Things to do in Palo Alto & Surrounding Areas

Attractions, Outdoors and Shopping!

Visit Palo Alto and mingle with some of the world’s sharpest minds while exploring the heartbeat of Silicon Valley. Whether you are visiting for a business event at Stanford University or just want to explore all that this city has to offer, you will discover the unusual blend of intellect, innovation, culture and natural beauty that makes Palo Alto so unique!

When visiting Palo Alto also make sure to explore the surrounding areas of Menlo Park, Mountain View, Redwood City, and Woodside. There is no shortage of things to do in Silicon Valley.

Cantor Arts Center Interior in Palo Alto


Palo Alto is home to many attractions that make this city truly special for visitors. Stanford University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and a campus visit definitely needs to be in anyone’s itinerary. Must-sees include Hoover Tower, Memorial Church, and the Rodin Sculpture Garden. Also located at Stanford University, The Anderson Collection is home to modern and contemporary American paintings and sculpture from the Anderson Family collection. While the Cantor Arts Center features the largest presentations of Rodin bronzes outside Paris. Looking for more art? The Foster offers visitors the opportunity to experience Tony Foster's watercolor journey paintings as a whole work of art. Tech-enthusiasts can stop by the original HP Garage where David Packard and Bill Hewlett started Hewlett-Packard, while the Computer History Museum in Mountain View offers an in-depth view of the development of Silicon Valley.

Elizabeth Gamble Gardens Gazebo in Palo Alto


Palo Alto also offers recreational opportunities for those looking to experience the outdoors. The Stanford “Dish” Loop is a paved trail winding through the Stanford foothills that offers beautiful views of the entire peninsula. Meanwhile, the Baylands Nature Preserve offers a variety of trails that allow visitors to explore the region’s wildlife habitat. Their visitor center offers information and exhibits that are perfect for families traveling with children. Furthermore, gardening aficionados should be sure to schedule a visit to the beautiful Elizabeth F. Gamble Gardens, a property with a rich legacy, a commitment to education, and year-round beauty that features a rose garden, cutting garden, formal herb garden, demonstration bed, wisteria garden, and an allée.

Outside View of the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto


Now, let’s talk about shopping! At Stanford Shopping Center, enjoy an open-air Silicon Valley shopping experience with over 140 specialty stores ranging from luxury to local. Located in Palo Alto, adjacent to Stanford University, the shopping center is decorated with beautiful sculptures and flowers. Stanford Shopping Center also offers a diverse mix of restaurants and cafes to match anyone’s cravings. Another great shopping alternative is University Avenue, which cuts right through downtown Palo Alto. Visitors will enjoy a stroll down the street, popping into one of the many shops. Also, keep in mind that every Saturday morning, local vendors flock here, selling everything from raw milk to freshly made pasta at the Palo Alto Farmers Market.

Scroll down to learn more about the best things to do in Palo Alto and the surrounding area.

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