If you're cruising down one of the two major Bay Area freeways that chop this town into three parts, it's easy to pass through without much realizing it. But the Silicon Valley suburb of about 65,000 people has a colorful history and the remnants of fierce local pride. The town was established in the 1850s, and according to legend, was initially dubbed Penitencia until a local leader worried that ... read more
it sounded too much like penitentiary. They settled on Milipitas, the name of a nearby ranch. A hundred years later, neighboring San Jose attempted to annex then-tiny Milpitas, but was staunchly resisted by a group that dubbed itself the “Milpitas Minute Men.” Today, the high-tech business hub has no strong downtown presence, and most of the town's commercial areas are small shopping centers anchored by grocery stores. But its diverse population has given rise to a variety of ethnic restaurants and stores. Another attraction is the Great Mall, built in an old Ford Motor factory.