While situated in the vibrant and fast-paced Silicon Valley, Santa Clara remains a pretty lackluster town, consisting mostly of strip malls and small neighborhoods. Because Santa Clara is not considered a "college town," students usually have to venture outside of its limits to find fun things to do. While nearby Franklin Mall has three restaurants and two bars, its limited options motivate students to head to other towns like Palo Alto and Los Gatos for more variety. For shopping and dining outside of Santa Clara, few students choose to brave downtown's famously confusing layout, instead opting for Santana Row, the "Rodeo Drive of San Jose." While most of its stores tend to fall outside of the average student's price range, Santana Row has a wide variety of fun restaurants popular among SCU students, ranging from sushi to Indian food.
Because there's so little to do in Santa Clara and San Jose, many students find having a car imperative for escaping the "Santa Clara bubble" and exploring the more exciting activities the Bay Area has to offer. Hiking trails, beaches, and downtown Palo Alto and Los Gatos are only 20- to 35-minute drives away, and are popular destinations for students looking to blow off some steam on the weekends. While a car is necessary to access most outdoor activities, students can easily take the Caltrain to San Francisco and smaller cities in the Valley. The train stops across the street from campus and runs hourly, making it a popular way for students to explore the city's vibrant culture. Popular activities include Giants games, concerts, shopping, and dining out. A one-way ticket to San Francisco costs between $7 and $8, which is worth avoiding the price of gas and the stress of navigating city traffic.