Planning a visit to Silicon Valley and wine country in the Bay Area? Or are you considering moving to the San Jose area? Whether you’re planning an itinerary or deciding where you live, exploring the largest cities in Santa Clara County is a good place to start.
This guide covers all Santa Clara County cities with demographics and key information about the top 10 cities. Note that California does not differentiate between cities and towns: both may be used officially. However, we won’t cover census-designated places (CDPs) or communities that are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau only for statistical purposes.
About Santa Clara County
The County of Santa Clara was one of California’s original counties created when it became a state in 1850. Today, Santa Clara County is the most populous county in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California with a population of almost two million. It’s located on the southern coast of the bay with most of the population living in the urban Santa Clara Valley area. The county is famous for its affluence, high cost of living, and Silicon Valley, California’s high-tech economic center. There are more than 6,500 tech companies headquartered in Santa Clara County cities including some of the world’s largest tech giants like Intel, Nvidia, AMD, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Google.
There are 15 cities in Santa Clara County which are part of Silicon Valley. There are also 9 census-designated places and a small number of unincorporated areas.
Santa Clara County has always been culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse. There are more than 100 languages spoken in the area! According to new census data, Asians have become the largest ethnic group in Santa Clara County, accounting for 39% of the county’s population followed by the white population (28.7%) and the Hispanic population (25.2%).
Santa Clara County Demographics
- Population: 1,928,000
- Population density: 1,493 people per square miles
- Area: 1,291 square miles
- Median age: 37.4
- Median household income: $133,076
- Median home price: $1,397,000
- Educational attainment: 89% completed high school or higher; 53.7% have at least a bachelor’s degree
#1. San Jose
- Population: 1,022,000
- Population density: 5,747 people per square mile
- Area: 177.8 square miles
- Median age: 37.4
- Median household income: $115,893
- Median home price: $1.27 million
- San Jose Map
San Jose is the county seat and the largest of all Santa Clara County cities by far. It’s located on the San Francisco Bay’s southern shore in the middle of the Santa Clara Valley and the main city in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area with a population of 2 million. It’s also part of the San Francisco Bay Area which has a metro population of 7.7 million.
San Jose isn’t just at the top of the list of cities in Santa Clara by population; it’s California’s third-largest city after Los Angeles and San Diego and the 10th largest city in the U.S.
San Jose is the Capital of Silicon Valley and one of the wealthiest cities in the country. It has more billionaires and millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the country and the world’s third-highest GDP per capita. San Jose is known for its tech industry with several universities and colleges in the area like San Jose State University that produce an increasing number of computer science and engineering students.
- Population: 152,700
- Population density: 6,932 people per square mile
- Area: 22 square miles
- Median age: 35.6
- Median household income: $151,475
- Median home price: $1.55 million
- Sunnyvale, CA Map
Sunnyvale is located in northwest Santa Clara County on the San Francisco Bay south of San Jose, north of Cupertino, east of Mountain View, and west of Santa Clara. It’s the second largest of cities in Santa Clara County, California and a key city of Silicon Valley. It’s best known as where the video game industry was born.
What makes Sunnyvale a great place to live or visit? Its amazing attractions, green space, and outdoor recreation. Sunnyvale has 772 acres of parks like Baylands Park on the Bay, Seven Seas Park with a spray pool and dog park, the tiki-themed Las Palmas Park with a dog run and water features for kids, and the massive Sunnyvale Skatepark. The city also boasts great golfing at Sunken Gardens Golf Course and Sunnyvale Golf Course.
#3. Santa Clara
- Population: 130,400
- Population density: 7,153 people per square mile
- Area: 18.2 square miles
- Median age: 33.7
- Median household income: $147,507
- Median home price: $1.48 million
- Santa Clara Map
Santa Clara ranks third on the list of cities in Santa Clara County and it’s the final city in the county with more than 100,000 residents. It’s also the 9th largest city in the Bay Area. It’s just west of San Jose on the southern shore of the San Francisco Bay. It’s a more low-key city than San Jose with less nightlife, but its central location means you’re close to coastal communities like Santa Cruz as well as employment opportunities and excitement in San Jose and San Francisco.
Santa Clara offers plenty of amenities for visitors and residents alike. Santa Clara is famous for the Mission Santa Clara de Asis, one of the 21 original California missions and built in 1777. The mission, city, and Santa Clara County were named for Saint Clare of Assisi, a follower of Francis of Assisi. It’s also home to California’s oldest higher education institution, Santa Clara University, Levi’s Stadium, home to the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, and the amusement park California’s Great America.
#4. Mountain View
- Population: 82,700
- Population density: 6,899 people per square mile
- Area: 12 square miles
- Median age: 34.9
- Median household income: $147,915
- Median home price: $1.75 million
- Mountain View, Map
Mountain View ranks 4th among cities in Santa Clara County in terms of population. It’s just south of Palo Alto with its family-friendly amenities a short drive away and 10 miles north of San Jose.
What makes Mountain View a great place to live? It’s centrally located near tons of top employers in Palo Alto, San Mateo, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Clara, and San Jose. There’s always something happening in the downtown area around Castro Street with summer festivals, restaurants, shops, and green space.
The crown jewel of the city is Shoreline at Mountain View, a magnificent public space with a golf course and a 50-acre lake offering kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, and sailboating. It even has miles of trails that connect to the San Francisco Bay Trail. One of the best things to do in Mountain View is enjoying the fine weather at Cuesta Park, a picturesque park packed with amenities and mature trees.
- Population: 84,200
- Population density: 6,166 people per square mile
- Area: 13.7 square miles
- Median age: 37.7
- Median household income: $140,124
- Median home price: $1.25 million
- Milpitas Map
Milpitas is fifth among major cities in Santa Clara County. This San Jose suburb is described as the Crossroads of Silicon Valley as most of the city is between I-880, I-680, State Route 237, and a county expressway. Milpitas is a major employment center with 550 manufacturing plants and eight industrial parks. 34% of men and 27% of women in Milpitas work in consumer electronics and computers, the largest share in this industry in the country.
Interestingly, the population of Milpitas increases 20% during the day. More than three-quarters of Milpitas residents work outside the city, but more people outside the city work in Milpitas than there are people in Milpitas commuting outside the city. This is a major drawback to living in the community: intense traffic during rush hour.
Employment isn’t the only thing Milpitas has to offer: it’s also home to the Great Mall, the largest enclosed shopping center in the Bay Area. It’s one of the top Santa Clara County cities for shopping with several other shopping centers like Milpitas Square.
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#6. Palo Alto
- Population: 65,400
- Population density: 2,740 people per square mile
- Area: 23.9 square miles
- Median age: 41.3
- Median household income: $160,360
- Median home price: $3.3 million
- Palo Alto Map
Palo Alto is in northwest Santa Clara County and bordered by East Palo Alto, Stanford, Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Los Altos Hills, Los Altos, and Mountain View. Palo Alto is one of the most well-known cities in Santa Clara County, California, even though it’s only 6th on the list by population. The city was created when Leland Stanford Sr. founded Stanford University, today one of the world’s best universities.
Palo Alto is the headquarters for many tech companies like Skype, Houzz, Tesla, and HP. It’s residents are among the most educated in America. Palo Alto is one of America’s most expensive cities, and it’s one of the richest Santa Clara County cities.
Find out if living in Palo Alto, CA is right for you with this in-depth guide.
- Population: 60,300
- Population density: 5,327 people per square mile
- Area: 11.3 square miles
- Median age: 41.6
- Median household income: $171,917
- Median home price: $2.6 million
- Cupertino Map
Located on the western edge of the county west of San Jose, Cupertino is one of the best places to live in the Bay Area for families. The city has a diverse, highly educated population, among the best schools in California, and excellent amenities with beautiful scenery. It’s frequently ranked as one of the best small towns in America and one of the country’s happiest suburbs.
Cupertino is famous for Apple’s headquarters at Apple Park, a striking circular structure nicknamed “the spaceship” housing 12,000 employees. It’s also known for high home prices with small homes starting at $2 million.
Find out what it’s like living in Cupertino to decide if it’s the right Bay Area city for you.
- Population: 56,800
- Population density: 3,433 people per square mile
- Area: 16.5 square miles
- Median age: 34.4
- Median household income: $101,616
- Median home price: $1.01 million
- Gilroy, CA Map
Gilroy stands out on this list of cities in Santa Clara County due to its distance from San Jose. Most large cities in the county border San Jose or are within a few miles, but Gilroy is the southernmost Bay Area city and 33 miles southeast of downtown San Jose. It’s also known for its garlic crop, not its tech industry like other major cities in the Bay Area. Gilroy hosts the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival and it’s known as the Garlic Capital of the World.
Gilroy is popular with families thanks to its comparatively low home prices, low crime rate, and family-friendly amenities. Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch County Park and Henry W. Coe State Park are right outside the city. It’s also home to Christmas Hill Park and Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park which combines rides with gardens to tour.
#9. Morgan Hill
- Population: 44,700
- Population density: 3,438 people per square mile
- Area: 13 square miles
- Median age: 39.3
- Median household income: $124,419
- Median home price: $1.2 million
- Morgan Hill, CA Map
Morgan Hill is one of the smallest cities in Santa Clara County, CA, but it’s a major recreation and dining destination and home to several tech companies. Located 22 miles southeast of San Jose, Morgan Hill is known for its high home prices and many attractions, particularly its wineries. Morgan Hill is a top wine tourism destination in the area.
Morgan Hill hosts the Tour of California cycling race and attracts visitors to its Michelin-star restaurants, nature parks, and wineries. Anderson Lake County Park is a major draw with a large park surrounding the reservoir with hiking, boating, and horseback riding.
Looking for a more residential community close to San Jose? Here’s what to know about living in Morgan Hill.
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- Population: 42,200
- Population density: 6,962 people per square mile
- Area: 6.1 square miles
- Median age: 38.6
- Median household income: $124,525
- Median home price: $1.48 million
- Campbell, CA Map
Finishing out the top 10 cities in Santa Clara County by population is Campbell, a tiny, densely populated city just six square miles in area. This Silicon Valley city is bordered by Los Gatos to the south, Saratoga to the west, and San Jose to the northeast. It’s known for the Pruneyard Shopping Center. Aside from a few other shopping areas and business complexes, Campbell is mostly a residential suburb of San Jose with primarily single-family homes.
Campbell is a popular choice for young families that commute to San Jose and are looking for quiet, residential streets with nearby amenities. Learn more about living in Campbell, CA to decide if it’s a good fit for you.
Cities in Santa Clara County Map
List of Cities in Santa Clara County
How many cities are there in Santa Clara County?
There are 15 incorporated cities in Santa Clara County. There are also 9 census-designated places and a small number of unincorporated communities.
What is the most populous city in Santa Clara County?
San Jose is the most populous city in Santa Clara with just over 1 million residents and a metro population of 2 million.
How many people live in Santa Clara County?
The population of Santa Clara County is 1,928,000. It’s the 6th most populous county in California.
Where is Santa Clara County?
Santa Clara County is in Northern California at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s bordered by Alameda, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, San Benito, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo counties.
What cities are in Santa Clara County?
Cities in Santa Clara County by population are:
- San Jose (1,051,000)
- Sunnyvale (153,000)
- Santa Clara (130,000)
- Mountain View (81,500)
- Milpitas (75,000)
- Palo Alto (70,000)
- Cupertino (60,000)
- Gilroy (56,000)
- Morgan Hill (45,000)
- Campbell (42,700)
- Los Altos (31,000)
- Saratoga (31,000)
- Los Gatos (31,000)
- Los Altos Hills (9,000)
- Monte Sereno (4,000)
Which of These Santa Clara County Cities Is Right for You?
Does life in Silicon Valley sound ideal? These cities in Santa Clara County each offer something unique, whether you’re looking for outdoor recreation, an exciting nightlife, or a short commute to work. Once you’ve settled on the right community, AMS Relocation is ready to help you get there without the stress and hard work. Give us a call once you’re ready to relocate to or within the San Jose area for your free moving quote.