Take one of the world’s greatest concentrations of wealth and brainpower, add in a few hundred ethnic traditions, mix well, bake in 300 days of sunshine a year and you’re bound to get something interesting. With some of the country’s highest incomes—second only to the nation’s capital, thanks to recession-proof Beltway lawyers’ salaries—Silicon Valley has bragging rights to great fortunes. But the real riches lie in the astonishing diversity of treasures found in the strip malls and human-scale downtowns of the valley’s baker’s dozen of cities.
Our specialty retailers, ethnic markets, small restaurants, cultural institutions and recreational amenities make living here a constant adventure of exploration and discovery.
Other regions have a central destination that makes it easier to find everything in one place. There’s no center to the valley, though. Is it Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, Santana Row or downtown San Jose? If you draw a 50-mile line between Santa Clara County’s de facto bookends—the Garlic Shoppe off 101 in Gilroy and the Apple Store on University Avenue in Palo Alto—the midpoint would drop you in the middle of the Almaden Quicksilver Park, which is one of our favorite places to hike.
So whether you’re looking for a 25-count garlic braid, a 30-pin cable or 5-mile trail, the valley pretty much has everything—you just pretty much have to know where you’re going to find it.
So, back in 1986, we invented this app called the Best of Silicon Valley (actually back then it was known by its low-tech name, Best of Santa Clara Valley). We walk the streets and drive our expressways looking for new finds. We comb our collective memories and experiences and crowdsource our readers, who are the smartest ones anywhere.
In each category (with a few exceptions), we have shown the winner plus two runners-up—and even a few tie votes.
Did we miss somebody, some place or some business worthy of note? Of course. That’s why we hope you will add your suggestions by posting a comment to our Facebook page.