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Free Attractions in Sunnyvale

Free Things to Do in Sunnyvale, California

A guide to free things to do in the city of Sunnyvale

Reviews by Allie Gottlieb (July 24, 2003)

SOMETIMES, the tech geeks who populate Sunnyvale get tired of tinkering, semiconductoring and solving math problems. And when that happens, they can just sit back and watch the ducks. Or they can punk out at the skatepark, check out some local history at the museum and modern houses in the neighborhoods or explore their repressed literary sides in the social environs of the library, all for free. Now, others can too with this handy summer-fresh guide to free Sunnyvale.

1. Don't Know Much About History?

Sunnyvale Historical Museum
Murphy Park, California and Sunnyvale avenues, Sunnyvale; Tue, Thu-3pm, Sun 1-4pm, or by appointment; for info, call Sunnyvale Historical Society at 408.749.0220
This is a free local-history museum for people who just can't get enough of Sunnyvale's rich technological, canning and agricultural past (and perhaps have been laid off in its not-so-rich present).

2. Hug a Tree

Orchard Heritage Park Interpretive Exhibit
Sunnyvale Community Center, 550 E. Remington Dr., Sunnyvale; open all daylight hours; for info, call Sunnyvale Historical Society at 408 749-0220
This is a regional agricultural history museum featuring, for one thing, farm equipment. The public can take guide-free tours of the outdoor facility.

3. Love a Book

Book Discussion Group
Sunnyvale Library , 665 W. Olive Ave.; Thu 7pm; 408.730.7300, www.sunnyvalelibrary.org
The library's got it going on in Sunnyvale. Folks meet once a month generally on a Thursday to exchange thoughts about various books chosen collectively a month in advance by the group. Everyone's invited, and usually about 15 people show up to the librarian-led chats. Sometimes retired people with way too much time on their hands come and impart gobs of trivia about the classics or authors.

4. You Be Macbeth

Read-Along Shakespeare
Sunnyvale Library , 665 W. Olive Ave., Sunnyvale; Mon 7pm; 408.730.7300, www.sunnyvalelibrary.org
Shakespeare freaks can run lines to The Merchant of Venice(June 2), Henry IV, Part 1 (July 7), The Tempest (Aug. 4) and so on various Mondays. People usually bring their own copies of plays (although the library stocks a few), and everyone gets to choose whose character to take turns reading. Unfortunately, costumes and sound effects are not employed.

5. Speak in a Body Language

Dance Performances
Sunnyvale Library , 665 W. Olive Ave., Sunnyvale; 408.730.7300, www.sunnyvalelibrary.org
Diverse Sunnyvale is privy to dances imported from far away. The scheduling is sporadic. The most recent featured Tibetan performers trained at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala, India. Check the website for upcoming shows.

6. Embrace the Weird

WeirdStuff
384 W. Caribbean Dr., Sunnyvale; Mon-Fri 9:30am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm; 408.743.5650, www.weirdstuff.com
"People that build robots come here to get bits and pieces," says Dave MacDougall, who co-owns WeirdStuff with Chuck and Jim Schuetz. The rest of us can stop by this technology junk retail museum for free fun as spectators. MacDougall describes the 17-year-old high-tech excess store that collects, recycles and sells new and used miscellaneous Silicon Valley hardware and software as representing "the trailing edge of technology."

7. Park It Here

Concerts in the Park
Ortega Park Gazebo , 636 Harrow Way, Sunnyvale; Sun (Aug 10, Sep 14) 1:30-3:30pm; 650.366.3305
Bebop to the Serenaders' big-band '40s/'50s tunes.

8. Hello, Ollie

Sunnyvale Skatepark
Fair Oaks Park, 540 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Sunnyvale; daily 7am-sunset; 408.730.7506
Skate-punk rag Thrasher gives this brand new park a 7.5 out of 10. The 18,500-square-foot skatepark opened on May 3. Free to the public, it serves beginners with the bunny slopes of skate dishes and pros ready to negotiate a 9-foot vertical drop from wall top to bottom of deep bowl. The skatepark offers two bowl sections and a street-skate perimeter. Helmets are in effect, but the park's unsupervised.

9. Eichler Houses

Eichler Homes
For more information about Eichler homes check out the Eichler Network at www.eichlernetwork.com
Sunnyvale is the setting for what was probably the first home designed by Joseph Eichler, Manor I, completed in 1949. Eichler, who at one point sublet Frank Lloyd Wright's Bazett House in Hillsborough, designed midcentury modern homes from 1949 to 1974. Eichler homes share a clean-lined conception of futuristic living and are usually marked by a simple and open feel attained by employing a lot of glass, a flat roof and a central outdoor atrium. Eichler homes list for $700,000 in Sunnyvale nowadays, but driving by them is free (except for the gas). Eichlers include Sunnyvale Manor I (built April 1949), North Bayview and Maude Avenues; Sunnymount Gardens (May 1949), Dawn Drive at Sunnymount Avenue; Sunnyvale Manor II (Feb. 1950), Morse and Arbor Avenues. According to a city planner, Eichlers are concentrated around the Wolfe Road and Fremont Avenue area in southeast Sunnyvale.

10. Love a Duck

Sunnyvale Community Center Fountain
550 E. Remington Dr., Sunnyvale
The fountain attracts ducks and people-watchers and makes a great place for general relaxing. It's free for all.

11. Lace Is More

Lace Is More
552 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale; Tue-Sat 11am-4pm; 408.730.4695
It's free. "If you like what you see, you can make a donation."

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