Discovering Northern California
Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County: From Ag to Tech

Located at the Southern tip of the San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Clara County (one of the most affluent areas in the United States) is home to Silicon Valley, Raging Waters, California's Great America, and Gilroy Premium Outlets.

From the 1770s - when the Spanish missionaries built Mission Santa Clara de Asis - to the early 1970s, Santa Clara County was an agricultural area, growing everything from cattle to fruits and nuts to grains and flower seeds.

What happened in the early 20th Century that changed the county's history?

Technology arrived!

Beginning with Hewlett Packard (1939) and IBM (1943), technology companies began to locate their campuses in the Santa Clara Valley.

By the early 1970s, the area was dubbed Silicon Valley and the influx of technological innovation and its associated building boom nearly eliminated agriculture as a factor in the further advancement of the Northern portion of the county.

Today, the County of Santa Clara offers a unique combination of tech history and education, historical heritage sites, open spaces and preserves, tourist attractions, and world-class shopping. And, although agriculture is not much of a factor in the Northern end of the county, you'll still find lots of productive ag land to the South.

Santa Clara County: Land of Technology

Silicon Valley - the nickname coined in 1971 by Ralph Vaerst - spreads out roughly along the Santa Clara Valley and includes the towns of San Jose (county seat of  Santa Clara and where it all began), Los Gatos, Campbell, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Mountain View, Los Altos, and Palo Alto.

Silicon Valley contains the headquarters and campuses of 6500 high tech companies, large and small. Among the larger and more well-known are Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Hewlett Packard, Intel, and Yahoo.

One doesn't usually think of the technological industry as a provider of tourist attractions, but there are several interesting museums dedicated to the history of the industry.

Of special note is the NASA Ames Exploration Center at Moffett Field, a science museum at the entrance of the research center, which contains lunar samples, a space capsule, movies from Mars explorations, and various exhibits and mock-ups dedicated to our county's space exploration.

Others include the Tech Museum of Innovation, Intel Museum, and the Hackworth IMAX Dome and its Tech Museum Store.

Within Silicon Valley you'll also discover attractions like Raging Waters (San Jose), California's Great America (Santa Clara), Winchester Mystery House and the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum (both San Jose), Mission Santa Clara de Asis (Santa Clara), many historic sites, museums, art galleries, and fine shopping venues.

Santa Clara County: Beyond Silicon Valley

Beyond Silicon Valley you'll discover part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, herds of Tule Elk, the Mount Hamilton, Diablo, and Santa Cruz mountain ranges, the Lick Observatory, Henry W. Coe State Park, waterways and shorelines, wildlife, and farmland filled with nursery crops, mushrooms, peppers, lettuce, cherries, flowers, wine grapes, tomatoes, and beef.

Visit the farms or farmers markets and buy directly from the growers, camp and hike, birdwatch, two-wheel along extensive bike trails, boat and fish, ride horses, picnic and play golf.

The County of Santa Clara will keep you busy whether you're visiting for a couple of weeks, or you're moving in for the long term.

Check back frequently as we'll be bringing you more and more information about Santa Clara County:

  • Santa Clara Attractions
  • Santa Clara Beaches and Waterways
  • Santa Clara Communities
  • Santa Clara Parks and Preserves

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