Palo Alto

50 things to do in Palo Alto, CA

In Palo Alto trees are the focal point. Palo Alto, meaning tall tree in Spanish, still features a tree on its city logo. There are tree walks, Christmas Tree Lane brightens up the Holiday season, and the neighboring Stanford University commands you to ‘fear the trees!’

Their devotion to art is impressive. Public art is ubiquitous, City Hall plaza is usually displaying an interesting art installment, and the Arts Center has not only exhibits but enables young artists to new heights.

As always the list is in no particular order. Please let me know any comments or suggestions in the comment section below or contact me.

  1. Take the free shuttle, if you are coming in by Caltrain. It leaves from the train station, parking can sometimes be hard to find (
  2. See the Palo Alto Players perform at the Lucie Stern Theatre (, 1305 Middlefield Rd) 
  3. Everyone can play at the Magical Bridge playground (, 600 E Meadow Rd) [Also see: Let everyone play]
    Plays tructure at the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto
  4. Walk through the Whiplash, Patrick Dougherty’s weaving willow sculpture (, 1313 Newell Rd) [Also see: Wander around the weaved Whiplash]
    Patrick Dougherty's whiplash at the Palo Alto Art Center
  5. Join in to play some pickleball at Mitchell park, free clinics for Palo Alto residents, every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday from noon to 1 pm (, Mitchell Park)
  6. Smell the roses at Gamble Garden (, 1431 Waverley St)
  7. Check out The Foster, a watercolor art experience (, 940 Commercial Street) [Also see: Take a watercolor journey]
    Christ in the Desert Monastery, Tree and Rock in a Blind Canyon by Tony Foster
  8. Behold the tree that gave the city its name: El Palo Alto (, El Camino/Alma)
  9. Learn about inventions and technology from 1750 to 1950 at the Museum of American Heritage (, 351 Homer Ave)
    Museum of American Heritage, Palo Alto
  10. Take your kids shopping and let them see the singing Puppet at Mollie Stone’s (, 164 S. California Ave.)  [Also see: Food shopping is like taking a vacation]
    Mollie Stone puppet show
  11. Ice-skate at the Winter Lodge, September – April (, 3009 Middlefield Rd.)
    Winter Lodge, Palo Alto
  12. Find Greg Brown’s murals ( )  [Also see: Mural, mural on the wall]
    Mural by Greg Brown in Palo Alto
  13. Join the Bay Area quiz club at Mitchell park library, Second Sundays 2-6 pm (, 3700 Middlefield Rd)
  14. Glimpse into the future – Institute for the Future (, 201 Hamilton Ave)
    Window from the future institue: The future started yesterday and we are already late
  15. Visit the “birthplace of Silicon Valley”, the HP garage (, 367 Addison Ave) HP garage in Palo Alto
  16. Shop for some fresh food at the farmers market, Sunday 9 am -1 pm, California Ave ( Saturdays 8 am – noon, Gilman St and Hamilton Ave (
  17. Take the kids to the donkeys (, Bol Park)  [Also see: Go see the donkeys

    Donkey Niner
    Beautiful smile!
  18. Garden with a community: Rinconada Community Garden (190 plots) Eleanor Community Garden (95 plots) and Johnson Community Garden (33 plots), Ventura Garden (50 plots) ( garden in Palo Alto
  19. Read to your child at the Lucie Stern Children’s Library (,,165,218, 1276 Harriet St)
    Lucie Stern Children’s Library, Palo Alto
  20. Enjoy some independent coffee at Zombie Runner (, 429 S. California Ave) or Backyard Brew (, 444 California Ave)  [Also see: Support your independent coffee shop]
    Backyard Brew, Palo Alto
  21. Find out about the trees at a tree walk (, various locations)
  22. Catch a play at the Children’s Theatre (, 1305 Middlefield Rd) Children's Theatre, Palo Alto
  23. Visit the Junior Museum and Zoo (, 1451 Middlefield Rd) [Also see: Visit a little people museum and zoo]
    foot prints of an animal, at the Junior Museum and Zoo, Palo Alto
  24. Try out lawn bowling at Palo Alto Lawn Bowls Club, drop by Sundays at 1:30 pm (,  Embarcadero Road and Cowper Street) [Also see: Bowl on a lawn]
  25. See the Hostess House, now MacArthur Park Restaurant, designed by Julia Morgan (, 25 – 27 University Ave) MacArthur Park Restaurant, Palo Alto
  26. Go bird watching at the Baylands Nature Preserve (, 2500 Embarcadero Rd)
  27. Watch a classic movie at the Stanford Theater (, 221 University Ave)
    Stanford Theatre, Palo Alto
  28. Walk all labyrinths: All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St., First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Avenue, First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, United Church of Christ, 1985 Louis Rd, Unitarian Universalist Church, 505 East Charleston Rd., Grace Lutheran Church, 3149 Waverley Street (  [Also see: Follow the spiral/spiritual path]  Labyrinth of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
  29. Experience art, at the Palo Alto Art Center (, 1313 Newell Road) [Also see: Play! with art]
  30. Catch a flick at the Aquarius Theater (, 430 Emerson St)
    Aquarius Theater, Palo Alto
  31. Meet the artist at an open studio at the Cubberley Artist Studios (, 4000 Middlefield Rd)
  32. Skate at Greer Park (, 1098 Amarillo Ave)
    Greer Park, Palo Alto
  33. Enjoy the foliage at the fall walking tours (
  34. Read it again, Bell’s Bookstore (, 536 Emerson St) Bell Bookstore, Palo Alto
  35. Or listen to an author at Books Inc. (, Town & Country Village)
  36. Go fishing at Foothills park, this park is restricted to Palo Alto residents and their guests (, 3300 Page Mill Rd)
    Foothills Park, Palo Alto
  37. Admire the murals of the Mural, Music and Arts Project in East Palo Alto (, multiple locations)
  38. Hike by an art installation, Byxbee Park (, 2375 Embarcadero Rd)  [Also see: Walk the trails between Bay and posts]
    Art installation in Byxbee Park, Palo Alto
  39. Hit some golf balls at the driving range of the Palo Alto golf course (, 1875 Embarcadero Rd)
  40. Take a class at one of the three community centers, Mitchell Park, Lucie Stern or Cubberly ( Auditorium, Palo Alto
  41. Watch one of the Jewish Film Festival movies, October 21 – November 12, 2017 (, 3921 Fabian Way)
  42. Experience some art at the Pace gallery (, 229 Hamilton Ave) 
  43. Have fun at the Festival of the Arts in late August (, University Ave)
  44. Shop at the Town & Country Village (, 855 El Camino Real) [Also see: Not your average mall]
  45. Take a walking tour of downtown (
  46. Take a dip at the Rinconada pool (, 777 Embarcadero Rd)
    Riconda Pool, Palo Alto
  47. Soon to be the Palo Alto History Museum, in the historic Roth Building, Palo Alto’s original medical clinic  (, 300 Homer Ave) [Also see: Find Arnautoff’s murals]
    Mural by Victor Arnautoff depicting Sir William Osler and a patient at the Roth Building in Palo Alto
  48. See the award winning Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (, 4000 Middlefield Rd)
  49. Be illuminated by the annual tree lightning, December 1, 2017 ( or enchanted by Christmas Tree Lane ( , Fulton Street on the 1700 and 1800 blocks)
  50. See where Harold met Maude – St. Thomas Aquinas Church (, 751 Weaverly St) St. Thomas Aquinas Church , Palo Alto

Check out Stanford University – there are at least 50 things to do. 

As always no affiliations with the mentioned businesses unless otherwise noted. Dates are for 2017/2018. Please let me know of any changes or mistakes. All images are mine, unless otherwise noted, please don’t use without permission. © 2017

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