food lovers.

It’s also a hub for food lovers to exchange their wild but delicious ideas translated into extraordinary dishes.

Entrance door of 4th Street Market

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It has an atmosphere that combines a country fair, upscale market, and an art gallery packed with people.

Aside from the food, the place is also an excellent spot to take lovely photos with its giant graffiti mural.

Taste Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Greek, Italian dishes from gourmet food kiosks and cafes adjacent to each other.

Get Busy at Santa Clara’s Central Park

A pond at Santa Clara's Central Park

Tomwsulcer, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Central Park is the main activity center for locals in Santa Clara.

It’s always packed with locals and visitors who join various activities every weekend and during the weekdays.

Aside from its lake, picnic areas, and gardens, the park is also home to various sports facilities.

At its heart lies the George F. Haines International Swim Center and Santa Clara’s Community Recreation Center.

In addition, it has twin well-lighted tennis courts of the Santa Clara Tennis Club, while there are also basketball courts, softball fields, and an amphitheater.

Central Park is situated along Kiely Boulevard in Santa Clara.

Become a 49ers Fan at the 49ers Museum

The famous 49ers Museum is located within the San Francisco 49ers’ home field, the Levi’s Stadium.

Your visit to Santa Clara will not be complete if you don’t tour around the historic 49ers Museum, where you will learn the glorious history of the team in football.

You will enjoy touring around more than a dozen galleries filled with memorabilia and personal items from the team’s famous players and the Super Bowl.

In addition, the museum is also home to various technological and scientific exhibits to further entertain you.

Take Pictures at the Historic Mission Santa Clara Church

Exterior of Historic Mission Santa Clara Church

jejim /

If you want to slow down on your Santa Clara adventure, head to Mission Santa Clara for a solemn experience.

The church was built in 1777 and was later transferred to the Santa Clara University grounds after being hit with multiple calamities such as floods, earthquakes, and fire.

The church is perfect for reflection and some historical tours since it has its own museum that houses a collection of meaningful artifacts, documents, and other antiquities about the church.

Interior of Mission Santa Clara Church

James Kirkikis /

The church is open to the public and regularly holds masses and other religious activities.

It is located at the 500 El Camino Real in Santa Clara.

History plaque of Mission Santa Clara Church

jejim /

Mesmerize the Artistic Beauty of the de Saisset Museum

Outside View of de Saisset Museum

Matthew Hendricks (SCUMATT at en.wikipedia), CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum is named after Ernest de Saisset, a respected artist in the Bay Area whose works were trendy in the 19th century.

A French immigrant, Saisset studied at the Santa Clara University and honed his skills there throughout the years.

Today, his excellence in art earned him a museum named after himself situated inside Santa Clara University.

Sculpture on the grounds of de Saisset Museum

Brian Wall, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum is worth a visit because it houses more than a hundred of his most beautiful artworks.

It boasts a collection of American and European artworks that are more than a hundred years old.

If you want to experience history and art, the museum is perfect for you.

Visit the Triton Museum of Art

Exterior of the Triton Museum of Art

Tritonmuseum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Santa Clara has dozens of museums and art galleries, one of them is the Triton Museum of Art.

It boats artworks from Bay Area’s local artists as well as international artists.

It has a collection of historical and contemporary artworks, while some are artworks to narrate the history of California.

Its main goal is to promote inclusiveness in gender and culture which can also be seen through the artists’ pieces of artwork.

Public art display of Triton Museum of Art

Sundry Photography /

The entire structure of the museum is already a work of art as it’s highlighted with pyramidal skylights on its ceilings.

In addition, it has a majestic curved glass wall that gives you a fantastic view of its sculpture garden.

The Triton Museum of Art is located along Warburton Avenue.

Horse sculpture in front of the Triton Museum of Art

Joseph Sohm /

Get Techy at the Intel Museum

Logo sign of Intel Museum

Tada Images /

The main headquarters of the tech giant, Intel, is situated in Santa Clara.

Around 7,000 people work there, making the company the largest employer in the area.

For decades, Intel produced some of the world’s most efficient and robust computer processors and components.

To inform the public how they innovated technology over the years, Intel built a museum that opened in 2012.

Signage at Intel Museum

JHVEPhoto /

It houses not just artifacts of Intel’s history; it has a collection of fascinating interactive exhibits that will turn ordinary people into tech-savvies.

The museum lets you go behind the scenes how Intel’s technology created powerful computer components with interactive learning through its public tours.

The entire museum’s size is about 10,000 square feet and is packed with exciting educational and interactive activities.

Experience Pure Entertainment With the Santa Clara Players

The Santa Clara Players started performing for the locals back in the 1960s with their stage plays.

After seven decades, they remained Santa Clara’s most entertaining and well-respected artists in the theater industry.

They hold performances annually which mainly focus on dramatic theater filled with comedy, suspense, and mystery.

Today, the Santa Clara Players offer talented artists to showcase their potential by joining them with their stage performances and other activities.

The Santa Clara Players are also a group for a nonprofit program that provides the locals and visitors a very affordable theatrical experience that they will surely treasure.

To know their scheduled performances, visit their main office along Don Avenue.

Visit the Historic Harris-Lass House Museum

A historic house located on Market Street, the Harris-Lass House Museum is one of the old city landmarks you can visit.

The area is the last farm site in Santa Clara and was named after the two families who once owned and lived on the property.

It’s now owned by the City of Santa Clara and operated by the Historic Preservation Society of Santa Clara; the museum was formally opened to the public in 1991.

See this 1865 Italianate-style structure and observe the detailed exterior designs.

Though it had some extensive restoration, it still retains its distinctive features that represent the era.

Step inside the museum and have a glimpse of antique furnishings and objects, most of which were owned by the Lass family.

Stroll around the area and you’ll also find an old California barn, the tank house, a summer kitchen, and the lovely landscaped gardens and Heritage Orchard.

See Different Artifacts at the Santa Clara Fire Museum

If you want to learn about the city’s firefighting history, drop by the Santa Clara Fire Museum on Walsh Avenue.

The museum opened in 2013and features interesting displays, artifacts, and art pieces that highlight the city’s firefighting service since the early 1900s.

They’re open on Sundays from noon until the afternoon or you can also book special appointments to visit.

Take time to see photos of the Santa Clara Mission in 1926, one of the major fire incidents in the city, and how the firefighters battle to conquer the flames.

See rare photos of the Engine 1 crew and the arrival of the 1913 Seagraves truck, the city’s first motorized fire equipment; likewise, view the antique EMS equipment, including Automated External Defibrillators and the 1920 Ford Model “TT” on display.

The Santa Clara Fire Museum also hosts two hand-painted art pieces by artist Katherine Murgallis depicting the 1979 Mission City Lumber fire servicemen.

View Locomotive Displays at The South Bay Historical Railroad Society

Railcar at The South Bay Historical Railroad Society

Pedro Xing, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Interested in locomotive history? Then, The South Bay Historical Railroad Society on Railroad Avenue is an attraction you can check out.

You can drop by on Tuesdays from late afternoon until evening or any time of the day on Saturdays.

The institution serves to preserve and promote the local railroad heritage and history.

See extensive and varied collections of railroad artifacts displayed at the Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History housed at the 1863 Depot.

The Depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Interior of The South Bay Historical Railroad Society

Pedro Xing, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

It also includes The Waiting Room area for passengers, the stationmaster’s office, and the former baggage storage room which is now The South Bay Historical Railroad Society Library; you’ll also see the original freight house and its extensions.

Likewise, check out the Santa Clara Tower, the Maintenance-of-Way Section Tool House built in 1895, and the two-bay 1926 Maintenance-of-Way Speeder Shed.

Other artifacts you can view include the three-wheeled Velocipede, the Centralized Track Control equipment, old railroad signals, locomotive headlights, and switch stands from different eras.

Don’t forget to see the Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation business car #184 and the various scale model displays.

The South Bay Historical Railroad Society also has an extensive library on all things about railroads, like books and videos.

Miniature railroad display at The South Bay Historical Railroad Society

Pedro Xing, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy Hours of Golf at Pruneridge Golf Course

For some enjoyable tee games, head off to Pruneridge Golf Course located on Saratoga Avenue.

Whether you’re here to play for hours or practice your swings, this nine-hole course offers you excellent fairways double deck driving range, and areas for short-game and practice.

The three-par fours and six-par threes course also give the right challenges for beginner golfers and opportunities for advanced players to work on their game.

Visit the Pro Shop for the latest golf gear and apparel; they’ll also help you get the right club fit for you.

After your game, you’ll surely enjoy some good food and drinks at Aces Icehouse with all-American favorites and their signature Tri-Tip sandwich on the menu.

Grab your cocktail at the full-service bar and choose from a variety of beers on tap.

Have a great tee-off at Pruneridge Golf Course.

Savor Delicious Specialties at Korean Spring BBQ

Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley has one of the country’s largest Korean communities so this means you can enjoy authentic Korean fare in the area.

Korean Spring BBQ in Kiely Boulevard is the spot to get those all-Korean recipes.

The restaurant offers a variety of Wooden Charcoal BBQs as well as noodle and fish dishes.

Try the Bul Kal Bi, BBQ beef short ribs seasoned with special Korean sauce, or the Pork Sam Kuap Sal or the Hue Gu E, a wooden charcoal BBQ made of thinly sliced beef tongue.

Get tasty appetizers like the pan-fried Gul Jun oyster or assorted pan-fried fish called Seang Sun Jun.

You’ll also enjoy rice dishes like the famous Bi Bim Bop made of minced seasoned beef, vegetables, and rice, and the Yuk Hwe Bi Bim Bop made of raw beef, vegetables, and egg seasoned with spicy sauce.

Enjoy the taste of Korea at Korean Spring BBQ.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve learned the 15 most fascinating things to do in Santa Clara, you probably realize that Silicon Valley has more to offer than techy stuff.

Its counties like Santa Clara are the perfect destination to fully understand Californians’ authentic culture and lifestyle.

What makes Santa Clara a great place to visit are the attractions and activities that will surely pack a lot of fun memories.

Getting there is also very convenient since it’s a few hours’ drive from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Reno.

So, if you want to take your travel adventure to a new level without traveling to other countries, Santa Clara is your perfect destination.

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