Silicon Valley Tech Attractions and Things to See
Explore Silicon Valley top attractions and things to see including the Japanese Friendship Garden, Children’s Discovery Museum, hidden wineries, groves of redwoods, Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, and California’s Great America Amusement Park.
Geography: Silicon Valley is centered in the Santa Clara Valley in the southern region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Originally known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight for its numerous fruit orchards, flowering trees, and plants, it was the largest fruit production and packing region in the world before 1960. The valley is bounded by the Santa Cruz Mountains on the southwest and Diablo Range on the northeast. It is about 30 miles long and 15 miles wide. Silicon Valley now also includes the southern Peninsula Valley and southern East Bay, with a variety of high-tech companies located throughout other counties in the Bay Area. San Jose, often referred to as the capitol of the Silicon Valley, has a population of close to 1.8 million.
The Evolution of Silicon Valley: Silicon Valley evolved quickly since WWII and became the leading hub for high-tech innovation and development. Stanford University played a major role in Silicon Valley development. Along with Terman and William Shockley, both former U.S. military, the focus was on classified research and development. They contributed to this new era of innovation through military defense, integrated circuits, and computers. Terman encouraged Stanford students like William Hewlett and David Packard to start their own companies, leading the way for today’s current venture capital and startup culture in Silicon Valley, including Intel, founded by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore.
The Computer History Museum Established as a non-profit organization in 1999 and is dedicated to the preservation of computing history and its impact on the world. It is home to one of the largest international collections of computing artifacts, encompassing computer hardware, ephemera, photographs, moving images, documents, and software, among other collections and exhibits. The Computer History Museum offers many exhibits on a variety of topics related to the history of computing. You may sign-up for the public guided tour, or explore the museum at your pace and visit the exhibits you are interested in. General admission costs $15 (not included) gives you full access to all museum exhibits and wings. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Intel Museum: Book our private tour to discover the people behind the innovative technology that changed our world. The 10,000-square-foot museum is located at Intel’s headquarters in Santa Clara in the heart of Silicon Valley. It contains interactive exhibits, which appeal to all generations and levels of technical knowledge and interest. These displays demonstrate how silicon chips are made, how they function, their impact on our daily lives, and their ever-faster and endless evolution. The museum offers a unique insider look at a high-tech world where distance is measured in billionths of meters, and time in billionths of seconds. You’ll also learn about Intel, which is the world’s largest maker of silicon chips that power computers, cell phones, and thousands of other digital products. Among its prize exhibits is a 12-inch-diameter silver ingot of silicon on display, which may be the purest “element” you’ll ever touch. Kids can also try on the “bunny suits,” which Intel workers wear in ultra-clean labs where computer chips are made. Book your Silicon Valley tour in advance and we’ll arrange a private and complimentary guided tour (if available), so you can see how semiconductor technology started and chips are designed and manufactured. The museum is open weekdays and Saturdays but closed on Sundays and holidays.
Stanford University covers an area of 8,880 acres making it difficult to explore without a tour guide. Should you decide to take the guided walking public tour at Stanford, please let us know so we may book your tour in advance. You will spend about an hour and half with a local Stanford student-guide exploring the highlights and history of the campus. These students are knowledgeable about the history of the university and offer an insider’s view of what it is like to be a student at the second-largest campus in the world! During your tour, you may be joined by parents and prospective students, as well as visitors from around the world. A campus visit is your opportunity to get a firsthand insight into this legendary college whose alumni include founders from HP and Google.
Please wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking for over 1 and a half hours. If you have mobility issues, please let us know so we may arrange a golf-cart guided tour for you (additional fees will apply). Also, if you do not wish to join a group tour to visit the campus, we can arrange a private walking tour for and additional fee.
NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field: NASA Ames Research Center is a key facility for many of NASA’s missions and projects. The Center was established in 1939 as the second laboratory of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. It was named for the chair of NACA, Joseph Ames. Originally, the naval air station was a home base for the dirigible U.S.S. Macon. In 1945, the airfield was renamed Moffett Field after Admiral Moffett who lost his life in the 1935 crash of the U.S.S. Macon. In 1958, the area became NASA Ames Research Center, when Congress created the National Aeronautics and Space Act (NASA). Following the closure of Moffett Field as a military base in 1994, with the help of nearby communities Mountain View and Sunnyvale, the area is now a world class research and development center serving the goals of the United States’ space program. NASA Research Park began a collaborative partnership with educational institutions, industry and non-profit organizations, to stimulate innovation and education in science and research disciplines. These includes astrobiology, information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology. Our visit to the NASA Exploration Center will provide you with an overall picture of the space program through detailed exhibits and informative volunteers.
Google:Did you know that a google (correct spelling googol) is the digit 1 followed by 100 zeros? This term was originally coined by a 9-year-old boy, named Milton Seratta, who is the nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner. Google, the company, was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while both were attending Stanford University. It originally began in March 1996 as a research project for a PhD dissertation title. Page joined by Brin, and supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, created the search engine called Google. It originally used the Stanford website with the domain google.stanford.edu, but later the domain google.com was registered. Its initial public offering followed on August 19, 2004. The company’s mission statement was to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” The company’s unofficial slogan is “Don’t be evil.” Page and Brin own about 16 % of the company’s stake. In 2006, the company moved to its headquarters in Mountain View, California. Although closed to the public, we will drive you through campus and make stops for photo opportunities along the way including at Googleplex Area, YouTube, and the Googlemap car.
Apple’s Headquarters: Apple was founded on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, who started selling the so-called ‘Apple 1 personal computer kit’, which was very basic, yet innovative for its time. Everybody turned them down to buy the product, except one computer store owner who placed an order and
gave them a chance to make hundreds of units out of their garage, as they couldn’t afford an office or store. The kits were hand-built by Wozniak and first shown to the public at the Homebrew Computer Club. The Apple 1 went on sale July 1976 for $666.66. We’ll visit the Apple Campus in Cupertino, south of Palo Alto, where the original Apple employee store is located. The store is open to the public, but unlike local Apple retail stores, they don’t sell computers, iPhones, or iPads. However, they do sell Apple logo t-shirts, caps, and accessories. We recommend visiting the Apple retail store in downtown Palo Alto, located a few blocks from Stanford Campus, if you want to purchase computers, phones, or other products.
Apple New Headquarters Visitor Center: You’ll also visit Apple Headquarters’ new Visitor Center, store and gift shop in Cupertino – a place to visit, shop, and explore exhibitions that showcase the innovative design of Apple Park “spaceship” and its unique products. Enjoy a wide selection of Apple products, accessories,
and exclusive Apple branded merchandise. Enjoy the hands-on interactive experience and see how this architectural masterpiece of Apple new headquarter was designed.
Winchester Mystery House: Seeking history and mystery? Take a guided tour of the Winchester Mystery House to discover one of America’s most bizarre and ‘haunted’ homes. This well-known mansion is located across the plaza from Santana Row. It was once a private residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester (of Winchester rifles). The mansion was under continuous construction for over 38 years, and, under Winchester’s supervision, proceeded around the clock without interruption from 1884 to her death on September 5, 1922— when work stopped immediately. The building cost is estimated at about $5.5 million, equivalent to over $75 million today. According to local news stories, Winchester thought the house was haunted by the ghosts of people who lost their lives from Winchester rifles, and only continuous construction would appease them. Tickets are not included. Prices vary, ranging $24-$40, depending on the tour you choose.
Santana Row: High-tech firms are not the only reason to visit Silicon Valley! Santana Row is an upscale shopping, residential, dining and entertainment complex in San Jose, characterized by a Mediterranean ambiance. The ‘Art de Vivre’ fusion and modern architectural design earned Santana Row two major awards:
The Builder Magazine’s Project of the Year in 2003 and the CELSOC Engineering Excellence Award in 2004. It’s a mix of high-end and classic retail stores, ranging from luxury brands like Burberry, Gucci, Salvatore, Tourneau and Ferragamo, to casual brands including H&M, Diesel, Ann Taylor LOFT, Anthropologie, Free People, and Urban Outfitters. There are a variety of restaurants to choose from, and Tesla Motors has cars on display. If you choose to visit Santana Row, we will skip our stop at Stanford for schedule and time considerations.
Oracle Corporation is an American multinational computer technology corporation that specializes in developing and marketing computer hardware systems and enterprise software products. Oracle is headquartered in Redwood City in northern Silicon Valley and has approximately 114,000 employees worldwide. Oracle has enlarged its share of the software market through organic growth and a number of high-profile acquisitions. It is the third-largest software maker by revenue, after Microsoft and IBM. Larry Ellison, its co-founder, has served as Oracle’s CEO throughout its history and is ranked as the top-paid chief executive in the world.
The HP Garage is a private museum where the company Hewlett-Packard (HP) was founded in 1939. It is nestled amongst the quiet and charming side streets near Stanford campus. Many consider HP Garage the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley, and although it is not open for public tours, the property can be viewed from the sidewalk and driveway. We will drive 16 miles
further south to visit another famous garage where Steve Jobs started Apple, a modest 1950s ranch-style home, which our guides say exemplifies ‘The American Dream.
The Tech Museum of Innovation: The Tech Museum of Innovation is a family-friendly science and technology center in the heart of downtown San Jose. It offers hands-on activities, experimental labs and design challenge experiences empower people to innovate with creativity, curiosity and compassion. The Tech is a world leader in the creation of immersive STEAM education resources to develop the next generation of problem-solvers locally, nationally and globally. We believe that everyone is born an innovator who can change the world for the better.The goal is to inspiring future generations with science. Daily, The Tech ‘s strives to engage people in exploring and experiencing applied technologies affecting their lives.The front wall is inscribed with quotations from iconic Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Bill Hewlett, David Packard, Bob Noyce, and Gordon Moore.
The building has a distinctive mango and azure color and has three floors. The ground floor includes The Tech Store, The Tech Cafe, the IMAX Dome Theater, and a recreational area that is reserved for special events. Four major theme galleries fill the Upper Level and Lower Level: Communication, Exploration, Innovation, and Life Tech. These galleries are constantly being revamped and changed to fit the theme, movies, and exhibits. On occasion, nearby Parkside Hall is rented from the City of San Jose, to provide extra space for special temporary exhibits.
On the Lower Level there is also a complex multi-story sculpture titled Origin, inside a 45-foot-tall (14 m) cylindrical tower. The artwork portrays relationships among art, technology, and natural resources of the earth. Near the entrance to the building, there is Science on a Roll, a popular rolling ball sculpture by George Rhoads.
California’s Great America Amusement Park: If you are not interested in the high-tech world, you may visit the Winchester Mystery House and combine it with a side trip to California’s Great America amusement park in Santa Clara. It’s the only combination theme and waterpark in California and one of four amusement parks that operate within San .
Francisco Bay Area. Families come from all over the Bay Area to enjoy the excitement and fun
The Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose builds and displays interactive exhibits that respond to children’s diverse educational needs. The 52,000-square-foot purple building was designed in 1990 by Mexico City-based architect, Ricardo Legorreta, who also designed the Tech Museum of Innovation. The Children’s Discovery Museum is on Woz Way in San Jose,
named after Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. The museum’s signature programs, such as BioSITE and Discovery Youth, encompass the broad themes of community, connections, and creativity, with the goal to create interactive exhibits that invite self-directed, open-ended explorations. The museum is composed of three floors, each with its own significance. Four major theme galleries fill the upper and lower levels: Communication, Exploration, Innovation and Life Tech. The Hackworth IMAX dome theater shows mainstream movies as well as educational films. Tech Museum of Innovation is a hands-on technology and science museum for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. This learning resource center was established to engage people in exploring and experiencing technologies affecting their daily lives. The Tech Museum of Innovation is a wonderful experience for young kids who want to experience the real high-tech world where they can spend a half day or a full day in one location to see new exhibits, new movies, and much more.
Cisco Systems, Inc. Cisco is an American multinational technology conglomerate headquartered in San Jose, California, in the center of Silicon Valley. Cisco develops, manufactures and sells networking hardware, telecommunications equipment and other high-technology services and products. Through
its numerous acquired subsidiaries, such as OpenDNS, WebEx, Jabber and Jasper, Cisco specializes into specific tech markets, such as Internet of Things (IoT), domain security and energy management. Cisco is incorporated in California.
Cisco stock was added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average on June 8, 2009 and is also included in the S&P 500 Index, the Russell 1000 Index, NASDAQ-100 Index and the Russell 1000 Growth Stock Index.
Cisco Systems was founded in December 1984 by Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner, two Stanford University computer scientists. They pioneered the concept of a local area network (LAN) being used to connect geographically disparate computers over a multiprotocol router system. By the time the company went public in 1990, Cisco had a market capitalization of $224 million. By the end of the dot-com bubble in the year 2000, Cisco had a more than $500 billion market capitalization.
The Mystery Spot is a tourist attraction in a remote forest in the mountains of Santa Cruz County, south of Silicon Valley. In this strange site, the laws of physics and gravity do not apply, and provide a number of illusions in support of these claims. Here you can witness water that seems to flow upward, people seem to be standing in slanted positions, and gravity is reversed! George Prather who first discovered
this site in 1940, claimed to have detected strange magnetic anomalies during his property inspection. As you go on the walking tour (tickets not included), a local tour guide will explain the powerful vortex forces and the mystery behind this land. For skeptics and believers, this is a fun walking tour for all ages. Be aware of side effects like motion sickness or dizziness caused by spatial distortion and the mysterious forces behind this “Mystery Spot.” Please note that this visit requires about 4 hours round trip from Silicon Valley, which leaves you 2 to 3 hours, so we only recommend this trip if you are not interested in and in-depth Silicon Valley tour. You may purchase tickets online in advance at www.mysteryspot.com/buy-tickets-online. You will also see a great many redwood trees along the way as we drive through the forest.
The Hiller Aviation Museum is in San Carlos, north of Silicon Valley, founded June 1998 by helicopter pioneer Stanley Hiller Jr. It specializes in Northern California aircraft history and helicopter history and is part of the Smithsonian Affiliations program. This is an extra site to add for those who are interested in Silicon Valley high technology (tickets are not included and cost $14 per person).
Fry’s Electronics was founded as a Silicon Valley retail electronics store in 1985 to provide a one-stop-shopping environment for the high-tech professional. San Jose Fry’s is a wonderfully large setting decorated in elaborate themes. It’s like a museum paying tribute to the first astronomers, the Mayans, with scenes from Chichen itza. Interestingly, Fry’s unorthodox advertising methods came under heavy fire in 2003. Actors Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis,
and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger each sued Fry’s for $10 million for posting their images on television sets, on their print ads, and flyers without permission. It’s a great place to visit even if you don’t need more electronic supplies.
Levi’s Stadium Tours: Levi’s Stadium is an American football stadium located in Santa Clara, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has served as the home venue for the National Football League (NFL)’s San Francisco 49ers since 2014.
Levi’s® Stadium hosts its first public event in less than a month and fans can now schedule their own insider’s look at the state-of-the-art venue with today’s launch of ticket sales for Levi’s® Stadium Tours. Reservations are available now for the guided tour program that opens on August 8 and features year-round opportunities for individuals and private groups of 20 or more to get a behind-the-scenes look at Levi’s® Stadium.
Levi’s® Stadium is much more than just the new home of the San Francisco 49ers, it is nearly two million square feet of cutting-edge technology and sustainable design conceived with the guiding principle of re-defining the fan experience. The opening of Levi’s® Stadium will usher in the next generation of sports and entertainment venues, including elements that will make it a multi-faceted destination for fans of all ages year-round. A Levi’s® Stadium Tour will highlight features that include the 49ers Team Store, Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak + Pub restaurant and the 49ers Museum presented by Sony, which houses the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame and the Denise DeBartolo York Education Center.
“Levi’s® Stadium was designed to be an attractive year-round destination and our tour program will highlight those areas while giving 49ers fans exclusive access we can’t provide on gamedays,” said 49ers COO Al Guido. “The 49ers appreciate the passion that the Faithful have shown for the organization throughout our transition to Levi’s® Stadium and we’re glad to be able to provide the public an inside look at our new home.” https://www.levisstadium.com/ /firstname.lastname@example.org
Japanese Friendship Garden is a walled section of Kelley Park, a beautiful and tranquil garden in the heart of San Jose. It’s a living symbol of the ‘Sister City’ of Okayama in Japan. In its three main ponds koi swim, which were originally sent from Okayama in 1966. The ponds are at different elevations in the park and are inter-connected by streams. Not far away, you can also visit the hidden Happy Hollow Zoo,
which provides an affordable, sustainable, conservation-centered outdoor adventure for families with children. This small 16-acre (6.5 ha) zoo and amusement park, was originally opened in 1961, offering a combination of theme park rides, games along, and a petting zoo. You may also visit Hakone Gardens, a traditional Japanese garden recognized as one of the oldest Japanese-style residential gardens in the Western Hemisphere, and an enduring American treasure. It was founded in San Jose in 1985, by leaders of the then-rapidly growing Santa Clara Valley Sikh community.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Established in 1902, Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park. In the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, its biggest attractions—literally—are its ancient coast redwoods. Some of these giants are more than 50 feet around and as tall as the Statue of Liberty. At 1,000 to 1,800 years old, some may predate the Roman Empire. The park also offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, lush waterfalls, and a fascinating natural and cultural history.
Home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco, park vegetation consists of old-growth and recovering second-growth redwood forest, with mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral, and riparian habitats. Elevations in the park vary from sea level to over 2,000 feet. The park has more than 80 miles of trails. Some of these trails link Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range. The Skyline to the Sea Trail threads its way through the park along Waddell Creek to the beach and adjacent Theodore J. Hoover Natural Preserve, a freshwater marsh.
The park has a number of waterfalls, a variety of habitats (from lush canyon bottoms to sparse chaparral-covered slopes), many animals (deer, raccoons, bobcats) and lots of bird life—including Steller’s jays, egrets, herons and California woodpeckers.
EXPERIENCE THE REDWOODS – Big Basin Redwoods State Park preserves more than 18,000 acres. This unique ecosystem of ancient coast redwood trees has captured the interest and dedication of many people throughout time. Visit the Redwood Loop Trail – grab a self-guided trail brochure at park headquarters for this 0.5 mile (1 km) flat loop trail and discover the survival adaptation of the coast redwood and the inspiration this grove holds that led to its protection.