Can you picture yourself lounging with friends in this magazine-spread-worthy backyard? We certainly can! (Images via Airbnb)

A mini-Eichler, a Spanish Mission-style villa, a California beach cottage… what’s your destination of choice?

Yes, we know how it goes.

A list of Airbnbs in Silicon Valley is likely expected to be an assortment of ostentatious $1800-a-night modern mansions originally constructed by the former CEO of MicroApple Softbook. Instead of indulging in those overpriced cliches, we opted to compile a functioning list that you can use, rather than merely gawk at. Because when it comes to Silicon Valley, there are actually plenty of enticing options that offer genuine atmosphere and experience… if you know where to find them.

These (mostly) affordable Airbnbs embody the diversity of Bay Area living. They exhibit the tech-savvy side of the area, of course, but they also represent a mindfulness of space, a vibrant local art scene, a rich history and a fascinating fusion of cultures. But most importantly, they offer you a variety of options so you can stay in style.

Really… when it comes down to it, would you rather look out the window of a Best Western towards the sprawl of Highway 101…or (for the same price range) see the serenity of a shaded redwood forest? Or rolling green hills? Or a foggy coastline? Your call.

Funky and artsy… what’s not to love? (Images via Airbnb)

Artsy House Near Stanford (Palo Alto)

This house, nestled in Palo Alto’s prestigious Crescent Park neighborhood, is full of the best kinds of surprises. Light fixtures pose like dangling art pieces. Electric guitars hang proudly along one wall. And throughout the house, wallpaper comes in delightfully funky patterns and the occasional splash of orange. And don’t even get us started on the tropical wildlife murals painted by San Francisco artist and skateboarder Michael Kershnar.

Typical of Palo Alto, you’ll find the residence teetering in close proximity to both innovation and nature. Drive five minutes and you’ll find yourself at Stanford or Amazon’s (local) HQ, but take a walk and you’ll stumble across the shaded San Francisquito Creek. Over the backyard fence, the heads of friendly neighborhood trees peek into a spacious backyard. (Visit in the fall to see them in brilliant red and yellow splendor.)

This villa is a breath of fresh air. (Images via Airbnb)

Room within a Spanish Mission Style Villa (Woodside)

Here’s a little California history for you: Franciscan priests established 21 missions across The Golden State in the late 1700s and early 1800s. So staying at a room in this Spanish mission-style villa near Woodside evokes that same flavor of our state’s historical past.

Situated on four acres of private land and surrounded by oak-studded hills, this location is a haven from the hustle and bustle of tech innovation. Its airy white features further that feeling. The room also displays exposed wooden beams and floorboards, an oriental rug, arched windows and iron sconces.

Wash your travel weariness down the drain of a Calcutta marble rain shower — or over at the outdoor pool and hot tub. Then set out on an open-air adventure. Outdoorsy folks will find plenty of opportunities to hike, bike and horse ride around Woodside’s surrounding preserves and parks.

Santana Row glitz, anyone? (Images via Airbnb)

Loft Apartment (Santana Row)

With warms lights, bold red accents and art pieces curated by the host, the atmosphere of this apartment not only echoes, but literally overlooks the upscale cultural hub of Santana Row’s high-end shopping district.

This is one of the more spacious of the Airbnbs on this list. In fact, its form also reflects the place. The commercial district’s architects designed the Row with an appreciation of open space, lining its shops along outdoor plazas and fountains. When you’ve reached your shopping limit, retreat to your apartment’s shelves, stocked with an entire literary feast for bookworms.

Don’t forget your swimsuit! (Images via Airbnb)

Cabana with Warm Watsu Pool (Willow Glen)

One guest sums up this private cabana near downtown Willow Glen as “luxury hotel meets Zen retreat meets day spa meets Bali rain forest meets mom-and-pop warm hospitality” — just the kind of fusion you can expect from the cultural currents of Northern California.

With a shaded garden patio, frond leaves framing the warm watsu pool and cold plunge pools, you’ll probably be spending most of your time outside. But the inside is lovely too with a cozy kitchenette, a redwood burl table and a futon bed heaped with burgundy pillows. There’s even a cedar wood Finlandia dry sauna to further unwind those muscles.

This place makes us want to listen to Beach Boys songs. (Images via Airbnb)

Beach Cottage (Pacifica)

When out-of-staters picture the California dream, this cheerful little beach house probably comes pretty close to matching their mental image. Located in the coastal hamlet of Pacifica, the destination is walking distance from the beach.

The cottage boasts a sophisticated color scheme with sudden splashes of bright tropical patterns. A bunch of other delightfully unexpected accents include a wrought-iron bed, a gilded mirror, eccentric light fixtures and a pair of velvety mustard chairs.

There’s an old-school wood stove for chillier nights indoors, but make sure to enjoy summer evenings outdoors. We highly recommend you head over to the backyard pavilion with a bottle of cabernet to admire the stars and the sea breeze. In the morning, roll out of bed and take the half-a-block walk for breakfast at ChitChat Cafe, overlooking the Pacifica pier.

The Magic Tree House got an upgrade. (Images via Airbnb)

Treehouse (Los Gatos)

If you intend to appreciate the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, might as well do it from a tree house. A mansion among tree forts, the place is anything but cramped. Plus coniferous giants peer through every one of its many windows.

Step out onto the porch for a bird’s-eye view of the pond. You might also catch a glimpse of deer, red tail hawks, turkeys, blue belly lizards and even the occasional bobcat tiptoeing along the forest floor.

Check out the local hiking trails, snaking off in all directions. Then take a soak in the fenced-in, outdoor clawfoot tub, easing back to contemplate redwoods stretching to meet sky. When you’re ready for sleep, ascend the spiral staircase of your dwelling to a nest-like loft with a branch-y banister. As the fog rolls in, you’ll already be snugly tucked in under a heated blanket.

A desert kind of dwelling. (Images via Airbnb)

Casita with Garden (San Jose)

Guests staying at this bungalow will have access to an enclosed patio with a trendy drought resistant garden. If you’re schedule allows it, enjoy the cacti and succulents from a chaise lounge with a book or from the picnic table with sandwiches. Yards like these have grown increasingly popular in Northern California after the three-year drought we experienced a few years back.

The inside of the abode carries a fresh modern ambiance — cool white and blue tones accented with warm wood. For those who have to work on their trip, a spacious desk is supplied. But once you’ve finished, take a long stroll around the neighborhood. Located in the Hensley Historic District, home to the area’s largest concentration of Victorian residences, you’ll have plenty to look at.

We’re fans of the tiny house trend. (Images via Airbnb)

Tiny Eichler Studio (Palo Alto)

Stay at this mini-Eichler if you’re an admirer of architecture. Eichler homes, known to emphasize a linear design with flat roofs and floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows — were created by Joseph Eichler, a mid-century, modern architect with numerous projects around the Bay Area.

The space is smaller, but it’s cozy rather than claustrophobic. It holds a foldout sofa bed, workspace and kitchenette. It also benefits from cheery lime accents and heated tile flooring. During your stay, make sure to dine al fresco at one of downtown Palo Alto’s many patio-friendly restaurants or wander the sculpture gardens at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center.

Mini modern house meets cabin. (Images via Airbnb)

Modern Tiny House (San Jose)

With so many new arrivals flocking to San Jose’s booming economy, rent has gotten a bit steep in recent years and locals have gotten pretty space savvy. Tiny houses have been a clever way of handling the housing crisis while also celebrating minimalist living.

Though this location is compact (think modern cabin on wheels), it neatly tucks into its space a sofa, a bathroom, a kitchenette, a desk and not one, but two lofts (each with their own queen-sized bed). The light wood walls and orange patterned curtains add a welcoming warmth. Visitors tend to appreciate its location in a quiet neighborhood near the East Foothills, while being three easy blocks from the light rail.

Tech upgrade! (Images via Airbnb)

Renovated Smart Home (San Jose)

What’s Silicon Valley without a little souped-up tech? This smart home is Alexa-operated (don’t call her Siri or she’ll ignore you for your cheek). You can have her adjust the thermostat or turn the lights on and off. Other modern devices include a towel warmer, a Keurig, a smart TV, and a digital deadbolt.

For those who enjoy flexing their culinary skills, another nice feature of this location is its cooking show-worthy kitchen. Lastly, the warm industrial lights in the living room and bedroom recall a time when terms like “modern” and “progress” were associated with the sewing machine and the steam engine. It’s a fun hat tip to what’s currently and previously been at the forefront.

This is the kind of place that makes you want to stay indoors. (Images via Airbnb)

Art-Filled Ecological Home (Palo Alto)

We saved the best for last. When you stay at this madcap home, you’re practically lodging in an art installation. Take one glance at the menagerie of statues, found art and paintings and it should come as no surprise that the expressive mind behind such a magical locale is both a mixed media artist and a curator of local and international art.

There are countless collections of odd little details to feast the eyes on — from the railroad crossing sign coffee table to the three-foot-tall glowing Buddha statue to the collection of vintage electric fans. Outside lies a large yard and a greenhouse. Guests are encouraged to gather produce from the vegetable garden and abundant fruit trees. It’s fitting when you consider Palo Alto is home to one of the first influential farm-to-table businesses in the country.

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Johanna Harlow

Journalist with a fondness for micro-cultures and all things quirky.

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