Vacations are a wonderful time to relax and do things that you normally do not get the chance to do. Our stay in Silicon Valley will give us the opportunity to visit several of the most important technology companies in the world. We plan on taking a self-guided tour of the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto and visiting one of the great boutique wineries in the region.
All of the places we have on our agenda are interesting and also educational. Hopefully, our kids will come away with a better understanding of the finer things in life. Our goal is to have fun and connect the world we live in with the high-tech companies that make it possible. We want to introduce our kids to the world of wine and maybe inspire them to go to Stanford when they graduate from high school.
Google Headquarters – Mountain View
Even if you are a shareholder and own a little piece of Google, you will not be able to just walk inside and discover the inner workings of the world’s biggest search engine company. The Googleplex, as the 12 plus acre sprawling campus is commonly called, is somewhat accessible to the general public. There are no formal tours, but non-employees can walk around the outside spaces of the technology giant. There are security guards patrolling, but, as long as you do not appear to be causing any trouble, they will not bother you while you tour the grounds.
Outside in the courtyard, you will run into Stan, the resident Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Rex is a skeletal recreation of the fierce dinosaur that ruled the earth millions of years ago. It makes an appropriate mascot for the company that rules the Internet. Employees and members of the Google world get around the campus on bicycles decorated in the rainbow brand colors of the company. Bicycles are free to use. When you are done riding, you just leave the bike and let the next person use it.
Google is a very environmentally conscious company that believes in sustainable policies. They have a Google Garden where the vegetables are used in the Google Cafe. The Cafe serves free meals to the thousands of employees. It is just one of the many fringe benefits that make it a great place to work. Before you leave, take a walk through the Sculpture Garden and then take a look inside the lobby. Check out the latest Google search data that is constantly being updated on the giant lobby wall.
Intel Museum – Santa Clara
A short drive away from Google is the headquarters of Intel. The Intel Museum tracks the history of the Intel microprocessor and shows how silicon chips are designed and fabricated. With plenty of interactive exhibits, kids will have fun while also learning all about the company that was at the forefront of today’s modern technology.
Stanford University – Palo Alto
John Elway and Tiger Woods are two of the more famous alumni from Stanford University. The school is more famous for producing the best and brightest in business, technology, medicine and many other disciplines. Rent some bikes and explore the beautiful and spacious setting that enhances the lifestyle of the students, faculty and surrounding community. Be sure to make it to the Cantor Arts Center where you can see the largest grouping of Rodin bronzes outside of Paris.
Byington Winery – Los Gatos
To complete the day, head out to Los Gatos for a wine tasting experience at the Byington Winery. Tour the vineyard and winery that is nestled in the hills overlooking the city of Los Gatos. There are picnic facilities with cloth-covered tables, chairs and umbrellas. You can use the charcoal and gas grills, but you will need to bring your own BBQ tools. The Byington Winery specializes in producing the finest chardonnay and red Bordeaux-style wines.
Silicon Valley is a great place to visit and probably even a better place to live. There is so much to do that is fun, interesting and educational. While Hollywood and LA may get all of the attention, Silicon Valley is also a very special place to visit.
Related article: A Day in San Francisco with Family