The Palo Alto Baylands Preserve is the largest tract of undisturbed marshland remaining in the San Francisco Bay and hence important to many species of shorebirds. A handful of Bay mud contains up to 40,000 organisms, a major food source, and it supports more than 500 species of wildlife, including 105 threatened and 23 endangered species.
Silicon Valley - Fact check

Things to do in Silicon Valley: and not all of them are tech

Photo by Michael Frye

Silicon Valley - Fact check Things to do in Silicon Valley: and not all of them are tech

Silicon Valley is famous for being home to the Facebooks, Apples, and Googles of this world; it's not surprising that technology geeks flock to the area on entrepreneurial pilgrimages.

Chris Woolfrey
Chris Woolfrey

But there's much more to the Valley than that. If you're looking for things to do in Silicon Valley that relate to the tech giants then - well - great. And if you're looking for anything but, we've got you covered.

Baylands Nature Preserve

In a haven of technology, it's heartwarming to see such natural beauty. The Palo Alto Baylands (in the featured image, above), is the largest piece of undisturbed marshland left in the area.

Just a 10-minute drive from the Googleplex (guess who owns that), the Baylands Nature Preserve is a fine example of what Silicon Valley offers if you know where to look.

Visit Baylands Nature Preserve

The Intel Museum

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Inside the Intel Museum. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

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Inside the Intel Museum.

An icon of the Valley. Without Intel, Silicon Valley would not be called by the name: to find out why, head to the Intel Museum.

As the first manufacturer (and, effectively, creator - but it's complicated) of silicon microchips, Intel changed computing and the way the world works forever.

If you've ever wondered how you ended up with an incredibly powerful computer in your pocket, this museum's the place to be.

Visit the Intel Museum

The Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House

Inside the grand ballroom. Photo by Website

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Website

Inside the grand ballroom.

When it was first built, the mansion stood seven stories high. These days - thanks to a 1906 earthquake -  the Winchester Mystery House has four; incredibly, it still has more than 150 rooms.

A piece of pre-20th century Silicon Valley history in itself, the Winchester Mystery House (so-named because the wealthy Sarah Winchester built it) is famous for its insane number of reports of ghoulish behavior.

Sure, plenty of huge houses claim to be haunted: what makes this house so special is that having started as a small house, with a few rooms, Sarah Winchester built the mansion into what it is today because of ghosts.

To explain: Sarah Winchester was the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester (the first 'www' whose spirit entered Silicon Valley, perhaps); Sarah was convinced that when people died from a gunshot from one of her husband's guns, their ghost would come to live at the house.

And if every ghost needs a room, then...

Visit the Winchester Mystery House

Apple Park (and maybe Facebook and Google, too)

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The café at Apple Park. Photo by Website / apple.com

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The café at Apple Park.

At Apple Park, which opened in 2017, you'll find not only an incredible, modern building design but Apple merchandise you can't find anywhere else. Literally. Anywhere in the world.

Pro tip: the Facebook campus and Google's HQ, Googleplex, have tours and visitors centers; you can only visit them if you know somebody working at the company.

Ask around, check your social media circles. Find someone. 

Visit Apple Park

Stanford Memorial Church

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The inside of the church. Photo by Website / religiouslife.stanford.edu (Photo by Catherine Hall)

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Website

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religiouslife.stanford.edu (Photo by Catherine Hall)

The inside of the church.

Right in the center of the Stanford University campus, you'll find the Stanford Memorial Church. Built in the early 1900s, the church is modeled after the churches of the Byzantine empire.

Predictably, it's spectacular. Plus, once you're on campus, you can head to Stanford's art gallery. At the Anderson Collection admission is free and contains some of the best American contemporary art around.

Visit Stanford

Tech garages

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The Palo Alto garage, considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley, where Stanford graduates Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett founded Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 1939 is now a private museum. Their first product was an audio oscillator, with Walt Disney Studios buying eight to test the sound systems in theaters for "Fantasia”, its first major stereophonic sound film. Photo by Peter Kaminski / Creative Commons

Peter Kaminski

Peter Kaminski

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The Palo Alto garage, considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley, where Stanford graduates Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett founded Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 1939 is now a private museum. Their first product was an audio oscillator, with Walt Disney Studios buying eight to test the sound systems in theaters for "Fantasia”, its first major stereophonic sound film.

In Silicon Valley, a tech giant is barely worth the name if it doesn't have a garage-based origin story. Hewlett-Packard was first: its garage is now a private museum.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple computer in the garage of the Jobs family home; there's no museum, and you can't go in, but the garage is a designated historical site.

Google has roots in a garage too. Also not open to the public but certainly snappable from the sidewalk.

New Museum Los Gatos

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A painting by Jennifer Pochinski, on display in 2017. Photo by Website / numulosgatos.org

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Website

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A painting by Jennifer Pochinski, on display in 2017.

New Museum Los Gastos aims to bring "art, innovation, history, and Bay Area stories to the wide audience of Silicon Valley."

With exhibitions changing throughout the year and focusing largely on artists of the 1950s to the present, New Museum Los Gatos brings an interesting angle to any Silicon Valley visit.

Two words: go there.

Visit New Museum Los Gatos

 

Need food tips, hotel ideas or practical info about Silicon Valley? Read the TRVL destination guide

 

 

 

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