- Computer History Museum
Before Silicon Valley brought us the iPod and the HP printer, the area nestled between San Francisco and San Jose was a fruit orchard.
That past is mostly gone now, and the next generation of computer companies has already filled the valley faster than you can say Moore’s Law.
If you want to take a trip into Silicon Valley, here’s how to get a good mix of its past and present.
Note: Several of these include visits to garages and office campuses. Always be respectful.
- Don Debold/Flickr
If you didn’t understand that Moore’s Law reference in the intro, then your first stop should be at the Intel Museum. The museum covers topics like Moore’s Law, Intel’s first microprocessor and how silicon chips (those things that gave Silicon Valley its name) are manufactured. It’s not as big as the Computer History Museum, but it does give visitors a solid foundation in the history of both Intel and Silicon Valley.
Address: 2200 Mission College Boulevard, Santa Clara, CA 95054
- Biz Carson/Business Insider
You can’t visit Facebook’s campus unless you have a friend on the inside, but you’ll like your visit anyway. Tourists visit the Menlo Park campus to pose in front of its “like” sign all year long. Unfortunately, the Facebook swag shop is inside its offices so you can’t pick up anything else related to the social network.
Address: 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, CA 94025
And while you’re there, make sure to take a look at the back of the sign.
- Biz Carson/Business Insider
Facebook took over Sun Microsystem’s old campus, but left a little bit of legacy behind. It’s a good reminder of the cycle of tech companies in Silicon Valley. And if you were a huge fan of Sun, you can always pose with that sign too.
The only tech company with a collection of candy outside its walls, a stop on Google’s campus means you can take a photo with any of its Android collection figurines. (Hint: the newest one is a piece of nougat.)
You can even walk over its “Google Gate Bridge,” which connects buildings on campus, although you can’t sneak in for a free lunch inside the Googleplex unless an employee gives you a tour.
Address:1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, CA 94043
- www78 / Flickr
The birthplace of Silicon Valley, or at least according to its historical sign out front, the HP Garage was home to the early days of the Hewlett-Packard company. Dave Packard and his wife, Lucille, moved into the first floor apartment in 1938, and Bill Hewlett lived in the shed in the back. After Hewlett got married, the garage was turned into HP’s business office.
It was christened the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley” in 2007 when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The garage and house are closed to public tours, but visitors can take pictures from the side walk.
Address:367 Addison Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Website: HP Garage Museum
Steve Jobs’ Garage
Many a Silicon Valley tech company has started in a garage and that includes Apple.
Steve Jobs was living with his parents in his childhood home when he started working on the Apple computer. Jobs and his co-founder, Steve Wozniak, finalized the first 50 computers in the garage, although Woz now claims the garage is a “bit of a myth.”
Down the street is also the now-defunct The Byte Shop (1063 West El Camino Real). The computer store bought the first 50 Apple-1 computers produced by Jobs and Wozniak in the garage for $500 each.
Address: 2066 Crist Dr, Los Altos, CA 94024
- Google Street View
Located in Los Altos, Chef Chu’s has been a tasty stop for tech executives for years. Steve Jobs ate there before he was the Steve Jobs. Former Intel CEO Craig Barrett reportedly used to have his own booth at the Chinese restaurant. Barrett kept a piece of fortune-cookie wisdom from the restaurant as well and would refer to its message – “The world will always accept talent with open arms” – during meetings.
Address:1067 N San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022
The Google co-founders chose a great landlord in 1988. Susan Wojcicki, now the head of Google’s YouTube, rented her garage to Larry Page and Sergey Brin to help her cover the mortgage payments.
The pair dubbed the garage, complete with blue carpeting, the worldwide headquarters of Google. The company stayed in the garage until it reached seven employees and found a place of its own.
Google has since bought back the garage, although it doesn’t use it for much.
Address: 232 Santa Margarita Ave, Menlo Park, CA 94025
Computer History Museum
There are few places left where you can still play Pong. The Computer History Museum is one of them.
The museum, located in the middle of Silicon Valley, traces the history of the computer, from when it used to take up most of a room to the small hand-held phones we have today.
Address:1401 N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View, CA 94043
Website: Computer History Museum
Buck’s of Woodside
- jeroen020 / Flickr
Silicon Valley’s power breakfast place, Buck’s of Woodside is only a quick drive away from Sand Hill Road. As a result, the quirky restaurant has seen the birth of many a tech company. The first demo of PayPal was in Buck’s, as was the incorporation of Hotmail. The owner of the restaurant even claims that early Tesla prototypes pulled up outside and were offering equity on the doorsteps of his restaurant.
Address: 3062 Woodside Road, Woodside, CA 94062
Website: Buck’s of Woodside
Sand Hill Road
- Business Insider
It may look like a bunch of office buildings, but Sand Hill Road is legendary for the venture capitalists that troll up and down it in their Teslas. Nearly every major tech company, including Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter, received funding from a Sand Hill Road company.
Restaurants in the vicinity including The Village Pub and Madera are a good place to play spot the venture capitalist. The Rosewood Hotel, located right off Sand Hill, even offers a Silicon Valley historical tour for its patrons.
Apple Campus Store
You can’t get into Apple’s campus, but you can visit its store. It’s the only place where you can buy Apple-branded paraphernalia like T-shirts and notebooks. The store recently re-opened after a redesign so it has a whole new line of gear never before seen in Apple stores before. (That includes a pen designed by Jony Ive).
Address: 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014 (Note: the store is closed on Sundays)
Website: Apple store
The Tech Museum of Innovation
- The Tech Museum of Innovation
If you have kids,”The Tech” is the best way to get hands-on with the tech Silicon Valley has developed. Located in San Jose, the museum lets kids build robots or try out brain monitors that can measure your mood and activity. In March 2016, it opened the nation’s first bioengineering exhibit to teach kids about synthetic biology – a normally complex subject taught through blocks and games.
Address: 201 S. Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113-2008
Moffett Field and the adjacent NASA Ames Research Center
- Simon Tunbridge/Flickr
Hangar One is one of the world’s largest freestanding structures, covering 8 acres of ground.
Why did a building in Silicon Valley need to be so large? Hangar One needed to house the USS Macon, a blimp only 20 feet shorter than the Hindenburg. The USS Macon was struck down in 1935 off the California coast, but Moffett continued as a joint civil-military air field.
While the site is owned by NASA (which has its own museum adjacent) and leased to Google, a small museum continues to operate on site to commemorate its past.
Address: Moffett Field, Mountain View, CA 94043
Stanford University and The Last Spike
- Stanford University/Facebook
Sure, Stanford University may have sprouted some of the modern day tech giants, but its namesake also had a big role in earlier Valley days.
John Leland Stanford helped pay for the development of the Central Pacific Railroad and was given “The Last Spike” when the rail line finally met with the Union Pacific to complete the Transcontinental Railroad.
The spike is now on display at Stanford along with his family art collection. And once you finish looking at those, there’s time to walk around and see the big names that adorn the campus buildings.
Address: 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
Website: Cantor Arts Center
- Jitze Couperus/Flickr
The drive from San Jose up Mount Hamilton features spectacular views. Atop the mountain, the bubble domes of the Lick Observatory are open to visitors during the day to see its giant telescopes perched at the top to view the stars.
It’s only rarely open at night though because astronomers are still using it to study the solar system. In 2014, it built the first fully automated telescope to study planets outside our solar system – and it’s already found several planetary systems!
Address:7281 Mt Hamilton Rd, Mt Hamilton, CA 95140
- Google Maps/Screenshot
Right off the Stanford campus border, the Coupa Cafe has become a place for tech founders and investors to meet, test, and work on products. The cafe is not only a testing ground for a lot of small startups, but it also leads to a lot of startup deals.
Its popularity in the tech crowd means it can be harder to snag a table, but it’s still fun to listen in to the future of Silicon Valley around you.
Address: 538 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Website: Coupa Café
165 University Ave
- Google Maps
Whether you believe in karma or not, 165 University Ave. has been labeled the “The Lucky Office” of Silicon Valley and for good reason.
It was the first office of Google and home to PayPal. Before early Google moved in, computer accessory maker Logitech was the first famous company to walk its halls.
The bottom floor now holds a T-Mobile Store and a tea shop, but there’s still room for startups on the top.
Address: 165 University Ave. Palo Alto, CA, 94301
Winchester Mystery House
An earlier piece of technology, the Winchester rifle made a lot of money for the eponymous family.
Heir to the family fortune, Sarah Winchester built a house in San Jose – but she claims she was haunted by the ghosts of everyone who died at the hands of her family-made rifles.
Being moved to build by spirits, she began construction on the Winchester Mystery House in 1884 and it continued until her death in 1922. During that time, it’s estimated between 500 and 600 rooms were built, but only 160 remain. The house is full of weird architectural elements, like the “Switchback Staircase” which has seven flights of stairs that are only two inches tall each.
Address:525 S Winchester Blvd San Jose, CA 9512
Website: Winchester Mystery House