Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Mountain View is one of its major cities, with many well-known companies headquartered or with a large presence here, including Google, Symantec, Inuit, Mozilla, Microsoft, and eHealth. While few plan vacations specifically to visit Mountain View, every year many come in hopes of landing a job at Google or one of the other notable organizations. They often check out the Mountain View apartments at the same time to get an idea of where to live if they happen to land that lucrative job.
Of course, there are also the computer nerds out there who visit to take a selfie in front of the Google sign, explore the campus and the local computer museum. But Google and tech aren’t the only reasons to come. No matter what your reason to visit, this guide will give you a “bird’s-eye view” that can help you make it happen.
Which Airport to Fly Into
While there are three international airports in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose International Airport (SJC) is the closest at about a 15-minute drive away. You can also take a free shuttle to the Santa Clara Caltrain station and then hop on the northbound train. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is less than a 30-minute drive away or you can take BART right from the airport, stopping in Millbrae to take Caltrain southbound. The third airport is in Oakland, a 45-minute drive (without traffic). You can take BART from the new extension at the airport and ride to the Millbrae station, connecting to Caltrain’s southbound service.
Where to Stay
You’ll find Airbnbs and a variety of hotels in Mountain View, but if you’re thinking about camping the closest campgrounds are southwest in the hills. Hotels range from well-known chains like Best Western, Quality Inn, Ramada Limited, and Super 8, to boutique hotels like the highly-rated Hotel Strata, while upscale Hotel Avante is part of the Hyatt as one of the most popular in the city.
If you don’t plan on driving here or renting a car, you can get around on foot if you stick to the walkable downtown area. Otherwise, light rail and bus service is available along with Caltrain which runs between Gilroy and San Francisco, stopping in Mountain View. Or you might bring or rent a bike, this is a great town for cycling with lots of bike lanes and wide streets for riding. Plus the city hosts a number of BikeShare stations.
What To Do
Other than taking a selfie in front of the Google sign, interviewing for tech jobs, and the like, there’s a number of things to do in Mountain View, along with some great day trips within a short distance. You can be in Santa Cruz, one of the area’s most popular beach towns in about 40 minutes. It’s home to the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with all sorts of rides and carnival games, along with a pier where you can watch the countless sea lions who lounge beneath on the rafters, along with pelicans, sea otters, and other wildlife while enjoying a crab cocktail and a cold beer.
In Mountain View itself, Castro Street is the main street where all the action happens, with many shops and restaurants, a weekly farmer’s market, and a street fair with vendors and a car show on certain Thursdays. Shoreline Refuge Area is a 700-acre park with a golf course, trails along the bay, grassy hills, and a saltwater lake. And, as mentioned, the Computer History Museum is very popular as the world’s largest and most complete, focused on computing history with a huge collection of tech devices.