15 Things to Do in Santa Clara (CA)

Santa Clara is a city of nearly 125,000 residents located in Santa Clara County, approximately 75 kilometers south of San Francisco.

The city was founded more than 200 years ago as a Spanish mission. It is now known for its thriving tech industry, which is commonly known around the world as Silicon Valley.

While this is common knowledge for most football fans, many were surprised to learn that this relatively small city is also home to the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.

Visitors to Santa Clara have easy access to a wealth of activity options without having to venture outside the city limits, so staying engaged and entertained shouldn’t be a problem.

1. Levi’s Stadium

Levi's Stadium

With a capacity of nearly 70,000 people, Levi’s Stadium on Marie P. DeBartolo Way in Santa Clara is one of the premier professional football stadiums in the country.

The 49ers play their home games here, and during the offseason, the stadium hosts a variety of annual events, including concerts by big names in the music industry.

Taking the family to a soccer game isn’t the cheapest activity option in the area, but for those who’ve never played professionally, it’s an exhilarating experience that might be worth the price.

Guided tours are also offered regularly, and the bars and restaurants around the stadium are fun year-round.

2. Ulistac Natural Area

Ulystuck Natural Area

Despite its large population and overall bustling, the Bay Area is home to a plethora of urban parks and natural areas that are convenient options for those interested in enjoying the great outdoors.

Ulistac Natural Area is located on Lick Mill Road in Santa Clara. It consists of more than 40 acres of land that includes a variety of different environments.

The natural area spans the Guadalupe River and is home to a range of flora and fauna well suited to its riparian habitat.

It is a particularly popular attraction for bird watchers, with many well-marked nature trails dotted with interpretive signs.

3. Santa Clara Arts and Wine Festival

Santa Clara Arts and Wine Festival

Californians take their art and wine seriously, and there’s no better way to combine the two than by visiting the Santa Clara Arts and Wine Festival.

Held in the city’s Central Park, the event features nearly 200 vendors from across the country selling fine arts and crafts, gourmet food, and a selection of California’s finest wines.

Proceeds are donated to worthy causes that benefit residents in need. It all happened in early fall, when the weather in central California was perfect for the outdoors.

Other highlights include live entertainment and many activities related to children’s arts.

4. Desay Museum

Desay Museum

Although he’s not a household name to those who don’t usually travel the West Coast art scene, Ernest de Saisset was one of the most prominent artists of the 19th century in the Bay Area.

Sasseter, a French immigrant, attended Santa Clara University as a young man and studied painting.

The museum now named after him is located on the university campus. It includes a collection of over 100 of his most impressive works.

It is both a historical and artistic attraction, and it has other works by European and American artists from hundreds of years ago.

5. Intel Museum

Intel Museum

Intel is one of the giants in the tech world. It has been responsible for some of the most significant technological leaps in computer hardware over the years.

The Intel Museum is located on the company’s global headquarters campus in Santa Clara and is regularly open to the public.

Even for those who don’t fall into the tech-savvy category, this is a fascinating place and definitely worth an hour or two.

While it might sound boring for technophobes, it has interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages, so it’s great for kids who can’t concentrate.

6. Santa Clara Farmers Market

Agricultural Market

There’s really no better way to rub shoulders with the locals, enjoy the nice weather, and get tons of great products you won’t find anywhere else than to visit a farmers market.

The Santa Clara Farmers Market is open year-round and has everything from seasonal produce and fresh baked goods to health and body products and prepared foods.

Held on Jackson Street near downtown, it’s common to find different items each time you go.

Spending a few bucks is a great way to support local farmers and entrepreneurs, and don’t be shy to ask them for advice on things to see and do in town.

7. California’s Great America

Great America in California

There’s no shortage of theme parks in the Golden State, but for those visiting Santa Clara, this is a definite option.

California’s Great America is on the Great America Parkway just outside the city. It has tons of rides, dining options, activities for kids and a water park, which is very appealing during the hot summer months.

While Great America does draw crowds during peak times when kids are enjoying their summer vacation, previous guests have noticed that the wait times for the rides aren’t too long.

Many families choose to spend the entire day on site to avoid wasting valuable entertainment time in the car.

8. Santa Clara Mission

Santa Clara Mission

Mission Santa Clara, one of the city’s premier historic sites, is now conveniently located on the Santa Clara University campus.

The mission was established by the Franciscans in the 1770s to spread Christianity to the region’s Native American population.

Sadly, things didn’t go as planned. Due to several natural disasters, the mission was forced to move from its original location to its current location.

It was also run by the Jesuits over the years. Although it no longer serves its original function, it now doubles as a museum and chapel and is open to visitors.

9. Triton Art Museum

Triton Art Museum

While guests tend to visit the Triton Art Museum’s collection, its stunning contemporary architecture is often impressive as well.

The museum’s collection includes works from across the country, but its focus is on works by Bay Area artists inspired by locals and landscapes.

The site also includes a large outdoor sculpture garden spanning nearly seven acres, as well as a mid-1860s home that is one of the best-preserved historic American structures in the area.

The museum is located on Warburton Avenue, and most visitors stay on site for a few hours.

10. Santa Clara players

The history of Santa Clara Players dates back to the early ’60s, when a group of local performers started putting on small shows for the community.

Now nearly seventy years later, they are still going strong. Their annual performances cover everything from drama and mystery to satire and humor.

Players are part of a community theater troupe of talented volunteers dedicated to providing high-quality, family-friendly entertainment at an affordable cost.

Located on Don Avenue in Santa Clara, they offer many volunteer opportunities for up-and-coming actors and stage crews.

11. Central Park

Santa Clara Central Park

With its many open spaces and a large swimming and community recreation center, Santa Clara Central Park is the destination of choice for active travelers looking to make the most of their limited vacation time without having to travel further afield.

Located in the heart of Keily Boulevard, the park has ample parking and many outdoor facilities and recreational options.

From tennis and basketball to softball, lawn bowling and massive playgrounds, there’s really no reason to be bored in the field. For those looking to spend a relaxing afternoon, there is a lake, built-in BBQ facilities and public toilets.

12. 49ers Museum

49ers Museum at Levi's Stadium

Even for those who don’t visit Santa Clara during the regular season, the 49ers Stadium and Museum is a fun attraction for sports lovers.

Located in Levi’s Stadium, the museum houses nearly a dozen different galleries that are open to the public year-round.

This is a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages. In addition to football, its exhibits touch upon science, technology and art in a way that engages and entertains young and old alike.

Most guests watch an introductory video at the visitor center and then present themselves through the impressive display of trophies, balls and Super Bowl memorabilia.

13. Santa Clara Fire Museum

Santa Clara Fire Museum

The history of the Santa Clara Fire Department dates back to its founding in the 1850s.

The museum is now located on Walsh Avenue in an unused training center behind the city’s new fire station.

It has an impressive collection of equipment and historical memorabilia, giving visitors a unique insight into the lives of fire and rescue crews over the past few years.

Highlights of the museum include a fully restored Model-T fire truck that served 20 years from the 1920s.

Knowledgeable local volunteers also offer regular programs designed to educate the public about fire safety and prevention issues.

14. Edward Peterman Railway History Museum

Edward Peterman Railway History Museum

The Edward Peterman Railway History Museum is run by the local historical society. It is located in a now-abandoned railroad warehouse on Santa Clara Railroad Drive.

Like many local historical sites, the museum’s staff are local volunteers who love to answer questions and show first-time visitors.

Exhibits at the museum include a variety of railway equipment and memorabilia, including signals, safety equipment, and historical photographs dating back more than 100 years.

The museum is regularly open to the public. It also has a large collection of books related to railway development and local history.

15. Voyager Coffee

Voyager Coffee, Santa Clara

Although it has only been established since 2016, Voyager Coffee’s owners and employees are committed to the noble pursuit of customer satisfaction.

They do this primarily by serving world-class coffee, but also providing a comfortable space where guests have the opportunity to build relationships with like-minded customers.

Many of their coffees have international-influenced flavors and are often infused with things like orange essence and cherry blossom water.

If you prefer to drink your coffee straight, don’t worry, as they also have a more traditional brew.

They also offer fresh pastries and baked goods, tea and other non-coffee beverages.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Santa Clara, CA, CA
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