How to visit Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley in California: Tour of the Headquarters of Major High-Tech Companies

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Silicon Valley is a place we have all heard about before and now plays a central role in the collective imagination when it comes to computers and technology in general. You will not find Silicon Valley on a map, because it is actually just an expression that refers to a vast area of California that encompasses several counties.

If you are making an itinerary for a trip to California and you are looking for an attraction that is a little bit out of the ordinary compared to the classic national parks or the most famous landmarks in big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, or if you are a real “geek”, this article can provide you with useful information about places you can visit and where you can take some memorable pictures.

Santa Clara County

Apple (Cupertino)

What is about to become the old Apple headquarters is located at the famous address, 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA. Unfortunately, to enter the buildings you have to be “escorted” by an employee, so unless you’re lucky enough to have a relative who works at Apple, you’ll have to settle for taking a picture with the company logo. In 2013, the construction of Apple Park began: it is the futuristic campus envisioned by Steve Jobs, which opened its doors in 2017.

In this massive ring-shaped campus, access is not freely permitted; after all, it is a workplace. There is, however, a section dedicated specifically to external visitors, the Visitor Center which you can freely access. Don’t expect a room filled with gadgets: Apple’s visitor center is much more than that! You’ll find a large exhibition space, a bar, a beautiful panoramic terrace, and, of course, a well-stocked Apple Store.

The basic idea is to offer a place where visitors can also learn something while exploring the world of the bitten apple. Normally, the center is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm. Since access to the campus is controlled and the area is truly vast, to avoid finding the entrance blocked, it’s better not to search for Apple Park on the map, but rather the visitor center itself: the exact location is this.

Google (Mountain View)

Google headquarters Silicon Valley

Google’s headquarters is not a single building; it is a complex (more than 60 buildings). Indeed, the name Googleplex is on point. The address is 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View.

The main park, where you can find many places to park, is in front of the Google Building 43. From here you can take a stroll in the park and freely photograph the many peculiar attractions and curiosities that you will find, such as the statues of Android, a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex, and colorful bicycles that Google employees use to move from one part of the complex to another.

Silicon Valley tour

Also in this case, sadly, it will not be possible to go tour inside the Googleplex since the only way to enter is with an employee as your guide. There is a visitor center, but do not be fooled by the name. It is intended only for those who already have permission to enter.

If you are like me and you can’t leave a place without first getting some souvenirs, you must visit the Google Merchandise Store (1981 Landings Drive, Mountain View) which is open Monday to Friday from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm.

eBay (San Jose)

Ebay headquarters silicon valley

Also in this case, in addition to the typical picture with the company logo, the only part you can visit is the eBay Store, where you can find a myriad of accessories with the eBay logo. If you buy souvenirs and one day you decide that you don’t need them anymore, you can still sell them… This store is in San Jose, an important city in Silicon Valley. We wrote an article about the things to see in San Jose.

Netflix (Los Gatos)

places to visit in Silicon Valley

If you spend your afternoons binge-watching Netflix on your couch, you can’t help but pass by the office buildings that are the cause of your addiction to TV series.

Once you have taken the usual photo in front of the Netflix logo, however, there is nothing more to do here, because unlike in the previous cases, there is not even a Netflix store.


Silicon Valley hi tech companies

We’re talking about one of the companies that have played an integral role in the history of technological progress. Although it does not have the same appeal as the companies we have talked about so far, if you are a true fan of computers, I highly recommend you visit the Intel Museum that will take you on a journey through the history of this company.

The museum is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. In case you want to visit it, I suggest you look on the official website and contact the museum directly to make sure that it is not closed for special events. Since it is a museum, there is also a gift shop.

Other Attractions

Until now, I have listed the headquarters that I personally recommend that you visit if you are passing through this area and you are passionate about technology. Instead, this section will be devoted to museums and unique attractions that have marked the history of technological progress.

Stanford University

Silicon Valley

Stanford University is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States and it is linked to the world of technology not only because of the courses it offers, but above all, because it was here that Steve Jobs gave his famous address to graduates (where Jobs declared “Stay hungry, stay foolish”) that every Apple fan knows practically by heart.

Visiting the campus can be interesting not only to be able to say you have been to this iconic place but also because there are interesting things to do at the university.

Go to the visitor center so that you can take part in a free tour of the university. The most notable attraction of this campus is the Hoover Tower Observation Platform, which today has become a lookout tower where you can enjoy a 360° view of the entire surrounding area. To access it, you will pay $5 and also receive a guided tour.

To find out about the tour schedule and to check if the university is closed, please refer to the official website. Parking near the visitor center costs $2 per hour.

Computer History Museum

Computer History Museum

The Computer History Museum is very close to the Googleplex and as you can guess from the name, it goes through the history of computer science from its origins, when computers occupied an entire room, until today. 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. The museum recently added, a section entirely dedicated to self-driving vehicles, which are becoming more and more popular in our society.

The hours of operation are usually from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. However, there are special openings and extended opening hours depending on the time of year. For this reason, you should always check on the official website. The entrance ticket, which costs $19.50, is quite expensive, and there are some “geek packages” which, for a higher price, also include souvenirs.

The Tech Interactive (formerly The Tech Museum of Innovation)

Silicon Valley itinerary

With its bizarre shape and bright colors, it is impossible not to notice the Tech Interactive if you are driving around this area. It is a museum divided into three floors and because it is interactive and offers demonstrations, it is particularly recommended if you are traveling with children. It also houses an IMAX cinema which you can access separately if you want to watch the latest movies.

If you thought your ticket to the Computer History Museum was expensive, get ready because to visit the Tech Museum of Innovation you’ll have to pay $34. The museum is open every day (closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving) but the hours vary (you can check them here).

Hewlett Packard House and Garage

Hewlett Packard House and Garage

These last two attractions are legendary; they are the places of origin of the ideas that set in motion the technological and computer science progress that also led to the creation of the device on which you are reading this article.

Let’s start from the small wooden garage where Bill Hewlett and David Packard, while they were still students at Stanford, began to work together by building their first oscillator called HP200A and laid the foundations of their company that would later become a leader in the production of computers and computer accessories. A plaque describes this place as the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

Unfortunately, you can only see the garage from the outside, since it is not open to the public.

Steve Jobs Garage

Steve Jobs Garage

Here we are at another garage that has become part of the history of computer science. In fact, this is the place where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak assembled the Apple I and originated what is probably the most famous brand of Silicon Valley. Today it’s a historic home on a par with Hewlett and Packard’s garage and, as the other one, sadly you can only take pictures from the outside, since it is private property.

San Mateo County

Facebook and Instagram (Menlo Park)

facebook headquarters Silicon Valley

The advantage of the headquarters of Facebook and Instagram is that you won’t have any problem parking your car. A huge number of parking spaces surround the offices. At the same time, unfortunately for visitors, there is not much you can do, besides taking a souvenir photo in front of the “thumb” symbol of Facebook’slike”.

San Francisco Area


twitter san francisco

If you are a regular Twitter user you can take a picture of the well-known social network logo in the SoMa District at the intersection of Market St. and 10th st.

There’s not much else to do in the area, so only go if you really want to.


Lucasfilm Headquarter

Maybe this stop is a bit unrelated to the other stops and to the topic of this article for that matter, but we thought it was right to mention the headquarters of the legendary Lucasfilm, where you can take a picture with a beautiful fountain with a statue of Yoda on top. This is definitely an attraction that, if you’re a Star Wars fan, you can’t miss when visiting the city of San Francisco.

The Best Way to Include a Silicon Valley Tour in Your Itinerary

At this point, if you are interested in taking a tour of Silicon Valley, you may be wondering how best to include it 

visit silicon valley

in a California road trip. It all depends on where you start, whether you’re traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco or vice versa.

In our article on how to get around San Francisco, we had the chance to advise you against using the car in this chaotic city. For this reason, the best solution is to include this trip to Silicon Valley or at the beginning or end of your travel itinerary, because it will be more convenient for you to be already on the road and not have to worry about renting a car while you are visiting San Francisco.

Whether San Francisco is your point of departure or arrival, you should definitely look for accommodations here due to its wide selection of hotels. To find out which hotel is best for you, I suggest you read our tips on where to stay in San Francisco.

Our Tip:
Looking for accommodations for your trip from California to other parts of the Southwest? Read our guide that contains reviews of hotels and strategic tips for finding accommodations near major attractions: Where to Stay: Our Tips for the SouthWest Area

Warning: Operating hours can change and closures for extraordinary events can occur, so we strongly suggest to check the venues official websites.

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Filippo Nardelli

I have a degree in History of North America and have always been fascinated by the United States.

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