While we were in San Francisco, Kate and I decided that we should take a side trip to visit the tech companies in Silicon Valley. With the likes of Google, Apple and Intel just lurking in the vicinity, we found it hard to resist the trip. However, we also found that the tour was not really worth it and here’s why…
Silicon Valley Tech Companies Tour
Silicon Valley Tech Company: Googleplex
Address: 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, CA 94043
Like most Silicon Tech companies, Googleplex doesn’t allow walk-in visits (at the moment). Well, unless you have a friend working there and he or she can show you around. Nonetheless, it’s still pretty cool to take a walk within its compound. During our visit, we saw an environment that was open and relaxing. Perhaps that is one of the things that inspires innovation at Google.
As visitors though, you can drop by the visitor center (which is currently @ “Beta testing” and could be open “anytime soon”) as well as the Google store. Next to it, the Android Park (aka Android Lawn Statues) offers a great photo opportunity – albeit a smaller park than expected.
Googleplex is cool. They have “google-coloured” bikes all around its campus (for employees only) and free food at restaurants and food trucks (again for employees only). It even has its own street name – Google. But unless you have a friend working there? Not really worth a trip for visitors.
Silicon Valley Tech Company: Facebook HQ
Address: 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, CA 94025
We did drop by Facebook HQ and wanted to have a cuppa at Philz Coffee. However, we were not able to do so because Philz Coffee is located within its doors and only employees (or friends of employees) can enter its premise. As we arrived at just after noon, the carpark was pretty full and we actually spent 15 minutes just to find a parking spot only to be told by security that we were not able to enter.
By this time, we were pretty upset with the experience that we did not even take a photo at Facebook HQ. Next up..
Silicon Valley Tech Company: NASA AMES Research Center
Address: MOFFETT FIELD, CA 94035
The exhibits at NASA AMES Research Center are the scaled down version of what you will be able to see at the Houston Space Center. The exhibits here though, are free. It will probably take you about 30 minutes to see all the exhibits here and you’ll be able to see some moon rocks (yup! rocks from the moon!) and updates from NASA’s latest space mission – LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer). As the name suggests, LADEE helps us to know more about the moon’s atmosphere.
Again, not worth the trip. Especially if you have already visited the Houston Space Center.
Silicon Valley Tech Company: Apple HQ
Address: 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California, United States
There’s no visitor center at Apple HQ and the only photo opportunity is at its entrance (shown above). BUT! If you are a HUUUUUGE Apple fan. And we mean HUGE. You’ll probably want to make the trip to Apple HQ at Cupertino because exclusive T-shirts are sold only at this outlet. No where else!
Otherwise, you can probably give Apple HQ a miss as well.
Silicon Valley Tech Company: Intel
Address: 2200 Mission College Blvd. Santa Clara, CA 95054
Of the entire trip, we found the Intel Museum worth making the trip. The exhibits were well-organized with information about the past, present and future of Intel. Interactive exhibits also made the visit a little more interesting (read: spelling Kate’s name using binary) and there’s probably some cute shirts to be bought at the Intel store as well!
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Well, in conclusion, unless you’re a tech geek with connections, we think that the Silicon Valley tour is definitely not worth the trip. @ Google, Facebook, Apple: Get the visitor centers up people!