Hello Readers! The three day weekend was great for my soul and body. I am so excited about this week’s posts that I am posting Tuesday’s post today! Boo procrastination! So here goes…
California is a rather large “popular” touristy place. People from around the world come for beaches, sunshine, technology or famous people. It’s so big, you can easily spend a whole month just exploring its corners. I have called this state my home for 22 years and I still haven’t touched Northern California-can you believe it?!
You out-of-towners have probably heard of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. I am sure Californians have visited other cities in the state such as Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Monterey/Carmel, and Anaheim or Long Beach. Today, I want to focus on a gem of a place that many tourists may overlook-my hometown, Mountain View. If you have come numerous times to Bay Area and want something different, or if you are an out-of-towner folks and want something off the beaten path, then do look into Mountain View.
Mountain View is a small city of 75,000 residents and is located in the humongous Santa Clara County. From its origins as a stagecoach stop, it grew to a large suburb with a pedestrian-friendly downtown, free Wi-Fi, and a population of a modern-day small city. The city borders Palo Alto to the North, Los Altos to the West and Sunnyvale to the South and just like the name suggest offers breathtaking views of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Living here for some 13 odd years, I consider this place not only my home, but somewhat of an expert. If you are in the Bay Area for some time, then I highly recommend visiting this little town in addition to seeing Stanford University in Palo Alto.
Places of Interest
Don’t assume that the downtown is the only place to see here. Although a central location with many restaurants and stores, there are other places to spend time and enjoy the weather and scenery. However, I highly recommend spending an afternoon here. Downtown Mountain View is a pedestrian-friendly (and somewhat car friendly) town centered on Castro Street. There is transit center links such as Caltrain and VTA Light Rail that can conveniently drop you here. Four blocks of restaurants, cafes, and shops make it really hard to pick a place to shop and eat. That’s what I am here for. For shopping needs and unique gift ideas, I recommend the locally famous East West Bookstore. It’s a metaphysical or alternative lifestyle store that has a plethora of books on holistic living, candles/incense, crystals, and daily classes and readings. You can easily spend an hour or two here. There is even a reading area with a small fountain and Buddha where you can take your cup of coffee and peruse through their selection of books.
I am particularly in love with the selection of eateries here. For halal Mediterranean food you can order a gyro from Mediterranean Grill House or have Dolmas and donners at Ephesus. For Thai or Asian Cuisine, you can’t go wrong with Amarin. Although not halal, they have a large menu of authentic Thai dishes and service is great. Another hidden gem is the Gelato Classico Italian Ice Cream store. I swear, every time I go there, there is a line out the door. Not much seating available, but you can always eat your ice cream while walking around Castro.
If you would like to see a performance then visit the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. The plaza where it is situated is shared by the City Hall and used for many community gatherings and events, and features a collection of public art. Peninsula Youth Theatre and TheatreWorks are among the home companies of the MVCPA.
During the summer months, there are hordes of crowds attending the annual festivals. Since 1971, the city has held the annual Mountain View Art & Wine Festival on Castro Street by closing down the street to traffic for two days. There is a farmer’s market in the Caltrain parking lot every Sunday morning. Every summer, once a month, the city celebrates Thursday Night Live by closing off Castro Street to cars and providing live music events and car shows on Castro Street. A lively place it becomes!
After you spend the whole morning here, head to the Shoreline Park and Amphitheater. The largest park in the city and built on a landfill, it runs along the Bay and includes an amphitheater where artists such Taylor Swift, Aziz Ansari and Dixie Chicks have performed, a golf course, and Rengstorff House, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. On the north side, facing the Bay, the park includes tidal ponds, mudflats, and miles of bicycle and pedestrian paths and trials. I have had many picnics here during summer and fall. There are ducks and migrating birds around and a boathouse where you can rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats. It’s a great place to have a picnic or just hang out.
You have probably heard of Google right? Duh! Well, guess what? Their headquarters is here! Known as Googleplex, it is a 2 million square feet of office space. It is so cute to see people from all over the world take pictures of the buildings and of course the logo, which is plastered everywhere. Bad news is that you need to know a Google employee to get inside the buildings. My friend, Mahin and my brother in law both have been employees of this company so I have many memorable moments of trying their famous free cuisines. That doesn’t mean you cannot visit it. By all means do!
If you have small children who are into computers (which child isn’t?) then they will love the Computer History Museum, home of the largest and most significant collection of computing artifacts in the world. Another place of interest is the Moffet Field, a joint civil-military federal airfield. This airfield was used by President Obama each time he visited the Bay Area for events. So cool! It is also home to NASA Ames Research Center and Air National Guard. Although you can’t go inside, there are many opportunities where they open their doors to the public. You can also see the rather large hangar, which was used for blimps and rigid airships. Today, it is mostly vacant and makes an impressive landmark for motorists on Highway 101. You can take the Moffet exit and take pictures of it from far away.
Well, that’s a little bit about my little town-Mountain View! Hope to see you here. Happy Travels!