La Silicon Valley it is a place that we have all heard about at least once in our life and now plays a central role in the collective imagination when it comes to computers and technology in general. In the map, however, you will not find any area named like this, this is because Silicon Valley is actually just an expression that indicates a large area of California that encompasses several counties within it.If on your California itinerary you are looking for an attraction a little out of the ordinary compared to the classic national parks, or the most famous places in big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, or if you are a real "geek", this article will be able to provide you with useful information on which places to visit to take home a certainly original souvenir photo.
- Santa Clara County Area
- Apple (Cupertino)
- Google (Mountain View)
- ebay (San Jose)
- Netflix (The Cats)
- Other attractions
- San Mateo County
- Facebook and Instagram (Menlo Park)
- San Francisco Area
- How to best fit a Silicon Valley tour into your itinerary
Santa Clara County Area
What is about to become Apple's old headquarters is located at the evocative address of 1 Infinite Loop Cupertino. Unfortunately to enter the buildings you will have to be "escorted" by an employee so, unless you are lucky enough to have some relative who works at Apple, you will have to be content to take a photo with the company logo.
Since 2013 the construction of theApple Park: the futuristic campus wanted by Steve Jobs, which should open its doors in the first half of 2018. At the time of writing the article, only the Visitor Center is active and you can visit it freely. Inside there is a bar and a shop where you will find everything a bitten apple lover can expect, from the countless gadgets with the company logo to the latest iPhone and iMac models.
At the video below you can see what the current status of the works is.
Google (Mountain View)
The Google headquarters does not consist of a single building but is a real architectural complex (more than 60 buildings), after all the name Googleplex it was not given at random. The address is 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View.
The main park, where you can find numerous solutions for parking, is in front of the Google Building 43. From here you can take a ride along the park and freely photograph the numerous oddities and curiosities that you will find there: the Android statues, a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex and the colorful bicycles that Google employees use to move from one part of the city to the other. complex.
Unfortunately, also in this case it will not be possible to do any kind of tour inside the Googleplex since the only way to enter is to have an employee as a guide. There is a visitor center but don't be fooled by the name, it is intended only for those who have already been authorized to enter.
If, like myself, you cannot leave a place without first having stocked up on gadgets and t-shirts, you cannot miss a visit to the Google Merchandise Store (1981 Landings Drive, Mountain View) which is open Monday through Friday from 10.30am to 18.30pm.
ebay (San Jose)
Also in this case, in addition to the usual photo with the company logo, the only part that can be visited is the inevitable company store, where you can find a myriad of items branded with the ebay logo; if one day you no longer need them you can still resell them… This store is in San Jose, a key town for visiting the Valley: we have dedicated the article to you what to see in San Jose.
Netflix (The Cats)
If you spend your afternoons doing binge-watching on the sofa you cannot miss the offices that are the cause of your addiction to TV series.
Once you have taken the usual photo in front of the Netflix logo, however, you will not be able to do anything else because, unlike the previous cases, this time there is not even a themed store.
We are talking about one of the companies that made the history of technology. Although it may not be a popular brand like the companies we have talked about so far, if you are a real fan of the IT world, I highly recommend you visit the Intel museum which will allow you to take a real journey through the history of this company.
The opening hours are Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 18:00, while on Saturdays the museum is open from 10:00 to 17:00. If you want to visit it, I recommend that you contact them directly through the channels on the official website to avoid being closed due to special events. Being a museum, the theme store could not be missing.
So far I have listed what I believe are the essential headquarters to visit if you are passing through this area and are passionate about technology. For this section, however, I wanted to point out those museums and those special attractions that have marked the history of technological progress.
One of the more universities prestigious of the United States, is linked to the world of technology not only for the teachings that are offered, but above all because it is here that Steve Jobs gave his famous speech to graduates (that of stay hungry, stay foolish) that every Apple lover knows practically by heart.
Visiting the campus can be interesting not only for being able to say that you have been to this iconic place but also because the university area offers many interesting things to do.
At the visitor center it is possible to participate in a free tour of the university area which, accustomed to the conditions in which most of the Italian ones find themselves, I assure you will be a shocking experience. Certainly the most notable attraction of this campus is theHoover Tower Observation Platform, which today has the function of having become a real panoramic tower from which you can enjoy a 360 ° view of the entire surrounding area. To access it, you need to take a guided tour at a cost of $ 4.
For tour times and to check for university closures you can refer to the official website. Parking is available near the visitor center for $ 2 per hour.
Computer History Museum
Very close to the Googleplex this museum, as you can guess from the name, offers a real journey through the history of information technology from its origins, when computers occupied an entire room, up to the present day. There are more than 90.000 exhibits related to the world of technology that make it one of the most well-stocked museums in the world. Recently added is a section entirely dedicated to Autonomous Vehicles, or cars that drive themselves, which are becoming more and more popular in our society.
The opening hours are usually from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00. However, some special openings and extended hours depending on the time of year. For this reason, the advice is always to check also on the official website. The entrance ticket is quite expensive, in fact it has a cost of $ 17.50, and there are some real "geek packages" that, at a higher price, offer gadgets included related to the world of technology.
The Tech Museum of Innovation
from curious shape and bright colors it is impossible not to notice if you are driving around this area. It is a three-storey museum and, due to its interactivity and the demonstrations it offers, it is particularly recommended if you are traveling with children in tow. Inside it also houses a cinema IMAX which can be accessed separately if you just can't resist the urge to watch the latest Hollywood hit in the original language.
If the ticket for the Computer History Museum seemed expensive, get ready because to visit the Tech Museum of Innovation you will have to pay $ 24 each. The museum is open daily from 10:00 to 17:00. The only closures are scheduled for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Hewlett Packard House and Garage
With these last two attractions we enter the field of legendary places where the ideas that helped to set in motion that technological and IT progress that also led to the creation of the device from which you are reading this article were concretely developed.
We start from the small wooden garage in which Bill Hewlett e David Packard, still Stanford students, began working together building their first oscillator called HP200A and laying the foundations of their company which would later become a leader in the production of computers and IT accessories. A plaque defines this place as the birthplace of Silicon Valley.
Unfortunately you can only see the garage from the outside as it is not open to the public.
Steve Jobs Garage
Here we are at another garage that has entered the history of information technology. This is indeed the place where Steve Jobs e Steve Wozniak assembled theApple I and created what is arguably Silicon Valley's best-known brand. Today it is a historic home like the Hewlett and Packard garage and, like the other, unfortunately it can only be photographed from the outside as it is in effect a private property.
San Mateo County
Facebook and Instagram (Menlo Park)
The positive note of the Facebook and Instagram headquarters is that you won't have any problems parking your car. In fact, a huge series of parking spaces surrounds the offices and you will be spoiled for choice. At the same time, unfortunately, there is not much that can be done for visitors, other than taking a souvenir photo in front of the "thumbnail”Facebook like symbol.
San Francisco Area
If you are a regular tweeter you can take a photo of the well-known social network in the neighborhood of Sum at the intersection of Market St. and 10th st.
Unfortunately there isn't much else to do in the area so go if you really care.
Perhaps with this stage we go a little off topic with respect to the topic of the article, but it seemed right to point out the headquarters of the legendary Lucasfilm, where you can take a picture with a wonderful fountain with statue of Yoda annexed. Surely a curiosity that, if you are a Star Wars fan, you cannot miss out on visiting the city of San Francisco.
How to best fit a Silicon Valley tour into your itinerary
At this point, if you feel like doing a Silicon Valley itinerary, you may be wondering how to best fit it into a California tour. It all depends on where your starting point is, i.e. if you are going to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco or vice versa. In our article on how to get around San Francisco we had the opportunity to advise you against using the car in this somewhat chaotic city. For this the best solution is to enter this trip to Silicon Valley or at the beginning or at the end of your travel itinerary so that it is more comfortable to be already on the road and not have to manage the rental of a car in San Francisco.
Whether the city of the Bay is your starting point or your arrival point, it is certainly recommended to choose it as an overnight stay given its wide range of hotels. To find out which hotel is best for you, I recommend reading our tips on where to sleep in San Francisco.