Palo Alto Things to Do
Along with Stanford University, Palo Alto offers visitors great weather, a beautiful downtown area, and plenty of interesting things to do.
University Avenue, Palo Alto’s main drag, caters to both the wealthy tourist and the average college student. Have a bite to eat at MacArthur Park. This historic restaurant doubles as California Historical Landmark No. 895. Built in 1918 by Julia Morgan (who also built Hearst Castle, Oakland’s Mills College Bell Tower, the Berkeley City Club, and the Greek Theater), it’s the only remaining structure from California’s World War I Army training camps. Borders took over and restored the historic Varsity Theater. They converted it to retail, but kept much of the original theater intact, particularly the facade and the courtyard.
You’ll enjoy superb views of Palo Alto, Stanford, and the Bay from the 250-foot high Hoover Tower Observation Deck. A one hundred-year-old water tower, made of one-foot thick concrete, still stands in Water Tower Park. The “El Palo Alto” redwood tree grows in El Palo Alto Park and the half-acre park exists to preserve this tree and the town’s history. The small park has several monuments, a walking path, a biking path, a few historical plaques, and the San Francis Quito Creek. A radio telescope commonly known as “The Dish” occupies a 1500-acre area west of the main Stanford campus in the lower foothills. It is a beautiful place for a hike. Visitors can enjoy spectacular views from atop various hills.
Photo and architecture buffs will love the beautiful Stanford University campus. Make sure to stop by the Stanford University Memorial Church. Colorful mosaics with as many as 20,000 different colors and shades decorate its stunning facade. Inside, it seats up to 1,250 worshipers, and still uses an original 3,355 pipe organ built in 1901. The Cantor Center for Visual Arts features the largest set of Rodin bronzes outside of Paris, and admission is free. Started sometime between 1880 and 1883, the cactus garden actually consists mostly of succulents, not cacti. Previously named the Arizona Garden, its beds form the shape of a turtle.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about fun things to do in Palo Alto.