Silicon Valley Tech Tour: Top 13 sites to visit

0 Flares Filament.io 0 Flares ×

Silicon Vallet Tech Tour- Pinterest imageThere’s something a little je ne sais quoi about California’s Silicon Valley. It oozes coolness. Silicon Valley attracts 40% of all venture capital money invested in the U.S and San Jose generates more patents than any other place in the United States.

But why the Bay Area? Academics, industry and government research all collided in a perfect storm to create an environment where money, talent and ideas were rampant.

As the birth place of hundreds of technology companies that play an integral role in our lives – think Apple, Google, Facebook – adults and teens alike are fascinated and want a little taste of what it is really like. 

“Tech tourism” is starting to take off in Silicon Valley in a big way. Many companies are still figuring out how to cater to the thousands of tourists that show up on their doorsteps (in hoards and with a smile and selfie stick at the ready). While Silicon Valley tourism is in its infancy – many of the larger tech companies are ahead of the game and the smarter ones already accomdate tourists.

Team San Jose sent me on a little tour and here’s my list of the top sites to visit – especially if you have older kids in tow.

 

tktkt

Tourists line up to take a photo in front of Apple’s 1 infinite loop sign, and then pop into the Apple store, which has branded items not available anywhere else.

 

1. Apple Headquarters 

1 infinite loop, Cupertino, CA 95014 apple.com

Take a photo in front of the 1 infinite loop sign and then pop into the Apple company store, which was designed by Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer at Apple. The store at 1 infinite loop has very select (and very expensive) Apple branded items you won’t find anywhere else, such as sleek Hasami Porcelain mugs ($25), 1950s design pens ($35)  and the beautifully crafted S’well water bottles which are made of steel and keep water cold for 24 hours ($35).

 

s there a kid in the world that doesn't love checking everything out at an Apple Store? This store is special, it's at Apple HQ at One Infinite Loop and has items not available elsewhere!

Is there a kid in the world that doesn’t love checking everything out at an Apple Store? The store at 1 infinite loop is special, it’s at Apple HQ and has items not available elsewhere!

 

tktkt

The new Apple Campus is due to open next year and rumour has it the top is going to be parkland and open to the public. But you didn’t hear it from me.

 

2. Apple Campus 2 “The Spaceship”

19298 Homestead Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014

Apple hinted that its next announcement will be from its new Apple Campus (dubbed the Spaceship by locals) but until it opens you’ll see more from this drone Youtube video than visiting in person. Once complete, there will be a visitor centre with a glass-walled structure. On the ground floor there will be a 2,386-square-foot cafe and 10,114-square-foot store, which allows visitors to view and purchase the newest Apple products. The project is expected to be complete at the end of this year. It sounds amazing and as soon as it opens I’m sure it will be top of the everyone’s tech tour list!

 

Steve Wozniak insists that Apple started not in the garage of this house, but in the bedroom!

Steve Wozniak insists that Apple started not in the garage of this house, but in one of the bedrooms!

 

3. Steve Jobs’ Garage 

2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos, CA 94024

Steve Wozniak insists that Apple started not in the garage of this house, but in the bedroom! It is here in the 70s that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak put together the order for the world’s first commercial personal computer, the Apple I. They made 50 machines and sold them for $500 each. The house is still occupied but you can view and photograph the property from the street. (There is no sidewalk.)

 

tktkt

The Android Statue Garden at Google HQ. Each major release of the Android operating system is named after something sweet. Here you can see Cupcake, Gingerbread, and Jelly Bean! Anyone can visit and take photos in the garden!

 

The Gap or the Google shop?

The Gap or the Google shop?

 

4. Googleplex Campus, Company Store & Android Statue Garden 

1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, CA 94043

The Googleplex campus looks just like it does in The Internship film – lots of young trendy employees getting around via a Google bike or driverless car or just walking looking intelligent. There is memorabilia everywhere you turn – the large oval “pin” from Google Maps and a Google Street View Car.  If you know someone, they can sign you into the visitor centre. For everyone else – visit the Android Lawn Statues  (series of sculptures for each Operating System, which are named things like Donut, Ice Cream Sandwich and Marshmallow). It makes for quite colourful photo opps so make sure to bring your selfie stick. Adjacent to the garden is the company store where visitors can shop for reasonably priced Google clothing and accessories (including a $24 water bottle). Then drive down to the main entrance, take a selfie and soak up the atmosphere.

 

Googleplex has thousands of visitors each year wanting to soak up that Silicon Valley atmosmosphere. Here's a pic with me and the android Nougat statue.

Googleplex has thousands of visitors each year wanting to soak up that Silicon Valley atmosmosphere. Here’s a pic with me and the android Nougat statue.

 

 

My 14-year-old’s perspective

My favourite part of the tour was visiting the Google HQ. I liked it because it gave me insight into what it would be like to work at a company like Google. I found it particularly fascinating how employees of Google are provided with food, exercise opportunities, cars and bicycles! I also liked seeing the Android Garden with the different deserts.

 

5. Computer History Museum 

1401 N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View, CA 94043 computerhistory.org

The Computer History Museum chronicles Silicon Valley’s history with a collection of over 1,100 historic artifacts, including some of the very first computers from the 1940s and 1950s. It’s weird seeing things I have used myself (such as the Palm Pilot!) on display in a museum. Fascinating, but made me feel old!

 

The Tech Museum of Innovation should be at the top of your list for every Silicon valley Tech tour.

The Tech Museum of Innovation should be at the top of your list for every Silicon valley Tech tour.

 

6. The Tech Museum of Innovation 

201 S Market St, San Jose, CA 95113 thetech.org

The Tech Museum of Innovation is a real gem, especially if you have kids. We spent hours there, literally, designing a robot, experiencing the Taiwan earthquake, growing alternative building materials out of mushrooms, programming a roller coaster (then riding it!) and more. A definite must see, especially if you have kids.  Make sure to read my full review of The Tech.

 

At Facebook HQ

At Facebook HQ (mum’s boring picture). The back of this sign still has the old Sun Microsystems logo. It was left there intentionally – as a reminder to employees as to what can happen if you don’t stay one step ahead.

 

7. Facebook HQ 

1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, CA 94025 facebook.com

Unless you know someone or have a meeting, there is not much to visit at Facebook HQ with the exception of the large Facebook billboard which is perfect for taking photos (be prepared to wait in line). The HQ took the old digs of the now defunct Sun Microsystems, which is still evident on the back side of the sign. The founders left it there as a lesson to us all as to what can happen if you don’t stay one step ahead. 

 

The founders left it there as a lesson to us all as to what can happen if you don't stay one step ahead.

The founders left it there as a lesson to us all as to what can happen if you don’t stay one step ahead.

 

 

8. HP Garage 

367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301 hpmuseum.org

The HP Garage is where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established the now legendary Hewlett-Packard partnership.  HP owns the garage and has restored it to what it would have been in the 1930s. There’s not much to do here except take a photo (unless you know someone who can get you in). But – it’s close to some of the other locations.  

While you are in the hood drive by the homes associated with  Steve’s Jobs (2101 Waverley Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301)  Mark Zuckerberg (1456 Edgewood Dr, Palo Alto, CA 94301) and Larry Page (111 Waverley Oaks Palo Alto, CA 94301).

 

The HP Garage is where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established the now legendary Hewlett-Packard partnership.

The HP Garage is where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established the now legendary Hewlett-Packard partnership.

 

9. Beam Store

 425 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301 suitabletech.com

Staffed entirely by robots, the Beam Store’s employees are located in remotely in locations around the wold and operate robots equipped with screens, speakers and wheels that allow for full mobility and conversation. We were greeted by Ari in Bermuda. Pretty cool!

 

Staffed entirely by robots, the Beam Store's employees are located in remotely in locations around the work and operate robots equipped with screens, speakers and wheels that allow for full mobility and conversation

Staffed entirely by robots, the Beam Store’s employees are located in remotely in locations around the work and operate robots equipped with screens, speakers and wheels that allow for full mobility and conversation.

 

10. b8ta store 

516 Bryant Street Palo Alto, CA 94301 b8ta.com

Walk a short block to b8ta, a new retail store designed for trying & buying cutting edge technology. Some of the items are not even available yet (hence the beta name). The girls loved the app controlled bb-8 – and we nearly bought it!

 

 

Checking out an app enabled BB8 at b8ta – a new place to try out technology #siliconvalley @visitsanjose_ca #cool @b8ta

A video posted by Susanna Scott ~ travel (@amodernmother) on

 

11. Buck’s of Woodside 

3062 Woodside Rd, Woodside, CA 94062 buckswoodside.com

Venture capitalist and entrepeneur hangout where, legend has it, numerous deals have been cut, including those for Netscape, Hotmail, PayPal, Tesla and Facebook. Wacky decor and a serious wine list, though an under-age Mark Zuckerberg ordered a Sprite on his first visit.

 

12. Flagship Tesla Showroom 

377 Santana Row, San Jose, CA tesla.com

You can combine this one with some upscale shopping in San Jose’s Santana Row, the Rodeo Drive of Silicon Valley, known hangout for the tech elite. Just walk in and sit in a car (and take a pic of course!) 

 

13. Intel Museum and Headquarters

2200 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054 intel.com

The Intel museum gives you a behind the scenes in the high-tech world of California’s famed Silicon Valley, by dressing in a clean room suit and going inside an ultra-clean, highly automated silicon chip factory.

 

IF YOU GO:

**New since publishing** Silicon Valley Tours http://www.siliconvalleytours/ Every Friday they offer an in depth tours of Facebook, Apple and Google – with a chance to test drive a Tesla Model X!

Traeger Travel with Sharon Traeger gives bespoke tours of Silicon Valley. She is one of the most knoweldgeable tour guides I have ever met – animating facts with stories (did you know there is as much computing power in your iPhone as there was in all of the US government in 1959?)

Robot Butler Aloft Cupertino 10165 North De Anza Boulevard, Cupertino, CA Aloft Cupertino, located near Apple Headquarters is the first property to introduce Bolt’r, a robot butler. Standing at 3 feet tall and weighing in below 100 pounds, the Botlr has a carrying capacity of 2 cubic feet, and is designed to travel at human walking pace. It also moves independently between floors via the hotel elevator.

Team San Jose The not-for-profit agency whose mission is to stimulate tourism, check out their web site for the latest info about Silicon Valley.

 
0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Filament.io 0 Flares ×
Follow:

17 Comments

  1. 24/08/2016 / 07:15

    Wow! My children would absolutely love to visit some of those places x

  2. 20/08/2016 / 02:31

    I have never thought of visiting Silicon Valley as part of a vacation… Somehow I imagined Silicon Valley to be a place where geeks gather to work, not a tourist hub. But I see it in a different light now… #CityTripping
    Bumble Bee Mum recently posted…Mitzo (Grand Park Orchard) Weekend Brunch & Family Fun!My Profile

  3. 19/08/2016 / 18:48

    Tech tourism – of course – it had to happen. What a great way to explore this part of California. Apple seem ahead of the curve (as always) on this. Its headquarters sound amazing! I’m not exactly a tech head but I’d be very intrigued to see where the magic happens at the likes of Google, Facebook and Apple. And love the Beam store – very cool! Great post thanks for sharing on #citytripping
    Elizabeth (Wander Mum) recently posted…Visit To Cannon Hall Farm, South YorkshireMy Profile

  4. 19/08/2016 / 08:58

    That’s such an interesting tour to do – a really different look at the area. The Tech museum of innovation sounds fascinating but I’d be really intrigued to see some of the now obsolete technology that i remember myself. My mum was a lecturer in computing so we had computers at home from the early 80s… quite a change to today! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
    Cathy (Mummytravels) recently posted…The Pacific Coast Highway in photos: 56 reasons to visit CaliforniaMy Profile

  5. 17/08/2016 / 13:23

    I recently saw Silicon valley as a part of a cruise excursion tour and thought there wouldn’t be much to see, but clearly there is.
    Erica Price recently posted…Top Tips For Children’s TravelMy Profile

  6. 17/08/2016 / 02:52

    Oh my! Such great ideas for my next trip to Northern California! I especially love the garages. #citytripping

  7. 16/08/2016 / 14:51

    What an inspiring trip for kids wanted to get into technology or are inspired by maths and science, rather than traditional culture. And how many cool points do you get for visiting the number one Apple Store. Team San Jose are an intriguing group as well being not for profit – will investigate.
    tots2travel recently posted…Day Out – Highland Safari Red Deer & Barn Owl Experience, PerthshireMy Profile

  8. 15/08/2016 / 22:10

    My daughter would love to have a tech tour holiday! It’s amazing what has happened in such a small area of land.
    Ness recently posted…Going PaperlessMy Profile

  9. 15/08/2016 / 18:04

    Mr R works for one of these big guys so he has visited quite a few on your list, in fact we were also supposed to live here, but another company got to him first so we ended up in Munich! 😀 As it’s all change for us here again soon (hallelujah) who knows this list might come in very handy for me! 😀

    • 16/08/2016 / 14:21

      Can’t wait to hear about your change!

    • 16/08/2016 / 14:22

      Thanks for pinning x

  10. 15/08/2016 / 10:57

    As a tech loving family we would love to visit all of these. We need to add Silicon Valley to our bucket list 🙂
    Sonia recently posted…Instagram Weekly 1st-14th AugustMy Profile

  11. 14/08/2016 / 20:10

    I have never visited Silicon Valley as a tourist. I went when we were building our campus at GreenPark and looked at Google Appple and a few others as well as the US campus of the company I worked for.