Silicon Valley, Calif.
The 30 miles between San Francisco and San Jose contain enough high-tech to sate even the most serious geek. InfoWorld’s hometown of San Francisco boasts two excellent examples: the distinctively hands-on Exploratorium and the California Academy of Sciences. It would also be fun to watch the new Academy of Sciences building rise in Golden Gate Park, complete with an undulating green roof of native plantings. Hop across the bay to the UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, named for Ernest O. Lawrence, the university's first Nobel laureate. Lawrence’s actual Nobel medal used to be displayed there, but after a recent, unsuccessful theft, it’s under wraps until a safer display case can be built.
Farther south, you can park the family at Stanford Shopping Center while you pay discreet respects to the HP Garage in Palo Alto, then move the party to Six Flags Great America, a stone’s throw from Intel headquarters and its own museum. Want more? Check out the NASA Ames Exploration Center to learn about aerospace projects; visit Stanford’s Linear Accelerator to brush up on your particle physics; or see replicas of early flight machines and real modern aircraft at the Hiller Aviation Museum.
Geeks like to shop, too; around here, they flock to one of many Fry’s Electronics stores, each with a distinct decorative theme such as a Wild West saloon (Palo Alto) or a giant motherboard (Sunnyvale). The DIY crowd goes to WeirdStuff for a wide-ranging, motley supply of used equipment and parts ranging from huge servers to tiny transistors.