SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - If you've ever dreamed of starting the next billion-dollar company, look no further for inspiration than San Francisco, home to thousands of technology businesses from Twitter to Pinterest.
Visitors can get a taste of the booming startup scene, particularly in neighborhoods that are popular with tech workers like the fast-gentrifying South of Market, or SoMA.
In the highly competitive tech world, security is of paramount importance so most offices aren't open for public tours. But visitors can get close to the buzz at a handful of coffee shops and bars popular with the top venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.
Sip a soy latte at The Creamery (685 4th Street), in the heart of SoMA, where rumor has it Microsoft's $1.2 billion acquisition of Yammer was leaked to the press after some Yammer employees were overheard gossiping.
Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter and Square, recently made an investment in nearby Sightglass Coffee (270 7th Street) -- some believe for the opportunity to observe digitally savvy San Franciscans in their most natural habitat.
Not far away, community workshop TechShop (926 Howard Street) offers an arsenal of tools for budding hobbyists and entrepreneurs to make virtually anything.
TechShop is one of the birthplaces of the "Maker movement", a do-it-yourself, tinkering renaissance that is sweeping northern California and Europe. Visitors can request a free tour to see the machinery, including 3D printers and a metal shop (every half hour, from noon to 9 p.m.).
Here are some other things to do in and around San Francisco, based on the inside knowledge of Reuters, whose 2,600 journalists in all parts of the world offer visitors the best local insights.
The San Francisco Opera (sfopera.com), the second largest opera company in the United States, recently handpicked seven tech executives to join its board. Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer is known to be a particularly avid opera fan, as well as top investors like Sequoia Capital's William M. Coughran, Jr, who is on the board. Berlioz's "The Trojans" will kick off the next summer season.
In 2004, Hewlett Packard decided to turn the clock back by recreating the house and garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard first established their partnership. The private museum pays homage to the shack that many consider to be the birthplace of Silicon Valley. (367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto.)
A short drive away in leafy Woodside is the pancake restaurant Buck's (3062 Woodside Road), renowned as a place for people with ideas to meet people with the money to fund them. Bucks is close to Sand Hill Road, which is dotted with venture capital firms.
The Computer History Museum (computerhistory.org) in Mountain View, close to Google Inc's headquarters, is well worth the short drive, especially if you can avoid the rush hour traffic. The covers the evolution of computing from the origins of semiconductors to the latest innovations, including the self-driving car.
Reporting By Christina Farr; Editing by Michael Roddy