Top 5 Best Things to Do in Palo Alto, CA

Jackie Schoelerman  |  December 11, 2021

Lifestyle

Top 5 Best Things to Do in Palo Alto, CA

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Palo Alto is home to Stanford University and many high-tech companies such as HP, PARC and Tesla Motors. Plan a weekend trip and view the landmark Stanford Dish radio telescope, explore the Cantor Arts Center, and take a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hanna House. Best things to do in Palo Alto, California, with kids include the Junior Museum & Zoo, the Palo Alto Art Center and the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve. Here’s our top 5 things to do in Palo Alto!

 
1. The Stanford Dish

Located on Reservoir Road in the Stanford foothills, the Stanford Dish is a landmark radio telescope with scenic paved trail loops. Built in 1966 by the Stanford Research institute, the 150-foot diameter (46 meter) dish was funded by the United States Air Force in order to study the composition of the atmosphere. Because of its unique construction with a separate receiver and transmitter, the dish became a powerful means of communicating with satellites and spacecraft. 

The dish’s communication range is so strong that it was able to transmit signals to the NASA Voyager spacecrafts on the outer edge of the solar system. The 3.5-mile trail around the dish is popular with runners and joggers.

 

2. Bayland Nature Preserve

Comprising 1,940 acres, the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve is the largest area of marshland remaining in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it is a mixture of fresh water habitats and tidal habitats.

The preserve is an important area for migratory shorebirds and is one of the best things to do in Palo Alto, California. Many people think that this preserve offers the best bird watching on the entire West Coast. Features of the preserve include fifteen miles of multi-use trails as well as the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center, the Baylands Athletic Center, baseball and softball fields, and the Palo Alto Duck Pond. 

 

3. The Stanford Shopping Center

The Stanford Shopping Center is an open-air shopping mall located on the campus of Stanford University. Established in 1954 and built on the former vineyards of Leland and Jane Stanford, the original shopping center consisted of nine buildings and 45 businesses sitting on 8,800 acres of land. 

Today, the outdoor center is 1.4 million square feet in size and is home to more than 140 upscale retailers and specialty stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Burberry, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and many more. There are also many restaurants in the center ranging from European to Mexican, Asian, and others.

 

4. The Stanford Theatre

Located on University Avenue, the Stanford Theatre is a historic and famous independent movie theater in Palo Alto. It was built in 1925 as a movie palace in the style of neoclassical Moorish and Persian architecture and design. In 1987, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation bought and restored the theatre.

Today, this popular establishment features classical movies dating from 1910 to 1970 and hosts many film festivals focused on directors and actors like Betty Davis, Cary Grant, and Alfred Hitchcock. One of the theater’s best-known features is its theater organ, the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. If you are looking for romantic date ideas in Palo Alto, visitors are treated to an experience of seeing a moving picture in a classical movie house setting as films were intended to be seen.

 

5. Palo Alto Art Center

The Palo Alto Art Center is a multi-purpose art center located on Newell Road in Palo Alto. Established in 1971 and owned by the city of Palo Alto, the art center hosts numerous temporary art exhibits in its exhibition galleries. These exhibits focus on the artwork created by artists from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Art Dialogues are the tours of the temporary exhibits guided by trained art docents. The art center is also known for its outreach programs and educational activities including special events days as well as weekly art classes for adults, teens, and children.


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