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Empty Nester “Seekenders” explore the Silicon Valley

August 13, 2015
No shortage of things to do in the Silicon Valley
No shortage of things to do in the Silicon Valley

No shortage of things to do in the Silicon Valley

The Silicon Valley isn’t just a great place to work, it’s also a great place to visit.

As empty nesters, we seize every opportunity to explore new places and connect with family and friends. When our son relocated to the Silicon Valley, it offered the perfect excuse for a Hampton Seekender Getaway.

Of course, we were eager to see our son and scope out his new setting at Google but we were also on a mission: Since the demands of his job as a software engineer don’t skip a beat, we took on responsibility for delivering his 10-year-old Himalayan cat, Java, who was also heading West to live with his owner. As tech-obsessed travel bloggers and food-lovers, the area held other allures, too.

Java on his way to California

Java on his way to California

Moving a cat is tricky business as each airline carrier has different costs and requirements. Although a cat doesn’t get a seat, traveling with a pet still requires a reservation and ticketing. Java was also unceremoniously subjected to a TSA inspection. Once onboard, there was the angst of wondering how a house cat would behave on a plane when he had never taken more than a car ride to the vet and back. Fortuitously Java handled the flight across the country with flying colors—and we survived as well.

Checking in

Soon after arriving at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), we checked into the Hampton by Hilton Milpitas about 20 minutes from the airport, right in the heart of the Silicon Valley, and reunited cat and owner. Mission accomplished! The hotel was a perfect base for exploring the Silicon Valley, getting a taste of life on the West Coast, and visiting (and being visited by) our son during his off-hours during subsequent days.

Hampton by Hilton Milpitas

Sunny skies at Hampton by Hilton Milpitas

Hampton by Hilton Milpitas (as well as Hampton by Hilton Mountain View) is located in the Santa Clara Valley, which includes such cities as Mountain View, San Jose, Santa Clara, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Milpitas, and many others). Years ago, the scenic region was largely agricultural, called the “Valley of Heart’s Delight.” Now it is predominated by leading international technology companies (including Apple, Google, Intel, Yahoo!, Facebook, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Intuit, EBay, LinkedIn and Cisco Systems) as well as many start-ups that will likely make their mark in the future.

Surrounded by tech firms

Surrounded by tech firms

Finding hotel beds nearby can be challenging because these tech firms have so many employees and guests who visit during weekdays for purposes of recruitment, training and conferences. Coming as Seekenders for a weekend, allowed us to take advantage of lower rates and greater room availability.

Checking out the valley

After we rented a car nearby, we were off and running!

The Silicon Valley is a land of trafficked multi-lane highways, business parks and sprawling office complexes as well as the leafy residential neighborhoods with small streets that house workers from these and the related businesses they have spawned. In addition to cars, large shuttle buses (most unmarked but some branded IT, for Intelligent Transportation) appear everywhere shuttling commuters between work and home. On company campuses, people often use bicycles to get from one building to another.

G-bikes at Google

G-bikes at Google

Me and my G-bike

Me and my G-bike

Android sculpture garden at Google in Mountain View

Android sculpture garden at Google in Mountain View

Nearly one-third of the population of the Silicon Valley is comprised of immigrants so the area is a hotbed of ethnic neighborhoods where visitors can sample cuisines from around the world—and we did! We enjoyed Greek, Chinese, Japanese, and Italian meals and more.

Japanese lunch in San Jose

Japanese lunch in Minato in San Jose

Chinese scallion pancakes at My Dumpling in Milpitas

Chinese scallion pancakes at My Dumpling in Milpitas

Sliders at Joya, a Latin-American restaurant in Palo Alto

Sliders at Joya, a Latin-American restaurant in Palo Alto

Italian Margherita pizza at Giorgio's in Milpitas

Italian Margherita pizza at Giorgio’s in Milpitas

Taiwanese pastries at Sheng Kee Bakery in Milpitas

Taiwanese pastries at Sheng Kee Bakery in Milpitas

We spent the weekend driving from town to town to see the sights, to visit attractions (like the Winchester Mystery House and Tech Innovation Museum in San Jose, and the Intel Museum and Mission Santa Clara de Asis in Santa Clara) and to get introduced to a culture that is so different than the one driven by finance in New York City. It seemed like every destination was 20-minutes away from the last one so even though we only had a three-day weekend for exploration, we were able to cover a lot of territory.

Winchester Mystery House in San Jose

Winchester Mystery House in San Jose

Tech Innovation Museum in San Jose

Tech Innovation Museum in San Jose

 Intel in Santa Clara

Intel in Santa Clara

Suited up in my "clean suit" at the Intel Museum in Santa Clara

Suited up in my “clean suit” at the Intel Museum in Santa Clara

The mix of full days of laughter and discovery—along with great cuisine—made for restful nights in our comfy Hampton Bed.

Pillow sheets and BED COVERS clean and fresh daily at Hampton by HIlton

My clean and fresh Hampton Bed: Pillow sheets and BED COVERS changed daily at Hampton by Hilton

Mayor of Hampton by Hilton on Swarm

Mayor of Hampton by Hilton on Swarm


Disclosure: As a member of the Seekender team, my weekend getaway to the Silicon Valley was sponsored by Hampton by Hilton but all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

  • Reply
    Laura
    August 14, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Java looks like “Okay Mom, I’ll be good, so you don’t stress.” What great bikes! Do they provide helmets too? (I know, that would be bad for the hair!).

    As an empty nester, I can’t wait to try a Hampton Inn for my next college run. They are so budget friendly and a good bed is so important!

  • Irene S. Levine
    Reply
    Irene S. Levine
    August 14, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    It’s so cute that all the bikes (and lawn chairs) are Google primary colors!

  • Reply
    Sand In My Suitcase
    August 14, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Moving a kitty cat would be tricky! Especially those little claws :-). Looks like a fun weekend getaway – and an opportunity to check out Google land…

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 14, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      After the tension of traveling with Java, the flight home seemed like a breeze!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Fluhr
    August 14, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    You are good parents. Our older son and his wife have 2 cats, but Mr. Excitement is highly allergic to cats, so if they ever have to be moved across the county by moi, it will probably be a solo gig. We stayed in a great Hampton Inn on Key Largo. It seems to be a very solid brand. If your son ever needs a clown or other party entertainers (i.e. face painters, balloon twisters), my sister and her husband are clowns (not metaphorically) and run a clown/party entertainment booking business in Milpitas, Dizzy Entertainment. He can feel free to mention my name. 😉

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 15, 2015 at 1:58 am

      Too funny that you have a relative in Milpitas! I had never heard of it before our visit. Now you now a place to stay even if you visit! 🙂

  • Reply
    Donna Janke
    August 15, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I remember visiting Winchester Mystery House years ago when I spent a couple of weeks in Silicon Valley on a course. It was a fun tour.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 15, 2015 at 7:30 pm

      It was a fascinating place to visit with all kinds of strange adaptations the owner made to the house to keep ghosts at bay.

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