Cupertino (pop. 65,000) is situated up against the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains. It is something of an anomaly being the one city in the South Bay that doesn’t have a distinct town center or main street. It is home to Apple Inc. and a handful of other tech companies, a highly rated local schools system and quiet neighborhoods.
It’s 15 minutes west of San Jose and 45 minutes south of San Francisco. The nearest railway, Caltrain (connecting San Francisco with Gilroy, stops in downtown Sunnyvale, about a ten minute drive from the city center. Bus service is provided by VTA.
Cupertino has 2 major streets: De Anza Blvd., which runs North-South, and Stevens Creek Blvd., which runs East-West. The intersection of these two streets is in the center of Cupertino, and most of the businesses and shopping centers in the city are located in the area.
Highways 85 and 280 cross through Cupertino. These provide excellent access to the western cities in the South Bay, and to downtown San Jose (respectively).
Public transportation in Cupertino, as is the case for much of Silicon Valley, is very poor due to the low population density and demographics of the region.
Traffic is not much of an issue and major streets come with bike lanes, so biking is relatively safe.
Due to its consistent tangerine/beige colors and the amount of money local authorities probably spend in maintainance, Cupertino is actually quite beautiful, with a peculiar charm distinct to that of its neighbors. The contrast with San Jose outskirts, Sunnyvale or South Los Altos can be striking at city edges.
The northeastern quarter of Cupertino (including the “city center” at the intersection of De Anza Blvd. and Stevens Creek Blvd.) hosts a large number of Apple Inc. offices. This is unusual given that tech giants tend to set their headquarters in outlying urban areas—usually beyond a freeway—and rarely approach downtown. Apple employees can easily make up the vast majority of bystanders in these locations, especially at lunchtime, and may be seen wandering around with half-open MacBooks and openly discussing confidential matters.
- 1 De Anza College (intersection of Highway 85 and Stevens Creek Blvd). The community college for the area. It houses the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, where major events in the area take place. It is one of the largest community colleges in the area, and has an excellent reputation.
- 1 Apple Infinite Loop, One Infinite Loop (intersection of Highway 280 and De Anza Blvd). The historical headquarters of Apple, Inc., still in use. Despite their overall lack of aesthetic quality, they were the most recognisable of all Silicon Valley headquarters until the construction of the Apple Park a mile to the east, and Apple fans do take selfies in front of the main entrance. It is technically possible to go through the first door, up to the reception and before security check, and then take a peek through the glass panes at the rather scenic main hall, with banners featuring the company’s latest product hanging in front of the inner lawn.
- 1 Apple Park (between Wolfe, Homestead, Tantau and Junipero Serra Freeway). The current headquarters of Apple, Inc., inaugurated in 2017. One of the largest buildings in the world (factories excluded) in terms of length and width, this $5 billion ring-shaped “spaceship” was built on the Vallco Park at the location of a historic barn, which was rebuilt on the north of the site. The Apple Park is near-entirely surrounded with a mound, trees and a fence, which conceal most of it from sight. In contrast, its glass walls are transparent enough to allow seeing the employees inside, and the sheer size of the place tends to give optical illusions on whether the walls are actually straight or curved. The Apple Park Visitor Center is a two-story building at the east of the headquarters. The ground floor includes a small Apple Store, exclusive merchandise, a café and an AR model of the site. Upstairs is a balcony with a view on the headquarters. Contrary to Infinite Loop, it is not possible to smuggle oneself through the entrance of the Apple Park.
- 1 Cupertino Historical Society and Museum, 10185 N Stelling Rd, ☎+1 408 973-1495. Wed-Sat 10AM- 4PM. free; donations welcome. (updated Mar 2018)
- McClellan Ranch Park. On McClellan Rd. has an old farmhouse (with pigs!) and a short trail along the creek to walk. Cupertino also a bunch of suburban parks, notably Memorial Park on Stevens Creek Blvd. which has ponds with ducks.