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.

Cantor Arts Center

 Located on Lomita Drive at Museum Way, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is an art museum that opened in 1894 and has more than 130,000 square feet of space. Formerly called the Stanford University Museum of Art, the museum is famous for its outstanding collection of sculptures by the French artist Auguste Rodin; there are 199 sculptures by Rodin, many of which are displayed in the B.

Gerald Cantor Rodin Sculpture Garden. The Cantor Arts Center is one of the best Palo Alto attractions. One of his most famous works, The Thinker, is on display in the center. Works by other artists and from other parts of the world are also exhibited at the museum.


Photo: Cantor Arts Center | 328 Lomita Drive at Museum Way, Stanford, CA 94305-5060, 650-723-4177


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.

Photo: Lynn Yeh/Fotolia

400 Reservoir Road, Stanford, CA 94305, 650-723-2560

Palo Alto Baylands 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

2775 Embarcadero Way, Palo Alto, California, Phone: 650-329-2506

Photo: Melastmohican/Fotolia


Junior Museum & Zoo, Palo Alto, California

The Junior Museum & Zoo is a science and nature center located on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto. The zoo is full of interesting things for children to see and experience, including many interactive educational exhibits and a large variety of live animals; there are more than 200 animals that represent 50 species.

Many of these animals are brought into classrooms in area schools as part of the outreach program of the museum and zoo. Some of these animals include bats, birds, bobcats, ferrets, fish, hedgehogs, raccoons, and turtles. If you are wondering what to do in Palo Alto with kids, this is a great place to visit. The zoo welcomes school field trips and can be rented for special occasi

Photo: Junior Museum & Zooons like birthday parties.












Things to Do in Palo Alto: Stanford University Tour

The Stanford University Tour, which begins at the Stanford Visitor Center on Galvez Street, is free and lasts for 70 minutes. The tour is guided and narrated, and it allows visitors to learn about the buildings on the campus as well as the history of the university.

Highlights of the tour include the Main Quad, the Engineering Quad, Memorial Church, and the White Plaza. Other special tours include the one-hour Humanities and Arts Tour, which is guided and led by student volunteers.

295 Galvez Street, Stanford, CA 94305, Palo Alto, California, Phone: 650-723-2560

Photo: belyay/Fotolia

HP Garage

Today, Hewlett-Packard is a global technology leader that inspires entrepreneurs and innovators all over the world. It all started in 1939 when two Stanford University friends Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started working in Dave’s parents’ garage. With very little resources, they began creating innovative products such as audio oscillators, which were used by many sound engineers.

Encouraged by their early success, they formed the company, the first and original Silicon Valley startup. The garage where it all started is now a symbol and inspiration to all similar dreamers, and the garage, now meticulously restored and renovated, is visited daily by large numbers of other entrepreneurs who hope that one day their little startup will become a global giant.

California Photo: malven/Fotolia

The garage is not open for visitors, but you can pass by and take photos of the place that proves dreams do become reality. The HP Garage is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, 


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.

660 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, California, Phone: 650-617-8200

Photo: Monkey Business- Fotolia.com

8The Stanford Theatre, Palo Alto, California

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.

221 University Avenue, Palo Alto, California, Phone: 650-324-3700








Photo: The Stanford Theatre

Things to Do in Palo Alto: Hoover Tower

The Hoover Tower, located on Serra Mall on the campus of Stanford University, is a 285 feet high building that houses the Hoover Institution Library and Archives. Herbert Hoover established this collection before he became President of the United States, and it is related to early 20th century history.

Arthur Brown, Jr. built the tower in 1941, and the architecture of the tower found inspiration in the cathedral tower at Salamanca, a historic city in northwestern Spain. Within the tower is housed a 46-bell carillon. The bells were cast in Belgium and in the Netherlands. The 11th floor was once the temporary home of exiled writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

550 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, Palo Alto, California, Phone: 650-723-2053











Photo: rnl/Fotolia

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.

i313 Newell Road, Palo Alto, California, Phone: 650-329-2366


Photo: Palo Alto Art Center

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