To most people the area of San Jose, California also known as Silicon Valley is better known as the high-tech capital of the world. Most of the big name high tech companies such as Apple, Hewlett Packard, Facebook and Google all got their start here and made Silicon Valley their home. But there are other sides of Silicon Valley than meets the eye. One of which is a charming and quiet little town about 10 minutes south of San Jose called Los Gatos.
Upon arriving from San Jose Mineta Airport, head to highway 880/17 southbound and exit on Saratoga Los Gatos Road. My favorite part of Los Gatos is two stoplights down from the highway, a street called West Santa Cruz Avenue. Make a left at the light. This is the type of place where people would spend their lazy weekend window shopping and walking their dogs. Here you may find your usual suspects of big name retailers such as J. Crew, William Sonoma and The Gap. But there are other independent businesses that can be found here as well such as Los Gatos Travel Agency which seemed to have been here forever, a coffee shop called the Great Bear Coffee where people hang out sometimes glued to their laptops and tablets, clothing boutiques such as Jennifer Croll and Kismet, home good store called Harvest and a good Mexican restaurant called Andale. If you go to University Avenue, you will find the St. Luke Episcopal Church whose architecture that looks like it came out of a photo from a history book of old California. Other independent businesses along this area are the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company, Forbes Mill Steakhouse, The Butter Paddle, Sierra Toy Soldier Company and Fleur de Cocoa to name a few.
Even business travelers would venture all the way out here in Los Gatos when traveling to San Jose. There are two hotels not far from this main thoroughfare. West Santa Cruz Avenue also gives business travelers various options for eateries without having to drive too far from their hotels especially after a long day’s work meeting clients and colleagues. If you’re lucky enough to be in Los Gatos on the weekend, there is a small farmer’s market on Montebello Way where vendors says different types of produce and food such as tamales and crepes.
Beyond this street you can find other industry giants such as the headquarters of Netflix and some of the moneyed citizens of Silicon Valley. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself chatting to a local who happens to be a high tech executive while strolling in West Santa Cruz Avenue.
I suggest that visitors not to dismiss or stereotype Silicon Valley as merely a high tech hub where locals have smartphone clipped to their belts and a wireless Bluetooth on one ear. There are other things about Silicon Valley that more than meets the eye.