Santa Clara has a rich cultural history dating back more than 200 years, and today is home to several historical sites and many museums big and small. If you are looking for family-friendly attractions and things to do around Santa Clara, check out a few of these sites and find out more about the history and culture of the area.
All the following attractions are free to the general public, and are easily accessible via public transportation and/or by car.
Agnews Historic Cemetery and Museum – The cemetery was first used in 1906 and continued into the 1960’s. Agnews Cemetery was a part of the now-closed Agnews State Hospital West Campus. The museum contains artifacts from the State Hospital and Agnews Developmental Center ranging from 1888 through 2009. The museum is open by appointment only by calling (408)615-3790.
1250 Hope Dr., Santa Clara, CA 95054 (408)615-3790
De Saisset art Museum – Known as “The South Bay’s Free Museum of Art and History”, the de Saisset is a part of Santa Clara University and houses an array of cultural and historical artifacts from Santa Clara’s history. Opened in 1955, the museum was bequeathed to the City of Santa Clara by Isabel de Saisset (a member of a prominent Santa Clara family) upon her death in 1950. It has an extensive permanent collection, as well as a wide variety of rotating exhibits from all schools of art.
500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053-0550 (408)554-4528
Triton Museum of Art – Housed in its second South Bay home in Santa Clara the Triton Museum collects and exhibits contemporary and historical works with a heavy emphasis on artists from the greater San Francisco Bay Area. With 19th and 20th century artworks from Europe, the Pacific Rim, and beyond, most exhibitions and events are free to the public. It was founded by Robert and June Morgan in 1965 in San Jose and has been a popular destination in the South Bay since then. The Triton is a showcase of the Santa Clara community and regularly hosts educational and community programming for residents and visitors.
1505 Warburton Ave., Santa Clara, CA 95050 (408)247-3754
“Stroll into the Past” – A unique and historic walking tour through Santa Clara’s history is available to the public every day. The self-guided walking tour debuted as a part of Santa Clara’s Sesquicentennial celebration in 2002 and takes participants through 28 individual stations depicting Santa Clara’s rich history. From the original Native American settlements to the modern computer and technology capitol of the world, each phase of Santa Clara’s past is represented.
Santa Clara Civic Center, 1500 Warburton Ave., Santa Clara, CA 95050 Free and Open to the Public
Harris-Lass House Museum – A fascinating collection of houses and farm buildings comprises the Harris-Lass House Museum, a memorial of the last standing farm site in the city of Santa Clara. The main house was built in 1865 (remodeled extensively in the 1890’s), and provides a lasting testament to the farming roots and history of the South Bay. Operated by the Historic Preservation Society of Santa Clara, and staffed entirely by volunteers, this property is a living museum that gives visitors of all ages a glimpse into a forgotten time.
1889 Market St., Santa Clara, CA 95050 (408)249-7905
Nominal admission fee – Open to the public on selected days or by appointment for tours
Intel Museum – The Intel Museum helps visitors gain a better understanding of the evolution of the technology and computing industry that dominates the Silicon Valley. Tracing the history and origins of Intel’s proprietary technologies, as well as the cultural and industry changes over the last 40 years, the museum is informative and entertaining. There are programming and activities for all ages and the museum offers hands-on and multimedia exhibits, conventional photographic and other displays.
Robert Noyce Building, Intel Headquarters, 2200 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95054 (408)765-0503
Mission Santa Clara de Asis – The most famous icon in Santa Clara, perhaps even in the South Bay is Mission Santa Clara de Asis, an early Spanish Missions in California. It was the first of its kind in Spanish California. It was moved to its current site in 1828 (having had two previous sites) and is the iconic symbol of the University that bears its name. The mission is one of the best cared for and restored Missions still in existence. Visitors from around the country stop in to marvel at the historical significance and quiet beauty of the buildings. (For those interested, historic photos of the mission are also on display at Santa Clara City Hall)
500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053