What to See and Do in Santa Clara, Calif.: Destination Spotlight

The Fun Side of Nursing Jobs in California’s Silicon Valley

By E’Louise Ondash, RN, contributor

Travel nursing jobs in California are plentiful, thanks to safe staffing laws and an improving economy, and once travelers have received their expedited RN licenses from the California Board of Nursing, one of the most attractive places to work is in Santa Clara. Not only do hospitals have great opportunities, but there are a number of fun things to see and do while you are there.

The city of Santa Clara sits in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay area. The “valley” was so named about four decades ago because of its booming technology industry, but Santa Clara’s roots reach into the late 18th century.

To explore this early history, visit the Santa Clara Mission near the center of Santa Clara University campus, California’s oldest college. Founded in 1777, the mission is one of the 21 missions founded by Spanish padres to help their mother country gain a foothold in the New World. Santa Clara Mission is a working parish and visitors rave about the gardens.

Perhaps the best way to get to know an area when you are new to the neighborhood is to ask a local, and in Santa Clara, that would be Donna West. A Santa Clara resident for more than 25 years, she worked at many Silicon Valley tech companies, then made a career change.

“It is the history and evolution of the Silicon Valley that created a spark in me to create a tour and event business in 2000,” she explains.

Here are some of West’s favorite things to see and do in and around Santa Clara:
avorite things to see and do in and around Santa Clara: Winchester Mystery House • Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara) – Home of the San Francisco 49ers and host for Super Bowl 50 (Feb. 7, 2016), the stadium opened July 2014. Public and private tours are available. “Quite elaborate and well thought through with space and resources available for fans,” West says.
• Winchester Mystery House (San Jose) – The Queen Anne-style mansion was once the residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Winchester. It’s known for its architectural anomalies and resident ghosts. Do the behind-the-scenes tour, West advises.
• Intel Museum (Santa Clara) – Learn what it’s like in an ultra-clean, highly automated silicon chip factory, and about technologies that provide new ways to work, learn, play and communicate in this 10,000-square-foot  museum. Best of all – it’s free, including the guided tours. Call first; it is known to close unexpectly for special events.
• Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum (San Jose) – Architecturally inspired by the Temple of Amon at Karnak, the museum houses the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on exhibit in western North America – including mummies. “Be sure to walk the beautiful grounds,” West says.
• Computer History Museum (Mountain View) – Established in 1996, it is dedicated to preserving stories and artifacts of the information age, and tracking the impact of computers on society. “A nerd oasis in the middle of nerd heaven,” says one critic.
Favorite things to see and do in and around Santa Clara: Boutique Wineries • Moffett Field Historical Society Museum (Mountain View) – Focuses on the important part played by the San Francisco Bay area in aviation history.
• Boutique wineries – in the nearby Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz Mountains. “There is generally less traffic [than Napa and Sonoma] and I value the actual conversations with owners and wine makers,” West notes. Insider tip: There is a J. Lohr Wine tasting room in downtown San Jose.
• Off the beaten path: Our Lady of Peace Shrine – 2800 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara. Regardless of your religion or lack thereof, this 32-foot metal statue is worth a stop. Visitors say it’s a peaceful respite from the urban hum. Church open 24 hours. The Santa Clara International Swim Center at Central Park – See synchronized swimming shows, high-power meets and Olympic athletes. It’s next to the huge, contemporary Santa Clara Public Library, another great place to chill.
• Coffee place: City Lights Espresso – 1171 Homestead Rd., Santa Clara. Raves for the made-on-the-premises food and plenty of gluten-free goodies.
• Restaurants: Mio Vicino – 1290 Benton St., Santa Clara. Offers tasty Italian and plenty of choices for vegetarians. Popular spot, so go early. Athena’s Grill - 1505 Space Park Drive, Santa Clara. Casual Greek with kudos for their olive dip, warm pita bread and tzatziki.
• Shopping: Valley Fair is a huge shopping mall that borders Santa Clara and San Jose. (Hint: take a photo of the door where you enter so you’ll remember where you parked.) Across the street: Santana Row, a trendy, upscale neighborhood great for walking, dining, shopping and people-watching. On a budget? There are outlet stores in Milpitas (The Great Mall) and Gilroy (Gilroy Outlets).
•  Nearby driving destinations: Santa Cruz (30 minutes) and Monterey (60 minutes).

For more attractions in the Santa Clara area:
• Donna West’s Fun Tour Guru Blog. Type “Santa Clara” or “San Jose” into the search field.
• Santa Clara Convention and Visitors Bureau  

#TAKEMETOCALILooking for travel nursing jobs in California? American Mobile offers exclusive opportunities and an expedited California RN licensing process to qualified nurses, including a free flight to visit the California Board of Nursing in person.

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