5 Ways to Enjoy the Tech Capital of the Country
From tech conglomerates to mountainous views, Silicon Valley has earned its reputation as a hub of new age thinkers and powerful innovations. Companies such as Facebook, Apple, and Google all have a home in this historical landmark. If you ever have the pleasure of being in the Silicon Valley area just south of San Francisco, be sure to check out these high-profile attractions and see where the dot-com revolution got its start.
Once you’ve perused through the tech startups of Silicon Valley, reward yourself with a trip to downtown San Francisco. The Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most historic locations in the city with its endless barrage of fresh seafood tents and boardwalk restaurants. As a massive tourist destination, Fisherman’s Wharf caters to your every need. It boasts a robust collection of local stores and souvenir shops. Hundreds of local businesses converge in this thriving section of the city. You’ll also find a plethora of live music venues, local theater performances, comedy clubs, boat tours and even wildlife sightings. Seals, gulls and sea lions are known to make an appearance along the dock’s edge. You can experience the best of San Francisco with one trip to the Fisherman’s Wharf.
While the public aren’t actually allowed in the research center, NASA does host a public visitor center that offers free self-guided tours that last about an hour. It gives you an insider’s look into what this massive facility is up to. With an annual budget over half a billion dollars, the Ames Research Center is leading the charge for innovations in supercomputing, robotics, and the future of air transportation.
The visitor center has a range of compelling exhibitions on display including an industrial sized theater with a 36-foot wide screen that shows footage of a drone’s mission to Mars and simulated flights through the Milky Way Galaxy.
Mt. Umunhum is a part of a stunning natural park that’s home to 18,000 acres of scenic countryside in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s filled with rigorous hiking trails, dozens of plant and animal species, and one of the best views in the state of California. At 3,486 feet in the air, you’ll see panoramic views of the entire park, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and part of the Bay Area. Mt. Umunhum has a complicated history to say the least. Throughout the 1950s and up until the late 70s, it was home to a massive radar station. Since then, the site has been horribly contaminated with hazardous materials including lead, asbestos and fossil fuel remains. Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District has been working extensively since 2009 to restore the top of the mountain. The summit is expected to reopen to the public in the fall of 2016.
If you’re a fan of the company that brought us so many of the tools we use on a daily basis, stopping by the Apple Headquarters is essentially required. The store sells everything Apple related including history books, product accessories, T-shirts and other fanfare apparel. You can learn about the founding of one of the world’s largest tech corporations including how it grew from a garage in Silicon Valley to the leading distributor of digital consumer products. The building at One Infinity Loop is also an impressive display of modern architecture. Like many of its neighbors in the Valley, Apple Headquarters has massive ceilings, curving rooms, and endless glass walls. It’s amazing what billions of dollars in annual revenue will buy.
Ranked among the top universities in the country, Stanford exists in its own universe. Its massive campus is adjacent to downtown Palo Alto, an equally great location with dozens of tourist attractions. Just like the rest of Silicon Valley, Stanford is home to a highly academic community. You’ll find an enormous variety of bookstores and trendy cafes. Multiple free bus lines run from Palo Alto to the heart of the Stanford campus where you’ll see gorgeous green spaces, a booming cultural scene, and great views of the mountains. The Iris & B Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts is the university’s main art museum. Free to the public, this timeless attraction is known for its lavish collections of early 20th Century American Art and its burgeoning contemporary wing.
Closer to the downtown area, you’ll find an impressive slew of local restaurants, souvenir shops and designer stores. The Stanford Shopping Center is one of the largest open-air malls in the country with its upscale brand names and luxury products. Stop in at one of the area’s delicious local eateries for some authentic Italian food or a late night bar snack.