SAN JOSE, California — Silicon Valley is noted more for computer chips than ice. But the region’s NHL hockey team, the San Jose Sharks, has had a bit of on-ice success since its founding in 1991, winning one conference and six division championships. Traveling hockey fans will find a modern, if nondescript, hockey venue in the SAP Center and many interesting things to see and do in the region, many of them technology-related, of course. San Jose lies at the heart of the region known as Silicon Valley, the center of the computer world and home to high-tech businesses such as Apple, Google, Facebook and dozens more. As for hockey, the Sharks’ 17,496-seat arena, completed in 1993, sits on the edge of downtown, separated from the main business district by the sleepy Guadalupe River and a highway overpass. The SAP Center is a fine place for a hockey game, with a modern-arena mix of food and drink such as Organic Coop, featuring certified-organic chicken sandwiches; and Craft Beer Central, offering a wide variety of California and other craft beers. A few high-tech touches also remind visitors that they are in Silicon Valley, such as large-panel touch-screen displays in the concourse that fans can use to review the latest player statistics. There’s not much immediately adjacent to the arena except a craft brewery inside a Whole Foods. But a short walk down West Santa Clara Street takes visitors to downtown San Jose and a variety of lively pre- and post-game food and drink options such as Five Points Bar and the Brit. Among the fans at a recent preseason game were Darryl and Heidi Viscount, Canadians who were visiting friends in town and came to the SAP Center to see the Calgary Flames play the Sharks. The arena “is pretty much what you’d find anywhere,” Darryl Viscount opined. The couple said they’d spent most of their sightseeing time in San Francisco, 50 miles north. But San Jose and the rest of Silicon Valley certainly merit a few days of exploration. Visitors will find several interesting attractions in downtown San Jose, including The Tech Museum of Innovation, a hands-on science museum with activities that will appeal to all ages. At the Reboot Reality exhibit, I donned virtual-reality goggles and had a blast carving virtual statues from virtual clay with virtual tools in virtual space. (Waving my arms to control my surroundings, I felt a bit like Tom Cruise in “Minority Report,” although I’m sure the scene looked quite different to any onlookers.) Another San Jose wonder was built with a fortune made from a high-tech (for its time) gizmo, the lever-action repeating rifle. The Winchester Mystery House was the home of Winchester Repeating Arms heiress Sarah Lockwood Winchester. Now a popular tourist attraction, the sprawling mansion was built by teams of carpenters who reportedly worked around the clock for 36 years beginning in 1886, continually adding wings and rooms. By the time Winchester died in 1922 and work stopped, the mansion had 160 rooms. They are connected by labyrinthine hallways and have many strange and unexplained features, including doors and windows that open into blank walls, a staircase that leads nowhere, and a door that opens directly into an eight-foot drop. Tours are offered daily throughout the year. The weirdly beautiful mansion is, naturally, (allegedly) haunted and is richly decorated for the Halloween season. Tourists can experience the mansion’s theatrical Hallowe’en Candlelight Tour through Oct. 31. I really started to feel a personal connection to the history of Silicon Valley at the Intel Museum, located at the company’s headquarters in Santa Clara, a few miles north of San Jose. The small museum was packed with visitors, seemingly from around the world. The museum offers a decade-by-decade history of computer-chip maker Intel since its founding in 1968 and of advances in chip design and information technology. The museum reminded me of the amazing progress made in the past half-century as more and more computing power was squeezed onto smaller and smaller chips at lower and lower costs. My favorite Silicon Valley stop, aside from the hockey game, was the marvelous Computer History Museum in Mountain View near the southernmost point of San Francisco Bay. The large, fascinating museum traces computing history from early calculating machines made centuries ago to the latest in high-tech. The museum will appeal especially to tech geeks, but anyone who appreciates how computers have changed human existence will find something to geek-out to. The museum displays many famous computers of the past, including part of the famous and gigantic World War II-era ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer); the Cray-1 Supercomputer, the fastest in the world when built in 1976; and, less smart but no less loved, a 1972 prototype for the Atari Pong game. I had my own favorites, of course. Everyone knows that modern smartphones have more computing power than the computer that took men to the moon. Delightfully, the Computer History Museum has that moon-shot computer on display: The Raytheon Apollo Guidance System that guided the Apollo 11 Command Module in 1969. (And no, it would not fit in your pocket, nor will it play FarmVille.) I also loved seeing some beloved computers from my past, including the TRS-80 Model 100, one of the first notebook-style laptops. The computer was introduced in 1983 and was especially popular with journalists of that era — including this one. Man, that thing had great keyboard action. Yes, I had a surprisingly emotional reaction to some of the exhibits. I suppose I felt something like a middle-aged person would have felt visiting a great aviation museum in the 1950s. Day to day, I take computers for granted, seldom thinking about the civilization-altering changes they’ve wrought in my lifetime. But my visit to Silicon Valley reminded me of a period when they were amazing new technology, and the breathtaking changes they were to bring were almost entirely in the future. Plus I got to see hockey. — Steve Stephens can be reached at sstephens@dispatch.com or on Twitter @SteveStephens.