My Fun-Filled Facebook Headquarters Tour in Menlo Park

I remember the first time that I ever heard the word “Facebook”. I was in 9th grade in high school, early 2005 or so, and I overheard two teachers talking about it. Another student and I asked what Facebook was and one of the teachers responded by saying “It’s like MySpace, but for adults”. Immediately, I was intrigued. I had been an avid MySpace user for years, but the 15 year old version of me yearned to be a part of this new, more sophisticated social platform. At the time, you could only join Facebook if you were a college student or had a .edu email address, so I couldn’t yet join. Facebook Headquarters tour
 .
A year later however, in 2006, Facebook opened up to everyone with any type of email address and I finally created an account in 2007. Since then, I’ve used Facebook daily (multiple times per day if we’re being completely honest) to connect with friends from all over the world and as a blogger, I’ve even been able to make social media part of my career. Facebook has quite literally changed my life.
 Can you visit Facebook Headquarters
A few months ago, the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley told me that I would be receiving the prestigious Ed Roberts Award (named after a disability rights activist that has opened so many doors for me) and they invited me to come to California for the awards ceremony. They also asked if there was anything that I wanted to do while in the Bay Area, and I enthusiastically responded with “Visit Facebook Headquarters!!”. The Center for Independent Living worked for a couple months to arrange a tour, and I’m thrilled to say that they pulled it off for me! On Monday, January 22nd, 2018, I made the 45 minute drive from Oakland to the Facebook HQ in Menlo Park and discovered exactly how incredible the world’s largest social media platform really is.
 .
At the entrance of the Facebook headquarters

At the entrance of the Facebook headquarters

My Facebook Headquarters Tour

My visit to Facebook started in building 10, where I registered on an iPad and was quickly given a lanyard with my name on it. To visit Facebook campus (yes, they actually call it a campus because it’s so big), you have to be escorted by an employee. It’s not possible to just show up randomly and go on an organized Facebook Headquarters tour unfortunately, but if you happen to know someone that knows someone that works at Facebook, you could visit with them as your guide. I’m not exactly sure how the Center for Independent Living had the hook up at Facebook and organized everything, but for our tour we had 3 employees as our guides. Their names were Lois, James, and Fai, and each one of them did an excellent job showing us around.
 .
 visit Facebook campus
As soon as we exited building 10, excitement washed over me. Here I was… at Facebook! How cool is that?!
 .
The campus reminded me of being at Universal Studios or Disney World. It was colorful and well designed. The whole campus was actually designed to resemble downtown Palo Alto. You know that feeling you get when you arrive at Disney and start wandering around? That’s what Facebook feels like. I told our guide Lois that I felt like I was at Disney World and she said that Disney Imagineers helped to design the campus, so no wonder I felt like that.
 .
 facebook Headquarters Tour
Photo by Trevor Heckendorn

Photo by Trevor Heckendorn

One of the first places on our Facebook campus tour that we stopped was Hacker Square. This square sits in the middle of campus and had a scrolling Jumbotron that said “Welcome to Facebook”. Of course, I had to take a dozen photos in front of it. In case you’re wondering why it’s called Hacker Square (isn’t hacking bad?!), Facebook doesn’t associate “hack” with the negative connotation. Instead, the word to them means being creative and thinking outside the box. I noticed the word “Hack” all over the campus, and it’s there to inspire the employees.
 .
facebook Headquarters Tour

Photo by Trevor Heckendorn

Photo by Trevor Heckendorn

Photo by Trevor Heckendorn

Another thing that I noticed all over campus were vending machines. Yes, some of them had food and drinks like any other traditional vending machine, but there were also machines stocked with electronic accessories. This included batteries, iPhone chargers, computer chargers, and much more. And the best thing about these vending machines? Everything in them is completely free! Employees and visitors can enjoy the snack machines, but only the employees can get the electronics… for obvious reasons.
 visit Facebook Headquarters
 .
Since Facebook encourages creativity, there was also some beautiful artwork in the buildings. I particularly loved the wall that said “What are you #HopefulFor?”. There were markers set up at the wall and anyone can write on it. I put on the wall that I was hopeful for improvements in accessibility in the world, and hopefully that does come true. It was fun to read what everyone else wrote also. Everything from “health and prosperity in 2018” to “more Beyoncé” was on there.
 .
Photo by Trevor Heckendorn

Photo by Trevor Heckendorn

 visit Facebook Headquarters
In the same building as the #HopefulFor wall was an interactive map as well. You could tap on any country and it would show how many Facebook users were in that country. There are over 2 billion users worldwide, which is quite astounding, and the countries with the most users are the United States and India.
 .
facebook Headquarters Tour

Photo by Trevor Heckendorn

 .
Just down a hallway from the interactive  map was an Instagram photo booth. I know, I know… you thought we were on a Facebook Headquarters tour, right? Well, Facebook bought Instagram for one billion dollars back in 2012, so technically when you do a Facebook campus tour, you’re also doing an Instagram Headquarters tour. How awesome is that?!
 .
 Facebook campus tour
Facebook employees work hard, but when they want to take a break they can retreat to the zen garden or the arcade, depending on their mood at the time. The majority of the 10,000 employees at the Menlo Park campus seemed to be between 25-30 years old, so I’d bet that the arcade is the usual go-to. However, if you stay outside in the zen garden, you may get to see one of the Facebook foxes roaming around. There are a few foxes that live on the campus, but we didn’t see any while we were there. Apparently, they’re pretty rare to spot.
 .
The zen area

The zen area

facebook Headquarters Tour

Burger shack on the left and the arcade is on the right

The campus sounds pretty epic so far, right? And I’ve saved the absolute best part of it until now… the FOOD! Oh my god, the food! There are multiple restaurants on campus and the majority of them are completely free to both employees and visitors. During my Facebook Headquarters tour, I saw a Mexican restaurant, a burger shack, a barbecue restaurant, a salad bar restaurant, and more!
.
All of these restaurants are in addition to the main cafeteria style eatery in the middle of campus, which I got to eat at. This was certainly not your standard high school cafeteria though. It had a juice bar (the kale/pineapple juice was fantastic!), salad bar, a hot food bar, sandwich bar, and an Indian food bar. Everything looked delicious, but I opted for the hot food bar, where I got some rice, vegetables, tofu, baked beans, and bread. It was delicious and apparently, they have different options pretty much every day. One of our guides said that in the first year of working, all employees gain the “Facebook fifteen” and it’s easy to see why. If I worked at Facebook, I feel like I’d just be eating all day. It’s free, so why not?
 .

"Sorry

In my personal quest to gain the Facebook fifteen, after eating lunch we headed over to The Sweet Shop. As you can probably guess, there are loads of sweets in here and once again, they’re all free. There were baked goods (cookies, pastries, etc), but I had a tasty chocolate ice cream in a cone. They had both dairy-free ice cream and milk ice cream. One thing I noticed is that Facebook really tries to cater to everyone’s dietary needs, which was nice to see.
 .
 Facebook Headquarters tour
Now that we were stuffed, we took some photos with our group and it was time to say goodbye to Facebook. Our Facebook campus tour took about two hours and it was even better than I could have ever expected. When I joined Facebook almost 11 years ago (wow, I’m old…), I had no idea that it would become as big as it is now. I remember trying to persuade my sister to join, and now literally everyone is on it – no persuading needed.
 .
facebook Headquarters Tour
 .
If you are planning a trip to the Bay Area, look into your connections and try to arrange to visit Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park. It’s truly an unforgettable experience and it gave me a greater appreciation for all of the work that goes into making Facebook the world’s number one social media platform.
*Thank you to the Center for Independent Living for arranging this epic tour! Also, thank you to Lois, Fai, and James for showing us around.
Facebook c

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge