How nerdy is Stanford

8 nerdy Silicon Valley attractions you need to check out

Silicon Valley is not exactly one of the attractions that many California travelers have on their to-do lists. But if you only have a little affinity for technology and want to see the place where the future is made, I definitely advise you to spend at least one day here and soak up the special tech and startup atmosphere of Silicon Valley. In this article, I'll show you what you should definitely do here.

No other place in the world stands for entrepreneurial passion and tech as much as Silicon Valley, south-east of San Francisco. Countless companies emerged here whose ideas triggered revolutions and thus changed humanity.

The term Silicon Valley is just a nickname for the southern region of the San Francisco Bay Area. The "Valley" refers to the Santa Clara Valley, which extends about 50 miles from San Matteo in the west via Palo Alto to San Jose in the east. The "silicon" comes from the fact that many semiconductor chip companies once settled here. Today there are 1,000 companies and thousands of startups in the 39 Fortune region.

1. Check out the most famous garages in the world

What do Google, HP, Apple and many other of the most influential and largest companies in the world have in common? They were all made in a garage in Silicon Valley.

Looking at garages sounds boring at first, but when you consider that whole world empires emerged from some of them, then that's something impressive.

In the garage below, for example, the history of Silicon Valley began:

This garage is the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

The origins of Silicon Valley go back to Stanford professor Frederick Terman, who advised his students to set up their own electronics startups rather than join established companies. The first two to follow his advice were William R. Hewlett and David Packard. In their garage in 1938 they developed their first product - an audio oscillator.

A few years later, Sergey Brin and Larry Page worked in the Menlo Park district on the idea of ​​sorting all information on the Internet and making it available to everyone. They too started out in a garage:

There are other famous garages to visit in the area, such as those owned by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in Cupertino. What became of it should be known to everyone.

2. Become a nerd at the History of Computing Museum.

If you have even the slightest bit of technical interest, head over to the History of Computing Museum. This is a very good option, especially on rainy days.

There is an extensive, really well-made exhibition on all kinds of IT topics: from the first computer-like devices to artificial intelligence and computer games, all categories are represented. How the technology of self-driving cars works is illuminated in a separate exhibition room.

There is a lot of information in this area about the first personal computers.

Entry is $ 17.50. The museum closes at 5:00 p.m. You should therefore be there in time to be able to see everything. 3 hours were not nearly enough for me to read everything that interested me. You should plan at least half a day.

You can also play a game of pong at the end of the exhibition.

3. Watch the self-driving cars on the streets

They're old hat in Silicon Valley, but still pretty cool science fiction for Europeans like me: the self-driving cars. Google, Tesla and Uber let them cruise all over Silicon Valley. A total of 27 companies are currently testing around 180 of their self-driving prototypes here, 77 of them from Google alone. It's really interesting to see how these wonders of technology react to every movement and how they adjust precisely to an ever-changing environment.

This is what Google's self-driving cars look like - this one is in the History of Computing Museum.

4. Wander the impressive Stanford University campus

Alongside Harvard, Berkley, Yale, Princeton and MIT, Stanford University is one of the largest and best-known elite universities in the USA. The Stanford Campus is also huge in terms of area with 3,310 hectares. You can explore everything on your own or take a free tour. This takes about 70 minutes and starts at the Stanford Visitor Center on Galvez Street.

The architecture of the Stanford Campus is reminiscent of a Mediterranean village.

It's not unlikely that you will encounter some of the smartest people of our time as you wander around campus. Because Stanford has produced 30 Nobel Prize winners, 4 Pulitzer Prize winners and 24 Mac Arthur Fellows since its inception. Numerous companies such as Google, Intel, Yahoo and HP were founded by Stanford graduates.

You have a great view of the whole campus from the Hoover Tower. Admission to the observation deck: $ 4.

5. Discover the companies of the future

In Silicon Valley, all you have to do is drive around and stop every now and then to see what kind of startup is ahead of you. Over 1,000 young tech companies, some of which may already be successful worldwide in a few years, are settling here.

You already dare to look into the future, so to speak, or you may even find inspiration for your own idea.

Here are some interesting statistics about Silicon Valley:

  • 51 new startups are created here every month.
  • The average starting salary for an engineer at Google is $ 118,949.
  • In 2014, the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $ 3,150.

6. Get a caffeine overdose and eavesdrop on the VCs in one of the notorious cafes.

Do you want to order an americano or cappuccino in Silicon Valley? Forget it, there is no such thing here. The really cool guys (= young nerds with Apple computers who are waiting for the big startup breakthrough) go to hip cafés that don't have anything like that.

Instead, order e.g. ...

  • ... an Ambrosia Coffee Of God in Philz (Palo Alto).
  • ... a Coupa Boba Tea in the Coupa Café (Palo Alto).
  • ... a cup of House Blend at Red Rock Coffee (Mountain View).
  • ... a full breakfast in Joanie’s Café (Palo Alto).

Venture capitalists are also often guests of these cafés. Your topics of conversation often revolve around new investments of billions or which revolutionary idea will soon change the world. So you should listen carefully to what is being said at the next table. You could also run into one or the other Silicon Valley great in these cafés.

7. Walk down University Avenue

University Avenue is the most famous street in Silicon Valley. You will find plenty of entertainment and shopping opportunities, hipster restaurants and cool cafes here.

8. Explore the GooglePlex with a Google Bike

The Google Plex is the headquarters of the world's most successful company: Google (a.k.a. Alphabet). The dimensions of the campus correspond to the company's ambitions. It's huge. It consists not only of the four main buildings that most tourists visit, but also of a number of other buildings in the area.

The Android robot in front of the main entrance of the GooglePlex

As a guest, you are not allowed into the building, but you can borrow one of the Google Bikes that are everywhere and explore the campus on your own. There are funny details to discover everywhere, such as the different characters of the Android versions or one of the Google cars with a camera on the roof.

Just sit on it and drive off.

Have you ever been to Silicon Valley? What else do you have to see there? Write it in a comment.

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About the author: Matthias

Matthias is an adventurous, restless person who loves to discover new countries and cultures and to make his many travel experiences and tips available to others here in the blog in the form of texts, pictures and videos. He is a big fan of road trips through deserted areas, but also of city trips to monstrous metropolises. + Google