Where is Silicon Valley, and how do you know you’ve been there? Essentially, this global hub for high tech innovation overlays the Santa Clara Valley and is roughly located south of the San Francisco Bay Area. San Jose, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale are among the cities included in the area.
Visit places steeped in the history of modern technology, such as Facebook, Google, Apple, NASA, and Tesla. Wear your favorite STEM t-shirt or propeller hat, and let your self-driving car take you there!
Hiller Aviation Museum
601 Skyway Rd
san Carlos, CA 94070
This museum is a mecca for aviation enthusiasts who love all manner of flying machines. The variety on display includes replicas of the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer, the Fokker Triplane (Shades of the Red Baron), the more modern 1988 Boeing Condor Spy Plane, along with helicopters and even a 1947 Thunderbird rocket. Visitors can participate in a helicopter simulation in a real helicopter, explore a scaled-down Stealth bomber, and watch airplanes take off and land from San Carlos Airport. Visit their website at www.hiller.org.
Prices: Adults – $10; ages 5–17 $6; ages 4 and under – Free
Meta Platforms, Inc.
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Formerly known as Facebook, Meta Platforms, Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Menlo Park. The namechange reflects its new focus on building the “metaverse,” the Internet as an immersive virtual world facilitated by the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). The company headquarters are not open to the public, but many people stop to take a picture of the thumbs-up sign from the visitor parking lot. The line at the sign tends to be long, so take a picture of the person in front of you and return the favor.
1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy
Mountain View, CA 94043
The Googleplex is Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Although you can stroll around the campus, you cannot enter the buildings. Find the Android OS robot eating strawberry cake among the various funky sculptures.
Apple Park Visitor Center
10600 North Tantau Avenue
Cupertino, CA 95014
Apple Park Visitor Center displays products and accessories from Apple and those co-branded with the company. The company also offers a number of “Today at Apple” programs for kids and adults, so be sure to check the website for upcoming events. In addition to the campus’ innovative architecture and the Store’s AR experiences, you’ll also find an outdoor café in an olive grove.
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Bvld and Hwy 101
Mountain View, CA
The Ames Research Center is an active laboratory and doesn’t currently offer public tours, but the Ames Exploration Center is a small museum and shop with NASA artifacts, a must-see for space and aeronautics fans.
Robert Noyce Building
2200 Mission College Bvld
Learn about Intel’s history, the science behind semiconductors, and more at the Intel Museum. Visitors are welcome to explore the museum at their own pace. Entry is free, but it is recommended that you make a reservation in advance. Tours for groups of up to 20 people are available with a prior reservation and last 30- or 60-minutes. The museum is slated to reopen in July 2022. For more information, visit www.intel.com.
Computer History Museum
1401 N Shoreline Bvld
Mountain View, CA 94043
A significant collection of computer-related “relics” can be found at the Computer History Museum, which is open Wednesdays–Sundays. Through August, the exhibit “Technology & Art” features the earliest days of electronic computers and how people have used them create art.
Price: Ages 7 and under – Free; ages 8-10 – $6; adults – $17.50. Discounts available for students, seniors, and active U.S. Military.
Tesla Factory Showroom
45500 Fremont Bvld
Fremont, CA 94538
Tesla has certainly shaken up the auto industry with its high-tech electric vehicles and the Tesla factory in Fremont has 5.3 million square feet of manufacturing and office space in one of the world’s most advanced automotive plants. Booking your factory tour in advance is definitely recommended. Visit www.tesla.com for more information, and even schedule a test drive!