Go: Villa Montalvo
Villa Montalvo is a Silicon Valley gem that every person should visit often. It's stunning, peaceful, refreshing—simply put, it's nourishment for the soul.
Tucked into the heart of Saratoga at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, this century-old villa is easily accessible, less than a mile off Highway 9. As you meander up the road and catch your first glimpse of the setting, your stress levels will instantly decrease.
The expansive property boasts manicured gardens, statues (by old and new artists alike), a large lawn, and a redwood forest with shaded hiking trails that lead you to a lookout point with a panoramic view of the valley. The climb to the lookout is just under a mile. It's a great hike for children, but make sure to bring water and plan for rest stops. The trail is too narrow for a stroller; leashed dogs are allowed.
Montalvo is exquisite year-round, but I especially recommend visiting in the summer: while my favorite Open Space Preserves are dry and yellow, Montalvo remains lush with plenty of shade. The gates are open daily from 8 am - 5 pm. The cherry on top is that this outing is absolutely free! No fee to enter and no fee to park. All you have to do is go! Hike, run, stroll, picnic, read, nap, sketch, sit in silence. If you live in Silicon Valley, make sure you are well acquainted with this refuge. The beauty will leave you speechless.
Photographs of Montalvo don't do it justice, so I'll leave that for your eyes to discover. This photograph is of a column along the road as you approach the main entrance.