Summer road trips are great family outings. The kids get to enjoy nature and new sites, the parents get to relax, but it’s not always easy to keep kids interested in the itinerary. So we’ve built an itinerary for a specific kind of child: one who is fascinated by technology and interested in learning more about robots, computers, and tech icons.
Most road trip sites focus on sightseeing, nature, and the best outdoor getaways and fail to help kids who are more digitally-inclined satisfy their drive to learn. Luckily, this trip guide will take you on a coastline tour down the West Coast, and it’s jam-packed with unique destinations. Or, pick and choose the few that work for your family and integrate it into an existing trip plan. Read on for the places you’ll need to hit on your high-tech road-trip.
Destination 1: Seattle
Start your tech trip adventures out in Redmond, Washington, just outside of Seattle. Redmond is home to the Microsoft campus. Find the Microsoft Office Visitor Center in Building 92 and check out their exhibits, which include an Xbox 360 that you can play on a ginormous screen and the first PC ever created. Then, swing by the Microsoft Company Store to grab branded clothing and swag you won’t find anywhere else.
Home to other tech giants like Amazon, Seattle is well worth further exploration. Bring your kids to see the colorful glass sculptures at Chihuly Garden and Glass, meet animals young and old at Woodland Park Zoo or relax in a plant-based paradise at Seattle Japanese Garden.
Once you’ve had your fill, it’s time for a cross-state jaunt through Oregon into California!
If you decide to stop somewhere remote in Oregon along the way for an overnight in the woods, grab a Scrubba Wash Bag for your journey. This pocket-sized contraption with flexible washboard can help you do laundry anywhere you are. With kids, that’s crucial.
Destination 2: The Bay (San Francisco and San Jose)
As you leave Oregon and curve down through California, you’ll notice changing landscapes and highway-scapes. There are more people on the road, and as you near San Francisco you could find yourself stuck in traffic alongside any number of commuter vehicles and of course, a Tesla or two, but it is so worth it to make it to the tech Mecca of the U.S. With so much to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start, so let’s run through the best spots.
Cupertino, California is the home of Apple’s new, space-age looking headquarters. The windows in the building have been designed to automatically open or close to let in just the right amount of light, wind, and fresh air to maintain a comfortable temperature. In other words: Apple employees never get into fights about the office being too hot or too cold. The glass exterior walls were curved on-site in a factory in Germany and shipped in. In total, there are six square kilometers of glass. “There’s not a straight piece of glass in this building,” Jobs once said.
Take note, three different contractors were hired and then left the project during the course of the build because Apple was so persistent regarding their desired building specifications. Thanks to those particularities, you and the kids will get to see a building unlike any that’s been built before. Who knows, maybe you’ll run into the right person and hear the scoop on what the company’s cooking up for the future.
In San Francisco, explore the history in South Park, not the show, but the ground zero of the dotcom era. This park is where the idea of Twitter was first conceived by its founder. Web entrepreneurs have been eating lunch on its grass since the start of tech’s golden age, and you shouldn’t miss your chance to, either.
Also in the San Francisco area, the Gourmet House Stadt in Redwood City is worth a visit. To those not in the know, the Stadt isn’t just a charming German shop and beer garden, but the place where the iPhone 4 made its unofficial and unintentional public debut. Great for a lunch with the fam.
For an immersive experience, check out the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, just outside San Jose. This museum boasts one of the world’s largest collections of computing artifacts and tells the stories of tech giants like Adobe, Intel, and HP, while also featuring a model of the Babbage Engine and a separate section entirely for children.
Finally, to round out a jam-packed trip of sightseeing and immersion into past and present, take a quick tour of the famous garages: the Google garage can be found on 232 Santa Margarita Avenue in Menlo Park and the HP garage can be found on 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto.
To brave the traffic, you’ll want to navigate lanes as safely as possible. Consider adding a rearview camera to your vehicle before you begin your journey. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require them on all vehicles issued after May 1, 2018, as rearview blind spots account for over 15,000 injuries each year, and backup cameras reduce this blind zone by about 90%. Check out the wireless backup camera by Pep Boys to make your ride safe and smooth in that California traffic.
Destination 3: Southern California
The last leg of your journey, which winds through Southern California, is more of a choose your own adventure. For your consideration when you head south.
Visit the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena! The Kidspace Children’s Museum has over 3.5 acres of interactive environments with a mission to nurture the potential of all children through kid-driven experiences, inspiring them to become joyful, active learners. The Robert and Mary Galvin Physics Forest is a super fun outdoor interactive experience with 13 different hands-on exhibits to nurture and inspire children to be the innovators and creators of tomorrow.
There are also several beaches along the Southern Californian coast with wi-fi to stay connected as you take a day away from the cities: try Sunset State Beach, Hermosa Beach, Newport Beach, and Santa Monica. Take some time off from activities and just enjoy the other hallmark of the West Coast: the sun!
If you have your tech outside with you, avoiding sand is an absolute must. We’ve got the scoop on a sand-free beach day. The Sandless Beach Mat from C-Gear is a large mat designed with C-GEAR technology to allow sand to fall through the material without allowing it to come back up.
With these kid-friendly travel destinations, you’re sure to engage your tech-driven child and help them explore the possibilities available to them. What about you? Have you ever taken a road trip built specifically around your child’s interests?
About the Author: Sam Casteris is an avid traveler and aspiring travel writer. She writes creative pieces about travel, informational articles for other travelers, and guides to make travel as stress-free as possible. Her home base is in Phoenix, AZ.