S is for…

Places in California, and things

This is a new post in my series “My A to Z of California”. It seems now I finished this post, that everything important in California starts with an S.

San Jose

The first one of the list of places in California with a S has to be the city we live in. It is the capitol of the Silicon Valley. We have lived here for the last nine years. Actually only a bit more than six years, because between 2010 and 2013 we lived in Campbell for a while. But Campbell is literally surrounded by San Jose. Before the arrival of the Spanish, the area around San Jose was inhabited by the Ohlone people. San Jose was founded on November 29, 1777. When California gained statehood in 1850, San Jose became the state’s first capital. 

Places in California: San Jose
© San Jose Makeup School

Places in California: San Jose
San Jose State University

Today San Jose is the third-most-populous city in California (1,026,908) and the economic, cultural, and political center of the Silicon Valley. The city lies inland surrounded by mountains on three sides and has an average of 301 days of sunshine.

Important landmarks in San Jose include  History Park at Kelley Park, Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, Plaza de César Chávez, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Mexican Heritage Plaza, Lick ObservatorySAP Center, Japantown San Jose, Winchester Mystery House, and The Tech Museum of Innovation. San Jose has major sports team are the San Jose Sharks and they also have a decent soccer football team, the Earthquakes.


I like living here. The climate is Mediterranean, the people are friendly and we live in a nice neighborhood where our kids can roam free. But is is a huge suburb and lacks the flair and bustling life of cities like San Francisco or LA.

Silicon Valley

Well, that’s the crazy tech and money driven bubble we live in.

Places in California: Silicon Valley
© Silicon Valley, Wikipedia

San FranciscoPlaces in California: San Francisco

Is the most beautiful city in the Golden State and for me personally it is also the most beautiful city in the US and at least one of the 10 most beautiful cities in the world. I LOVE the Golden Gate Bridge and even after all these years, it always gives me goosebumps to drive, ride or walk over it. My favorite places in the city are North Beach, Chrissy Fields and Hayes Valley. To have a sunset cocktail at “The View” or the “Top of the Mark” is a MUST while you’re in the city. Check out my other posts about the city as well:

Best of May, A night and a day in the city, 4 hours in San Francisco



We’ve seen so many beautiful sunsets in San Jose, at the Pacific coast and furthermore in Hawaii. And I’m unbelievably grateful for these moments.


Sushi & Suppenküche

OMG, there is the best sushi here. And so many places that I won’t even bother to name some of them. My favorites so far are probably Sushi Maru and Dan Izakaya (former Tanto).

Places in California: Sushi


And then there is the famous “Suppenkuche” in Hayes Valley/San Francisco. The Schnitzel is to die for and you get it for a fair price. They don’t take reservation for parties less than 6 people. Make sure to be there early enough (get in line before they open at 5 pm or be prepared for a long wait). A good alternative is brunch on Sunday. They offer almost 40 different kinds of beer from Germany and Austria!

Santa Cruz & Surfing

Santa Cruz is the cool surfer dude & dope town about 25 miles west from us. Its UC has an average reputation but offers surfing classes for its students. And that’s what Santa Cruz is known for: Surfing. It has the Surfing Museum and the famous surf spot “Steamer Lane”. But don’t forget to ride the Giant Dipper and get ice cream at Marianne’s.

Our favorite beach is the 4-mile beach north of Santa Cruz. Well, I do not surf, but my husband does. It is his passion and he’s loving the fact how close we live to the ocean and that he can drive to Santa Cruz in the morning for “dawn patrol” before going to work. Now our 13-year old has picked it up, too. She did a surf camp at Manresa State Beach this summer and goes now surfing with daddy. Yes, I will probably not get out of here anytime soon.

Santa Barbara

is a beautiful city, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the mountains of Los Padres National Forest. Santa Barbara has a small, but renowned Zoo, a great selection of preeminent restaurants and is definitely worth visiting.  Mission Santa Barbara was founded in 1786 by Spanish Franciscans.

Places in California: Santa Monica





I love Santa Monica, but not necessarily in the summer. It’s too busy. We visited twice and the first time during Thanksgiving break was much better than our recent visit in July. I like to stroll along downtown promenade on Third Street. There are just so little places in the US with shops and no cars and I appreciate every single one of them.

On Santa Monica Pier you can either go on a ride or listen to one of the numerous street artists. Apparently the pier is famous for Pokémon hunting, but my girls were rather disappointed.

Places in California: Santa Monica

Skiing & Snowboarding

Places in California: Tahoe

Well, it’s not the Alps, but there are some gorgeous resorts around Tahoe that offer spectacular views of the lake. Even though Heavenly is probably one of my favorites, Homewood is a much more affordable alternative. Even though you have less and easier slopes, the views are equally gorgeous. Besides we like Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. Even though they have no lake views, these resorts have their own qualities: Bear Valley is a great, affordable resort for family and beginners and it’s a bit closer from the Bay Area. Rose Mountain and Kirkwood have the best snow and are more fun for younger people and pros. Looking down “The Chutes” takes your breath away and “The Wall” is a killer run 🙂

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  1. San

    August 10, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Hey, you forgot our capitol… 😉

    1. bellamonte

      August 10, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      Right. One more place with S 🙂 But it’s my personal A to Z and Sacramento is not really significant for my life in California. I actually only have been there once, shame on me! Funny, I just commented on your Thursday post.

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