Chances are, you benefit from Silicon Valley on a daily basis. In fact, if you’re reading this on a computer, tablet or mobile phone, you are almost certainly benefitting from Silicon Valley right now. The global hub for the tech industry might not sound like the best place to take a day trip, but there’s much more to see than industry buildings. Many of the world’s biggest tech companies base their main offices here in Silicon Valley, including the legendary headquarters of Google, known as the Campus, and Apple Park. Many were first established here too. Not only are these places famed for their tech innovation, they are also transforming the way we work.
Sprawling south of the San Francisco Bay area, many of the best Silicon Valley tours can be done in a day from the mighty Golden Gate City, which also enjoys a slice of the tech action. Alternatively, the Silicon Valley’s biggest city, San Jose, is another popular place to stay and it now ranks in the top ten largest cities in the US. Tours vary wildly in quality and itinerary, so here at TravelMag, we have put together a broad selection from the best budget trips to the top, no-holds-barred tech experiences, with a couple of private tours for small groups also thrown in for good measure.
FROM: $29/per person
Okay, so this tour may not quite make it to Silicon Valley proper, but there is a genuine overspill of the industry into the Financial District of San Francisco. As such this walking tour is a great option for those who want to learn all about the world-changing innovations that have emanated from this corner of the globe when your time is at a premium. It is also by far the best value tour. The two-hour walking itinerary explores the story behind some of the world’s most recognisable companies, like Facebook, Linkedin and Google (while passing by their respective offices) and unfolds how they made their humble start right here. This tour is available between Thursday and Sunday each week.
From $129/ per person
To really delve into the Silicon Valley proper requires a full day, and this seven-hour tour, leaving from San Francisco, does just that. Learn about Silicon Valley’s past at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, and its present at both the Google Campus and Facebook’s Menlo Park complex. And in this way, you’ll also get a clearer sense of the future of technology too, for it is right here that the latest R&D innovations are being conceived. Access to the latter two sights are restricted to the public areas only. All transportation is provided in a bio-fuelled minibus. This tour is available between Wednesday and Saturday each week.
From $205/ per person
For a slightly higher fee, you not only get to learn about the forefront of global technological innovation, you get to live it too. Your tour guide will be a fully self-driving Tesla, which means group size is restricted to three people. Departing in the morning from San Jose, you’ll be chauffeured around Silicon Valley’s top sights by the Tesla. These include the original Steve Jobs garage, where the Apple company came to life, Apple Park Visitor Center, Google Campus, Stanford University and roughly a dozen other top sights. Please note that this tour does not run on weekends.
From $567/ per group
If there’s a Silicon Valley sight that you’re particularly looking forward to visiting, this customizable five-hour private tour might well be the answer. Visit key sights linked to Google, HP, eBay and Yahoo and receive insight and knowledge about all that you’re experiencing from a personal guide. This private tour includes pickup in San Francisco and all transportation by private vehicle. Particularly if you’re travelling with a medium-sized group, then this Silicon Valley tour could well offer the best value per person. The price listed above is per group, with a maximum of six spaces available.
From $700/ per group
Longer private Silicon Valley tours are also available, such as this eight-hour option for up to four people. Your guide has lived and worked in Silicon Valley since the 1970s and has the first-hand experience to add personal stories to the history of the region. You can choose your preferred departure time and make suggestions to your itinerary if there’s something specific you’re keen to see. Pickup can be from anywhere in San Francisco or the Peninsula region. Please note that this tour does not run on Sundays and the fee listed is per group.