Best of Silicon Valley 2004

[ 'Best of' Index | Silicon Valley | Metroactive Home | Archives ]

[whitespace] [line]

Best of Silicon Valley 2004
Arts & Culture
Goods & Shopping
People & Personalities
Sports & Recreation
Style & Beauty
Editor's Short List


Sports & Recreation
Editors' Picks

Best Yogi
Phil Lynch

With many yoga instructors toning down their routines to placate beginning students or because they fear lawsuits, it's refreshing to see a yogi who encourages students to push beyond their boundaries. In Phil's class, that means sometimes holding poses for much longer than in ordinary yoga classes, doing vinyasas until the upper body quivers and learning how to hover in poses by using arm strength to hold one's body off the ground. A former SoCal punk rocker, Phil occasionally plays loud music in class—once cranking up the Commodores' "Brick House" to motivate students. The emphasis is on quieting the mind even as it becomes increasingly agitated by overwhelming stimuli. Phil teaches mainly in downtown Santa Cruz, but he comes over the hill twice a week to lead classes at Club One in Santana Row and Willow Glen Yoga on Lincoln Avenue. None of the poses are difficult in themselves, but the frequency and duration should leave students fatigued for days, especially the level-three Friday evening class at Willow Glen. As Willow Glen owner Kent Bond once said, "Phil is hungry for the yoga." Willow Glen Yoga, 1188 Lincoln Ave., San Jose. 408.289.9642. Or visit (DH)


Best Place to Get Bowled Over
Palo Alto Bowl

Palo Alto Bowl has 32 lanes at which you can strike, but this isn't a typical, blah bowling alley. Palo Alto Bowl scores high with theme nights, a dive bar and plenty of Stanford students. Don't miss Tuesday karaoke nights or Planet Bowling on Saturdays, featuring a strobe light show with music to roll to. There's bumper bowling for kids, a billiard table and darts for adults and a video arcade for all. If you want to get really serious about bowling, join Palo Alto Bowl's league or take one of their bowling instruction classes. Check Palo Alto Bowl's online event schedule to find out what's happening each night. 4329 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. 650.948.1031; (AB)


Best Basketball Court for the Vertically Challenged
Campbell Park

There's no better place to play basketball than on the outdoor courts at Campbell Park, at the corner of Gilman and Campbell avenues. Weeknights and weekends see a crowd of about 40 people shooting hoops and getting a good workout. The courts are lit until 10pm, an amenity rare in many valley public-owned parks. Campbell's Recreational Facilities Coordinator Chris Ghione says the courts have become popular because of their central location and quality concrete pad, built specifically for high athletic performance. A maximum of 20 players can play on any of the two courts at a time; however, several hundred valley residents visit the park to play the game, especially on weekends. "It's a good place to play basketball all around. The courts are busy with all kinds of players, big, small, fat and skinny. Everyone is always welcome to play. It may just take you a while to get on the court," said the vertically unchallenged 6-feet-2-inch Ghione. Ghione also says players don't need to have a team to play, since players usually form one when they get there and see who's available to play. Open daily from sunrise until 10pm. Recreation and Community Services Department, 1 W. Campbell Ave., Suite C-31, Campbell. 408.866.2105. (SS)


Best Place for Sunday Pickup Grass Volleyball
The Stanford Oval

When your sport is basketball, it's fairly easy to find an empty court with all the schools, parks and companies to choose from. But where to go if you're a volleyball player? If it's a Sunday, head to the Stanford Oval, where when the weather permits there are invariably two to three nets set up for both women's and men's heights. It's a great place to meet fellow volleyball aficionados without having to pay an open gym fee. And if you get tired of bumping around, keep your Frisbee and rollerblades handy, as well as your dog (leashed). They're all welcome on the green. Nets are usually set up around 1pm and stay up until sundown during the summer months. Between Roth Way and Serra Mall on the Stanford University Campus. (CL)


Best Lunchtime Pickup Game of Ultimate Frisbee
Greer Park, Palo Alto

Let's face it. Ultimate Frisbee isn't what it was a decade ago, when lots of young bodies were happy to chase a Frisbee at lunchtime instead of meeting friends at the deli. Even so, you can still find about a half-dozen parks where aging players don cleats and yellowing T-shirt to play this obscure sport. The best place is Greer Park, which usually has better-conditioned athletes and good participation week in and week out. Most of the guys (and the occasional female) have played together for years, so there's plenty of cohesion. Unfortunately, though, the game is still at the pickup level, meaning defense is an afterthought and players show off with the disc instead of making safe throws. But if you're jonesing for a game of noontime ultimate, Greer Park is the place to be. Mon, Wed, Fri 12:30-2:30pm. 1098 Amarillo Ave. at West Bayshore, Palo Alto. (DH)


Best Summer Swimhole
Almaden Lake Park

Where's the sand at in Silicon Valley? Almaden Lake. Here, outdoor enthusiasts can fish, boat, hike, windsurf, picnic and play volleyball or horseshoes. A summertime snack bar and small shade canopies vie with for-rent kayaks and pedal boats. There are also lawn and picnic areas, barbecues and a tot lot. Connected to the park is the Los Alamitos Creek Trail, which continues to Santa Teresa County Park. Swimming starts Memorial Day weekend and continues through Labor Day weekend. The park hosts the world-renowned annual San Jose International Triathlon in June which attracts more 1,500 athletes and about 5,000 spectators to this part of the valley. The park, located at the intersection of Almaden Expressway and Coleman Avenue, is open all year from 8am until sunset. Parking $6 April-Sept. Closed Mon-Tue. 408.277.4661; (SS)


Best Place to Get a Future Star's Autograph
San Jose Municipal Stadium

The San Jose Municipal Stadium is where the minor-league San Jose Giants play—and these future major leaguers are more than happy to sign a ball or a bat and talk to local fans. During the season, April through September, the San Jose Municipal Stadium has plenty of promotions and contests like Super Bingo Night and Beavers Bar and Grill Saturday Nights (head to the bar after every San Jose Giants Saturday night home game to meet two San Jose Giants players and enjoy 2-for-1 drinks). Reserved box seats are $10, general admission is $8, children ages 4-12 and seniors over 65 pay $4. Children under 4 are free. Stadium parking is $5. 588 E. Alma Ave., San Jose. 408.297.1435; (AB)


Best Grassroots Sports & Recreation Effort
Soccer Silicon Valley

Cementing the fact that the Quakes have the most hard-core fans of any MLS team, a few lifelong San Jose soccer fans got together and organized an unprecedented grassroots effort that has movie-making potential. The Quakes need to find a new stadium and, among other efforts, these folks threw a whopping downtown rally to raise everyone's awareness about the issue. It made international press. They hope to find investors to buy the team and establish a long-term Bay Area home for the Quakes. Soccer Silicon Valley's website ( contains a wealth of information, including an extensive Preliminary Market Analysis and facility review. They made a strong enough case for a group of local Iranian entrepreneurs to step up and exhibit clear interest in purchasing the team. (GS)


Best Nostalgia-Infused Free Baseball
Stanford University's Sunken Diamond

For anyone fed up with the steroid scandals, uneven competition and high prices of Major League Baseball, there is hope. Stanford University's Sunken Diamond is one of the most appealing places to watch a game in the country. Aside from the ping of the college-issue aluminum bats, the place has a certain purity laced with nostalgia. It also has a shady little rise behind the right field fence that offers free, semiobstructed views of the action. The fact that the Cardinal team is usually one of the best in the country doesn't hurt. Just bring a lawn chair and relax. Between Master Mall and Nelson Mall on Stanford University Campus. (GY)


Best Late-Night Racket
Willow Glen High School Tennis Courts

For tennis addicts, netting time to play late at night can be harder to find than love. But there is one place that's quiet, safe, secluded—and stays lit until 11pm. Of the 10 courts at Willow Glen High School, half are not so nice, but all are playable, and players who show up without partners can always find friendly people eager to roster them in. Just remember, be wary of the flashing red light. If you don't catch it in time the lights will go out and leave everybody in the dark. 2001 Cottle Ave., San Jose. (AR)


Best Way to Work on Your Putting Skills
Emerald Hills Golfland

San Jose's Emerald Hills Golfland has two colorful 18-hole mini-golf courses that are sure to delight putters of all ages. Golfland also has three twisty water slides, a stocked video arcade and a snack bar vending food like pizza and pretzels (no alcohol, though) that can be consumed in Golfland's outdoor picnic area. This family-run, family-friendly operation also has locations in Sunnyvale and Milpitas. One round of golf costs $7 for adults, $6 for children, $5 for senior citizens. On Monday nights after 6pm, a round of golf costs $3. 976 Blossom Hill Rd., San Jose. 408.225.1533; (AB)


Best Trail on Which to Wear Out the Soles of Your Shoes
Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve

At the 3,800-acre Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, hikers are as likely to spot a grazing deer as they are a piglet on the preserve's Deer Hollow Farm. Known to locals simply as "the open space," this beautiful preserve has 23 trail miles that can be hiked or jogged in combination to form treks of varying lengths and difficulties. Try the 3-mile Wildcat Loop Trail that ends at Deer Hollow Farm, a working farm operated by the City of Mountain View. Along the trail, look for Pacific tree frogs, gopher snakes and red-tailed hawks. Plant species include oak, willow, wild rose and—careful—poison oak. Take the Foothill Boulevard exit off I-280, turn right onto Cristo Rey Drive, just outside Cupertino. 650.903.6331. (AB)


Best Way to Ride Off Into the Sunset
Los Gatos Creek Trail

The Los Gatos Creek Trail, part of Santa Clara County's extensive trail system, is a boon for bicyclists and rollerbladers. The well-paved pathway has a gentle grade and a yellow dividing line to manage biking traffic. Its nine miles run along the pristine Los Gatos Creek, through Vasona Park and up to Lexington Reservoir's dam. (Los Gatos Creek eventually flows into the Guadalupe River, which feeds San Francisco Bay.) Nature lovers will enjoy the variegated plants and wildlife along this comfortable bike ride. Downloadable maps of the trail are available online. Take Highway 17 and exit at Camden. The trail runs under Camden on the west side of Highway 17. Park at the percolation ponds. In Los Gatos Creek County Park, 1250 Dell Ave., Campbell. 408.356.2729; (AB)


Best Place to Train for a Marathon
Rancho San Antonio County Park

Whether you're a beginner or an advanced runner, Rancho San Antonio, one of Santa Clara County's most popular parks, offers more than 40 miles of a connected trail system with beautiful scenery, wildlife, water and bathroom facilities—and stretching bars. It also provides hiking, bicycling and equestrian trails. Bicycles are restricted to paved trails only, namely the Rancho San Antonio Trail. "It has some challenging hills, and it's beautiful through the woods," says five-time marathon finisher Chris Schenone, 45, one of the owners of the Running Revolution store in Campbell. "It offers multiple opportunities to change your training routine. You can go there 10 days in a row and run in a different direction and in a totally different path." For more information on the park, log onto, or call 650.691.1200. In the foothills below Skyline Ridge. Open year-round from sunrise to sunset. (SS)


Quickest Escape to the Redwoods
Los Altos Redwood Grove Nature Preserve

Redwood Grove embraces a 6-acre nature preserve with immense redwoods, a trail that hugs Adobe Creek, a boardwalk, herb gardens and 40 kinds of roses. There are also picnic tables for a meal among centuries-old trees and observation decks that allow visitors to take in the views. A block away from Shoup Park, Los Altos Redwood Grove Nature Preserve hosts a summer day camp, children's environmental awareness programs and periodic community open houses. The preserve is also home to the Fava Indian Artifact Collection. Admission is free. Parking is available on University Avenue. 482 University Ave., Los Altos. 650.917.0342. (AB)


Best Bike Route for Lance Armstrong Wannabes
Up to Lick Observatory

Stephan Meier, a hard-core Sunnyvale cyclist described by many as the closest local athlete to American legend Lance Armstrong, recommends riding to the top of Mt. Hamilton, by riding eastward on Alum Rock Road until Mt. Hamilton Road (Highway 130) turns off to the right. Then sweat the 25 miles to the Lick Observatory at the mountain's peak. While there, Meier suggests cyclists take a break and enjoy the panoramic view and tour the observatory. But if they really want Lance's Tour de France experience, he says to continue past the observatory on Highway 130 and drop down into the San Antonio Valley on the east side of the mountain. Ride back up to the observatory and then repeat five more times. There won't be any spectators to cheer or hurl objects at you, but you'll get a world-class workout, he says. Be careful on the ride back to the bottom as some curves are sharp and sandy and bring lots of water. Meier is known for organizing an informal group bicycle ride on Wednesday evenings in various parts of the valley like Los Altos and Los Gatos. (SS)


Best Easy Bicycle Ride in Valley for Lance Armstrong Spectators
Los Gatos Creek Trail

For bicycle riders who would rather watch Lance Armstrong than be him, Bart Thielges, chairman of the San Jose Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, recommends the Los Gatos Creek Trail. By starting from the trail's northern terminus near the corner of Meridian Avenue and Curci Drive, Thielges says you can ride about eight miles on the recreational trail that parallels the Los Gatos Creek to downtown Los Gatos. The trail, popular with families on weekends, is mostly flat and passes underneath dozens of busy streets, allowing a blissful car-free ride. For more information on easy bicycle rides, log onto the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition website at (SS)


Best Lazy View of the Bay Area
Hunter's Point at Fremont Older Nature Preserve

There's a Dickensian irony to the fact that the Fremont Older is located just up Prospect Road from the members-only Saratoga Country Club. Offering free parking and open to hikers, bicyclists and equestrians, the nature preserve features a host of trails for the novice and expert alike. Hunter's Point can be reached after a moderate 1-mile walk and offers a view of the bay from which one can see the baseball field at Monte Vista High School, the twin white tents of Shoreline Ampitheatre and piles of sites around. It's a beautiful view that's fairly accessible even to the casual walker. Note: Opens at sunrise, closes a half-hour after sunset. Fremont Older Nature Preserve, past Highway 9 at the end of Prospect Road. (YK)

Send a letter to the editor about this story to

[ Silicon Valley | Metroactive Home | Archives ]

From the September 22-28, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Real Estate