My in laws came to visit last weekend and we always love it when they come to visit. The kids especially because they get SO spoiled by their Grandma and Grandpa. They’ve been up a few times but we always like to do touristy things with them when they’re here. Usually we go to San Francisco and visit the bridge, eat at a good restaurant and walk around the Embarcadero but this time we decided to stay close to home and check out Palo Alto.
Palo Alto is home to many tech companies such as VMware, SAP and Hewlett Packard. But it all started with Leland Stanford Sr. who founded Stanford University following the death of his son, Leland Stanford Jr. Not only are the residents of Palo Alto some of the most educated people in the country, it is also one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. to live in.
It’s not all big corporate buildings however. There are many quaint houses with beautifully manicured lawns lined up perfectly along Embarcadero Road. My husband and I often drive through the neighborhoods to gawk at the beautiful architecture.
If you have guests coming to visit you, change it up and take them to this quaint city in the heart of the Bay Area.
Here are the top 3 places to take them:
This beautiful church right in the middle of the campus in the Main Quad was built during the Renaissance years by Jane Stanford in memory of her husband, Leland Stanford. The details and architecture of the church is worth a trip to Stanford University alone. We have attended mass here a few times and the service is beautiful. The church is open to the public Monday-Friday from 8-5 and on Sundays from 11:30-3:30.
Take the elevator to the 14th floor of the tower to get the best 360 degree view of Silicon Valley. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Bay Bridge from up here. You’ll be escorted up the elevator by a friendly tour guide who will give some facts about the tower. It’s a small fee per person at $4 for adults and $3 for children and you can spend as much time up there as you like. The tower is open 7 days a week from 10-4 so try and go on a sunny and clear day.
I was pleasantly surprised the first time I visited Cantor Arts Center because its a beautiful museum with a wide range of different exhibits. The best part is that admission and tours are free! The museum is open Wednesday-Monday from 11-5 and Thursdays from 11-8. Don’t forget to check out the Rodin Sculpture located outdoors and grab a snack at the Cool Cafe.
One of my absolute favorite coffee shops in the Bay Area, this is the place where I first fell in love with Blue Bottle Coffee. This is not just a coffee shop though but they also have workspaces available if you want to get some work done outside of your home or office. There is a fee but its a super cool spot and just oozes with collaboration, creativity and innovation.
I must admit, this dim sum Chinese restaurant is a bit on the pricier side but the food is delicious, the restaurant is clean and the service is great! We go for dim sum a lot but have yet to try their dinner service. It’s a splurge for dim sum but if you have guests in town, this place is sure to impress. It’s also less crowded and chaotic than most dim sum restaurants which is a huge plus for me.
Lavender macarons, people, lavender macarons. The salted caramel flavor is also amazing. They have 3 locations in the Bay Area, 2 in San Francisco and this one in Palo Alto. If you have sweet tooth and love French macarons, you will love this place.
I love this mall! I loved this mall before their recent renovation and now with their new additions, I love it even more! It’s a beautiful outdoor mall with robots as security guards, fire pits to keep you warm in the winter and a SoulCycle studio should you want to get your fitness and shopping on in one location. Genius! They recently added the most amazing Anthropologie on this planet and I’m completely obsessed! They’ve also added some great dining options such as Tender Greens, True Food Kitchen, Terrain Cafe and Go Fish Poke Bar.
Fun fact: The first ever Victoria Secret store is at this mall.
Bonus: For those with little ones, the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo is a great way to spend a couple of hours and let your kids burn off some energy. It’s affordable with a $5 per person suggested donation and parking is free. The hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 10-5 and Sunday from 1-4.