15 Best Things to Do in Santa Clara County, CA

Santa Clara County, CA
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Santa Clara County is a county with various recreational possibilities.

Whether you're a fan of art, outdoor events, and sports, you have a place within this county and its cities.

Created in 1850, it got its name after Mission Santa Clara, which is one of the most striking historical attractions within the county, too.

Its location along the southern corner of the San Francisco Bay Area has led to the birth of its nickname South Bay.

It is also notable for being a central hotspot for innovations, with it being the place where Stephan Wozniak and Steve Jobs built the first Apple computer.

Technology-centered facilities like Googleplex and the Intel Museum further make the county a place where innovators flourish.

So, if you're traveling to California, make sure you allocate time to check out this county's tourist spots.

To help you out on your trip, here are the 15 best things to do in Santa Clara County, California:

Foster Your Love for Astronomy at Lick Observatory

Exterior of Lick Observatory
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If your idea of a good time includes learning more about astronomy and the skies, you might like Lick Observatory.

This Mount Hamilton summit attraction works together with the University of California Observatories.

Established in 1888, this building's exterior of marble and oak is worth a second look.

It contains a wide selection of historic telescopes that are available for use by researchers and observers.

Telescope of Lick Observatory
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Its exhibits take you on a detailed history of astronomical breakthroughs from several decades ago to the present.

There are also informal talks and presentations to help you with your astronomical discovery and a gift shop.

And for the ultimate climactic moment, see views of the Santa Clara Valley from the observatory's parking lot.

Lick Observatory is on Mount Hamilton Road, which is east of the city of San Jose.

Aerial view of Lick Observatory
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Go on a Mansion Tour Around Winchester Mystery House

Far view of Winchester Mystery House's exterior
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Winchester Mystery House is one of the more distinguished architectural landmarks of the innovative city of San Jose.

It once served as the abode of Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester, who was more notably known as the heiress to the Winchester® Repeating Arms fortune.

Construction surrounding the building started from 1886 to 1922, and it seemed it was never meant to end.

Unfortunately, Winchester died in 1922—hence, construction stopped.

Interior of Winchester Mystery House
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And until now, only she knows the answer as to why she continually expanded an eight-room farmhouse into a mansion with about 160 rooms.

Now, you can visit all these rooms when you sign up for a well-rounded tour of the home.

Don't forget to go for a walk along the luscious gardens of the house, which are an attraction all by themselves.

Winchester Mystery House is on South Winchester Boulevard.

One of the bedrooms in Winchester Mystery House
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Immerse Yourself in Japanese Culture at Hakone Estate and Gardens

Entrance to Hakone Estate and Gardens
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Keeping your eyes peeled for some of Santa Clara County's best gardens?

Look no further than Saratoga's pride, Hakone Estate and Gardens.

This public park was the proudest creation of Isabel Stine, who transformed her family's estate into a Japanese garden masterpiece.

In 1966, the site officially became a public park.

A small waterfall at Hakone Estate and Gardens
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Some of the facilities you can tour around this site include designated flower gardens, a tea plantation, and a lily pond.

Cross the famous Moon Bridge, an idyllic spot that's brimming with Japanese culture.

There's also a cultural exchange center where you can find a wide array of tea products.

Hakone Estate and Gardens is right along Big Basin Way, awaiting your arrival.

Daytime view of Hakone Estate and Gardens
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Visit the Tasting Room at Picchetti Winery

Exterior of Picchetti Winery
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In the city of Cupertino, Picchetti Winery gets you a taste of the Santa Clara County wine culture.

First started in 1872, this winery came to be because of the efforts of brothers Vincenzo and Secondo Pichetti.

Back then, it went by the name Montebello Ridge.

Years later, the winery then became the first one of its kind in all of California.

Wooden barrels at Picchetti Winery
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The wine facility comes with picnic grounds and a tasting room you can visit daily.

It also accommodates group visits, so come by with your friends and loved ones!

Head over to Montebello Road to reach Picchetti Winery and its amazing wine offerings.

Feel the Adrenaline Rush while Sliding the Attractions at South Bay Shores

Coming by Santa Clara County during the summer?

Beat the blistering heat with a drop by South Bay Shores, which is inside California's Great America amusement park.

Opened in 2004, this water park has some of the most exciting and thrilling amusement rides, but in the water!

For a family get-together with little ones, the low-thrill Tide Pool is the best way to experience this park.

Upgrade your usual sliding experience with a drop along the Reef Racer and the Norcal Wipeout.

To make your enjoyment a bit more extreme, keep your eyes set on Pacific Surge's waterslides.

And there are more water attractions waiting for you!

South Bay Shores is on Great America Parkway in the city of Santa Clara.

Tour Around the Grounds at the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum for Free

Exterior of Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum
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The Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum is one of the prominent free attractions in the city of Sunnyvale.

Purchased in 1953, this museum once resided in what was once the Murphy house.

After a demolition tragedy, the museum moved to Murphy Park, where it officially opened its doors to the public in 2008.

It takes after the original house and even features artifacts and furnishings of the family that once lived at the said house.

It has rotating exhibit displays you are welcome to explore.

Other collections you can browse through include the business industry of Sunnyvale from so many decades ago and a Naval Air Station display.

And best of all, admission is free!

It's time for a historical excursion when you come by the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum on East Remington Drive.

Discover More About Technological Inventions at the Museum of American Heritage

Signage of the Museum of American Heritage
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Born out of curiosity, the Museum of American Heritage is an eccentricity worth visiting.

Located in Palo Alto, this museum specializes in the presentation of American inventions as they evolved from the past to the generation today.

It opened in 1990 because of a man named Frank Livermore.

Livermore found an old vacuum sweeper in the 60s.

This began his desire to learn more about vintage mechanical and electrical devices.

Though he died in 2000, his legacy continues to leave a mark on the Palo Alto community with the museum's collections and displays.

From communication devices to home and lifestyle equipment, the Museum of American Heritage has it all!

You can find this museum on Homer Avenue.

Watch a Symphony and Orchestra Performance at Shoreline Amphitheatre

Signage of Shoreline Amphitheatre
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Stay in the know for some of North California's best shows when you come by Shoreline Amphitheatre.

This outdoor amphitheater is famous for being the primary venue for many summer concerts.

It has a capacity of more than 22,000 patrons with 16,000 seats out on the lawn.

Impressive, right?

Daytime view of Shoreline Amphitheatre
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Keep an ear out for symphony or orchestra shows, and book your tickets as early as now!

Shoreline Amphitheatre is in Mountain View.

You can get to this destination via One Amphitheatre Parkway.

Aerial view of Shoreline Amphitheatre
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Browse Through Art Collections at the Triton Museum of Art

Exterior of the Triton Museum of Art
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The city of Santa Clara is a treasure cove of vibrant and inspirational art.

And, true to this statement, the Triton Museum of Art provides only the best artworks that the city can offer.

This gallery puts a special focus on Greater Bay Area artists.

But, from time to time, it showcases a roster of local and international artists in its exhibit programs.

A sculpture at the Triton Museum of Art
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Most of these art pieces take inspiration from contemporary California art.

If you're interested in a more immersive art experience, the gallery also hosts educational programs and community events.

Triton Museum of Art sits along Warburton Avenue, just across from the City Hall.

Meditate in Nature at Anderson Lake County Park

Anderson Lake County Park stands out as a tourist spot for being the largest reservoir in the county.

The 4,275-acre park is a massive hit among nature enthusiasts and explorers.

Featuring trails from Coyote Creek Parkway, the place is an ideal hiking, biking, and horseback-riding spot.

It also offers multiple picnic areas all around from Moses L. Rosendin Park to the Burnett Park area.

Wherever you may choose to relax in the park property, the scenery of hills and lake is a sight worth beholding.

Anderson Lake County Park is a Morgan Hill sanctuary you can find on Malaguerra Avenue.

Venture into the Waters with a Kayak at Vasona Lake County Park

The waters of Vasona Lake County Park
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Los Gatos' Vasona Lake County Park is the ultimate stop for both land and water-based activities.

At 152 acres, this park features a 45-acre lawn ideal for active play.

Some of the sports you are welcome to engage in include frisbee, soccer, and softball.

The reservoir it surrounds is open for boat and kayak launches.

A footbridge at Vasona Lake County Park
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Be sure you visit during spring up until fall to get to rent these paddles and rowboats onsite.

One of the best ways to spice up your nature adventure at this one-of-a-kind park is by downloading the app Agents of Discovery.

While traversing the trails and walkways, you get to learn more about the park's history with the app.

Get going to Blossom Hill Road to reach Vasona Lake County Park.

Ducks at Vasona Lake County Park
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Trek along the Trails at Redwood Grove Nature Preserve

Boardwalk at Redwood Grove Nature Preserve
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Looking for a hiking spot within Santa Clara County?

Redwood Grove Nature Preserve might be your best bet.

This preserve features a boardwalk that passes along Adobe Creek and takes you deeper into California's diverse ecosystems.

From oak woodlands to native meadows, the place is a feast for your eyes.

Bask in the sights of redwood trees all around and native flora and fauna, including California poppies.

The site is also a good spot for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.

Redwood Grove Nature Preserve is on University Avenue in the city of Los Altos.

Explore the Sculpture Garden at Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

Exterior of Cantor Arts Center
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A cohesive blend of art and history awaits you at Cantor Arts Center.

A part of the Stanford University campus facility, this special gallery takes you back 5,000 years in the past with its massive art pieces.

Founded in 1891—the same year the university opened, the museum served as both an art gallery and a tributary building to Leland Jr., son of Jane and Leland Stanford.

Several years later, this Stanford landmark dives deeper into the origins of various art mediums, including photography and printing.

Interior of Cantor Arts Center
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It also has a sculpture garden showcasing the beauty of Rodin bronze sculptures.

Admission is free, so drop by for some artistic inspiration.

Cantor Arts Center is on Lomita Drive.

Marvel at Egyptian Culture at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

Aerial view of Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
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You don't have to travel to Egypt to learn more about its culture.

Because in Santa Clara County, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum brings the beauty of this country's art and culture to American soil.

This San Jose museum features a range of artifacts, learning materials, and other historical memorabilia taught in ancient mystery schools.

Presently, the museum now boasts about 4,000 authentic objects from Ancient Egypt.

A building at Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
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The facility also offers workshops and lectures.

Most of these programs, including admission to the museum, come at no cost!

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is on Park Avenue.

Sculptures at Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
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Take a Picture of the Stunning Gardenscapes at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

Looking at trees and plants can be a magical experience at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park.

This Gilroy horticulture-themed park takes pride in being the home of over 10,000 trees.

Its distinctive attractions, including train rides, carousels, and next-level swings, are ideal for large groups with kids and teens.

Keep an eye out for quirky trees of all shapes and sizes at the Circus of Trees—you never know what you might just see!

The park's world-class gardens are a magnet for all kinds of visitors because of its large array of blossoms and rock formations.

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park opens its gates for you and your companions on Hecker Pass Highway.

Final Thoughts

Santa Clara County's large list of must-visit spots is beyond astounding.

These spots all offer something for every traveler—young and old, man and woman, and even solo and group visitors.

Now that you know what some of the best things to do in Santa Clara County, California are, will you be visiting them all?

If you do, be sure you keep this article in your saved tabs for future reference.

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