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Do you know the way to San Jose?
Well, one way is through Milpitas.
The city’s name is Spanish for The Milpas, which probably doesn’t help much if you don’t know Spanish.
In English, it means Place of Little Cornfields after the rich soil here that led to agricultural heaven.
Milpitas’ big claim to fame is the Great Mall.
This is “Northern California’s largest indoor shopping destination.”
This is a smaller city with just over 80,000 residents.
It’s just north of San Jose and is a great central location between the East Bay, San Jose, and Silicon Valley.
There are some outdoor activities we’ll talk about, but there’s no bayfront in Milpitas.
Don’t worry, it’s not too far away.
There are a lot of industrial areas in Milpitas, so you’ll find the hotels are nestled in a particular area near one of the freeways.
The industries are booming here, but it does cut down on the places to visit while you’re here.
You don’t have to drive to Napa for a winery.
There’s one just on the outskirts of Milpitas.
Warnings & Dangers in Milpitas
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here. Theft is the only crime rate higher than the national average, and we'll do through that one. There's not an overabundance of things to do here, but it's just a great place to be if you can't decide which part of the Bay Area you want to visit.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Milpitas is in an area where you almost have an overwhelming number of options for public transportation, and sometimes you'll need to switch from a bus to a train or a train to light rail to get where you need to go. Review 511.org to find the routes that go around. It depends on what part of the area you want to see, since, for example, how you get to San Francisco isn't how you'd get to Silicon Valley. There are taxis and rideshares too, and even commuter ride shares. All options are low risk, but might be confusing for a first-time visitor.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Only 11 pickpockets or purse snatching were reported in the latest official data from 2020. You should have a low risk of this happening, but be especially vigilant on public transportation. Don't get so engaged in your mobile device that you stop paying attention to your backpack.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
Reading an emergency management website is never fun, and can elicit some fear. According to the city of Milpitas, "Earthquakes, fires, severe storms, power outages, localized flooding, and acts of terrorism are just some of the potential emergencies we may encounter." Due to those things that can happen, there's a medium risk here.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
There were 40 robberies in all of 2020 in Milpitas. I felt that number was surprisingly low. I even double-checked it. There's a low risk here.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
As mentioned above, terrorism concerns are prominent in the Bay Area. Think of all the tech companies, military operations, and the large population that could be affected by a terror attack. There's a medium risk here and you should follow the "See Something, Say Something" request from Homeland Security to help keep the risk from going to a higher level.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The bulk of scams here involves utility company threats made by thieves trying to take money. It's not going to impact a visitor. There's a low risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
There's a high risk you'll spend a lot of money at the mall, but a low risk that you aren't going to be safe doing so or visiting anywhere else in Milpitas.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in tap water. It's safe and meets all standards. The utility company wants you to know this: "You can be assured that the safety of your water supply has remained our top priority and we will notify you immediately if there is any reason for concern about our water."
Safest Places to Visit in Milpitas
Let’s start at the Big Dog Vineyards up in the hills above Milpitas.
You can book a tasting reservation or plan a group event here.
You can’t bring kids to the tastings as nobody under 21 is allowed.
You’re right by Ed R. Levin County Park when you leave the winery, so take a hike.
There are 1500 acres to hike and explore, or even do some fishing.
You might even see hang gliders while you’re there.
Back in Milpitas, The Great Mall is big enough it could eat up a whole day just exploring all the options there.
Restaurants are in the mall too so you won’t have to leave to eat if you don’t want to.
If you want to get on the water, there’s a unique experience at the far southern end of San Francisco Bay.
Go to Alviso Marina County Park.
It’s just 5 miles away.
There you can take a guided kayak tour and hear about the history of the bay or you can explore on your own.
Places to Avoid in Milpitas
Crime maps detail the incidents in Milpitas, and the Great Mall area is in one of the higher crime zones.
That does make sense, however, since criminals know people there have a lot of money and it is going to be crowded.
If you keep your belongings close and don’t leave cars unlocked or windows rolled down, you should be just fine.
The farther east you go, the safer it gets.
Now, we have something that stinks we need to discuss. Milpitas stinks.
It’s known for the mall and the malodor.
There’s a wastewater treatment plant, recycling plant, and landfill nearby, and some of the smell from the salt marshes comes downwind right over Milpitas.
Even people who live there say it’s gross, so it’s going to catch a tourist off guard.
The city is trying to find a solution to the stink.
How bad is it?
It has been compared to a dirty diaper, rotten fish, and garbage.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Milpitas
- The Milpitas Police Department offers an anonymous crime tip hotline if you see a non-urgent crime happening. The number is (408) 586-2500.
- There are gangs in Milpitas and a special police task force works to cut down crimes related to gangs. A telltale sign you’re in a gang area is if there is a lot of graffiti spray-painted or you see a group of people dressed similarly walking around neighborhoods. If you see this, just go to another location.
- Milpitas Police are known for giving a lot of tickets. Don’t speed, drive aggressively, or run red lights here. The traffic is going to frustrate you because there is a lot of it all the time.
- The Police Department’s website has an option in the top right corner to translate it into any language, making safety information easy for everyone, no matter their native language.
- For people who like to run or jog, the police department offers this safety tip, “If you use a portable stereo when jogging, the headphones shouldn’t be covering your ears so you can’t hear what’s going on around you. Also, whenever possible, jog during the day.”
- If you are shopping at the Great Mall at night and don’t feel comfortable walking alone to your car, you can ask for a mall security escort to your vehicle. This is a free service.
- For those of you who will have a car in Milpitas, the police recommend parking with the wheels turned as far as you can get them toward the curb and putting on the parking brake. That’s going to make it much harder for car thieves to put your vehicle on a flatbed tow truck to steal it.
- You are probably going to spend time outside of Milpitas while you’re here. Just because there’s a safer vibe in Milpitas, the surrounding city’s crime statistics can change quickly, especially if you’re going to a city like Oakland. Review our other neighboring cities before you go as well.
- If you’re there in the winter, don’t leave your car running to warm it up. This is when the bulk of the car thefts happen in the city. The coldest temperature in the Milpitas winter, on average, is 42°(F). You aren’t going to freeze to death if you get in a car at that temperature.
- Sign up for alerts through the Santa Clara County system called AlertSCC. This will send emergency information regarding weather, crimes, or other critical incidents to your mobile device.
So... How Safe Is Milpitas Really?
As of early 2022, Milpitas was growing in popularity because of the more affordable housing.
(What “affordable housing” in the Bay Area means is a whole other article I could write.)
The median household income here is $132,000 and there’s just a 7% poverty rate.
This is a neighborhood city that just happens to have a big mall attraction.
It’s a convenient place for people who want to commute.
60% of the people who live here are working in the computer and electronics industry.
It’s also home to several large companies, like SonicWall, FireEye, Flex, and Sigma Designs.
This is a community of hard-working people who want an affordable place to live even if it means a longer commute.
Traffic is going to be very busy here all the time.
By crime numbers, here’s how the risks break down:
- Violence crime: 1 in 723 chance
- Robbery: 1 in 2006 chance
- Theft: 1 in 52 chance
It’s not a dangerous city, it’s just a small city neighboring a really big city.
Before you come, visit our section on “How Safe Is San Jose for Travel?”.
How Does Milpitas Compare?
|Siem Reap (Cambodia)
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
|Niagara Falls (Canada)
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
No Visa is needed here if you passed through customs without a problem.
You'll use the U.S. Dollar. If you're shopping, a best practice is to use one credit for all purchases, letting your bank know you'll be spending a lot of money. You could set a purchase limit so suspicious charges don't sneak by you.
Summers are going to be warmer than other parts of the East Bay. It gets into the 80s for highs but still goes back down to the 50s for lows. You'll need to pack layers any time of year. Winters barely get into the 50s, with mostly 60s for highs and 40s for lows, so a warm jacket will be useful.
San Jose's airport is the best choice and is just seven miles away. To get to San Francisco's Aiport, you'll have a 34-mile drive on a very busy highway. Same thing with Oakland's Airport on the other side of the bay. It's 30 miles on the congested 880.
Yes, get travel insurance. There are so many weather issues that could impact flights for hours or days, you'll want to protect your trip to Milpitas, California.
Milpitas Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month