By Beth Whitman, on October 19, 2013

Silicon Valley stress reduction

California has a reputation for being laid-back – surfer dudes and sunshine, hippies and Haight-Ashbury. But the reality is that Californians are equally as wound up as the rest of us. Perhaps nowhere more so than in the Silicon Valley, where the per-capita income is well above both the California and U.S. average, and everything is “wired.”

But that higher income and constant contact comes at a price often measured in long workdays and lots of stress. While visiting for a couple of days with my geek husband, I had a chance to unplug and spend time visiting areas around the Silicon Valley that are ideal for the overstressed and overworked.

Getting your “om” on

I was surprised to learn that the Gyuto Vajrayana Center, located in a house in a residential neighborhood, is the only Tibetan monastery in the Bay Area. As the head monk, Venerable Thupten Donyo, shared with me, “Technically, a monastery must have at least four resident monks. We have four or five at any given time.”

Altar at the Gyuto Vajrayana Center in San Jose

The monastery owes its start to Mickey Hart (yes, of Grateful Dead fame), who began inviting monks to the area decades ago. Over time, more and more of them came and, in 2000, the Gyuto Vajrayana Center opened. Modest by most standards, the temple has a beautiful altar, meditation room, and courtyard with a large prayer wheel for sending wishes into the sunny San Jose air. The monks host regular meditation and dharma classes, so there are plenty of opportunities for you to stop in and calm your brainwaves.

Roses at the Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose

Stop and smell the roses

Geeks will love the numbers alone. The Municipal Rose Garden covers 5.5 acres, has more than 4,000 shrubs, and more than 189 varieties. Whoa! Bring a blanket, grab a book, and literally stop and smell the roses. There’s always something in bloom so don’t worry about the season – though May is the best time for blooms.

Japanese Friendship Garden

Located next to the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, the Japanese Friendship Garden can be found in the walled section of Kelley Park in San Jose. Its six acres include koi ponds, waterfalls, and sculptures. Take some time out to feed the ducks with food from the free dispensers (like bubble gum machines) or grab a spot on a bench to soak up the ambiance.

Almaden Lake Park

Viewfinder Tip: Hotel DeAnza opens their “pantry” each night from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Enjoy a few midnight snacks before crawling into bed.

If being more active relaxes you, head over to Almaden Lake Park, where you’ll find 65 acres, about half of it being the lake. Here you can fish, bike, jog, or play volleyball. Bring the kids and leave the laptop at home because unwinding is the name of the game.

Jazz at Hedley Club Lounge

Book yourself at the Hotel DeAnza in San Jose so you can finish off your day of relaxing with some jazz at the Hedley Club Lounge. There’s music at least a few nights a week and once you’re completely unwound, you can make your way to your room.

Where do you relax in the Silicon Valley?