Silicon Valley is known worldwide first and foremost for our nerds, and we’re rightfully proud of them. So here’s a chance to give gifts that confirm out-of-towners’ suspicions that while self-driving cars aren’t yet dropping us off at the office, we do live among the trappings of the geek life. But then again, we also have lots of garlic and some pretty aggressive Sharks.
Gilroy Without the Garlic Festival—one of the largest food festivals in the U.S.—this town of 50,000 could have been just another farming community-slash-suburb. Good thing it has the stinking rose to make it proud. Share some Gilroy pride this holiday season—hang up a garlic wreath, stuff some stockings with garlicky sauces, pickled garlic or “garlic survival kits” from The Garlic Shoppe on Monterey Highway. Might want to stick some Listerine in there while you’re at it. The Garlic Shoppe, 4350 Monterey Highway, Gilroy. 888.328.4275. garlicdude.com.
Mountain View Since Google‘s apparently on a mission to buy up its entire hometown, a souvenir from Mountain View means a souvenir from the search giant. Click past the exorbitance of a $167.90 “Google”-embroidered bean bag and there are a few gift-able knickknacks at the Google shop, from lime-green Android cookie jars ($43.45), to Chrome-logoed “Magic 8” balls ($10.30) and Google Doodle skateboard decks ($63.95). Perfect for the die-hard Googlehead. Or anyone who’s a fan of primary colors and promotional kitsch. googlestore.com
Cupertino Nothing says Cupertino quite like an Apple. Or are we missing something? But forget the iPhone and tablets, everyone and their mom already bought one. How about a 94Fifty Motion Sensor Basketball ($299.95), a regulation size and weight ball that measures power dribbling, shooting mechanics, shot release speedand other metrics traditionally difficult or damn near impossible to measure. The ball sends data via Bluetooth signal to an Apple app on an iOS device. Other app-enabled gadgets include Anki DRIVE ($199.95), a remote-controlled car engineered to think and evolve using Artificial Intelligence, and the Fitbit Flex sleep and exercise tracker ($99.95). Apple Store, store.apple.com.
San Jose There’s a downtown San Jose shop dedicated to trumpeting hometown pride one locally crafted souvenir at a time. South Bay artist Kymberli Brady opened up shop here five months ago. There’s the usual San Jose Sharks gear, but also look for the team mascot on bottle cap wine charms ($40 for a set of six), necklaces and keychains ($10 each). San Jose Earthquakes knit caps range from $18 to $20. Shot glasses with enamel-coated images of San Jose’s significant architecture go for $7.99 a pop. For something a little quirkier, ask about the steampunk creations by San Jose-based artists Greg and Lora Price. Discover San Jose, Suite 103 at 150 S. First St, San Jose. 408.691.7321. discoversanjose.com.