The Bay Area in general is unique as it is home to beaches, wine country, and has one of the most pleasant climates in the country. From First Fridays in Oakland, to the variety of different cuisines and cultural events, you can find anything you’d be interested in. If you’re not into city life, don’t worry, as you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Northern California in one of the dozens of surrounding suburbs. The Bay Area is home to a number of intelligent and creative people from all walks of life, many of whom relocated to Silicon Valley from around the world during the dot.com boom of the ‘90s. (Santa Clara itself is the location of headquarters for a number of large high-tech companies including Intel).
What to Eat
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
This is considered by many as the city’s best pizza place. Tony is a legend, and the coal-fired New Yorker plus ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms are insanely good. Tony was inspired to open his restaurant after visiting a small pizzeria in Naples, Italy, then perfected his cooking skills by working alongside his mother. He’s since won numerous awards including the Best Pizza Margherita at the World Pizza Cup in Naples — so he is basically the Joe Montana of pizza-making in San Francisco. You can brave the long waitlist (via the Yelp app) to sit down for the full experience, or you can get a pie to-go and eat at the nearby park while exploring the really charming North Beach neighborhood.
Hook Fish Company
Hook Fish not only serves up otherworldly fish and chips, the restaurant’s founders also really care about the environment and ocean sustainability. Because of this, the native Californians have pledged to only serve the community with a transparent, thoughtful source of fish and prepared seafood that empowers local fishermen. And wow, does it taste good! Choose from California staples like fish tacos and seafood burritos or traditional beer-battered fish and chips, the extensive menu also has daily market specials and fresh oysters. If you have a whole day to explore San Francisco, you can start near Kezar Stadium, walk the entire length of Golden Gate Park (check out the man-made waterfall in Strawberry Hill, the buffalo enclosure, and the disc golf courses), then end at Hook Fish and order food to-go to eat at the beach.
Biggest tourist attraction
The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is undoubtedly the most famous prison in U.S. history and was home to some of America’s most notorious criminals including Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Robert Franklin Stroud (a.k.a the Birdman of Alcatraz). Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and warm clothes when you visit Alcatraz, as you’ll be doing plenty of walking with the ocean wind whipping around you. This is a piece of American history, and you’ll get a glimpse of what’s factual compared to some of the stories and movies that are out there surrounding its legacy. From the infamous (and usually failed) escape attempts that are told on the ferry ride to the island, to walking its cold prison hallways and sitting in a cell, visiting Alcatraz is well worth the time and money spent. You’ll learn about the people who were sent to the island, the Native American occupation in the ‘60s, as well as the history of San Francisco.
Under the radar attraction
Winchester Mystery House
If you have a few hours to spare, head to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Visiting will give you another dose of important Northern California history. Photos don’t do the tour justice but the tour guides bring plenty of energy to help get you through the three-hour visit without losing your interest. Winchester Mystery House toes the line between quirky and spooky. You’ll get a chance to interact with the history of the house; learn about how the original staff and how they cared and kept up with the property; and listen to Sarah Winchester’s perspective herself. Sarah was the heiress to the Winchester Arms fortune and she funded seemingly non-stop construction on the house from 1886 to 1922 — ultimately building the world’s most beautiful but bizarre sprawling mansion. The depth in detail is what makes this tour so special … you’ll be blown away.
Game day experience
A game day at Levi’s Stadium going to have one of the best Sundays you’ve ever had, as the passion from the fellow Faithful is unmatched. Be sure to show up a couple of hours before kickoff to both avoid getting stuck in traffic and so you can enjoy the ultimate tailgating experience. What you’ll love the most is interacting with random NFL fans and how they’ll all come together to make fun of the Seattle Seahawks!
If cheering at the top of your lungs for three hours with like-minded people full of energy is your thing, then Levi’s Stadium is the place for you.