Right now, we’re living through the opening decades of what might become some of the planet Earth’s most poignant history. Tech superstars like Google and Amazon and innovators like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates may well end up as some of history’s giants. They’ll be studied and idolized for years to come. The places where future founders met or studied, the basements and garages from which stock market giants emerged, they are the tourist traps of tomorrow, the monuments of the digital age. But you don’t have to wait until they’re all a distant memory to appreciate the history that’s being made moment-to-moment. If you’re obsessed with tech, or you’re just immersed in modern history, here are some nerdy tourist destinations that you simply can’t miss.
1. Funspot, Laconia, NH
If you remember spending hours pumping quarter after quarter into Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Asteroids, then Funspot in Laconia, New Hampshire is your mecca. The “entertainment supercenter” is home to the American Classic Arcade Museum. Not only does Funspot let you get up close and personal with a huge array of classic arcade games (be sure to bring a roll of quarters), there’s also plenty of written and recorded history to enjoy, as well. Keep an eye open and you might be fortunate enough to spot one of the myriad migratory gamers who flock to Funspot in the hopes of attaining arcade game superstardom by breaking a world record.
2. Kirkland House, Cambridge, MA
You’ll definitely want to schedule your visit to Kirkland House, the legendary birthplace of Facebook, because it’s still a working dorm at Harvard University. Back when Facebook still touted the “the” at the beginning of its name, and Mark Zuckerberg was just hoping to drum up members, it was Kirkland House’s mailing list that supplied his first batch of members. Today, student-led tours of Harvard will happily tell you all about it.
3. Microsoft Visitor’s Center, Redmond, WA
For any of the millions of people who live every day in close contact with Microsoft devices, it doesn’t get much better than the Visitor’s Center in Redmond, Washington. Located on Microsoft’s 300-acre campus, the Visitor’s Center is an ever-updating exhibit of the tech giant’s past, present, and future.
4. Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA
See how computers made the transition from factory-sized calculators to, you know, regular-sized calculators. The Computer History Museum has a ton of rotating exhibits that depict the storied history of the Information Age while showcasing the possibilities of technology moving forward. It’s a must-visit for anyone who appreciates the true genius of the microchip.
5. Apple’s ‘Company Store’, Cupertino, CA
The only people in modern society who remain critical of Apple products are those people who don’t take the time to actually sit and use an Apple product. For those people who are true believers, however, there’s the Apple Company Store in Cupertino, California. In addition to the typical array of state-of-the-art products, the Apple Company Store is also the only place you can pick up some official branded T-shirts and accessories, as well.
6. The HP Garage, Palo Alto, CA
If you thought Steve Jobs was some kind of renegade genius when he decided to work from his garage, then you obviously haven’t heard of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the two men who started their own computer company out of a garage in the late 1930s. Sure, their story may not be the most well-known, but the HP Garage, the place where it all started, is rightfully known as the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley.”
7. The Oasis, Menlo Park, CA
While you’re on the tech trail you’re going to work up quite an appetite. That’s when you should head to the Oasis, a great little pizza-and-burger joint in Menlo Park. The restaurant served as one of the meeting spots for the Homebrew Computer Club, a motley collection of computer nerds who met to commiserate in the 1970s. Why is all that important? Because the members of the Homebrew Computer Club included people like Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and Jerry Lawson, the man who invented video game cartridges.
8. The Google Garage, Menlo Park, CA
Perhaps the most famous in a long line of graces that would house world-changing tech startups, the Google garage in Menlo Park served as the first official premises for Google, the search engine that’s so ubiquitous today it has become a verb. The home was originally owned by a current Google employee (and multi-millionaire) — Anne Wojcicki. Today, it’s officially owned by Google and being kept in its original state.
9. The Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, CA
The purpose of the Tech Museum of Innovation is simple, but powerful. The institution wants to demystify technology, making it more appealing (and more miraculous) to the people who use it every single day. A museum unlike any other, the Tech Museum of Innovation is definitely worth your time. This museum is exceptionally interactive, whether you’re using tech to get an incredibly in-depth (and awesome) biology lesson or you’re experiencing the sensation of being in an earthquake, there’s a lot to experience at the Tech Museum.
10. South Park, San Francisco, CA
You might not expect an unassuming patch of grass in the middle of San Francisco to be all that important in the tech revolution, but San Francisco’s South Park is said to be the mythical place where Jack Dorsey invented Twitter. As a result, South Park is largely considered the birthplace of the “dot com revolution.”
11. The Intel Museum, Santa Clara, CA
Don’t underestimate the impact that Intel has had on the computer industry. After all, they are one of the world’s leading manufacturers of the chips that power our favorite devices. At the museum, you can see the history of the company, which is essentially the history of the computer industry.