01 of 06
A Guide to Silicon Valley-Made Gifts & Experiences
The holidays are here and it's time for the annual quest to find just the right gift for everyone on your list. What better way is there to find unique gifts than to buy something crafted or produced right here in the Bay Area or local, only-in-Silicon Valley experiences.
Click through the gallery for local gift ideas and ways to support local businesses and organizations this year.
Looking for other tips for holiday gift shopping and celebrating the holiday season? Check out these tips for where to go shopping in Silicon Valley, this guide to 2016 holiday events and activities, and the best things to do in the winter in Silicon Valley.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
02 of 06
Locally-Made Art & Crafts
Our part of the Bay Area is an inventive place and Silicon Valley is home to lots of local artists and craft makers. Here are some places where you can shop the work of local makers for the creative folks on your holiday shopping list.
San Jose Made (SJMADE) Craft Sales: This organization hosts monthly sales bringing together artists and designers from around the Bay Area. During the holiday season, they host several special events targeted to gift-giving including pop-up shops in Whole Foods Market and Valley Fair Mall. Check their website for a full list of events.
Downtown San Jose / South First Arts (SoFA District) Museums and Art Galleries: Stop into any of Downtown San Jose's many galleries to find the work of local artists and craftspeople. The South First district has a high concentration of museums and galleries you can visit and shop. Some of my favorite downtown galleries and museum gift stores are the San Jose Museum of Art, the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles,... Higher Fire Clayspace & Gallery, and KALEID Gallery.
Petite Galleria: This tiny shop in San Jose's Japantown (205 Jackson Street) carries a large selection of handmade art, jewelry, fashion, and other treasures perfect for gift giving. The store features the work of more than 80 artists, most from the San Jose Bay Area.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
03 of 06
Any food-lovers on your list will appreciate gifts or stocking stuffers of homemade and locally crafted food, wine, and spirits. Here are a few local foodie favorites and places to go to shop for local foods.
Kitchentown's Bakery & Cafe: Stop into Kitchentown (1007 Howard Avenue, San Mateo), a food startup incubator that provides kitchen space and entrepreneurial training for chefs and new food makers trying to get into the production and retail business. Kitchentown's Bakery & Cafe sells both freshly made (bread, coffees) and packaged foods from their participating food startups.
La Victoria Taqueria's Famous Orange Sauce: This San Jose institution ("La Vics") sells their addicting, secret recipe chile sauce by the bottle at all of their five Bay taquerias. It's the perfect stocking stuffer for the burrito addicts on your list.
Palo Alto Firefighter's Hot Sauce: Palo Alto Firefighter Lee Taylor has been growing peppers out behind the local fire station... in 1994 and making hot sauce with it for his colleagues and their family. Today, the firefighters continue to make their award-winning spicy sauce and selling it to specialty food vendors across the Bay. All proceeds go to support college scholarships and other local charitable causes. Pick up a bottle at many South Bay and Peninsula grocery stores (Andronico's, Lunardi's, Mollie Stone, etc), Philz Coffee shops, or on their website.
Gilroy Garlic: There is no more famous locally-grown food than Gilroy Garlic, South County's much-loved pungent root and inspiration for the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Visit Garlic World, a specialty food store (off Highway 101, just south of Gilroy) for a wide assortment of foods made with Gilroy-grown garlic.
Shui-do Manju: For sweet tooths, pick up an assortment of traditional Japanese confections from this family-run Japanese sweets shop in San Jose's historic Japantown. The Emperor of Japan famously visited this shop on his first visit to the U.S.
Santa Cruz Mountain and Santa Clara Valley Wines: The products of our hometown wine regions make the perfect gift for wine lovers on your list.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
04 of 06
One of my favorite gift ideas to give (and receive) are hands-on educational experiences, classes, and workshops. Whatever your gift recipient's interest, there are organizations offering classes to let you learn something new.
Here are some local businesses that offer interesting classes and workshops. Check their websites for a list of upcoming classes and events.
Higher Fire Clayspace & Gallery: This downtown clay arts gallery offers pottery classes for adults. Website.
Bay Area Glass Institute: This organization offers introductory glass-blowing classes and workshops. Website.
A Work of Heart Studio: This Willow Glen shop offers classes in arts and crafts including mixed-media, book arts, fine arts, photography, jewelry making, and more. Website.
Love Apple Farms: Offers a variety of gardening and cooking classes in Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz. Website.
Toque Blanche: Offers cooking classes and culinary demonstrations in their Half Moon Bay store. Website.
Cucina Bambini: Offers... kid-friendly cooking classes for the little ones on your list. Website.
TechShop: This tinkerers workshop offers a variety of high-tech classes for kids and adults at their San Jose and Menlo Park locations. Website.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Gift-Worthy Local Dining Experiences
Treat your gift-recipient to a splurge-worthy meal at one of Silicon Valley's best restaurants.
One of my favorite restaurants and best Santa Clara Valley views comes from the GrandView Restaurant (15005 Mount Hamilton Road, San Jose). This restaurant perched atop Mount Hamilton about 30 minutes east of Downtown San Jose has been a popular stopping point on the drive over the hills for decades serving Italian-American comfort food. In 2015 Palo Alto-based restauranteur, Maurice Carrubba bought the place from the original owner and stepped up their foodie game by building a new 50-acre on-site sustainably grown farm. Today the restaurant grows and raises more than 60% of the food they serve right on site including Mount Hamilton-grazed beef purchased in a partnership with the restaurant's neighbor. The GrandView is San Jose's only farm-to-fork restaurant, or "seed-to-fork," as farmer Danielle Suarez calls it because most of the plants were grown from seeds she... started. The restaurant has one of San Jose's best wine lists. Call the restaurant to buy a gift certificate: 408-251-8909.
Another great gift would be the chance to eat at ADEGA Restaurant (1614 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose), a modern Portuguese restaurant in San Jose's Little Portugal district, and San Jose's first Michelin-starred restaurant. The restaurant offers a few takes on the traditional Portuguese dishes like Bacalhau (salted cod), innovative desserts, and one of the best Portuguese wine selections in the Bay Area. You can buy gift certificates on the website.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
06 of 06
Gifts for Outdoor Lovers
For gift recipients who love the Great Outdoors, get them an annual park pass for easy access and free parking at local parks, beaches, and trails. Here are a few parks and trail networks that offer annual passes: San Jose City Parks, Santa Clara County Parks, or the California State Parks Pass.
For locals who want to reduce their car use, consider a gift of the Bay Area Bike Share program (read more about this local bike share program here).