A cow is part of the climbing structures at Discovery Farm.

Discover a Farm – Martial Cottle Park in San Jose

Martial Cottle Park celebrates the agricultural history of Santa Clara County. The land was gifted to Santa Clara County by Walter Cottle Lester, who was the last of a 150 year farming legacy.

Trail at Martial Cottle Park in San Jose.

A visitor center presents the heritage; outside, information tables with a timeline put the development in perspective. Trails, picnic areas, and green spaces occupy some of the 287 acres. Jacobs organic Farm and community education programs occupy 180 of these acres. The UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County help with community education about agriculture and the environment. And, the 4-H youth development, and Our City Forest, also found a home at Martial Cottle Park. 

A tunnel for climbing at the Discovery Farm playground.

Appropriately named Discovery Farm is the playground at Martial Cottle Park.  Some challenging climbing structures, farm animals to scale, and a tractor are the attractions. There are a few rules for the 5 – 12 year olds posted at the entrance of the playground such as sufficient strength and coordination, advisable parental supervision, etc. Additional COVID-19 protocols are in place. The water feature is turned off due to drought regulations.

Climbing structure at Discovery Park, San Jose.

Martial Cottle Park 

5283 Snell Ave San Jose, CA 95136

Opening hours are 8 am till sunset. 

Parking fees are $2 per hour or $6 all day.

Have you been to Martial Cottle Park?

Coffee mug with cocohodo.

Treat Yourself to Something Sweet

Today my mother would’ve been 80. Being German she loved coffee and cake in the afternoon. I’ll definitely have a nice piece of cake and a strong coffee in her honor. In this post I picked five Bay Area bakeries with special treats I love. I am not affiliated with any of the businesses and have not received anything for posting this. (This is not to say I wouldn’t be open to a taste test.)

Pastelaria Adega – San Jose

Pastel de nata at Pastelaria.

One of my favorite sweets is pastel de nata, a Portuguese egg custard tart pastry. Pastelaria Adega in San Jose does it right. You can watch them making the tart and stirring the custard in a large copper pot. Besides the traditional plain they also have fruit versions. If you are not interested in custard, maybe try some of their donuts, or savory items?

Wooden Table Baking Co – Oakland

A display of alfajores at the Wooden Table Cafe.

Alfajores – You had me at dulce de leche; put two shortbread cookies around and you get this Argentinian dessert. For an extra indulgence try them covered in chocolate! They also have many gluten-free options.

Cocohodo – Sunnyvale

Machine making cocohodo at Cocohodo in Sunnyvale.

Cocohodo is a traditional Korean pastry, shaped like a walnut, filled with bean paste and a chunk of walnut. If I still had a small child this would be my go-to place. You can watch the machine that makes the pastry right there, while also enjoying their great coffee.

Mini Taiyaki Cafe – Santa Clara

A taiyaki waffle shaped fish.

Another Korean favorite are taiyaki – fish shaped cakes filled with either custard, hazelnut spread, or red bean paste. They are freshly made and come in four fishes. The cafe is actually a hair salon and due to COVID restriction not a sit-down cafe. The taiyaki are fun when they are warm, but they don’t travel well.

  • Mini Taiyaki Cafe
  • 5075 Stevens Creek Blvd
  • Santa Clara, CA 95051

Rosalind Bakery – Pacifica

Croissants from Rosalind.

The artisan bread at Rosalind is amazing, but their croissants are what I crave. The almond one is filled with almond paste, topped with shaved almond, and the crunch is music to my ears.

Where do you go for sweet treats?

Climbing structure and concrete slides at Brigadoon Park.

Skid Down the Brigadoon Park Slide, San Jose

I arrived at Brigadoon Park greeted by an empty playground some late morning. My quest was the giant concrete slide I’d heard so much about. 

Many pieces of cardboard at the base of the slides at Brigadoon Park.

At the base I picked up one of the many cardboard boxes. If I ever wanted to slide, the opportunity of no witnesses was now or never. There are three options for sliding. One for the slimmer and tinier generation with higher walls for protection.

Two concrete slides are right next to each other.

I had to choose one of the two other wider slides. All of the slides have two bumps. This was a fun and scary experiment. The cardboard didn’t disappoint. This is a fast ride! I was relieved that by the time I crashed into the playground there was still no one around to take notice of my less than perfect landing. Very much fun for the younger crowd.

Brigadoon Park is located on Brigadoon Way and Maloney Drive in San Jose. Parking in the neighborhood was no problem. 

Concrete slide with cardboard at Brigadoon Park, San Jose.

Have you ever tried the slide at Brigadoon Park?

Other fun playgrounds in the Peninsula:

Seven Seas Park, Sunnyvale

Magic Mountain, San Mateo

Las Palmas Park, Sunnyvale

Magical Bridge, Palo Alto

Entrance of Nola's Iris Garden, San Jose.

Admire the Multitude of Irises at Nola‘s Iris Garden, San Jose

Iris in bloom.

Nola’s Iris Garden is an insider tip for iris lovers. The garden is only open April – May. So, mark your calendars if you like irises!

I drove up Sierra Road, the east foothills of San Jose. Halfway up my ears started popping and regretted that there is no place to stop to admire the view over San Jose.

Fountain surrounded by irises at Nola's Iris Garden.

Nola’s Iris Garden sprawls a whooping 5 acres of irises of all colors and sizes. I counted four different garden areas. If there was a pattern to these areas I was not able to see it. They all had a mixture of colors and great names like Pass the Shades and Wishful Thinking.

There is no admission to see the garden. In fact, it is not obvious that you could purchase these irises. They definitely have their website set up, so you can browse and contact them if you made a purchasing decision. 

Iris at Nola's Iris Garden, San Jose.

Opening hours are Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.

Nola’s Iris Garden is located 4195 Sierra Road in San Jose.

Do you have an insider tip for me?

Read the post about the iris garden in Willow Glen. It has a fascinating history! 

Streetview of the fairy houses at Fairy Glen, San Jose.

Spot some Fairies at Fairy Glen, San Jose

Fairy house with 'open kitchen' in Fairy Glen, San Jose.

I like finding these enchanted places in the neighborhood. Fairy Glen, is a tiny community of fairy houses nested in the Willow Glen neighborhood in San Jose. While driving down Celestine Avenue I noticed something that I first mistook for birdhouses. On closer inspection I could almost encounter the residents. Traces of their busy lives all around, from shiny stones to a complete open kitchen!

Fairy door in a tree at Fairy Glen.

There are doors to open at the height perfect for little kids. Some houses seem to float in the trees. It is really a magical place and a welcome distraction from the real world when you enter Fairy Glen.

Fairy houses hanging from a tree.

A few rules for the Fairy spotters:

You can bring a little token and leave it for a fairy to find.

There is even a mailbox. So if you have a wish or hope write it down and who knows?

Leave everything in place, the fairies get distracted if something moves or is missing.

Thank you, Lili Ghazian, the fairy godmother. I spotted her working on a new housing project across the street. You have inspired me.

Her latest fairy development is in Sunnyvale, on Pome Ave off of Fremont. 

Resources:

https://abc7news.com/san-jose-fairy-house-wonderland-coronavirus-shelter-in-place/6126186/

Check out my blog post about neighborhood walks for more ideas!

Sign at the entrance of Valley Verde, San Jose.

Buy Seedlings from Valley Verde, San Jose

Herbs at Valley Verde. The sign reads: When you purchase these seedlings you are actively supporting Valley Verde's work to foster Food Sovereignty in our local communities!

It’s spring time. Perfect time to plant some vegetables. Valley Verde in San Jose not only sells multi-ethnic, hard to find seedlings, like bitter melons and okra, they also offer food justice programs for the community. The Food Justice Movement improves access to healthy, nutritious food in food insecure areas and recognizes the structural barriers communities of color face reaching food sovereignty.   

I remember when the pandemic started I saw some news report that Valley Verde had to cancel their annual seedling fair. Instead they gave away seedlings to underserved members of the community, encouraging them to grow their own healthy food. They managed to deliver seedlings to 400 families. To make this generous idea even more sustainable they partnered with the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition to deliver the seedlings by bike.

Tomato seedlings at Valley Verde. Sign lists available tomato varieties.

If you don’t have your own garden (yet) but feel like you should contribute you can of course donate time or money and spread the word. In fact their event calendar makes it real easy for people to sign up to volunteer.

Now in a location that allows them to sell every day you can find Valley Verde’s seedlings at 59 S Autumn St, San Jose. Valley Verde is open from 9 am – 4 pm.

Are you a supporter of food justice?

Other food programs you might consider volunteering for are Village Harvest or the Forge Garden.

Steel structure to remember IBM Building 025 in San Jose.

Visit the Birthplace of the Industrial Campus, IBM Building 025, San Jose

Here in Silicon Valley we are used to the idea of the Industrial Campus. Google’s headquarters in Mountain View is a great example of this. Office buildings are arranged in close proximity giving it a college campus feel. The prototype of a campus style office complex, from the 1950s, is the IBM Building 025 in San Jose. 

Memorial structure for IBM Building 025 in the Lowe's parking lot on Cottle Rd in San Jose.

In 2008 the remains of the Advanced Research Building 25 burned down (https://www.mercurynews.com/2008/03/08/fire-guts-san-joses-historic-ibm-building-25/). Nowadays there is only a structure that serves as a monument for this building. The steel construct, on the parking lot of a hardware store, also has information panels explaining the history.

Monument for the IBM Building 025, showing information panels.

In 1957 the 210-acre Cottle Road Campus was designed with low rise buildings, art, and a cafeteria. The steel structures with the brick walls and extensive use of glass heralded the era of New Modernist Industrial style. A good access to roads and the proximity to ample services made this concept highly desirable for the workforce.

This is one of three places claiming to be the birthplace of Silicon Valley. The other two are the HP garage and Shockley’s Semiconductor.

Where do you think is the birthplace of Silicon Valley?

The memorial for IBM Building 025 is located at 2-992 Cottle Rd, San Jose, CA 95123

Resources:

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/09/silicon-valley-full-superfund-sites/598531/

https://thesixfifty.com/five-fascinating-finds-from-the-archives-of-silicon-valleys-computer-history-museum-d80659afe690

https://onezero.medium.com/the-birthplace-of-the-hard-drive-is-now-a-lowes-parking-lot-1729a23dea66

https://designobserver.com/feature/a-memorial-to-random-access-memory/32218

Steps from above at Communications Hills, San Jose.

Count the Steps at Communications Hill, San Jose

Steps from above at Communications Hill, San Jose.

Walking around the neighborhood has become a necessity. Sometimes it is great to get some variety in. I highly recommend the steps of Communications Hill in San Jose. Not only do you get a great view of the Diablo Mountain range but you can switch up your exercise with stepping up the hill. 

Diablo Mountain view from Communications Hill, San Jose.

The Communications Hill community also has an interesting history. The Tamyem People mined cert, crystals of quartz, the mineral form of silicon dioxide. In 1777 Juan Bautista de Anza established the first pueblo-town in California not associated with a mission or military post. The Oak Hill Memorial Park, located on the north side of the hill, is the oldest secular cemetery in California. Further use of the land includes mining cinnabar, a vineyard, and a dairy farm. Now it is an urban neighborhood and popular exercise spot. Parking is a challenge since there are neighborhood restrictions.

Communications Hill is located east of 87 at Hillsdale Ave and south easterly of Curtner Ave. Here is a trail map of the parks and facilities.

People exercising at Communications Hill.

Since I lost count I would appreciate your comments on how many steps it takes.

Have you climbed up Communications Hill?

If you need other neighborhood walk ideas check out my blog post about Neighborhood Walks.

The Tasmienne Monument with the Coyote Creek in the back.

Decode a Mysterious Plaque – Coyote Creek, San Jose

Metcalfe bridge, Coyote Creek Trail San Jose.

The other day I parked at the Coyote Creek Lake parking lot and walked south over the Metcalfe bridge. The paved trail is part of the Ridge Trail and also part of the National Recreational Trail system. You can bike all the way to Morgan Hill. A few more steps after the bridge you’ll see a plaque on the right. Covered in dirt, but still visible are 0 and 1s. On closer inspection the words Santa Clara Valley appear on top of the binary code.

The Tamienne Monument, with Santa Clara Valley written on it.

I found the Tamienne Monument, or, as some websites also call it, The Center of Santa Clara Valley. This marker is not monumental at all. The plaque can be overlooked. The binary hints to Silicon Valley, the Tamienne reference suggests a misspelling of the Tamyen people who once lived in the Valley.

There is no acknowledgement of the creator and it is not listed in the public art repository of San Jose. For the binary it is less mysterious, I can spoil this for you:

Binary – Hex – ACSII char

01010011 – 53 – S

01100001 – 61 – a

01101110 – 6E – n

01110100 – 74 – t

01100001 – 61 – a

00100000 – 20 – ” ” (space)

01000011 – 43 – C

01101100 – 6C – l

01100001 – 61 – a

01110010 – 72 – r

01100001 – 61 – a

00100000 – 20 – ” ” (space)

01010110 – 56 – V

01100001 – 61 – a

01101100 – 6C – l

01101100 – 6C – l

01100101 – 65 – e

01111001 – 79 – y

What do you know about the Center of Santa Clara Valley?

If you like to bike around San Jose, the Three Creeks Trail in San Jose is another option.

Resources:

https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM9AJ5_Geographic_Center_of_Santa_Clara_Valley_California

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote_Creek_Trail

https://www.americantrails.org/resources/coyote-creek-trail-san-jose-trail-network-california

Greg Brown mural in Palo Alto.

Neighborhood Walks

COVID has most of us homebound and with a minimal radius to explore. I thought I’ll give you some ideas to spice up your daily neighborhood walks. While most of these specific walks are for Silicon Valley, the ideas should transfer to other areas. So, grab your mask and get your steps in with these walking ideas:

Garden

Sign reads: 
Green Garden of Mountain View
Conserves Water
Reduces Waste
Provides Habitat

We are blessed in the Bay Area with a long growing season. To get inspired for your own vegetable garden you should check out the local community gardens and wander around. There are plenty of Native Plant Gardens in the area. The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has a great list (https://www.cnps-scv.org/gardening/gardening-with-natives/69-public-gardens-of-native-plants-69).  In the same category, Mountain View’s Green Garden Showcase features front yards that are examples of California Native Plants, water wise gardens, and environmental friendly practices.(https://www.mountainview.gov/depts/pw/services/conserve/landscape/showcase.asp)

Art

Rodin's thinker (part of the Gates of Hell) at Stanford University.

With all museums closed right now I admit I’m a little art deprived. 

Sculptures are great outdoor artworks you can still admire. One of the largest collections of sculptures around is on the Stanford Campus. You can limit yourself to Rodin, it’s the largest in the U.S., or go around campus and find other inspiring pieces.

The Triton Museum in Santa Clara features a sculpture garden on the premises. (https://www.santaclaraca.gov/Home/Components/ServiceDirectory/ServiceDirectory/1260/2661)

Some local towns have maps to their public art works. I found the bike racks in Los Altos a welcoming change and great for kids to try to find them all!

If you are more of a mural enthusiast I recommend San Jose, Redwood City, and Palo Alto.

Some examples of public art:

Santa Clara: https://www.santaclaraca.gov/our-city/about-santa-clara/maps/art-statues

Los Altos: https://www.losaltosca.gov/publicartscommission/page/public-sculpture

Palo Alto (map): https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1AUOuWuDvI0_jAbZYvvY_JBD9lIs&ll=37.42470074587974%2C-122.16085689067381&z=14

History

San Jose History Walk (Number 25)

San Jose as the first Capitol of California has a rich history to share. They compiled a history walk for downtown. No need to print out a map, you can just follow the signs. If you would rather have a digital idea or would like to print out the brochure, here is the PDF: https://www.sanjose.org/pdf/downtown-san-jose-historic-walking-tour-guide

Japantown in San Jose offers historic information on their benches.

A few other towns have  lists of historic buildings. Rich Heli has compiled three historic walking tours for Mountain View: https://rick-heli.info/mvtour/

Shopping

High Delta Market a window art installation in Palo Alto.

While most shops are currently closed, most downtowns invite you for a nice evening stroll on main street. Mountain View, for example, closed off their downtown area for most car traffic. The other night I walked by an exercise class. Also window shopping is an option. My favorite non-shopping window is in Palo Alto at the Future Institute.

If you feel the need to acquire something while on a walk, check out a little free library near you or in some other neighborhood.

Nature

Greg Brown mural in Palo Alto.

I love the fact that we are able to walk to our neighborhood park. If you want to mix it up, why not explore another park near you? 

Canopy has  multiple self-guided tree walks: https://canopy.org/our-work/tree-walks/

Animals

Buddy the new donkey of Bol Park, Palo Alto.

Birdwatching while walking is always a great pastime. If you want to see egrets you should check out the Google campus.

Bring the kids for a peak at the donkeys in Bol Park

Do you have ideas for fun activity walks?