Known as “the birthplace of Silicon Valley,” Palo Alto was once a sleepy college town, but today, it’s at the forefront of technological development, home to numerous startups and venture-capital firms, and adjacent to one of the finest universities in the world.
Attractions on the Stanford University campus include 285-foot Hoover Tower (the university’s most visible landmark); the Romanesque-style Memorial Church (one of the most famous nonsectarian churches in the West); Cantor Arts Center, a museum with 24 galleries dedicated to showcasing art spanning 4,000 years; and Rodin Sculpture Garden, which houses the largest collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures outside of Paris.
Kids will revel in a trip to the Junior Museum & Zoo, which is home to educational, interactive exhibits and more than 50 species of animals, as well as the five permanent exhibits at the Museum of American Heritage, which combines elements of history, technology and design to create a visual exploration of past inventions
Other Must-See Attractions
Anyone who enjoys physics will want to visit the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, which serves as a laboratory for astrophysics, photon science, and accelerator and particle physics research – and best known for its 2-mile long linear accelerator. A hidden gem is the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden, a nonprofit horticultural foundation that showcases both formal and working gardens, the latter used for educational and experimental demonstration and displays.
Walkers and hikers find plenty to like about Palo Alto. The Stanford “Dish” loop (a paved path winding through the Stanford foothills) is popular, as is the Baylands Nature Preserve and Pearson-Arastradero Preserve. And Palo Alto Stanford Heritage offers guided walking tours through the city’s historic residential neighborhoods.