6 Beautiful Parks near Saratoga for a Family Hike this Summer

When we’re not in the office helping our patients feel more confident, we like to be outdoors with our families – and thankfully, our area is rich with places to go. Here are six of our favorites:

1.  Wilder Ranch State Park

Boasting an impressive 34 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, Wilder Ranch State Park has some of the most beautiful scenery in our immediate area. It’s enough to overwhelm any Saratoga dentist you meet!

Trails wind through valleys and across terraces, views are spectacular, and there are historic gardens on site to visit. The trails and sights are so extensive, Wilder Ranch can be a place for a quick afternoon out or for a more serious, extended hike.

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2. Lexington Reservoir

Speaking of the Lexington Reservoir, it provides a great place for families to indulge in some outdoor exploration all on its own. Located on the Los Gatos Creek, it’s the third largest reservoir in Santa Clara County.

Hiking trails surround the reservoir and provide fantastic views of the water and of Silicon Valley. It’s also the centerpiece for the Lexington Reservoir County Park, which features rowing, fishing, and more. As dentists in Saratoga, CA, we love this park!

3.  Sanborn Park and Ranch Lake

The sprawling Sanborn Park is nearly 4,000 acres, with a wealth of trails befitting its grand size. This park is heavy with forest, making it ideal for serious hikers.

In addition to the beautiful Ranch Lake, the park also plays host to the first segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, with at 500 miles long circumnavigates the entire Bay region. That’s quite a hike!

4.  Los Gatos Creek Trail

The Los Gatos Creek Trail is a fantastic 10-mile trail that is suitable not only for a great family hike, but that is also good for cyclists, skaters, serious hikers, and others. It extends from the Lexington Reservoir all the way into San Jose to Meridian Avenue.

This means the trail not only provides extensive walking through some of the most gorgeous nature our area has to offer, but it also connects a number of key areas. 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.

5.  Fremont-Older Preserve

The Fremont-Older Preserve is a 739-acre swath of natural land that 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.

There is limited access for cyclists and horse riding, too. That means it’s a terrific place for the family, with plenty of rooms to explore. Dogs on leashes are welcome!

6.  Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Yes, this is located in Monterey, so it’s a bit of a drive, but it’s worth it! Located along a gorgeous coastal area, the park features some of the loveliest scenery in the region. Trails wind here and there, giving you access to historic sites and more.

Please keep in mind that dogs are not allowed in this park, not even in a vehicle, so if you usually include your dog in your family outdoor adventures, she’ll have to stay home for this one.

5 Fantastic Places to Eat with the Family Near Saratoga

Sometimes you and the family just need to get out of the house, even if only because you can’t bear to look at the kitchen after a long, busy day. The trick is finding a restaurant that is kid-friendly.

Don’t worry, we have you covered. Here are five of our favorites in and around Saratoga:

1.  Aldo's Ristoranta & Bar

Don’t let the “bar” part of their name fool you. Aldo’s is family-friendly the moment you walk in the door. This Los Gatos Italian restaurant not only boasts a patient, friendly staff and excellent Italian food (including great fish dishes), they are sure to be prepared for families, too.

Tables have paper tablecloths that children are encouraged to draw on, and the owners always give a warm welcome to kids. They even have ice cream!

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2.  Campbell Brewing Company

Located in Campbell, the Campbell Brewing Company is a brewpub and restaurant that specializes in Southern style BBQ, a rarity in northern California. Feel free to take a pass on the beer if you like, because the food and atmosphere is reason enough to go.

Being able to eat out on the sidewalk is great, and the BBQ ribs are just out of this world. There is a cupcake place across the street where you and the family can stop after dinner, too.

3.  Pono Hawaiian Grill, Santa Cruz

A trip into Santa Cruz is always worthwhile thanks to the Pono Hawaiian Grill. The name tells you exactly what to expect – a Hawaiian-themed restaurant with all the teriyaki chicken and coconut prawns you could want.

What really sets it apart, though, is the “Aloha” spirit of the place. With patio seating, live music, and warm and friendly people, you’ll truly feel like you’re getting away from home for a little while.

4.  Willow Street Pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? Willow Street is a wood-fired pizza place that is perfect for families. The patio seating is roomy and comfortable, and kids eat free on Tuesdays, which is always nice for the family.

They usually have sports on the television for a distraction, and their new thin crust pizza is phenomenal. They also offer other dishes, like pasta and lemon chicken, just in case someone isn’t in the mood for pizza.

5.  Andale in Los Gatos

A casual Mexican restaurant in Los Gatos, you’ll love the atmosphere just as much as you’ll love the food. Located right next to the Apple store, the patio seating is a great place to be and will make the kids feel right at home.

If you’re a big fan of Mexican and want to go big, try the El Presidente burrito. It’s a monster!

Have a recommendation of your own? Leave it in the comments!

5 Fun Dog Parks Near Saratoga to Let Your Furry Friends Play

Summer will be here sooner than you realize, 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.

5 Beautiful Places Near Saratoga to See the Spring Wildflowers Bloom

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.

5 Family-Friendly Eateries in San Jose We Absolutely Love

Now that the school year is here, families will be looking for something to do to break up the monotony. No better way to do that than heading out for a good meal – and thankfully for you, San Jose is filled with great places to eat with the family!

Here are five of our favorite family-friendly places to eat in the area. If you haven’t checked them out, pay them a visit!

Maggiano's Little Italy
3055 Olin Ave, Ste 1000, San Jose

You can’t mention food places to eat without mentioning an Italian place, and Maggiano's is just what you want when the family is hungry. The atmosphere is great and it’s located in a cool part of town, and as you’d expect from a good Italian place, the portions are generous!

Bill's Cafe
1115 Willow St, San Jose

Sometimes you and the family just want a big, hearty, classic breakfast. Well, look no further than Bill’s to get exactly that. It isn’t anything fancy, nor does it aspire to be, nor does it NEED to be.

This is all about getting big portions, home cooked food, and a warm atmosphere. Nice place to grab breakfast on the weekend with the family!

Aqui Cal-Mex
1145 Lincoln Ave, San Jose

Maybe we’re biased, but we think the best Cali-Mex in the state is located right here in San Jose. Aqui is an excellent example of what we have to offer, and it’s a family-friendly place the kids will love.

They have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, too. Good food in a casual atmosphere – check them out!

Smoking Pig BBQ Company
1114 N 4th St, San Jose

If you’re a meat lover, you’ll be in for a treat here. With big portions of delicious meat of all types, REAL BBQ and the best pulled pork you’ll find in the region, Smoking Pig is a delight for families who like their meals meaty. Now that the school year is here, treat yourself!

Falafel Drive-In
2301 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose

Now THIS is the sort of place you go with the family when you want a good time. Sitting outdoors in this sort of setting is always nice, and let’s be honest: Falafel is fun to eat!

The food is really good and is a good value for your dollar. Oh, and don’t pass up on the shakes. They have amazing shakes!

13 Things You Didn't 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 Famous Faces With 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!

5 Great Places to do Gift Shopping Near Saratoga

It’s that time of year again, when we’re all on the hunt for the perfect gift. Some people are easy - a gift card, a bottle of wine, etc. - and some can be a real challenge.

But that’s half the fun, isn’t it? The hunt for the ideal gift!

Thankfully, there are a lot of fantastic gift shops in and Saratoga where you can find unique, quirky gifts. Here are five to explore this holiday season/

The Barn Owl (Saratoga)

This fun home and gift shop is a treat to browse. There is an eclectic assortment of items to comb through, from home decorations to kitchen goods, knickknacks, garden ornaments, and general gift items. It’s not hard to find a great gift here!

Out of the Envelope (Los Gatos)

It’s not gift-giving season without cards, right? Out of the Envelope takes the whole idea of card shops to the next level, with custom printing and personalization, embroidery, custom envelopes, personalized cards, and more – and yes, they have an assortment of gifts, too. We’re recommending them for the holiday season, but in truth you’ll find a lot to like here for ANY kind of special occasion.

Cosmos Gift Shop (Santa Clara)

With a wide selection of housewares, cosmetics, clothes, and other great giftables, most of it with an Asian flair – they bring in a lot of goods from Korea, Japan, and elsewhere – Cosmos is a great shop for when you want to find a gift you won’t find anywhere else. The employees are very polite, too

 Fat Robin (Saratoga)

This is a party-focused gift shop that has everything you’ll need for a gathering at your home – dishware, stuff for the kitchen, etc. – as well as a great assortment of unusual and interesting gifts. You can even put together gift baskets! If you’re having a party and gifts will be given, this is a great place to handle both at once.

Voluptuary (Los Gatos)

Clothing, jewelry, fragrances, candles, and accessories: this is an awesome small town boutique with lots of eye-catching goods that would make great gifts. They carry a lot of niche lines you won’t find in larger retail stores, and the employees are smart, friendly, and know their stuff. If you’re shopping for a woman, this is a great place to stop!

We love the holiday season and we love giving gifts, so it’s always a treat to find a shop that is unlike any other. We think these five fit the bill, but we know there are many others out there.

Know of a great local gift shop with interesting gifts? Let us know about it in the comments!

5 Overlooked Christmas Season Events 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.  Nutcracker Santa Cruz: Experience the Magic

There are few traditions our family likes more than taking in a holiday show during the Christmas season, and few shows speak the holiday as well as the Nutcracker, a favorite for many.

This year, the Santa Cruz City Ballet and the Santa Cruz Dance Guild is presenting The Nutcracker at Cabrillo's Crocker Theater. It’s only for one weekend, though, so grab your tickets while you can!

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 at Saratoga Federated Church

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 the title is A Family Christmas and will be held December 7th through 9th. Get more info here.

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

5 Charitable Organizations Near Saratoga & San Jose That Deserve Support

This is a time of year when people start thinking about others more than themselves – that’s why we’ve put together this list of local charitable organizations that deserve your attention.

Take a look:

Humane Society Silicon Valley

One of the best known animal welfare organizations in the United States, the Humane Society Silicon Valley works to find homes for animals that need shelter, educate pet owners on best practices, provide an array of programs for pets and pet owners, and make life better overall for our furry friends.

They have helped animals in the area since all the way back in 1929, and have done so without receiving any tax dollars or money from national humane organizations.
 
The Humane Society Silicon Valley welcomes donations and volunteers. If you can help care for or foster animals, help with customer service, help run youth programs, and more, find them at hssv.org.

Food Pantries (many)

No matter how thriving your community is, there will always be people there going through a hard time. Our area is no exception. Thankfully, there are over a dozen food pantries here to help those during times when they need help.
 
Your local food pantries are always in need of unopened, non-perishable food. Some need volunteers to help them out, too. To see a list of food pantries in the area and information on how to contact them, visit this page.

Victory Ranch

They’ve been a top-rated charity in the region for a reason. Located in San Jose, this non-profit works with overlooked, neglected, and at-risk kids to help them have the kind of experience they couldn’t otherwise have. Working up close and person with horses, the experience broadens their lives in many ways.
 
They accept both donations and volunteers.

Children’s Healthy Smile Project

As dentists, we can get behind this one! The Children’s Healthy Smile Project is devoted to promoting excellent oral health in kids and children. The group provides education kits to kids of all ages, and also offers support for the Head Start program, among other efforts.
 
The Children’s Healthy Smile Project operates thanks to corporate donations and donations by individuals.

Abode Services

Located in Fremont, Abode Services pursues a tough mission: to eradicate homelessness. This group finds and provide housing for at risk families, and re-homes families that have found themselves homeless. The ultimate goal is to keep families together and get them back into a real home.
 
This group accepts donations of goods and money, as well as the help of more than 800 community volunteers. And they need the help! From prepping and service meals to tutoring, administrative support, and more, they need volunteers.