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Ask HN: Visiting SF, should I check out Silicon Valley?
7 points by martinwnet on Mar 20, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments
I'm from the UK and will be visiting SF for a week in April. Is it worthwhile to heading down to Silicon Valley to check it out?

I'm aware a lot of the area is simply large business parks, and companies won't let you just wander into their offices uninvited. These are places of work after all, not tourist attractions.

Having said that...

Is it worth trying to get a tour of the Googleplex? Or trying to get a tour of other headquarters (Facebook/Apple)? Or a tour of Stanford? Is there anything else worth seeing?

I will not have a car either, but suppose I could hire one for the day if it was necessary.

Other suggestions welcomed!

EDIT: If any Google/Apple/Facebook employees can snag me a tour I'd be greatly appreciative, email in profile.

Rent a car (you'll need one) and head down to walk around Stanford's beautiful campus, then have a coffee in Palo Alto before heading over to see Google's campus and shoot some pics. Then off to nearby Cupertino to buy some goodies at the company store in Building One. Not much else to see in the Valley I'm afraid.

When I was travelling through SF to Burning Man I visited Apple and Intel.

Intel had a not-hugely-amazing but still kinda-interesting museum. I particularly enjoyed it because I'm a bit of a 4004 nerd and I liked seeing the big silicon ingots.

I assume for Apple it is just the company store at their HQ they let people into? Or can you tour the rest of it?

You can walk around but the company store is pretty much it. Unique way to buy Apple t-shirts and stuff ;) IF you're into museums there's also the Computer History Museum next to Google in Mountain View. I haven't actually been there though.

"IF you're into museums there's also the Computer History Museum"

Even if you are not into museums it is my most recommended place to go in Silicon Valley. I have been here 3 years and never wanted to go walk around Google or Apple campus. But I guess it is something FREE to do.

That does sound like a decent day out though doesn't it? Thanks.

Oh you'll have a wonderful day for sure and get back tired and happy to SF. Do it!

Any recommended coffee shops?

Definitely hit Coupa Cafe in Palo Alto where a ton of startups have been 'made'. Ramon makes some dope cappucinos too there.

Red Rock if you're in Mountain View.

It is possible to take the train down to Palo Alto from SF, rent a bike from the bike share system, take a leisurely ride down Palm Drive and around Stanford campus (2-5 miles along bike paths) and then back to Palo Alto for coffee (or something else tasty). Coupa Cafe is a good place for coffee, as ulfw mentioned.

If you want to tour one of the big companies, find a friend/acquaintance/recruiter, and catch lunch. These companies compete on quality of meals...

Also, if you're going to rent a car, I highly recommend visiting some Redwoods. The best around are in Big Basin about an hour south of SV. There are also some just north of SF in Muir Woods.

I'm not averse to cycling, I just didn't think it would be too scenic around the Valley.

Unfortunately I have no contacts in these big companies.

That's a good shout on the redwoods, I had no idea this was on offer near the SF area, thanks.

We're planning a family vaca to California for the first time this summer and planning on Muir park.

Also if you end up renting a car you may want to check out Yosemite (3-4 hr drive). That is on our list.

I could only vaguely remember my time in San Francisco due to the fact that I was only three years of age, but that didn't stop my parents from taking me everywhere within the city. Although I may have not recalled any of the visits, after we had moved out of Cali, I always hear how we should've toured Stanford and what a great opportunity we had. Don't miss that opportunity! Schedule a tour of the campus, I'm sure you'll be glad you did.

A Stanford tour looks interesting, looks like they have a general walking tour and more specific science/engineering tours that you can book.

This is probably old news, but if you haven't already read Steve Blank's Vistors Guide to Silicon Valley, i'd recommend it before your trip.


A meetup group might have more value for you - but the googleplex does sound interesting.

Are there any cool, generous Googlers here that would be able to arrange a tour? My email is in my profile, I would be very appreciative.

What are the dates of your trip?

I'll be in SF 9-16th April.

Just dropped you an email

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