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19 Fun Things to do in Palo Alto (Besides Working)

Palo Alto, California

Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto is a beautiful and vibrant city.

The city was named after Senator Leland Stanford’s “Palo Alto” ranch. referring to “the enormous redwood trees”

Palo Alto, driven by the university and the urban expansion of the west bay shore area, established research-oriented industries such as aerospace, communications, and electronics.

There are plenty of things to do in Palo Alto, whether you’re looking for a place to relax or an exciting adventure.

History buffs can explore the grounds of Stanford University, which has been ranked as one of the world’s top universities.

Nature lovers can hike or bike along the scenic San Francisco Bay Trail. And foodies can sample the local cuisine at one of Palo Alto’s many award-winning restaurants.

Whether you’re looking for culture, relaxation, or adventure, Palo Alto is the perfect destination for your next vacation.

Here are 19 of the best things to do in Palo Alto.

1. Visit the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts

Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts
Source: Allie_Caulfield – Flickr / CC

Palo Alto is home to several world-class museums and art galleries, and the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts is one of the most impressive.

The Cantor Center houses a permanent collection of over 24,000 works of art, as well as rotating exhibitions featuring both contemporary and classic artists.

With such a wide range of art on display, there’s something to appeal to everyone at the Cantor Center.

And admission is always free, making it the perfect place to enjoy a bit of culture on a budget.

So if you’re in the Palo Alto area, be sure to add the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts to your list of must-see attractions.

2. Take a Walk or Bike Ride Through the Stanford University Campus

 Stanford University campus

Stanford University is a place where world-class art, sports, and architecture converge.

Located in Palo Alto, California. The campus is beautiful and a great place to take a walk or ride your bike.

There are plenty of places to explore, and you’ll get to see some of the most famous landmarks on campus.

The Stanford Memorial Chapel is one of the most popular destinations on campus. It’s a beautiful building with stained-glass windows and an imposing dome.

You can also visit the Main Quad, which is the heart of campus. It’s surrounded by academic buildings, and it’s a great place to people-watch.

If you’re looking for a less crowded spot, head over to White Plaza. It’s a gathering place for students, and it features a fountain and plenty of benches.

No matter where you go on campus, you’re sure to have a great time.

3. Shop at Stanford Shopping Center

Stanford Shopping Center
Source: Dion Hinchcliffe – Flickr / CC

Palo Alto is home to many high-end shopping destinations, but none are as renowned as the Stanford Shopping Center.

This outdoor mall is anchored by major department stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus, and also features a wide selection of luxury retailers.

In addition to its impressive selection of shops, the Stanford Shopping Center is also known for its beautiful landscaping and fountain-filled courtyard.

Whether you’re looking for a new outfit or just a leisurely afternoon stroll, the Stanford Shopping Center is sure to please.

4. Visit the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve

Baylands Nature Preserve

Palo Alto is a beautiful city in the Bay Area of California, and it is home to the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.

The preserve is a 1,940-acre wetland that is filled with trails, bird watching areas, and fishing ponds.

There are also several picnic areas where you can enjoy a meal while surrounded by nature.

The Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve is a great place to visit if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some peace and quiet.

There is no admission fee, and the preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

5. Play a Round of Golf at One of Palo Alto’s Many Golf Courses

Palo Alto's golf course

Palo Alto is home to many beautiful golf courses, making it the perfect place to enjoy a round or two.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced golfer, you’ll find a course that’s right for you.

For those just starting out, the driving range at Palo Alto Golf Course is the perfect place to practice your swing.

If you’re looking for a challenge, try your hand at the ever-popular Stanford Golf Course. With its rolling hills and challenging greens, it’s sure to test your skills.

And for those who want to relax and take in the stunning scenery, the Palo Alto Municipal Course is a perfect choice.

Surrounded by trees and boasting gorgeous views of the bay, it’s the perfect place to unwind after a long day. So come on out and enjoy a round of golf in Palo Alto!

6. Take a Stroll Down University Avenue

University Avenue Palo Alto
Source: BWChicago – Flickr / CC

University Avenue in Palo Alto is a lively and vibrant street with something for everyone.

The street is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon.

There are also plenty of things to do, from browsing the shelves at the local bookstore to catching a movie at the theater.

And of course, University Avenue is also home to Stanford University, one of the world’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning.

Whether you’re looking for a place to shop, dine, or simply take a stroll, University Avenue is sure to please.

7. Enjoy the View From Atop Foothills Park

Foothills Park Palo Alto
Source: Jun Seita – Flickr / CC

Palo Alto’s Foothills Park is a great place to enjoy the city’s natural beauty.

The park’s highest point, Pipeline Hill, offers stunning views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Silicon Valley.

On a clear day, you can even see all the way to San Francisco Bay.

If you’re looking for a challenge, you can hike to the top of Pipeline Hill. Or, if you prefer, you can take the easy way up on the park’s popular Pipeline Trail.

Either way, you’re sure to enjoy the view from atop Foothills Park.

8. Visit the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo

Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo
Source: Allie_Caulfield – Flickr / CC

The Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a fun, educational experience.

The museum offers a variety of exhibits on topics like animals, science, and history, and the zoo is home to a wide variety of mammals, reptiles, and birds.

The Junior Museum also offers many special events and programs throughout the year, so there’s always something new to see and do.

And best of all, admission is free for all Palo Alto residents.

So whether you’re a child or an adult, the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo is definitely worth a visit.

9. Browse the Shelves at Kepler’s Books

Kepler's Books Palo Alto

When you step into Kepler’s Books in Palo Alto, you feel like you’ve been transported to a different world.

With its eclectic mix of books, comfortable chairs, and friendly staff, Kepler’s is the perfect place to lose yourself for an afternoon.

The shelves are packed with everything from classic novels to local history books, and there’s always something new to discover.

Even if you don’t find anything you want to read, it’s worth browsing the shelves just to see the wide variety of titles on offer.

And if you need help finding something specific, the staff are always happy to offer suggestions.

So whether you’re looking for your next great read or just want to explore a little, be sure to stop by Kepler’s Books in Palo Alto. You won’t be disappointed.

10. Explore the Shoreline Amphitheatre

Shoreline Amphitheatre Palo Alto
Source: Jitze Couperus – Flickr / CC

The Shoreline Amphitheatre in Palo Alto is one of the most popular outdoor concert venues in California.

Nestled in the hills near Silicon Valley, the amphitheater offers breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay.

The state-of-the-art venue has a capacity of 22,500 and features a spacious lawn area, making it the perfect place to enjoy a summer evening concert.

With its convenient location and ample parking, the amphitheater is also a popular choice for Bay Area residents.

In addition to concerts, the venue also hosts various other events, including festivals, movies, and theater productions.

Whether you’re looking for live music or a night out under the stars, the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Palo Alto is sure to please.

11. Take a walk at Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden

Source: Ed Bierman – Flickr / CC

Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden is one of the best places to take a walk in Palo Alto.

The garden is full of beautiful flowers and plants, and there are plenty of benches where you can sit and enjoy the scenery.

Gamble garden is also a great place to people-watch; on any given day, you’re likely to see families picnicking, couples strolling hand-in-hand, and children playing in the garden’s splash pad.

In addition to its many charms, Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden is also conveniently located near downtown Palo Alto, making it the perfect place to take a break from shopping or working.

Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or a place to explore, Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden is sure to please.

12. Stroll Around Googleplex

Googleplex

Looking for a fun way to explore the Googleplex complex? Why not take a stroll around the grounds!

There’s plenty to see, including the iconic Android lawn sculpture and the GooglePlex campus itself.

You’ll get some great exercise while enjoying the fresh air and perhaps even spot a famous Googler or two!

Walking around, you’ll see plenty of outdoor seating spots for working and socializing, as well as a handful of volleyball courts. It’s a pretty entertaining environment with a laid-back feel.

If you ever find yourself in the Bay Area, I highly recommend taking a tour of the Googleplex campus.

13. Visit the Hewlett Packard Garage

Hewlett Packard Garage Palo Alto
Source: Arild Finne Nybø – Flickr / CC

The Hewlett Packard Garage LLC is a must-see for any tech fan.

Located in Palo Alto, California, the garage is where HP was founded in 1939 by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.

Today, the garage is open to the public and houses a museum dedicated to the history of HP.

You can see original prototypes of HP products, including the first personal computers, and learn about the company’s early days.

The garage is also home to a working printing press, where you can print your own souvenir HP T-shirt.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan of HP or just curious about the company’s history, a visit to the Hewlett Packard Garage is sure to be a fascinating experience.

14. Go Birdwatching at Byxbee Park

Byxbee Park Palo Alto
Source: Igor Krivokon – Flickr / CC

Byxbee Park is a great place to go birdwatching.

The park has a diverse range of habitats, including open meadows, wetland areas, and woodlands.

This variety of habitats attracts a wide range of birds, making it a perfect spot for birdwatching.

In addition, the park is located near San Francisco Bay, which provides an additional source of food for the birds.

The best time to go birdwatching at Byxbee Park is in springtime when the migrating birds are most active.

However, the park is worth visiting at any time of year, as there are always plenty of birds to see.

So grab your binoculars and head to Byxbee Park for an enjoyable day of birdwatching.

15. Explore Rodin Sculpture Garden

Rodin Sculpture Garden
Source: Allie_Caulfield – Flickr / CC

The Rodin Sculpture Garden in Palo Alto is a must-see for art lovers.

The garden features a number of Rodin’s famous works, including The Thinker and The Kiss.

You can also enjoy the beautiful setting, with its fragrant flowers and peaceful pond.

The garden is open daily from dawn to dusk, and there is no charge for admission.

Whether you’re an art aficionado or simply looking for a relaxing place to spend an afternoon, the Rodin Sculpture Garden in Palo Alto is sure to please.

16. Grab Fresh Produce at the Downtown Palo Alto Farmers Market

Downtown Palo Alto Farmers Market

The Downtown Palo Alto Farmers Market is the perfect place to grab fresh, local produce.

With a wide variety of fruits and vegetables available, there’s something for everyone.

And because the produce is acquired locally, you can be confident that it is fresh and of the best quality.

In addition, to produce, the market also features a variety of food vendors selling everything from artisanal bread to delicious prepared foods.

So whether you’re looking for a healthy snack or a hearty meal, you’ll find it at the Downtown Palo Alto Farmers Market.

17. Check Out the Palo Alto Art Center

Palo Alto Art Center
Source: Paloaltoartcenter – Wikimedia

The Palo Alto Art Center is a great place to explore your creativity.

With a wide variety of classes and programs offered, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

Whether you’re interested in painting, sculpture, photography, or any other type of art, the Art Center has something to offer.

There are also plenty of events and exhibits throughout the year, so there’s always something new to see.

The Art Center is located in Palo Alto, just a short drive from San Francisco. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a fun and creative way to spend your time.

18. Explore The Museum of American Heritage

Museum of American Heritage Palo Alto
Source: Ed Bierman – Flickr / CC

The Museum of American Heritage is a must-see for anyone interested in American history.

The museum is located in the heart of San Francisco and features various exhibits on everything from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War.

You can also view several artifacts from the American Revolution, including George Washington’s dentures and a piece of the Berlin Wall.

In addition, the museum offers some interactive exhibits, such as a replica of the Liberty Bell and a life-size replica of the Statue of Liberty.

The Museum of American Heritage is sure to provide visitors with an unforgettable experience.

19. Enjoy the Architecture At Hanna House

Hanna House Palo Alto
Source: Daniel Hartwig – Flickr / CC

Located on the Stanford University campus, Hanna House is a beautifully designed building that was once home to Mark and Irma Hanna. 

Constructed in 1915, The house is an excellent example of early twentieth-century architecture, and it features a wide variety of unique design elements.

From its striking redbrick exterior to its intricate wooden staircase, Hanna House is a delight to explore.

You can take a self-guided tour of the house and learn about its history, or simply enjoy the views from the porch.

Either way, Hanna House is sure to leave a lasting impression.