You don’t have to be a geek to visit the Computer History Museum located in Mountain View. Multi-media exhibits takes you on an educational and fun tour of the computer’s evolution over time. Everything from room-size computers to palmtops, phones, consoles, and self-driven cars, it’s all here. Starting with the ancient mechanical calculator, working up to early machines, going into Apple, Microsoft, and Google, exhibits are well presented with texts, short videos, and interactive demos. Grab a bite at the Cloud Bistro and pick up a souvenir from the gift shop on the way out.
The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum has one of the largest collections of Ancient Egyptian antiquities in America and will charm you even if you are not that into Egyptology. Travel back to Ancient Egypt and discover artifacts from thousands of years of Egyptian civilization, including mummies, hieroglyphs, and everyday objects. They have a replica of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Rosetta Stone, the Hammurabi Code, and busts of pharaoh queens along with many authentic artifacts. The highlight is the special alchemy exhibit that features a journey through the seven stages of the alchemical process, a full-size reproduction of an alchemist’s workshop, and a meditation chamber.
With wind tunnels, exercise platforms for astronauts, and flight simulators, the NASA Ames Exploration Center is every space enthusiast’s dream. You don’t have to be nerdy to love this one-of-its-kind museum. Among the exhibits are Mercury-Redstone 1A capsule, a model of SOFIA, the mock-up of a space station, and an exhibit dedicated to the Kepler Mission. The kicker is the Real Moon Rock – on display in the Visitor Center is a real lunar sample retrieved by the crew of Apollo 15 from the Moon’s Hadley-Apennine region. The hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10AM to 4PM, and 12PM to 4PM on weekends.
Located inside the South Bay Historical Railroad Society, the museum offers a slice of Californian history. Inside the museum there is a library, historic railroad artifact displays, and two large model railroad layouts. Wander through a treasure trove of railroad artifacts and enjoy the operating scale model displays. This railroad museum sits adjacent to the Union Pacific freight yard, where you can watch the trains from the dock. The museum is open on Tuesdays from 6PM to 9PM, and Saturdays from 10AM to 3PM.
The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is the first in the United States devoted solely to quilts and textiles as an art form. Exhibits include quilts, garments, ethnic textiles, emphasizing artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, and a research library with over 500 books concerning the history and techniques of the craft. Of particular interest is the exhibit with clothing made from salvaged materials, with an accompanying display that lays out the cost, human and environmental, that goes into the production of clothes. Pick up quilt bookmarks, books, scarves, earrings, and necklaces from their gift shop.
In Silicon Valley, you simply cannot get enough of technology, innovations, and uber cool gadgets, and the Tech Museum of Innovations showcases just that. The Museum captures Silicon Valley’s celebration of technology with a focus on innovation. Design your own roller coaster and robot, space jet pack simulator, earthquake simulator, crack passwords or make your own colorful mix of DNA. These are some of the cool things you can do here, at the three-level museum. You can also catch a movie on IMAX, and grab a snack at the on-site café.
This place, located inside Kelly Park, is like stepping into a time machine with its charm and ambiance of times gone by. There are many period exhibits, including a blacksmith’s shed, doctor’s office, and a one-room schoolhouse. The park also houses ethnic museums like the Viet Museum, the Portuguese Historical Museum, and Hellenic Heritage Museum. Stop by the O’Brien’s Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Shop for lunch and some treats!