Free Things in Santa Clara, California|
A guide to free things to do in the city of Santa Clara.
Reviews by Traci Vogel (July 24, 2003)
BENEATH THE SUBURBAN skin of Santa Clara beats a heart of pure cultural energy. The city abounds in parks, museums and festivals. At the center of events sits Santa Clara University, which hosts concerts and lectures, often free of charge. Whether it's rock & roll, fine art or pancakes you want, you'll find it here.
1. Take a Walk
Agnews Historic Park
4030 Lafayette St., Santa Clara
Picnic areas, benches, lovely trees and grass areas dot this 14.5-acre historic easement, which eases its way onto the Sun Microsystems Santa Clara campus. Originally the site of the Agnews State Hospital, the four remaining buildings (which are hardly hospital-like and include an auditorium and mansion) can be reserved at no charge for special events.
2. Be Festive
Art & Wine Festival
Central Park, 969 Kiely Blvd., Santa Clara; 408.615.3140; third weekend in Sep, 10am-5pm
Kicking off with a pancake breakfast, Santa Clara's annual arts and crafts fair builds to a frenzy of more than 200 booths featuring unique artists, food booths to benefit community groups and live entertainment on four stages. Little crafty ones can make their own take-home art at the Kids Kingdom, which also features a petting zoo and face painting.
3. Find Treasure
Citywide Garage Sale
Street Department, 1500 Warburton Ave., Santa Clara; 408.615.2063, cscgaragesale.com; Aug 2
Held annually in early August, the airing of Santa Clara's basement junk often spawns an Antiques Road Show-esque mass fervor. Garage sales are held simultaneously at residents' homes, and the city provides perusers a list of addresses and items to be found. True, the event is not completely free, since its aim is to get people to purchase more junk, but if you play your cards right you may be able to raid the "Take It!" boxes before anyone else gets to them.
4. Feed Your Head
De Saisset Museum
Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real; 408.554.4528; scu.edu/deSaisset/; Tue-Sun 11am-4pm
Permanent and temporary art and history exhibitions fill the aisles at the de Saisset, on the campus of SCU. Admission is completely free; afterward, if you're inspired by the fine art, wander over to the campus' Mission Church and purge the guilt you feel for having given up on those drawing lessons your mom bought you.
5. Get Fed
Jackson Street between Homestead and Benton; Sat 9am-1pm, through Oct 25
Santa Clara's tree-lined Jackson Street is the idyllic setting for this weekly block party celebrating organics in their fruitful and vegetative states. Sample produce from Happy Boy Farms, savor specialty baked goods, sway to the sounds of live music and soak up the sun.
6. Get Smart(er)
Intel Corp's Robert Noyce Building, Main Lobby, 2200 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara; 408.765.0503; Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm, closed Sun
How did Silicon Valley become Silicon Valley? Part of the answer can be found at Intel's shrine to technology, where "how does that work?" becomes the basis for exhibitions on microprocessors, clean rooms and much more.
7. Get Hip
KSCU FM Concerts
500 El Camino Real #3207, Santa Clara; 408.554.4413, www.kscu.org
From its tiny underground (literally) studio in SCU's Swig Hall, KSCU keeps pumping out 50 watts of good, mostly unknown, music (emitting from 103.3 on the FM dial). The station also plays host to live music performances, and many of these are free of charge. Activity picks up once the school year starts; check the station's website for a schedule.
8. Think About the Padres
Mission Santa Clara
University of Santa Clara, 500 El Camino Real; 408.554.4528; Tue-Sun 11am-4pm, closed Mon
For the past 200 years, every evening at 8:30pm, the Mission Santa Clara bells have chimed out. California's eighth mission is a great place to contemplate your lost Catholic crush, the possibility that maybe Jesus wasn't blond and whether or not all that guilt is really worth a $400 monthly psychiatric bill.
9. Spin Your Wheels
Santa Clara Skate Park
2440 Cabrillo Ave.; moon till late; 408.984.4511; safety equipment required.
Operated by the Youth Activity Center, Santa Clara's skate park is free for residents of Santa Clara; these residents are, however, allowed two guests per month, so if you're not from the area, make a friend. Otherwise, how will you take advantage of the 15,000-square-foot park, featuring two small reservoirs, one large reservoir with an 8-foot halfpipe, a stage area with six stairs and two rails, a pyramid and a fun box with two rails? Dude.
10. Remember Who Was Here First
1505 Warburton Avenue, Santa Clara; 408.247.3754, tritonmuseum.org; Mon-Sun 11am-5pm, Thu 11am-9pm, closed holidays; admission and parking are free
Smack in Santa Clara sits one of the West Coast's best collections of American Indian art and artifacts: the Austen D. Warburton Collection. Warburton, a former city councilmember, participated in archeological excavations and wrote extensively about Native Americans, and when he died in 1995 he willed more than 150 objects to the Triton. The donations include tools, pottery, baskets and musical instruments, as well as art objects, spanning the time period from the ninth through the 20th century. There are other reasons to visit the Triton, including, currently, a stunning invitational show of glass sculpture, but few museums offer a collection guaranteed to transport you to another time and place so dazzlingly.
11. Go Native
Ulistac Natural Area Community Habitat
Lick Mill Boulevard, between Tasman Drive and Montague Expressway; 408.554.5419, scu.edu/envs/ulistac/
Sometimes nature strikes back in the most unexpected ways. When the Fairway Glen Golf Course was decommissioned in 1988, Santa Clara rezoned the open land for development. After installing one apartment complex, however, the developer took a seven-year real-estate bust hiatus, and during this time native plants and wildlife began to return, and locals began to hike through the 40 acres, creating trails. When the developer returned in 1997 to build two more apartment complexes, the Santa Clara City Council voted to set aside the remaining land as a natural habitat park. Wetlands have been recreated, native grasses have been seeded and park volunteers are in the process of creating a butterfly garden of 700 California native shrubs.
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