Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Palo Alto, CA

  • Published 2021/07/04

Located in the bustling San Francisco Bay Area, Palo Alto, California is the mecca of technology enthusiasts.

It is home to many top-notch tech companies and research institutions including giants such as Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto Research Centre and Tesla Motors.

To complete the whole entrepreneurship scene, the world-famous Stanford University is also located here.

Palo Alto also has many amazing activities other than technology to offer.

You can enjoy ample artistic, historical and natural delights in this modern cosmopolitan.

Here are the 15 coolest things to do on your next visit to Palo Alto.

Canton Arts Centre

Canton Arts Centre

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The Canton Arts Centre dates back to 1894, when it first opened its doors for the public to feast on the many delicate art objects exhibited here.

This massive art museum is spread across 130,000 square feet of land and is renowned for housing the famous sculptures of Auguste Rodin.

You can catch a glimpse of Rodin’s best creation, The Thinker, as he sits in a pensive mood with uncanny life-like energy in this center.

Baylands Nature Preserve

Baylands Nature Preserve

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The Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve is a huge marshland zone stretching across 1940 acres.

It is the largest surviving marshland region in the San Francisco Bay Area.

You can find an equal number of freshwater habitats and tidal habitats in these marshes.

The Baylands Nature Preserve is the perfect spot for bird lovers to see many interesting species.

This zone forms a crucial part of the ecosystem that helps migratory shorebirds in their lifestyles.

Apart from this, there is the Baylands Athletic Centre and several baseball fields in this region where sports buffs can enjoy their favorite physical activities.

You can also walk along the many trails crisscrossing this region.

Stanford University

Stanford University

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You can not travel to Palo Alto and not walk in the hallowed portals of its most famous center of learning.

The Stanford University Tour takes you around this magnificent institution on a long 70-minute trip.

A guide who enlightens you with interesting facts and anecdotes about the many famous buildings on the university campus accompanies you.

You would marvel at the sight of some legendary constructions such as the Main Quad, the Memorial Church, as well as the Engineering Quad, and the exquisite White Plaza.

You can also visit the Humanities wing with the hour-long Humanities and Arts Tour which is organized by enthusiastic volunteers hailing from the student community.

Stanford Shopping Center

Stanford Shopping Center

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You can go on a shopping spree at the beautiful open-air Stanford Shopping Center which is located inside the Stanford University campus.

This huge shopping complex was built back in 1954 and covers 1.4 million square feet of space.

There are over 140 upscale retail houses and specialty shops in this center.

Some of the biggest names in the retail world including Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, and Nordstrom, have set up shop here.

After you are tired of endless hours of window and real shopping, you can sit down and enjoy tasty recipes at one of the many restaurants here.

You could feast on cuisine from any part of the world.

You can find European, Mexican, Asian and restaurants from many other regions.

Just choose a flavor for your mood, and eat your way to culinary bliss!

Hoover Tower

Situated on Serra Mall inside the Stanford University campus, the Hoover Tower is a majestic 285-feet tall edifice that is home to the world-famous archives of Herbert Hoover.

The collection in the Hoover Institution Library here dates back to the early 20th century.

This was before Herbert Hoover became the President.

The exquisite architecture is inspired by the cathedral tower at Salamanca.

Arthur Brown Jr., the chief architect, was mesmerized by the delicate strength of that building in the historical Spanish city.

The highlight of the Hoover Tower is its carillon that houses 46 bells.

These bells were painstakingly cast in the metal shops of Belgium and the Netherlands by master craftsmen.

The Hoover Tower is also famous for once being the temporary residence of the controversial writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

The famous Russian master wordsmith lived on the 11th floor here at the time when he was exiled.

Palo Alto Art Center

The Palo Alto Art Center is a bustling hub of artistic activity located on Newell Road in the heart of Palo Alto.

This art center organizes several art exhibitions around the year in its magnificent galleries.

Most of the artworks on display are made by local artists belonging to the San Francisco Bay Area itself.

The center is owned by Palo Alto city, and its exhibitions are an attempt by the city government to support these local artists.

You can enjoy these art exhibitions with one of the Art Dialogues tours available here.

You will be filled in with all the minute details, meanings, and meaty historical trivia by expert art critics as they guide you around the galleries in this tour.

The Palo Alto Art Center organizes many educational activities for budding artists, like conducting classes for young children.

Palo Alto Farmers Market

Palo Alto Farmers Market

Lebid Volodymyr /

You can enjoy exploring and purchasing healthy fresh local produce at the Palo Alto Farmers Market.

Located in downtown Palo Alto, this farmers market houses fresh ingredients procured from nearly 45 farmers living in the adjoining areas. You have supplies coming here from Capay Valley, Santa Cruz, and Hollister.

You would find ample varieties of freshly plucked fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Cheese, fish and eggs procured locally to add to the delightful raw materials available.

Olive oil is a specialty here, and you must try picking a small can or two.

Along with the fresh food, several music concerts run here.

You will find soloists and ensembles filling the fresh air with soulful melodies and flowing harmonies.

The Town and Country Village

This is a high-street mall situated in the upscale El Camino Real area of Palo Alto.

You will find several high-end boutiques, cafes, fine-dining restaurants and specialty shops around this mall.

The many buildings inside the gigantic mall are well-connected by lush green gardens and paved pathways for going around easily.

Some of the big-name restaurants here are the Asian Box and Howie’s Pizza.

For the fashionistas among us, there are Francesca’s Collections, and Tennis Town and Country to satisfy all.

The mall also houses many luxury spas and salons.

Just head out into one of these and pamper yourself with their delightful massages and treatments.

Stanford Dish

Stanford Dish

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The Standford Dish is a famous radio telescope situated among scenic landscapes in the foothills of Stanford.

This 150-feet wide dish was built by the Stanford Research Institute to study the atmosphere and its various properties.

The dish has a unique and robust design that features a separate transmitter and receiver.

Over time, this helped Stanford Dish became one of the best communication devices to connect with satellites and deep-space spacecraft.

The dish has enormous transmission power.

It was even able to reach out to NASA Voyager spacecraft when they were roaming in the extreme outer areas of the Solar System and relay signals to them.

Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo

Located on Middlefield Road, this museum-cum-zoo is a center dedicated to the sciences and nature.

You can spot many varieties of interesting animals, including some rare and exotic ones, in the zoo.

The zoo houses over 200 animals from 50 different species.

Children can gain valuable knowledge about the animal kingdom by interacting with the informative exhibits here.

Some of the beautiful animal species that you can see in this zoo are bobcats, turtles and raccoons.

You can also spot bats, ferrets, and many color bird varieties.

This is one of the best spots in Palo Alto to take your kids along.

They will enjoy a fun-filled day engrossed in the marvels of the animal world!

Hewlett-Packard Garage

Hewlett-Packard Garage

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The world-famous technology company HP has the quintessential entrepreneurship legend around it.

This multinational behemoth was founded when two young tech enthusiasts, Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett, started a tinker shop in their garage.

Starved for funds, these brilliant engineers built this amazing company by the sheer power of their talent and hard work.

In the early days of their business, they came out with innovative products like the then cutting-edge audio oscillators.

The two friends were soon finding customers from various industries.

Sound engineers, in particular, bought these oscillators in huge numbers.

Emboldened by this early win, the friends launched the first tech start-up as we know it today and ushered in the Silicon Valley era.

Their garage, where it all began, is now revered by tech enthusiasts the world over.

For many of them, laying their eyes on this famous landmark is almost like visiting a holy shrine after a long pilgrimage.

Stroll around this garage and renew your belief in your dreams.

After all, if HP could start out from a garage, you could definitely start from a small office space!

Who knows, many years down the line, people would be traveling miles to catch a glimpse of the place where you wrote your first invoice!

Elizabeth Gamble Garden

This is a beautiful garden sprawled across 2.5 acres of land on Waverley Street in Palo Alto.

Originally built as the residence for the Gambles, Elizabeth, the daughter of the owner, gave away this property in a donation in 1971.

The garden is laced with many varieties of exquisite roses and herbs.

The carriage house and the classical tea room located inside the precincts add a touch of old-world charm to the place.

There is an elegant gazebo in the same area.

You can take guided tours of the garden where experts would regale you with engaging tales about the history and culture of the place.

You can rent this property for functions and special occasions.

It is one of the favorite venues for hosting gorgeous weddings in Palo Alto.


Pizza lovers can feast to their utmost content at the impeccable Terun’s pizza restaurant in Palo Alto.

Their toothsome pizzas are authentic to the deepest core of their lavishly spread mozzarella and the restaurant even has official papers issued by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana to prove its earnestness.

Terun’s pizzas are made from fresh, healthy ingredients.

The painstaking cooking process is a true labor of love.

You will find that Terun’s pizzas are just suitably thick and crisp to make you go numb with sumptuous culinary delight.

The toppings are interesting and inviting, loaded with many exotic and rich flavors.

For example, the San Danielle is topped up with Prosciutto San Daniele, juiciest mozzarella, Parmesan and delectable mushrooms.

Other than their awesome pizzas, Terun also serves other items of authentic Italian cuisine.

You could feast on the toothsome baked cauliflower au gratin and enjoy Neapolitan tastes sitting many miles away in sweet Palo Alto.

Top off your heavy meals with delicious Italian wines.

Also, treat your eyes to the aesthetic splendor of the interiors and soak your spirit in the warm and easy vibes of the place.

Monte Bello Preserve

This Open Space preserve spreads across over 3,400 acres of thick forests and lush green grassy fields.

It goes all the way up to the Skyline Ridge and houses a rich variety of flora and fauna in its vast expanses.

Hike and bike on the many trails while breathing in the scenic beauty of the surroundings.

You should check out the Steven Creek Nature trail path, which is one of the best hiking paths here.

You could also spot some beautiful birds in the skies here.

It is the perfect place in Palo Alto to take out your costly DSLRs and capture some memorable photographs.

Mandarin Roots

You already had mouth-watering authentic Italian food sitting halfway around the globe from Naples.

Now it is the turn of the Chinese to serve you some of their choicest delicacies when you are nowhere even close to mainland China!

At the Mandarin Roots, you could in fact, have much more than the standard Chinatown Hunan dining experience.

This restaurant has expanded its menu to now include delectable recipes from cuisines from all over the world.

Feast yourself to yummy Latin quesadillas, Laotian chili aioli, and Mongolian barbeques at this amazing eating joint!

Your visit to Palo Alto will be a delightful experience packed with technological wonders.

As the list above shows, Palo Alto also has many other interesting things than technology alone to offer.

Try visiting some of the places we have mentioned, and let us know what your special moment in Palo Alto was!

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