When it comes to major tourist attractions in the Bay Area, the best known are in San Francisco, like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Although the City by the Bay is the top Bay Area destination for sightseeing, the South Bay has its own unique set of attractions, particularly for visitors hoping to tour Silicon Valley’s historical landmarks and world famous tech companies. In addition to visiting Silicon Valley, visitors to the South Bay can embark on a whale watching tour, a sailing excursion or a fishing trip less than an hour away in Santa Cruz. The following are five of the best sightseeing tours in the South Bay.
1556 Halford Ave., Suite 230
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Locally owned and operated by Donna West, Lighthouse Travel & Tours has been serving clients in the Silicon Valley for 15 years. A previous winner of the Best Guided Tour award from the Silicon Valley Concierge Association, Lighthouse Travel & Tours offers a variety of Bay Area tours for groups of 25 people or more. The most popular day tour is a full day of sightseeing beginning in Silicon Valley with stops at notable local landmarks, before continuing to San Francisco. Ms. West also offers a Monterey and Silicon Valley: Past and Present Tour, including two to three experience components of what the group would like to see, such as the Intel Museum in Santa Clara, wine tasting in Morgan Hill or Saratoga, the Apple Computer Store at Apple headquarters and the Winchester Mystery House.
710 Hamilton Lane
Santa Clara, CA 95051
This South Bay tour operator offers both a custom tour of San Jose and a tour of Silicon Valley landmarks. The San Jose tour is a 3.5-hour trip past many of the city’s most important sites, including Japantown, Kelley Park, the Peralta Adobe and Fallon Historic Site, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and the Municipal Rose Garden. The Silicon Valley Tour is a 5.5-hour tour of many of the world’s most recognizable tech companies, such as Google and eBay, in addition to visiting Stanford University, the Computer History Museum and the Intel Museum. One of the highlights of the Silicon Valley Tour is a visit to the iconic garage in Palo Alto, where Hewlett-Packard was founded and considered to be the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley.”
205 Rockaway Beach Ave., Suite 4
Pacifica, CA 94044
For a moderately priced tour of the “Capitol of Silicon Valley,” a guided Segway tour is an entertaining way to see some of the best sites in downtown San Jose. Led by an authorized Bay Area Segway tour operator, Silicon Segway guests are first given hands-on instruction on how to operate a Segway, a two-wheeled, personal transport vehicle. After everyone is safely trained to ride a Segway, a tour guide will then lead guests through the streets of San Jose and along the scenic Guadalupe Trail. All San Jose Segway tours meet at The Tech Museum in downtown San Jose.
1547 Meridian Ave.
San Jose, CA 95125
South Bay Tour and Events not only offers sightseeing tours of San Jose and Silicon Valley, it also offers shopping tours and wine tours. Shopping tours include visits to the upscale Santana Row entertainment and shopping complex, Westfield Shopping Center, the Gilroy Shopping Outlets and antique shops in Los Gatos. South Bay Tour and Events is also the parent company of South Bay Wine Tours, with regional tours to the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Santa Clara Valley, in addition to tours to the world famous California Wine Country north of San Francisco. South Bay Tour and Events has a number of well-known clients, such as Cisco, eBay, Google and Hewlett Packard.
500 7th Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
In addition to the historic Beach Boardwalk, whale watching is one of the top tourist attractions in Santa Cruz. The recommended tour operator is Stagnaro Charters, owned by a well-known family synonymous with the Santa Cruz fishing industry. Year-round whales tours depart from the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor and feature a fully narrated tour of popular local attractions such as the world famous Steamer’s Lane surfing spot, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, in addition to the possibility of breathtaking views of enormous whales. The Stagnaro family also offers private charters and deep sea fishing from the Santa Cruz Wharf.