13 Things You Might Not Know About Saratoga, CA

There is a lot to love about living in Saratoga. It’s widely considered one of the most desirable towns in California to live and work for a reason: it’s a beautiful historic community!

Throw in the fact that the people are wonderful, the weather is great, and the scenery is gorgeous and you’ve got a place we’re proud to call home.

There is a little more to Saratoga than “just” the fantastic people and great quality of life, though. Take a look at these 15 things you might not know about this amazing community:

1. Saratoga’s original name was McCarthysville. The town was formed around a toll, which was located at the present day intersection of Big Basin Way and 3rd St.

2. Other names for the town included Toll Town and Bank Mills. The name Saratoga was made official in 1865.

3. Legendary actress Joan Fontaine, who was twice nominated for an Academy Award for her roles in Alfred Hitchcock films (winning once), lived in Saratoga before hitting it big.

4. In 2009, Saratoga was named one of the top 20 most educated towns in the United States.

5. The town of Saratoga was made a California Historical Landmark in 1950.

6. Saratoga’s Hakone Gardens was a filming location for the Academy Award winning film Memoirs of a Geisha, released in 2005.

7. CNN/Money ranked Saratoga number 4 on its 2008 list of top earning towns.

8. Sanborn County Park plays host to the only outdoor Shakespearean theater company in Silicon Valley.

9. Had Saratoga not incorporated in 1956, it would have been annexed to San Jose.

10. Saratoga is named after a city on the other side of the country, specifically Saratoga Springs, New York.

11. Legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who directed Jaws, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park and others, is a graduate of Saratoga High School.

12. Saratoga is home to the Villa Montalvo, a historic landmark resting on some 175 acres. It has played host to notable figures like Jack London, Ethel Barrymore, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Edwin Markham.

13. The town’s Mountain Winery was made famous in part by legendary actor and director Orson Welles (Citizen Kane), who voiced the famed slogan, "We will sell no wine before its time."

5 Great Dog Parks Near Saratoga To Enjoy This Summer

Summer is finally here, and dog owners know there are few things more enjoyable on a nice summer day than spending some time outdoors with your furry friend.

Thankfully, Saratoga and the surrounding area are packed with fantastic places to escape for a little while with your four-legged pal.

Here are five of our favorites:

Fremont Older Open Space Preserve

Much more than just a dog park, this 739-acre open space preserve has loads of great trails, including a 900-foot hilltop with lovely views. All those trails are dog-friendly to leashed dogs, making this a great spot to go for a walk in nature with your furry friend.

Los Gatos Creek County Park

Take a quick jaunt to nearby Campbell for a dog park made especially for dogs. Two fenced in areas accommodate small and large dogs, and it has all the amenities you need, including water, benches, and “pooper scoopers.”

The grassy areas are great for your pup’s paws! Located at 1250 Dell Ave, there is free street parking nearby, or you can use the Dell Avenue parking area, which has an $8 parking fee.

Wilson Park, Cupertino

Located in nearby Cupertino, Wilson Park welcomes leashed pets for walking and playing in its large, grassy areas. Located at 10298 S Portal Ave. Bring some friends and toss around the ball on the baseball fields!

Los Gatos Creek Trail

If you and your pup like to take in some adventure, try the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Supported by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, this is a fantastic place to walk your dog, with close to 10 miles of walkable trail, paved areas, and nice views of the reservoir and more.

There are multiple access points, including at East Main Street at College Avenue and Miles Avenue. The trail also has access to Oak Meadow Park and Vasona County Park.

Backyard Wineries

This is not a dog park, but it is a dog-friendly getaway if you want to spend some outdoor time with your dog this summer. The winery is pet friendly, offers selections from two different wineries, and is located at 45 W Main St in Los Gatos.

Taking A Tour of the Other Places Named Saratoga in the U.S.

It’s no secret that we love Saratoga. We live and work here for a good reason: it’s a terrific community, one of the nicest on the west coast, and we’re blessed to have patients here. It’s been ranked as one of the best earning towns, most well educated towns, and more.

So obviously there are a lot of good things to say about Saratoga, California. That’s why so many of our articles are about the great things in this community!

But what about all those other Saratogas? You see, we’re not alone. You’ve probably heard of Saratoga Springs, NY, but it turns out we have namesakes all across the country. There are many.

Knowing that makes us wonder what these other Saratoga communities are like. What makes them stand out? What makes them unique? What separates them from us?

Saratoga, Indiana

In the heartland of the U.S. you’ll find Saratoga, Indiana, a tiny little village of just 250 or so people. It’s been around since the 1800s, but needless to say there isn’t much here. In fact, the town had about 400 people in 1970 and has been declining ever since. Doubtful a vacation here is in the works.

Saratoga, Minnesota

Over in Minnesota, their Saratoga fares a little better, but only a little. In Winona County you’ll find a town of just over 600 people that shares our name, though not much else. This is a rural community through and through.

Saratoga, New York

Not to be confused with Saratoga Springs, on the East Coast you’ll find a pleasant town of 5,100 with a history that dates to the 1700s. This town began as Fort Saratoga, and is perhaps best known as place where British General John Burgoyne surrendered to American General Horatio Gates after the Battle of Saratoga. Today it hosts the Saratoga Race Course, the oldest operating sports facility in the United States. It’s a beautiful town, made even more beautiful by adjoining our next entry…

Saratoga Springs, New York

This town of 27,000 is one of the most beautiful cities in the northeast, an historic community that has been a popular tourist destination for over 200 years. Located in the heart of New York’s so-called “Capital Region,” it has routinely been ranked in the top 10 places to live in the state. The city has a thriving thoroughbred racing scene, gorgeous golf courses, theaters and the performing arts, a dozen great museums, and more. It has even been a shooting location for notable films like 12 Years A Slave, The Horse Whisperer, and Seabiscuit. Needless to say, this would be a wonderful place to spend some time!

Saratoga, North Carolina

The last stop on our Saratoga tour is another tiny village, this one comprised of just 400 or so people in rural South Carolina. It’s home to an historic plantation, but there aren’t many other tourist destinations nearby.

Interesting to see all these other towns that share the name of our illustrious town. And there are more, too! If you found this article interesting, perhaps we’ll tour some more Saratogas in a future article. Thanks for reading!

Where To Get Out And See The Wildflowers This Spring

It’s wildflower season! We love to get out onto nearby trails looking for fields of poppies and other wildflowers. Seeing the Santa Cruz mountains and Santa Clara Valley can be truly breathtaking this time of year.
 
If you want to take in this wild beauty in all its glory, there are some great places to do it within a short drive from our office. These are a few of our favorite places: 

Fremont Older Open Space Preserve

Located just an eight-minute drive from our office, this 739-acre swath of natural land also has close proximity to Stevens Creek County Park. With a wealth of hiking trails, gorgeous open meadows, tall hills and more, it’s an oasis for the family right on the fringes of urban sprawl –and this time of year, it’s loaded with wildflowers!
 
Gorgeous views of the Santa Cruz mountains and Santa Clara Valley, too. This part is a terrific place for the family, with plenty of rooms to explore. Dogs on leashes are welcome, too!

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

If the more than 3,300 acres of open land aren’t a big enough draw, the dazzling display of wildflowers between now and June will be. Poppies, lupine, gumweed, mules ears and many more turn the hills a wash of dazzling colors that have to be seen in person to be believed.
 
The numerous hawks, eagles and turkey vultures fill the sky, too, making the view something special no matter here you look.

Long Ridge and Skyline Ridge

One of the top spots for wildflowers in the area, Long Ridge offers spectacular views and trails suitable for both short trips and extended hikes. It’s connected to the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve by one of the longest continuous segments of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, making it perfect for adventurous types, but this time of year the big draw are those amazing flowers.
 
Spread out across rolling green hills, the scenery is some of the best in the state, especially in the late spring.

Almaden Quicksilver County Park

With spectacular natural diversity spread out over more them 4,000 acres, most of them packed with trails, this is a fantastic park if you love to take in the spring and early summer wildflowers. In fact, the park is widely known for its amazing wildflower displays, which boast breathtaking color like you’ve never seen.
 
It’s certainly worth the trip! In New Almaden, access the park from Mockingbird Hill Lane, Wood Road, and via the Hacienda entrance.

The Los Gatos Creek Trail

If you want to see poppies in abundance, this is where you want to be. This fantastic 10-mile trail is great for hiking. It extends from the Lexington Reservoir all the way into San Jose to Meridian Avenue, providing extensive walking through some of the most gorgeous nature our area has to offer and connecting a number of key areas worth exploring for those who want to see some of the region’s natural wonders.
 
You can find access points at East Main Street at College Avenue, Miles Avenue, through Oak Meadow Park, Vasona County Park, and from the Lexington Reservoir.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Dental Implants (But Were Afraid To Ask)

With all the amazing advances in medical technology we take for granted – MRI machines, artificial hearts, vaccinations, and more – it’s easy to overlook one you see every day but never notice: dental implants.

These modern versions of what we used to call “false teeth” are more amazing than you probably realize. One reason they are such an important medical advance is because people in all walks of life need them.

Dental Implants By The Numbers

  • More than 5.5 million dental implants have been inserted in the U.S. through 2006.
  • Each year, 500,000 people receive dental implants.
  • About 30 million citizens are missing all teeth in at least one jaw.
  • About 25 percent of Americans over the age of 74 have lost every one of their teeth.
  • Over 2/3 of people in the United States between 35 and 44 have at least one tooth missing.

Those numbers are growing every year, too. The world of dental implant has eclipsed $1 billion annually and continues to expand. This should come as little surprise, since people have been concerned about their dental health since the dawn of time.

Dental Care Throughout History

  • Braces date all the way back to about 2,000 BC.
  • Some form of dental implants date back to at least 600 AD.
  • The ancient Greeks often wrote about better ways to straighten their teeth.
  • The Mayans used pieces of shell to replace lost teeth.
  • The modern toothbrush was invented around the year 600 in China.

Because many diseases can be diagnosed by early symptoms that appear in our mouths, paying attention to our oral health is paramount. Good oral health also contributes to a better appearance, and a good appearance makes us feel great.

People who take care of their mouths and who see their dentist regularly are looking for the confidence that comes with knowing they look and feel good.

Modern dental implants and the benefits they provide over previous procedures can play a big role in that.

Facts About Modern Dental Implants

  • Many modern dental implants are generally made of titanium.
  • Dental implants have a proven success rate of 98%.
  • Modern implants will usually last your entire life.
  • You cannot get a cavity in a dental implant.
  • Modern dental implants have a decades’ long record of safety.
  • Titanium can fuse with bone, so implants help stimulate bone growth.

The procedure for getting and recovering from dental implants is usually fast, allowing patients to get back to their normal life quickly, too.

With a record of safety, speed, and effectiveness, it should be easy to see why we consider dental implants to be one of the great advances in modern medical technology.

5 Christmas Season Hidden Gems Near Saratoga

Most South Bay folks have heard about Christmas in the Park and the Los Gatos Christmas Parade, but they only scratch the surface of the holiday delights this region has to offer – and we know you and the family want to experience something unique this holiday season. 

With that in mind, here are some different ideas worth the drive (in some cases) to kick off your holiday season!

1.  Nutz Remixed

We went to this last year on a whim and it ended up being a fantastic discovery. Our boys loved it. The show started with a mime who was so funny, one of our sons was literally falling off his seat he was laughing so hard.  

They show then moved on to an amazing mix of Cirque du Soleil type acrobatics, Nutcracker-esque hip hop and ballet numbers, and more.

Especially unique was the fact that the whole show was accompanied by a phenomenal acapella group, SoVoSó, so that literally every “instrument” we heard was actually a person's voice.  

2. Gilroy Gardens Holiday Lights

This trip is one of our family traditions, and we bet after one visit it will become a tradition for you, too. Just be sure to wear long underwear, hats and gloves because it gets chilly.

All the trees here are lit up by white and colored lights. It’s beautiful! They do a live Peanuts Christmas Special complete with Linus (and his blanket, of course) talking about the real meaning of Christmas.

Getting some hot chocolate and riding the train around the park is a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit.

3.  Winter Lodge Outdoor Skating in Palo Alto

For over 60 years, families have enjoyed skating at the Winter Lodge in Palo Alto. Consider it the West Coast’s answer to New York’s famed Rockefeller Center ice skating tradition.

They have public skating, classes, and you can even make group reservations. This is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening during the holiday season.

 4.  Polar Express Train Ride in Jamestown

Who doesn’t like trains? There is something about them that is magical and that draws kids and kids at heart to them. That’s why we love the Polar Express Train Ride.

This hour-long train ride boasts all the trimmings, including hot chocolates, treats, and of course, Santa himself. 

5.  Christmas Show

This one is personal to us. Our church puts on an amazing FREE Christmas Show every year, and we urge you to give it a visit. This year it will be December 9th and 10th at 7pm and December 11th at 3:30 and 5:30pm.

This is a great show for the whole family with loads of Christmas spirit. You’ll have a great time!

7 Things We Learned About Taking Our Kids Backpacking

One of the things we enjoy more than anything is escaping to the great outdoors. Here are a few things my wife and I have learned on our extended hikes with two young sons.

1) Start Your Hike With A Boat / Horse / Bike Ride 

We began our hike with a boat ride that cut 2.5 miles off our journey to our camp, preserving some of the kids’ young energy for the difficult terrain ahead.

This included 700 feet of elevation gain over two miles to our base camp destination, so opening the hike this way helped ensure they wouldn’t be wiped out before we even began.

2) Bring Tempting Trail Treats

Skittles, gummi bears, and other sweets can be a great motivator to keep going. Before setting off, we stopped at a convenience store and allowed them to get two full bags of their favorite candy. Yes, that’s pretty unusual from a dentist!

But the combination of sweet temptations and the wilderness helped keep them focused on the tough stuff: hiking!

3) Remember That Toilet Paper is Limited

When you go backpacking, you only bring what you absolutely need, you have to make it last, and anything that goes into the woods with you comes back out with you.

That means you won’t be bringing much toilet paper, and that means you’ve got to make it last, just like people during the Great Depression would made a small slice of salt pork last for weeks.

Make sure any younger hikers on your trip understand this, otherwise they’ll go through it on the first day. It almost happened to us!

4) Leave The Gadgets At Home

Aside from a phone for emergencies and/or GPS, make sure you leave the gadgets at home – especially the video games! All kids really need are some rocks to throw and maybe a body of water to toss them into. That, along with all the stunning wilderness around you, is enough to keep them occupied all day.

5) Don’t Neglect Fishing

Water up high in the mountains is frigidly cold, but the allure of casting a fishing line into those chilly waters is one kids can’t resist.

The water is too cold for swimming, but the mystery of what lives in the water is sure to draw their attention. Go prepared with some modest fishing gear, such as hooks and line, and you can fill a whole afternoon.

6) Tap Into Your Ingenuity

That water that is too cold for swimming? The kids are going to want to have water adventures regardless. That means it will be your job to supervise, ensure they are safe, and are having true once-in-a-lifetime adventures at the same time.

We ended up with a veritable engineering project, using 50-year-old logs, storm-felled tree trunks that barely floated, and more to make rafts and makeshift boats, all in an effort to reach a tiny little island.

A great learning experience AND a great bonding experience.

7) Explore Off The Trail (Safely)

There is nothing like the excitement of heading off the marked path to find a hidden lake – just ensure you know how to use a compass and can read a topographic map!

Teach the kids how to do the same while you’re at it. Soon you’ll be finding lakes and snowfields not on the map.

There was much celebration when we found the hidden lake. Imagine our surprise when it came equipped with a professional fishing guide who was happy to rig the kids’ fishing lines 'the right way' and teach them proper casting technique! What a humbling, enjoyable experience. Thank you South Tahoe Fly Fishing!

Overall it was a terrific learning experience, a great bonding experience, and an adventure we (and hopefully our two boys) will never forget. 

6 Places Near Saratoga to Hike With The Family This Autumn

If you’ve read previous articles, you know I love getting outdoors, especially if I can share that time with family.

We know a lot of you do, too, so here are some of our favorite places to escape to nature for a hike, whether just for an afternoon or for an entire weekend. See you on the trails!

Castle Rock State Park

With 34 miles of trails, one of the highest ridges in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and some truly challenging rock climbing for adventurous types, Castle Rock State Park is for those truly dedicated to the outdoors.

Bikes are permitted on some trails, same with horses, but most of this rugged outdoor terrain is made for hikers. There are primitive campsites for people who want to stay overnight, amazing vistas, and enough trails to keep you busy for a dozen trips. 

Sanborn Park and Ranch Lake

The expansive Sanborn Park is close to 4,000 acres, with a load of trails to go along with its impressive size. This park is dense with forest, making it a good match for serious hikers.

In addition to the lovely Ranch Lake, the park is also home to the first stretch of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, which is a 500-mile long trail that circumnavigates the entire Bay region. 

Wilder Ranch State Park 

With an impressive 34 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and more, Wilder Ranch State Park has some of the nicest scenery in our immediate area and is perfect for hiking a single day or full weekend.

Trails wind through valleys and across terraces, the views and vistas are spectacular, and you can even visit historic gardens.

 

Los Gatos Creek Trail 

This fantastic 10-mile trail is suitable not only for a hike with the family, but also good for cyclists, skaters, serious hikers, and others.

The Los Gatos Creek Trail extends from the Lexington Reservoir all the way into San Jose, providing extensive walking through some of the most breathtaking nature the region has to offer, yet without taking you too far from civilization.

The Fremont-Older Preserve 

You’ll enjoy this 739-acre swath of natural land. The Fremont-Older Preserve is close to Stevens Creek County Park. With plenty of hiking trails, wide open meadows, hills to climb and much more, it’s an escape for the family not too far from urban sprawl.

You’ll even enjoy some limited access for cyclists and horse riders as well. Dogs on leashes are also welcome!

Lexington Reservoir

This well-known watery escape is not just the third largest reservoir in Santa Clara County, it also provides a good place for families to indulge in some outdoor exploration. Hiking trails wind around the reservoir and offer great views of Silicon Valley.

It’s also the centerpiece for the Lexington Reservoir County Park, where you’ll find rowing, fishing, and more.

5 People You Didn’t Realize Had Ties To Saratoga

There are a lot of things to love about Saratoga. Its community events. Its great access to nature. Its local businesses. And of course, its people. 

Most people in Saratoga are just regular folks, working hard every day and enjoying what life has to offer. A few, however, have seen their work result in international fame. Here are five of them:

Steven Spielberg, director

Names don’t get much bigger than Steven Spielberg. This acclaimed director has made some of the most beloved films of all time, including Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

Spielberg spent his senior year in high school at Saratoga High School, during which time he wrote for the Saratoga Falcon student paper. From there, he would go on to become a legend.

Joan Fontaine, actress

Academy Award winner (and two-time nominee) Joan Fontaine spent her childhood in Saratoga, where she attended Los Gatos High School. By the 1930s, she began to build her career as an actress, including two with Katharine Hepburn (A Million to One and Quality Street).

By 1940, she had become a bona fide star in her own right, nominated for an Oscar for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, and then winning one the following year for Hitchcock’s Suspicion.

Joe Murray, animator 

You may not know Joe Murray, but chances are good you know some of his creations, such as the animated series Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo. Murray isn’t front Saratoga, per se, but he created the series in his studio here.

The work he did in Saratoga spawned a big hit among kids and adults alike, a series that lasted more than 50 episodes and is now a beloved cult classic.

His Camp Lazlo was in some ways even bigger, lasting more than 60 episodes and winning numerous awards, including three Emmys and three Pulcinella Awards.

Vienna Teng, singer

Vienna Teng’s immense songwriting talents have resulted in a string of five acclaimed albums and world recognition for her work. She was born here in Saratoga, where she began playing classical piano at an early age and ended up being salutatorian of her Saratoga High School graduating class.

Her professional music career began to take off in 2002, and she was soon noticed by NPR, David Letterman, and many others. Even more amazing, she continued to pursue her MBA and MS even while maintaining a successful music career.

Patrick Marleau, hockey player

No San Jose Shark has scored more goals than Patrick Marleau, captain of the team from 2004 to 2009. In fact, he also leads the team in all-time points, shots, and more.

He’s one of the few NHL players to have played in over 1,400 games and is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist. He is even a two-time nominee for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. When choosing a place to settle down with his family, Marleau chose Saratoga.

Pretty impressive group of people, and a group we are proud to associate with our town!