Destination Silicon Valley
|Peter L. Rothholz||January 21st 2013|
Cutting Edge Travel Writer
If you want to get a taste of how the future might look and feel, head to California’s Silicon Valley. It will both illuminate the present and give you a hint of what the future promises.
Properly known as the Santa Clara Valley, this region lies just south of San Francisco and includes the communities of Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Cupertino and San Jose and it was dubbed “Silicon Valley” because of the concentration of semiconductor and computer-related industries which are located there. The area has become a kind of mecca for computer “geeks” the world over and you can find a greater concentration of brain power--- and youthful multi-millionaires--- there than virtually anywhere else on earth.
Palo Alto, some 3 miles south of San Francisco, might properly be called the Birthplace of Silicon Valley for it was there, at Stanford University, that some of the best-known tech companies, including Cisco, Google, Hewlett Packard and Yahoo got their start. In fact, one can actually see, but unfortunately not visit, the garage at 367 Addison Avenue, the private residence where Hewlett Packard was founded.
Founded in the early part of the twentieth century and with a population of slightly more than 60,000, Palo Alto is recognized the worldwide as a leader in cutting edge technological development. Much of the research on which this is based takes place on the beautiful Stanford University campus. The university not only welcomes students and faculty from the world over, but makes many of its cultural and educational offerings available to visitors. Notable among these is a fabulous outdoor sculpture museum and the remarkable New Guinea Sculpture Garden.
As you might expect in a prosperous and highly educated community, it has an outstanding contemporary Art Center, a handsome business district with stores catering to sophisticated tastes, a wide range of hotels, motor inns, eateries and beautiful, tree-lined residential areas.
In nearby Mountain View, visitors to the Computer History Museum, located adjacent to Google’s corporate headquarters, can see the world’s largest collection of historic computing artifacts ranging from ancient counting machines to tomorrow’s “next big thing”.
At Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, you can visit the NASA Exploration Center which showcases the work of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Agency. Additionally, the Moffett Field Historical Museum contains exhibits dealing with the history of America’s airships during the early twentieth century. Apple fans may want to pay homage to the company by visiting their headquarters in Cupertino while those wishing to learn everything about semiconductors should be sure to visit the Intel Museum in Santa Clara.
San Jose, at the southern end of Silicon Valley, is also the region’s largest city. Among its attractions is the Tech Museum of Innovation which makes the world of technology understandable for children and “computer dummies”. San Jose also has a major international airport.
While Silicon Valley is not necessarily one of California’s principal tourist attractions, it is well worth a visit particularly as a full-day excursion from San Francisco or as an overnight stop-over for travelers between Southern and Northern California.