Heritage And Modernity: 15 Best Things To Do In Santa Clara, CA - Updated 2021

things to do in santa clara california
Andrea
Andrea
Updated

Smack in the middle of Silicon Valley, one might think that attractions in Santa Clara are limited to those of a lifeless tech town. Home to Silicon Valley Power as well as several tech companies, this sunny Bay Area city is no stranger to modernity. But despite its shiny facade, Santa Clara is a city where history and innovation perfectly blend together. It’s home to a number of well-preserved colonial architecture including Santa Clara University, the oldest institution for higher learning in California. It’s also known for Levi’s Stadium, home of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and site of the Super Bowl 50. Truly a city of technology as well as sports, Santa Clara will host the 2018 College Football Playoff which will be held at the stadium.

Originally inhabited by Native Americans, the city became home to American settlers in 1846. In 1905, it marked its place in world history when the first public high-altitude flights were made over the city. It was only in 1960 when it became a major area for technological innovation, catalyzed by the establishment of its semiconductor industry. As of 2016, it has around 125,948 residents making it the ninth most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Santa Clara is a city that charms you with its contrasts. With remnants of its past still standing amidst the glimmer of modern life, it has successfully embraced its heritage while keeping up with the demands of a fast-paced world. As you try to keep up with such a world, take a break to explore this vibrant city where heritage and innovation thrives.

1. Tour Levi's Stadium

Levi Stadium
Source: Photo by Flickr user Jay Galvin used under CC BY 2.0

One of Santa Clara’s most prominent attractions is this magnificent 68,000-seater stadium. Opened in 2014, the stadium is located near public transportation stops and bike paths. The stadium hosted Super Bowl 50 and will host the College Football Playoff in 2018.

The complex houses the 49ers Museum, dedicated to the San Francisco 49ers. It also houses Bourbon Steak and Pub which serves classic American cuisine amidst a modern ambiance. Public tours of the stadium are available, and they usually start from Intel Gate A.

Levi's Stadium

Address: 4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way, Santa Clara, California

Entrance fee: 30 USD, 25 USD (reduced). Includes museum visits

Contact: [email protected]

Website: Levi’s Stadium Tours

49ers Museum

Address: 4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way, Santa Clara, California

Entrance fee: 15 USD, 10 USD (reduced). Children 4 years old and under are free of charge

Contact: [email protected]

Website: 49ers Museum

Bourbon Steak and Bourbon Pub

Address: 4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way, Santa Clara, California

Contact: +1 4082172490

Website: Bourbon Steak and Bourbon Pub

2. Visit Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, CA USA - Santa Clara University - Lucas Hall - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user MARELBU used under CC BY 3.0

This picturesque university, founded in 1851, is the oldest institution for higher learning in California. Established during the Gold Rush, this Jesuit university also houses buildings of historic importance. It has the Mission Santa Clara, an 18th-century church, and the historic Adobe Lodge which also serves as a multi-purpose area.

While there, check out music, theater, and dance performances by SCU Presents.

Santa Clara University

Address: 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: All day

Entrance fee: None

Website: Santa Clara University

3. Check out local masterpieces at the Triton Museum of Art



Founded in 1965, this art and history museum is the oldest non-university museum in Santa Clara. Sleek and modern, it has a pyramidal facade that perfectly accentuates its sculpture garden. Visitors can view exhibitions by local artists and take part in a variety of art workshops.

Triton Museum of Art

Address: Triton Museum of Art, 1505 Warburton Ave., Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: 11 am to 5 pm (Tuesday to Sunday)

Entrance fee: None

Website: Triton Museum of Art

4. Have some fun at California's Great America

Aside from all the tech, Silicon Valley also has its own thrills. Established in 1976, this fun fair offers the classic amusement park experience. Visitors can enjoy its roller coasters, thrill rides, dining establishments, and water park. Performances such as concerts are also held at the park from time to time.

California's Great America

Address: 4701 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: 10 am to 10 pm. Closing times vary

Entrance fee: From 39.99 USD

Contact: +1 4089881776

Website: California’s Great America

5. Stroll along the Ulistac Natural Area

Early morning at Ulistac

Posted by Ulistac Natural Area on Thursday, 16 March 2017

"The Great Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in North...

Posted by Ulistac Natural Area on Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Despite being big on the tech industry, Santa Clara has no shortage of natural beauty. Created in 2001, this area contains the last undeveloped land in the city along the Guadalupe River. As you stroll along the nature trails, you may spot some migratory birds, jackrabbits, and gophers.

There are no facilities within the Ulistac, but Lick Mill Park is located across the street if you need to make use of such facilities.

Ulistac Natural Area

Address: 4901 Lick Mill Blvd, Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: Open from sunrise until one-half hour after sunset every day

Entrance fee: None

Contact: +1 4086153140

Website: Ulistac Natural Area

6. Pass by the Harris-Lass House Museum

Posted by Angelo Lopez Illustration on Friday, 18 August 2017

Posted by Sunnyvale Art Club on Friday, 18 August 2017

Built in 1865, this historic home provides visitors with a glimpse of life during the late 19th-century. Known as the last farm property in Santa Clara, it includes an Italianate-style home, barn, summer kitchen, and tank house. Its interiors are decked with the Lass family’s furniture which have survived after extensive restorations of the property.

Harris-Lass House Museum

Address: 1889 Market Street, Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: 1 pm to 3 pm (Saturday and Sunday). Weekday tours can be requested

Entrance fee: 3 USD. Discounts are available

Contact: +1 4082497905

Website: Harris-Lass House Museum

7. Visit the de Saisset Museum


A post shared by de Saisset Museum (@desaisset) on Feb 16, 2017 at 10:08am PST


Located at the heart of Santa Clara University, this museum was established in 1955 and was named after Isabel de Saisset, the last member of a French pioneer family. The museum, only recently renovated, currently houses around 10,000 pieces of American art as well historical artifacts.

de Saisset Museum

Address: 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: 11 am to 4 pm (Tuesday to Sunday)

Entrance fee: None

Contact: +1 4085544000

Website: de Saisset Museum

8. Learn about Santa Clara's history at the Headen-Inman House

USA-Santa Clara-Headen-Inman House
Source: Photo by user EugeneZelenko used under CC BY-SA 4.0

This charming 1900s bungalow is as much a piece of history as the wonders it contains. Originally part of the Headen estate, the house was moved to its current location in 1985 and eventually was turned into a museum. Dedicated to telling the story of Santa Clara’s pioneers, the museum contains pictures and artifacts detailing the city’s rich history. While there, visitors can also view exhibits by the Santa Clara Art Association.

Headen-Inman House

Address: 1509 Warburton Avenue, Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: 1 pm to 4 pm (Sunday)

Entrance fee: None

Contact: +1 4082482787

Website: Headen-Inman House

9. See memorabilia at the Santa Clara Fire Museum

Join the Santa Clara Fire Museum for an Open House, October 8, 2016 from 1-5 PM at 1900 Walsh Avenue, Santa Clara. This...

Posted by California Pioneers of Santa Clara County on Saturday, 1 October 2016

Even Santa Clara’s own fire station has plenty of history to showcase. Located behind Santa Clara Fire Station #2, this volunteer-run museum contains memorabilia and equipment dating back to the mid 19th-century. Visitors can catch a glimpse of a restored Model T Ford truck which was used for parades and special occasions.

Santa Clara Fire Museum

Address: 1900 Walsh Avenue, Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: 1 pm to 5 pm (Sunday)

Entrance fee: None

Contact: [email protected]

Website: Santa Clara Fire Museum

10. Learn about technology at the Intel Museum

The Intel Museum

Posted by Image San José on Monday, 26 May 2014

Have you been to the Intel Museum in Santa Clara? It's one of the "50 Awesome Things to Do in Santa Clara!" Admission...

Posted by Visit Santa Clara on Thursday, 6 August 2015

Intel is one of Santa Clara’s biggest tech companies, and its museum offers a fun way to learn about its history and technology. Started during the 1980s, the museum was originally built to record the company’s history. It was opened in 1992 and expanded in 1999 to include more exhibits and a store. In 2006, a fully functional 130x scale replica of the Intel 4004 CPU built using discrete transistors was added to the museum.

Intel Museum

Address: 2200 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, California

Entrance fee: None

Contact: +1 4087655050, [email protected]

Website: Intel Museum

11. Relax at Central Park


A post shared by BC (@chambsbohn) on May 28, 2017 at 6:38pm PDT


Of course, a visit to a city is not complete without a stop to one of its green spaces. This park contains many facilities such as tennis courts, basketball courts, softball fields, picnic areas, a swimming pool, an amphitheater, and a memorial for veterans. The Central Park Library can also be found nearby.

To add more life into the park, free public performances can be enjoyed by visitors every Wednesday and Saturday. During certain holidays, the front of the park along Kiely Blvd. is lined with 57 US flags. Along with 21 additional flags flown in front of the city’s cemetery, this area is collectively known as the “Avenue of Flags”.

Central Park

Address: 969 Kiely Blvd, Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: All day

Entrance fee: None

Contact: +1 4086153140

12. See the city's namesake at Civic Center Park

Saint Clare statue Santa Clara
Source: Photo by user Dvortygirl used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Simple but sweet, this park contains the statue of the city’s namesake, Saint Clare. The statue was created in 1965, shipped from Italy to Santa Clara. Located in front of the city hall, the park contains fountains, flower beds, and a large reflecting pool. At night, the park’s unique lighting enhances the beauty of the statue as well as the park’s overall landscape.

Civic Center Park

Address: Lincoln at El Camino Real, Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: All day

Entrance fee: None

Contact: +1 4086153140

13. Experience the thrill at K1 Speed

49 Things To Do In Santa Clara: #20 Test your driving skills at K1 Speed Indoor Go-Karting. visitsantaclara.wordpress.com

Posted by Avatar Hotel, a Joie de Vivre Hotel on Friday, 14 November 2014

Get in the fast lane at K1 Speed in Santa Clara this weekend. (Photo jessewould)

Posted by Avatar Hotel, a Joie de Vivre Hotel on Friday, 16 June 2017

If you’re the type to get an adrenaline rush from motor sports, head to this place for some go-kart fun. Great for riders of all skill levels, its European-style indoor track has a high-grip racing surface where the electric karts can go up to 45 mph. You can also buy food inside once you get hungry.

K1 Speed

Address: 2925 Mead Ave, Santa Clara, California

Entrance fee: From 19.99 USD. With Annual Membership 8 USD

Contact: +1 4083380579

Website: K1 Speed

14. Step into the past at the Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History

The South Bay Historical Railroad Society, Inc. Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History is one of the "50 Awesome...

Posted by Visit Santa Clara on Tuesday, 13 October 2015

A great whistle stop for train enthusiasts and kids is the Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History. It is located in the Santa Clara Caltrain Station depot. Info: www.sbhrs.org

Posted by Caltrain on Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Another one of Santa Clara’s quirky museums is this gem in the historic Santa Clara Depot. Located on the Santa Clara freight yard, it sits at the point where the San Francisco peninsula commute and Union Pacific Coast lines converge. Established in 1989, this museum provides an interesting way of learning about Santa Clara’s rail history - a vital part of its past.

The museum contains operating scale model displays as well as railroad artifacts dating back to the 1800s.

Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History

Address: 1005 Railroad Avenue, Santa Clara, California

Entrance fee: None

Contact: +1 4082433969

Website: Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History

15. Go shopping or watch a movie


A post shared by Stephanie White (@stephwhitedd) on Jun 17, 2017 at 12:04pm PDT


If you’re in the mood for shopping or a nice food trip after a movie, Santa Clara has got you covered. There’s the Mercado Santa Clara which containing a 20-screen AMC Theatre computer store, and various dining establishments. If you’re into something that feels a little more local, there’s the Farmer’s Market which opens every Saturday.

Mercado Santa Clara

Address: 3111 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: Store hours vary, usually from 5:30 am to 12 am

Entrance fee: None

Contact: +1 4089190282

Farmer's Market

Address: Jackson Street at Homestead Road, Santa Clara, California

Opening hours: 9 am to 1 pm (Saturday)

Entrance fee: None

Discover the delights of Silicon Valley

Santa Clara, CA USA - Santa Clara University - Saint Ignatius Statue - panoramio
Source: Photo by user MARELBU used under CC BY 3.0

Santa Clara has no shortage of things to discover. Truly a city with both heritage and a futuristic mindset, Santa Clara is a gem of California that should be treasured for years to come.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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