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Ask HN: Anyone want to sightsee around the valley on Monday?
15 points by matt1 on Oct 25, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 19 comments
I'm in town for Startup School and plan on siteseeing around the Silicon Valley area tomorrow, Monday. I don't have any specific targets in mind, though I'll probably check out Mountain View, Palo Alto, etc.

If you're in town and want to tag along, I'd love to have the company. I can pick you up if you need it. I have room for 4 others in my rental car.

For those familiar with the area: what spots do you recommend checking out?

I'd recommend driving up Page Mill and then turning right and driving along Skyline till you get to Skylonda. Skyline runs along the ridge of the Santa Cruz mountains, so you can see the Valley on one side and the sea on the other.

I'd also recommend visiting Palo Alto and Stanford. The main downtown of Palo Alto is University Ave. Copious free parking. The best cafe IMO is Coupa, on Ramona just off University. If you want to explore a bit, walk south on Waverley or Bryant. Great frozen yogurt at Fraiche, on Emerson 2 blocks south of University.

The original home of Shockley Semiconductor is still there, on San Antonio Road in Los Altos.

Woodside is sort of interesting. Buck's is the big landmark in the town center. Good brunch.

+1 for going up to Skyline. Make a stop at Windy Hill, make the short hike up to the top of said hill, and you'll be rewarded with amazing views. On a clear day, you can see from San Francisco to San Jose, from the Diablo Range to the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful.

The Computer History Museum is pretty cool.

If you know someone at Google, Cisco or any other big ones see if you can tag a tour around with them.

Lick Observatory in the mountains to the east, awesome drive up http://tinyurl.com/130crazyroad.

I recommend the Computer History Museum as well. I was pitching a geek tent when I visited. They have Google's original cluster and a Canon Cat! (among other cool stuff) And it's in SGI's old headquarters

Thanks -- I suppose I'm more interested in seeing businesses. For example, does Google offer tours of the Googleplex?

The last time I heard this question asked, the answer was "no". Apple also won't allow you to tour their campus. I've spent time inside Cisco, NetApp, and Sun, and in addition to the fact that I don't think they tour either, I can tell you you probably don't want to bother. The truth is, most of the big tech companies are cube farms.

Yes, the most interesting thing about the offices of highly successful geniuses is that they look a lot like the offices of everyone else.

Indeed, the geniuses themselves also look a lot like everyone else, unless your definition of "everyone else" doesn't include geeks.

It's kind of like the rule that you have to judge a restaurant by the food rather than the decor: You judge a software company by the software, not the offices.

You are correct, offices are indeed boring... but server rooms and farms are a beautiful sight to see. At least at Cisco, the server rooms span the entire length and width of a usual building... it looks like it never ends.

I was there on Friday. They have a working Difference Engine. Ooooooooh.

Apple's right off the De Anza exit from 280. The main apple building is pretty cool, a perennial geek photo op, and there's an Apple store that sells T-shirts and other merch.

There's a decent Muslim Chinese place within walking distance on Stevens Creek, and I like Gochi Japanese Tapas on Homestead.

There's a Fry's in between Cupertino and Palo Alto, on Sunnyvale. If you don't have a Fry's where you live, it's worth visiting, even if it is a generally horrible place to shop.

I cannot fucking stand Palo Alto as a community, but Stanford campus is fun to wander around.

Generally, you should try to get out of South Bay as quickly as you can; either go west, to Half Moon Bay and then down to Monterey (stop at any beach), or into the city. I liked Zeitgeist, the bar, when I lived there --- it's on 14th and Valencia --- but it may suck now.

I second going to Fry's.

For beach trips, I'd recommend Capitola.

* Stanford (esp. around the oval, but you can walk south of there to check out campus)

* The Googleplex

* Apple's Infinite Loop HQ

* Downtown Palo Alto (coupa cafe) -- (not so much downtown MV)

* Buck's in Woodside

* If you want, hiking in one of the regional parks in the hills (I know San Antonio, but all of them are nice)

* Coffee cake at Hobee's

* Yelp works well for food spots around here

* The Tech museum in downtown SJ

Buck's is definitely worth the stop. At Stanford in the Gates building they have one of the original Google machines (LEGO!). If you're in Palo Alto for lunch I recommend the Peninsula Creamery, they have the best sandwiches in the area.

You mentioned in the comments you wanted to tour businesses...

...and I can second that businesses like the Googleplex and Apple HQ sound interesting but they're pretty boring cube farms.

If you know someone who works at one of the companies ask if u can have lunch with them at Apple or Google's cafes - pretty cool. But don't expect to get a tour of the offices (cube farms) - most companies are highly secretive of their workplaces and employees are not allowed to give grand tours.

Googleplex is more interesting when they have events but they tend to do that less now.

For startups, for me more interesting things are happening in The City (San Francisco). Take a trip up here and hang out in SoMa - many startup people hang out in cafes like Centro, Epicenter, Ritual Roasters, Maxfields, etc.

Check upcoming and facebook for events that might be going on, but Monday is a quiet day usually.

I hate to say it, but most of the valley is just cubefarms in nondescript office parks. A tour heading south on 101 of the more interesting bits could be:

Oracle campus - one of the more eye pleasing campuses from the outside (the inside of the buildings is awful - don't bother going in). Off of 101.

Palo Alto (downtown + Stanford) - take 101 exit to University Ave, drive through University Ave (slowly) to Palm Drive, park in the Oval at Stanford and check out the old courtyard. Stanford is a beautiful campus (at least the old part). In Palo Alto downtown a large number of deal meetings happen at University Cafe (on your right). The original Google offices and the former Facebook offices are all within 2 blocks of the Romona/University ave intersection. Special trivia note: the Persian rug dealers also run an investment group (Amidzad) and the Plug-and-Play Tech Centers (startup friendly office spaces). They got stock in Google when GOOG wanted to rent some of their space on Univ Ave.

Googleplex - take Rengstorff exit off of 101. Buildings 41/42/43 are the core Google campus and the old Silicon Graphics campus as well. You may be able to walk through the center of the campus without being hassled by security. Much better if you can get someone to invite you in for lunch. LinkedIn is at the end of Sterlin Ct (right near the Googleplex). Formerly buildings #7 and #8 of Silicon Graphics campus (the whole Sterlin Ct area was SGI for 10+ years). *) Lion and Compass Restaurant in Sunnyvale (Fair Oaks Ave exit North). http://www.lionandcompass.com/ The building is the original headquarters for Atari. (underwhelming, but a nice bit of trivia)

Apple campus - cupertino (off of 280 near De Anza) - not all that interesting, but at least you'll know where it is.

Sand Hill Road - on the way back up from Apple stay on 280N and exit onto Sand Hill Road. This nondescript road is home to Stanford Linear Accelerator and across the street (left side as you go downhill) most of the more famous VC firms all have their headquarters (Sequoia, etc). It's not much to see, but if you're there around lunchtime, head over to the Quadrus Cafe and have a bite surrounded by whatever VCs aren't doing lunch meetings that day. (warning: boring).

However, I besides Stanford Campus, I might suggest skipping all of this and just heading down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (if they're open), the 17-mile drive, Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz and maybe swing by Bonny Doon to get some wine on the way back up. During sundown, the ridge above the valley on Skyline Blvd is beautiful.

Thanks for the excellent advice -- about the head out that way now.

Hacker Dojo http://hackerdojo.com

I had a very fun midnight visit to the Dojo after the HN party in the YC offices ended last night. Was greeted by hackers who were celebrating the publication of their new book on Xen. Was offered pizza and brownies and silly conversation.

I don't know if you're avoiding a longer drive, but every time I visit San Francisco I have to get a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city from Battery Park. I did last night, after the Dropbox party and before my plane took off.

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