Sunday at the Rosewood via IG: dlee311

Concierge Donna Jones of Rosewood Sand Hill hotel is used to putting together tech-heavy itineraries. As the unofficial home base for visiting entrepreneurs pitching to the venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road, the hotel gets no shortage of requests to see Silicon Valley, even if it is an idea as much as a physical place. After all, if you don’t get funded at least you can pose in front of a Google bike or the Facebook Like sign. But she also tries to steer visitors to some of Silicon Valley’s hidden gems.

“Most people only think of Silicon Valley as one of the nation’s leading tech hubs,” says Donna Jones, a Sand Hill concierge. “But there are breathtaking mountains, majestic views of the Pacific Ocean, and unique cultural activities for every interest.”

Jones’ picks for the perfect non-tech Valley itinerary include some old favorites and others that might surprise even locals.

Free art and cheap views at Stanford

Start at Stanford University, where most locals are familiar with the Cantor Museum, with its collection of 44,000 pieces and Rodin Sculpture Garden, but maybe not so much with the Anderson Collection, an outstanding assembly of modern and contemporary American art that you can admire at no cost. Nearby is the Hoover Tower and Observation Deck, easily one of Silicon Valley’s most visible landmarks.

“Stanford offers free guided tours twice a day [for Cantor and Anderson],” says Jones. “For only $3 guests can climb the Hoover Tower, which offers bird’s-eye views of the Bay.”

Silicon Valley’s stage and scenery

Local company TheatreWorks presents a diversified and widely praised selection of musicals, comedies and dramas year-round. Together, their shows and arts education program combine Silicon Valley’s values of innovation and inclusion. Starting November 30 the group reprises the musical romance Daddy Long Legs at the Lucie Stern Theatre. Learn more here.

Numerous accessible parks make the Peninsula a wonderland for casual hiking, mountain biking and equestrian outings. Jones’ favorites are Huddart and Wunderlich parks, each about a half hour from the hotel in Woodside.

“Both areas have beautiful Redwood forests, open meadows and miles of Northern California hiking trails,” says Jones. At Wunderlich, visitors can also horseback ride or go on a docent-led tour and learn about the property’s history.”

There are 41 miles of trails in total and parking is free at Huddart and just $6 at Wunderlich. For more on trails, go here.

Favorite Santa Cruz wineries

The Santa Cruz wine appellation has been growing for decades but locals often bypass it for Sonoma or Napa. Skip the traffic and (depending) the crowds.

“Our favorites are the Ridge Vineyards in Cupertino and the Thomas Fogarty Winery in Portola Valley,” says Jones. “Ridge had its 2014 East Bench Zinfandel served at President Obama’s final state dinner and Thomas Fogarty was celebrated [in 2016] as ‘Winery of the Year’ by Wine & Spirits Magazine.

More choices from Sand Hill’s staff include Rhys Vineyards in Los Gatos and Mount Eden in Saratoga. For information on tours, click here.

Rosewood’s restaurant picks

Dining recommendations are Jones’ number one requests and she favors eateries that emphasize local food.

“Silicon Valley has a growing culinary scene with wineries, Michelin-starred restaurants and a sweeping commitment to the FLOSS movement,” says Jones. “Many restaurants approach cuisine with the FLOSS principles in mind, including Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park and our own restaurant Madera, which recently re-earned its Michelin star.”

The FLOSS movement began in 1971 and advocates for people’s health through fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable food. Jones also likes Village Pub (Woodside), Evvia (Palo Alto), Bucks (Woodside) and Calafia (Palo Alto).

The ultimate Silicon Valley tour

Jones is all about the Peninsula’s hidden gems but Sand Hill knows many come to see technology’s birthplace. For visitors with coin to spend, the hotel offers a $10,000 two-day excursion package called “A Sense of Silicon Valley: The Art of Technology.” It features both guided and self-guided tours of local landmarks on everything from bikes to helicopters and includes a gourmet meal in Sand Hill’s Michelin-starred restaurant Madera. Learn more here.

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THE SIX FIFTY staff

Sometimes our work is a collaborative effort, hence the "staff" byline. The best of what to eat, see and do on the SF Peninsula.

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