Tokyo (credit: Randy Yagi)
If you’re thinking of visiting someplace completely different on your next trip, how about a destination with futuristic technology as part of its visitor attractions? Due to the extraordinary tech surge over the past few years, popular destinations are more connected and more dazzling than ever before. What’s more, some of these so-called smart cities are so high tech, it won’t be long before visitors start seeing elevated buses that can travel over passenger cars and ease traffic congestion in Beijing or a theme park filled with robots in South Korea. While some of following are fairly obvious, here are five of the most technologically advanced cities to consider exploring on your next urban adventure.
London Eye (credit: Randy Yagi)
Despite being best known for classic landmarks like the Tower of London, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, London has emerged to become one of the world’s leading tech centers. That notion is never more evident than in East London Tech City, the location for the world’s third largest technology cluster that’s also commonly known as Silicon Roundabout. While Facebook, Google and Amazon and other world leading tech companies maintain corporate offices in the capital and largest city in the U.K., visitors might be more interested in tech related attractions like the brightly lit Piccadilly Circus, the breathtaking ArcelorMittal Orbit in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the new Pyramid Tower at the Tate Modern or the London Eye Ferris wheel, along the River Thames. Of course, visitors can also stay connected with free Wi-Fi at many cafe, restaurants and public places throughout the city. Another example of the surging high tech growth in London is the presence of several state-of-the-art buildings and structures that have been recently completed or currently under construction. Among the most notable are the Lloyd’s of London building, the Gherkin and the Walkie-Talkie buildings, and the interior revitalizations of King’s Cross Station and the British Museum.
Times Square (credit: Randy Yagi)
The Bay Area may have Silicon Valley, but New York City has its own sizable share of cutting edge technology and its Silicon Alley is second only to Silicon Valley in importance. Some of the city’s top landmarks are quite obvious, such as Times Square, with its dazzling spectacle of sights and sounds, the solemn 9/11 Memorial Museum and the majestic One World Trade Center. The nation’s largest city is the home to a large number of rising startups, such as AirHelp, Shutterstock and DoubleClick and major tech companies like Google, Apple and Facebook and many others all have corporate offices here. While visitors have many tech related attractions to choose from, among the recommended tech-related spots to see are the New York Hall of Science, the Eyebeam Museum of Art and Technology and the fabulous new Whitney Museum of American Art. Two other exceptional New York attractions that are expected to open in the near future are AE Superlab’s Halo NYC, complete with a 1,200 foot tall thrill ride near the Empire State Building and EcoPark at Pier 35, with tremendous views of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Dreamforce San Francisco (credit: Randy Yagi)
Quite possibly the world’s most important city for high tech, San Francisco has experienced incredible growth as a result of the current tech boom. Although it’s not technically part of Silicon Valley and not closely associated with the early dot com days, the city of San Francisco led the Bay Area way out of the recession era, in part through the creation of new businesses, new jobs and the enormous addition of more office space. While many of the biggest tech attractions may be further south, at the headquarters of the world’s most famous tech companies like Google, Facebook and Apple, and other tech friendly spots like Levi’s Stadium and the Computer History Museum, the City by the Bay has plenty of tech-related attractions to enjoy. Top choices include AT&T Park, the first professional sports venue with continuous universal wireless access, the kid friendly Exploratorium, the incomparable Bay Lights light sculpture and the newly reopened San Francisco of Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Further examples of the infusion of cutting edge technology can be found all across the city in local businesses, hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as the ever-changing skyline. This includes the new Apple Store in Union Square and Lucasfilm at the Presidio of San Francisco, tech inspired accommodations like Hotel Zetta and Hotel Zephyr, high tech kitchens and dining facilities at places like Eatsa, The Melt, Waterbar and Mosu, and new innovative new office buildings like Millennium Tower, One Rincon South Tower and the yet to be completed Salesforce Tower.
As the capital and largest metropolis of one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries, Seoul is also the world’s most connected city. After all, South Korea currently offers the fastest internet speeds on the planet and free public Wi-Fi can be found most anywhere in the city that’s home to half of the country’s population. But as part of Global Digital Seoul 2020, wireless service is expected even better next year, with coverage at every single public space in the city, including on moving subway trains and public buses. Already the home of such prominent companies as LG, Hyundai, Kia and Samsung, Seoul also has a strong American technology presence, with leading companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and even Apple, the direct competitor of Samsung, all occupying office space. Although there aren’t any Apple Stores in South Korea because of Samsung, the capital city offers many hi-tech attractions, including Samsung D’light, SK Telecom’s T.um Experience, e-Sports Stadium, Times Square shopping mall and the Digital Pavilion, all amid a city full of towering, state-of-the-art structures, like the 63 Building, N Seoul Tower and Lotte World Tower and Mall. Another building to look for in the near future is Tower Infinity, described as the world’s first invisible tower, an illusion created through the use of leading-edge optical technology.
Tokyo (credit: Randy Yagi)
A world leader in innovation for decades, Tokyo has often been cited as the world’s leading city for technology. Home to the some of the recognizable names in consumer and professional-grade electronics, such as Sony, Nikon, Canon, Hitachi, Toshiba and Panasonic, Japan’s capital and largest city is awash with high tech attractions, brilliant lights and an ever growing legion of smartphone users. Despite having the world’s largest metropolitan population with more than 36 million residents, Tokyo’s highly efficient public transportation allows travelers and residents to move about the city to enjoy attractions like the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Sony ExploraScience, the discount electronics stores in Akihabara, Tokyo’s version of Times Square in Shibuya and of course, the Pokemon Center Mega store. Even with all of its grand achievements as one of the world’s leading high tech centers, Tokyo will be even more impressive as it prepares to host the next Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.