Silicon Valley, and its "capital" San Jose, have revolutionized not only global communications but also how we manage our daily lives. Come see where several hundred thousand creative minds are modeling and engineering all sorts of future possibilities. We custom design your tour and will pick you up anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area (within 90 minutes of downtown San Jose).
The fee for our usual 8-hour version of this tour is $630 for 1-3 passengers, $660 for 4-7...assuming pick-up and drop-off in/near downtown San Francisco. If your pick-up and,or drop-off is closer to San Jose than San Francisco, then our fee is $720 for 1-7 passengers. If you're willing/able to travel at least to Palo Alto or Mountain View by Caltrain, then this fee may be discounted.
Before planning to book this tour, please fully appreciate the following: If you want to tour the workspaces and meeting places inside Google, Apple or any of the better known Silicon Valley companies, you must make those arrangements yourself, since we do not have any special access to them and none offer tours to the general public. In other words, we'd be happy to take you to headquarters for photos from the exteriors, but we cannot get you into workplaces without you making advance reservations. Once you're close to finalizing those arrangements, then we can incorporate them into a customized full-day itinerary. FYI, the following sites have retail outlets for the general public on the premises: Apple; Google (logo'd apparel and other types of merchandise...closed weekends); The Tech Museum in downtown San Jose; NASA Ames; the Intel Museum; the Computer History Museum (in our opinion the best of the lot) with books, videos, posters, etc, Sorry, but we seldom offer our Silicon Valley tour to groups of more than 7 participants--usually when you both: contact us at least 6 weeks in advance; and have a clear and specific plan of the sites you want to visit (and why).
We get many inquiries for this tour from solo travelers or couples basically requesting to be matched with other travelers so as to make the tour more affordable: unfortunately, two parties wanting the same (or similar) itinerary on the same date seldom happens for us. So if our fee doesn't fit your budget, then we probably cannot accommodate you.
Why tour Silicon Valley and San Jose with A Friend in Town and not just rent your own car? Because it's often hard to reach sites in Silicon Valley--most are not walking distance apart, public transit is sparse, and traffic frequently slows to a crawl. We put what you're seeing in an historical context, respond to your questions, and help you optimize your time. FYI we can pick you off/ drop you off: in or near San Francisco; in San Jose or its nearby suburbs (Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Menlo Park, Cupertino, et. al.). The other tour companies are on a big bus, tour sporadically, and have much less experience in the Valley than we do.
* Tesla is so popular that test drives usually require appointments made at least a week in advance. The showroom staff asks that you are at least 25 years old, with a valid US Driver's License or an International Driver's License (with "International" displayed in English).
A Private Custom Sightseeing Service
Options for your Tour
Winchester Mystery House, San Jose
Hakone Japanese Garden, Saratoga
Rosicrucian Museum (Egyptian antiquities), San Jose
Buck's restaurant (bizarre collectables everywhere you
look--so un-usual there's a book), Woodside
All these attractions have their own websites, so we recommend that you peruse them in choosing your priorities for the day.
You must choose which attractions are most important for you to see as visiting more than 4 major sites in a single day is nearly impossible. You may, for example, want to experience Stanford University, the intellectual wellspring of much of Silicon Valley's innovation and one of the truly great universities of the world: Silicon Valley is where it is because Stanford is there. Free hour-long, student-led walking tours are offered daily, most of the year. These tours cover several main attractions, with an historical overview. An even more comprehensive tour by golf cart may be available--if you're a group of 4 or fewer and book at least 2 weeks in advance. There's even a tour devoted just to Stanford's science and engineering quad. In nearby Palo Alto we often drive through the leafy "Professorville" neighborhood, stop at the HP Garage (the "Birthplace of Silicon Valley"), and time permitting check out the b8ta store (featuring products brand new to the market), and see Steve Jobs' last home..and in respect for his family's privacy we do not get out of our vehicle.
Usually we have lunch at a cafe specializing in great sandwiches, pizza or Indian cuisine. Or if you want to sample what this region, the "Valley of Heart's Delight," was like before modern technology, we can visit one of the oldest houses in the area, have lunch at the golf club near its windmill.
The Computer History Museum can provide the focal point of your visit--it is probably the world's best, a veritable Smithsonian of rare artifacts and technological innovation and the stories behind them. With funding from many private donors (including Bill Gates), the Museum has created an near overwhelming 19-room exhibit called "R/evolution: the First 2000 Years of Computing"
...if you're a true geek (or business historian), it's recommended that you budget at least 90 minutes for appreciating it. (The daily docent-led tours are excellent.) Afterwards you can walk around as much of the grounds of the nearby Googleplex as Google's security will allow. Google has a small store open to the public, which offers merchandise imprinted with their logo.
Intel has a very interesting Museum at their headquarters, one that features the history of, concepts behind, and the design and manufacture of microchips—the essential core of every computer—and explains the operation of "clean room" facilities. Usually you guide yourself, though docent-led tours can be arranged with sufficient notice. Close by there's also the NASA Ames Exploration Center with its Living and Working in Space exhibit among others...and a moonrock.
There are so many features to admire about Tesla--its truly innovative design, zero emissions, the fact that the cars are made by American workers fewer than 20 miles away in Fremont. If you are a prospective customer--and you have a confirmed reservation--they may even take you out on a test drive*.
Apple has two main campuses: the super-green "Spaceship" with a Visitors Center, and its "historic" headquarters at 1 Infinity Loop.
We can drive by Oracle, in blue glass towers rising above a lagoon, or the 49ers innovative Levi's Stadium...in a longer itinerary working in one of its guided tours. The Tech Museum in downtown San Jose is highly regarded by the museum community with its many exhibits (including an IMAX theater) mostly oriented towards elementary to high-school aged children. If there's time and little traffic, some may choose to drive-by a selected few of the following headquarters: Adobe, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Electronic Arts, Cisco. In early 2012 Facebook moved into a new headquarters, but like Google is a "closed campus"...and continues to grow...but you can visit the "Like" sign. By the way, Twitter, Salesforce, Zynga and Craigslist are headquartered in San Francisco, Genentec in South San Francisco, Netflix in beautiful Los Gatos (40 miles south of The City).
You may decide to mix it up in order to: appreciate the elegant Hakone (Japanese) Garden (3 times larger than the more famous one in Golden Gate Park) in quaint Saratoga; tour heiress Sara Winchester's reportedly haunted Mystery House; visit the Rosicrucian Museum (the largest display of ancient Egyptian treasures on the West Coast); stroll through a little bit of Spain--an art village called Allied Arts, along a secluded creek across from Stanford; cruise Santa Cruz' Beach Boardwalk, an old-fashioned seaside amusement park (with its Giant Dipper, voted one of the nation's best wooden roller-coasters). Or visit a winery or two in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
So decide on your priorities, and we'll make a day of multi-faceted and ever dynamic Silicon Valley.