Things to Do in Palo Alto

Hike the Stanford Dish Trail | Things to do in Palo Alto
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Planning a visit to Silicon Valley? Here's a list of some of the best things to do in Palo Alto and the neighboring communities.

Explore the Stanford University Campus. Highlights are the Cantor Gallery, Hoover Tower, and the academic quad. Find out more about things to do at Stanford in this Stanford University visitor's guide.

Tour tech history and present. Walk or drive by the residential garage where Hewlett-Packard started (367 Addison Avenue--private home) and the Stanford Research Park, the university-led research community that paved the way for Silicon Valley. Visit the Museum of American Heritage for exhibits on American technological innovations from 1750 to 1950. Visit Facebook's headquarters in neighboring Menlo Park, and Google's headquarters in neighboring Mountain View.

Visit an architectural masterpiece. Visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Hanna House (737 Frenchman's Road, Stanford, CA) to see the noted architect's first home in the San Francisco Bay Area and the first and best example of his hexagonal design. Tours are available by reservation.

Visit the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden. The lovely gardens of this historic home are free and open to the public every day during daylight hours. Tours of the garden and estate are available by reservation. 

Get on the trail. There are a few popular local options for hiking in Palo Alto. First, there's the popular Stanford Dish trail, a 4-mile loop trail that passes an active radiotelescope ("The Dish") and offers broad views of the Stanford University campus and the foothills. Another option is the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Trail, a nature preserve and loop hike along the San Francisco Bay. For a full list of local options, check out this guide to hiking trails in Silicon Valley.

Learn about English Lawn Bowling. Visit this downtown green (474 Embarcadero) and learn about traditional English Lawn Bowling with the Palo Alto Lawn Bowls Club

Go shopping. Palo Alto has some of Silicon Valley's best shopping from the local boutiques on University Avenue, to Stanford Shopping Center and Town and Country Plaza. For other local shopping options check out this guide for where to shop in Silicon Valley.

Enjoy a spa day. Downtown Palo Alto's Watercourse Way offers private jacuzzi tub rentals and massage treatments. Immersion Spa offers spa treatments, as well as well as day passes to use their jacuzzi, steam rooms, and dry saunas.

Shop fresh at a farmers market. Two of my favorite Silicon Valley farmer's markets are in Palo Alto, the downtown Palo Alto Farmer's Market and the California Avenue Farmer's Market. Check out the full list of Silicon Valley farmer's markets in this post.

Indulge your sweet tooth. Check out this walking tour of sweets shops, bakeries, and ice cream shops in downtown Palo Alto.

Fun for the whole family. Palo Alto has lots of options for things to do with kids, including the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo, the Palo Alto Children's Theater, and local tech museums. For more options, check out this list of the top things to do with kids in Silicon Valley.

Head over the hills to the beach. Palo Alto is just a short, 30-minute drive from the beaches on the Silicon Valley coast. Check out this itinerary for a some things to do in Half Moon Bay and Pescadero, CA.