Instagram has given us so many gifts: planking, food porn, and slime-making documentaries to name a few. Among these gifts is the rise of professional Instagrammers who have a seemingly never-ending budget to travel around the world taking aesthetically-pleasing shots for a living. As an average young Instagram user, I can’t help but want to populate my feed with artsy photos as well, albeit on a human-scale budget. I’ve compiled a list of places around Silicon Valley that will instantly up your Insta game — without air travel or having to find parking in San Francisco.

Santana Row

Cute boutiques? Check. Luxurious spas and salons? Check. An artsy wall to take cute photos in front of? CHECK. This wall has cropped up over social media increasingly often in recent years, and it’s no mystery why —the vivid wall is right out of a Mediterranean seaside village. What remains a mystery, to us at least, is the exact location of the wall, which Yahoo answer netizens have different ideas about. Some say it’s near Allysum Lane, while others say it’s on an unmapped alley off Stevens Creeks. One person claimed to know the exact coordinates: 37.3205N, -121.9474W. Whatever the case, we’re sure at least one local shop owners will be able to direct you to this photogenic gem. Some people try to get edgy by climbing onto the metal grills — creativity is key to getting that killer Insta pic, but we say safety first!

California’s Great America

It may not be Disneyland, but Santa Clara’s 100-acre Great America has still got everything that we love about amusement parks. The park’s grounds include roller-coasters galore, a quaint carousel with lots of Instagram potential, and numerous brightly-colored walls if you’re into that vibrant aesthetic. The annual Halloween Haunt haunted house is also a worthwhile trip (and one that will likely leave you terrified of everything for a few days).

Mission Peak

We know Fremont is a bit of a trek, but Mission Peak’s views are to die for. And of course there’s the famous pole at the top of the hill as a reward for pushing the limits of your body for three miles. Hikers are advised to bring lots of water, sunscreen and a hat, and to start the ascent early in the morning. You’ll feel on top of the world, and be able to get some killer snaps too!

Bare Bowls

Actually, scratch that. Any of the acai (pronounced ah-sah-EE as we discovered) bowl places around here will do. This refreshing, healthy snack is the perfect summer pick-me-up for health-conscious people who still want to enjoy eating. If you do choose to go to Bare Bowls, though, their newly-renovated minimalist interior does present many an opportunity for photo ops. It just doesn’t get any more California than this!

Pulgas Water Temple

Local high school students already utilize this public space as a backdrop for prom pictures, and it’s no secret why. This Greco-Roman monument, which was initially built to commemorate the completion of the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct, offers the perfect patch of green and hushed surroundings to bring a picnic on a sunny day — and a phone to take pics with, of course! Afterwards, you can visit the neighboring Filoli Gardens as well, which is just four minutes down Canada Road.

Anywhere on the coast, really

The Peninsula’s coastline is ripe with cute towns, fun meals, beautiful spring wildflowers and, of course, gorgeous surf sunsets. But you knew that, already, didn’t you?

Emma Cockerell Profile Photo

Emma Cockerell

Passionate about social impact, journalism, China, and economics. Looking to pursue economic and litigation consulting after graduation.

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