Located in the center of Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale is a place whose aptitude for change is hard to miss. This city of 140,000 has spent the 21st-century looking toward the future, welcoming tech giants Yahoo and Ariba while acknowledging the importance of its past by expanding and revitalizing its historic downtown. Make no mistake: Sunnyvale is a thoroughly modern city, but its roots run deep.

Those roots are on full display at the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum, a mile from downtown on the site of city pioneer Martin Murphy’s 19th-century ranch, and closer to downtown, where a water tower, painted to resemble a circa 1930 Libby’s fruit cocktail can, looms over California Avenue, the site of the old Libby, McNeil and Libby cannery. The historic Del Monte Building, another reminder of a time when agriculture ruled the local economy, is also downtown, restored, and available for corporate and private event rentals.

Today’s Sunnyvale is a bustling place of lively residential neighborhoods and well-regarded public schools that lies atop the bestplaces.net lists of “Healthiest Cities” and “Best Places to Telework.” It’s decades past its transformation from sleepy farm town to technology powerhouse. Sunnyvale is also among the more affordable of Silicon Valley cities, boasting homes comparable to those found in Los Altos, Mountain View, and Palo Alto but often selling for far less than they would in those places.

Sunnyvale is, at heart, a suburban community, with 1960s-style residential neighborhoods, parks, and shopping centers, but its recent re-emphasizing of its downtown gives residents more shopping, dining, and strolling options. Murphy Avenue between East Washington and East Evelyn Avenues is tree-lined and chock full of interesting shops, casual and fine dining restaurants, and night spots. Sunnyvale’s mild weather makes outdoor dining a must, and the Downtown Business Improvement District hosts numerous events annually, including a year-round downtown farmers’ market, two summer music series, and a yearly Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.

Near downtown is the Heritage District, several blocks of historic homes dating back to Sunnyvale’s agricultural days. Further north, at the Sunnyvale-Mountain View border, is Moffet Federal Airfield and NASA’s Ames Research Center, two reminders of the important role Sunnyvale played during World War II and the Cold War. One North Sunnyvale neighborhood, Victory Village, was created during World War II specifically to house workers stationed at the airfield during the war.

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