The Best Route to Visit Silicon Valley
The first time I landed at San Francisco International Airport and I set out to take a rental car on US Highway 101 in the direction of San Jose, the big impact for me was not on the design of the local architecture or the appearance Of the terrain, which, thanks to its warm climate, but in the luminous signs that presided over the office buildings it was finding.
On both sides of that gigantic freeway where pickups and SUVs, larger than my saloon, circulated diligently through any of its dozens of lanes (and I’m not exaggerating), I saw the headquarters of companies whose products or services I had been using for years years. The Evernote, Oracle, or Salesforce.com logos welcomed me upon my arrival in the United States.
Suddenly, the application icons I had used for years on my devices were made physical in the form of large buildings surrounded by vast garden areas for use and enjoyment of their employees. Yes, I was basically moving through a gigantic industrial area with no aesthetic charm in particular, but for a tech-savvy guy like me to see, it was especially exhilarating.
Silicon Valley, the famous Silicon Valley, whose name everyone knows and idealizes in a way, but that almost nobody finishes imagining in physical form, began to unfold before me in the most American way possible: following for miles and miles The layout of a huge and relentlessly drawn road.
Welcome to Santa Clara County
Let me be honest with you: for nothing of the world I would recommend you to visit this area if you are not really tech enthusiasts. Located to the south of charming San Francisco, at a glance the rich Santa Clara County is characterized by its arid terrain, very similar to what we could find in the Mediterranean margin of Spain, and being practically covered by populations living by and for The big companies that settle there.
That yes, little that we are interested in computing, its history and everything that today moves around her, this county will be a must stop on our visit to California. In fact, it will not take us more than a day to visit the obligatory points of the area, two if we take it very calmly, as long as we have our own vehicle to make the trips around this vast area.
It will not take us more than a day to visit the obligatory points of the area, two if we take it very calmly.
In itself, the Santa Clara Valley that serves as a geographical reference for this mythical area hardly has more than 50 kilometers in length and a width of something more than 20 kilometers, with San José as a large urban center. Along the same, localities like Palo Alto, Mountain View, Cupertino or Sunnyvale follow without a clear differentiation between them, given the high density of urbanized land in the area.
Regardless of the changing traffic factor, a little more than half an hour from San Francisco separates from the north entrance to the Valley, while the return from the farthest point should not take more than an hour. These temporary references can be multiplied by three or four perfectly if we do not take into account the hours to which the local workers move; Fortunately, the most common mapping apps are particularly effective in reporting the state of traffic in this territory (a logical thing if we take into account that most of its creators live there and are therefore the first ones interested).
Going up and down El Camino Real
A local anecdote that has always fascinated me was that in the United States they build motorways wide enough for an airplane to land in an emergency. It sounds excessive by our standards, but it perfectly represents the way Americans understand the size of everything: their food, their cars, their houses, and their roads.
A faithful reflection of this is the Route 101 that, as it passes through the Bay of San Francisco, serves as a backbone for Silicon Valley and is therefore the most effective way to get around it when it is not congested. Parallel to the same progress Camino Real, the old road that connected the Spanish missions in California and that today acts as main avenue of the populations that are distributed by the Valley.
The old road that connected the Spanish missions in California acts like main avenue of the populations that are distributed by the Valley.
Route 82 will be the most picturesque way to cover the area by crossing the heart of each locality, although here we will have to face constant crosses and traffic lights that will obviously make the route slower than the highway, always And when there is no jam in it. A combination of both, making use of our favorite map app to know the state of traffic, will make us optimize our journey to the maximum.
For miles and kilometers, confusing towns, single-storey commercial establishments, luxury car dealers and the campuses of the most important technology companies will be the constant emphasis on the Camino Real, thus replacing the Spanish religious settlements that Sought to bring Christianity to the area between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
The route of the garages
As interesting as knowing the modern complexes in which the present technology is built is to travel to the origins of the heart of this industry. And of course, our first stop will be HP’s garage in Palo Alto (367 Addison Ave). At first glance it is just a nice house with a fence as closed as the rest and a metallic billboard that will let us know that it was there where William Hewlett and David Packard built their first audio oscillator in 1938.
The garbage route for the souvenir continues at Los Altos (11161 Crist Drive), before the white gate after which Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in 1976. In a residential street like any other and with no apparent charm, nothing will make us Suspicion of the iconic site in which we find ourselves except a street sign that will ask us not to access this private property.
It would be a mistake to have come here and not to spend a few minutes at these unique stops so surrounded by myth.
The trilogy closes with the latest in this succession of multi-national car parks: Google’s Garage at Menlo Park (232 Santa Margarita Ave), which YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki rented in 1998 to Larry Page and Sergey Brin to start their idea in the local tradition. Again, little more than a closed gate on a coquettish residential street to be able to say we were there.
I do not want to deceive you: there will be nothing more to do in these three locations than to park anywhere (there is plenty of room for that, do not worry), observe the place, take a couple of photos and follow the route. Justifying such a visit to fellow travelers who do not have a special preference for the history of computing will be complicated, but in my opinion it would be a mistake to have arrived here and not to dedicate a few minutes to these unique stops so surrounded by myth.
Knocking at the door of the giants
Much more colorful will be to visit the playgrounds of the great computer giants that inhabit here. For attractiveness, relevance and for what can be done in them, the mandatory two points here will be Googleplex in Mountain View and Infinite Loop in Cupertino (at least while completing the Apple Campus 2 a few miles away).
In the first case, to visit the famous campus of Google we will have only to drive to Amphitheater Parkway, in Mountain View, and leave the car parked wherever we please. We will be free to walk the huge and beautiful land built as the nerve center of the colossus of the Internet, although obviously access to the buildings where everything is cooked will be restricted.
To see the famous Android statues we will have to head to the visitor center at 1911 Landings Drive, and those who are fanatical enough to want to invest their money in house merchandise, the Google Merchandise Store is a little further on, Number 1981. By the way, although apparently within reach of anyone, the famous bicycles adorned with the colors of the company logo are reserved for use by the employees, so I leave you to decide how far you want to go with them.
Just 15 kilometers away (with the big the world, boy) are the headquarters of the other great actor of today’s technology: the first Apple Campus, in the 1st Infinite Loop. Much smaller than Googleplex, in this case we will not find the context of a large campus around which to wander, since much of the offices of the Apple are actually scattered throughout the Valley.
In addition to taking a few photos with the famous posters of the area, we can only access the company’s newly renovated store, located next to the main entrance. It is the only place in the world where you can buy exclusive merchandise from Apple, including T-shirts, mugs and stationery. And for now, here we come, because I warn you that if we try to see Campus 2 (19111 Pruneridge Avenue) we will only find a huge expanse of land surrounded by a green raffia mesh.
There are other campuses in the area, although in general they are much less attractive and I would only recommend them in case we are over a long time: the Facebook in Menlo Park (1 Hacker Way) draws attention for its beautiful enclave on the shores of the bay , The HP we can see without having to get out of the car when we approach the picturesque Palo Alto and the Yahoo! in Sunnyvale (701 1st Ave) has a striking architecture in a bucolic environment. For other barracks like eBay or Netflix it will be necessary to drive to the end of the Valley, and they are not particularly worth it either.
Museums and other essential points
Once we have seen (and photographed) the garages and the offices that interest us most, the proper way to complete our route to the heart of the computer industry will be in two museums that will completely stimulate the geek that we have inside: Computer History Museum in Mountain View (1401 N Shoreline Blvd), where we can give a review of the history of computers and even throw a game to ‘Pong’ as it was originally conceived for $ 17.50, and the Intel Museum at its headquarters Of Santa Clara (2200 Mission College Blvd), the most attractive visiting space offered by any company in the area.
Although suppose to leave the computer theme, another point of interest highly recommended is the Ames Research Center that has the NASA Mountain View area known as Moffett Field. It has a small center for visitors, but stands out above all for the amazing view offered by Hangar One, a gigantic structure that served to shelter the USS Macon.
One last enclave really worth visiting, and also linked to the history of technology, is the campus of Stanford University, located in the heart of the small town of the same name. Between beautiful beige brick buildings and statues of Rodin in the open air, this space represents one of the main centers of knowledge of the Valley and also offers us an extraordinarily pleasant walk to complete our journey through the land of silicon.
Five places to eat between geeks
No tourist route will be complete without the corresponding list of recommended places to eat. Between visiting company and company, these five restaurants will allow us to recover the necessary forces to continue our trip:
Sushi Tomi (635 W. Dana Street, Mountain View): A small establishment on a lost Mountain View street that offers the best sushi in the entire Valley. Do not let your shabby appearance deceive you and reserve before you go, which is always up.
The Counter (369 South California Avenue, Palo Alto): Beyond the typical hamburger chains that you will already have time to visit, such as In-N-Out or Five Guys, I recommend stopping in Palo Alto to visit this place where we can customize To the maximum our plate.
Henry’s Hi-Life (301 W. St. John St., San Jose): ribs so blunt that they will test our conception of what it is to eat a lot. It is a large and charming place at the entrance to San Jose, but going without reservation will mean having to put up with a good queue.
Terún Pizza (448 California Ave, Palo Alto): Yes, I know you’ll be thinking that to eat a good Italian, you do not have to go to California, but this place is so high that it would be a crime to leave it off the list. If you are in the area and you crave pizza, you will not find it better.
Amber India (4926 El Camino Real, Los Altos): Indian food of recognized prestige in the area. Order your tasting menu, which includes (literally) dozens of dishes and be prepared to discover what a truly heavy digestion is.