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15 Best Things To Do In Palo Alto CA You Shouldn’t Miss

Palo Alto is a quaint charter city in the northwestern part of Santa Clara County in the state of California.

With a total land area of 24.10 sq miles, this city, which is approximately 365 miles north side of Malibu has a lot of interesting attractions that are suitable for all ages.

Whether you’re seeking a refined vacation destination or a site, that’s suitable for a holiday vacation, you’ll not be wrong choosing Palo Alto as your next city to explore.

Although, it’s quite populated than other cities in California such as Big Bear Lake, and Sausalito, among several others, nevertheless, this lovely city boasts diverse recreational attractions that you’ll find so interesting.

From beautiful and historic museums to award-winning shopping destinations to several performing arts studios, you can never be short of interesting things to do in Palo Alto.

If you’re considering a trip to Palo Alto, carefully check through our 15 best picks of attractions you can explore upon your arrival.

Things To Do In Palo Alto, California

1. Stanford Shopping Center

Things to do in Palo Alto

Veronica Weber / Stanford Shopping Center

Stanford Shopping Center is a premier shopping center in Palo Alto, with more than more 140 specialty stores ranging from local favorites to luxury brands.

If you’re looking for a world-class shopping destination during your vacation to California, this location is for you!

You’ll enjoy an extraordinary mix of cafes and restaurants from Wine Bar to Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & True Food Kitchen to P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, and so many more.

Regardless of your expectations from shopping centers, you’ll never regret checking out this mall if you’re in Palo Alto.

All the vendors are so friendly and they prioritize visitor satisfaction over anything.

Aside from the abundance of freshest California gourmet specialty foods and other beautiful offerings available here, this area also features an impressive and breathtaking garden.

This is just a plus for you if you love nature! Regardless of the season, its gardens are always magically in bloom!

Even at that, this shopping house equally offers movie shows, comedy, and a host of other entertaining programs that are so interesting. What a unique place with so many engaging things!

Perhaps you may like to walk your dog while on a vacation here. Pets are equally allowed, which is obviously a great policy.

Even if not for anything more, you’ll gravitate over its amazing architectural design & welcoming atmosphere! There’s apparently no boring moment!

Anytime you’re traveling around California, an hour or two spent in this pretty place will definitely be worth it!

Address: Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304, United States 

2. Cantor Arts Center At Stanford University

Things to do in Palo Alto

Cantor Arts Center

Just as James Dean rightly opined; “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”

Life expectancy is too short! Regardless of the challenges it poses, regardless of some trying times, you need to enjoy every moment!

So, what are your plans for your upcoming travels to Palo Alto?

If you haven’t added any fun sites to your itinerary yet, be sure to add Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University!

Essentially, as the name suggests, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is an art museum in Stanford, just about seven minutes drive away from Palo Alto.

Known by various names such as “Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Art”, “Stanford University Museum of Arts” or “Cantor Arts Center”, this awesome place is on the campus of Stanford University in the state of California.

Established in 1894, today, this destination consists of more than 130,000 square feet of exhibition space.

Among the beautiful artwork available in this beautiful museum include the most remarkable work by Auguste Rodin and several bronzes.

With over 38,000 items available here in aggregate, if you love visual arts or anything creative, this is a must-visit for you whenever you’re in Palo Alto!

Interestingly, this museum charges no admission. Also, with the exception of Monday and Tuesday, it is open to the public every day.

Even at that, this beautiful area boasts one of the largest sculpture gardens in the state of California.

Suggestively, assuming you’re not an admirer of visual arts, you’ll definitely find something else engaging and interesting here. So lovely!

If you’re vacationing around Palo Alto, a visit here will surely be worth it!

Address: 328 Lomita Dr, Stanford, CA 94305, United States

3. Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve

Things to do in Palo Alto

Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve

If you’re a lover of nature, there’s no need to worry about an attraction that’ll make you feel at home while you’re in California, Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve will come to your rescue!

Officially known to locals as “Baylands Nature Preserve“, among the undisturbed marshland available in the San Francisco Bay, this delightful site is the largest tract of it all.

Besides, its 15 miles of multi-use trails offer access to a unique collection of a mixture of freshwater and tidal habitats.

Owned by Palo Alto City, this popular preserve is on over 1,940 acres of land and is just too insightful to be excluded from your travel plan!

In fact, due to the presence of migratory shorebirds here, this destination is regarded as one of the best birdwatching sites on the whole of the West Coast!

Other than its natural endowments, this preserve also features a host of other recreational amenities.

For instance, the previous Yacht Harbor area is here and the municipal miniature golf course available on this fun site is beautifully laid out.

Picnic areas, the Duck Pond, the Sailing Station, the Baylands Athletic Center, and the Nature Interpretive Center are also part of the fun things you’ll enjoy here.

Perhaps you might be a sports lover, but your trip to Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve is just too blessed!

This is because this awesome area also houses a baseball and softball field.

If you’re on site, don’t forget to stop by the goodies store for some nice treats for yourself. You’ll love to do that over and over again!

Address: Palo Alto, CA 94303, United States

4. The Stanford Theatre

Things to do in Palo Alto

Adam Pardee / The Stanford Theatre

Embarking on vacation goes beyond wondering from one attraction to another.

It’s not about “how many sites am I checking out,” it is simply about, “how many beautiful places will be worth my time.”

If you are traveling around California, The Stanford Theatre will definitely be worth your time!

It’s an all-inclusive attraction that has been a favorite stop to several travelers since early 1900 when it was built.

Today, when it comes to classical movies, action performances, seasonal comedies, and concerts, the Stanford Theatre takes the lead in the city of Palo Alto!

If fact, its various movie festivals alone have recorded over one million travelers that visited from various cities in the United States.

Little wonder it was reported on all pages of magazines and newspapers that this site has recorded over 25% of all classic film attendance in the whole of the United States.

If you’re in Palo Alto, consider yourself lucky to be here!

Interestingly, just as architects Weeks and Day designed it over a century ago, the architectural design is still stunning and beautiful with perfect seats all over the theater.

Even if you’re a foodie and beer lover, you wouldn’t be out of scrumptious meals and nice beer during the intermission session.

Although, the admission fee is quite affordable, nevertheless, parking might appear a little bit tricky especially, during the weekend.

So, it’s advisable you come early so as to secure a place for yourself.

Other than that, take note that pets aren’t allowed here, and it’s not kids friendly.

Address: 221 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301, United States

Looking for something more fun in California? Why not check our list of top attractions in Alameda, Oceanside, Bakersfield, and Irvine

5. Hewlett Packard Garage, Palo Alto

Things to do in Palo Alto

ADAM Jacob’s / Hewlett Packard Garage

Yet to find a perfect fit for your itinerary? That’s never a problem, there are still more beautiful attractions hereunder!

Possibly, the reason why you’ve not seen your favorite attraction might be because you’re a history buff.

If so, Hewlett-Packard Garage is for you! Hewlett Packard Garage mostly referred to as “HP Garage,” is a private historic house at Addison Avenue in Palo Alto, in the state of California.

It is acknowledged as the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley” and was built in 1905.

If you’re so desirous of learning more about Hewlett Packard, this attraction should be on your bucket list.

Of course, in today’s American History, Hewlett-Packard occupies a larger proportion.

Any time you’re in Palo Alto, it will be worth it if you’re here to spend a couple of hours.

There’s a historical marker in front of the house that provides some information about the area and the tour guide is equally friendly.

Whether it’s wintertime or summer period, this rare gem shouldn’t be off your itinerary if you’re planning a vacation to Palo Alto in California.

Besides, this is a free attraction, so you wouldn’t have to pay an admission fee.

You’ll spend less than an hour here, but then, it will be so golden because you will learn so many things about this nobleman.

Meanwhile, note that there’s no restaurant on site, not many parking lots and it’s not kid-friendly.

Nonetheless, if you can create twenty minutes or more to be here whenever you are in Palo Alto, you’ll be happy doing so!

Address: 367 Addison Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301, United States

6. Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

Things to do in Palo Alto

Marco Zecchin / Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

As distinct from other cities in the state of California, Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo offers everything that’ll make your kid’s vacation more fun than ever!

The Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo is a wonderful destination where children will explore, learn, discover, play, and get curious about nature and science.

With approximately 200 species in its small zoo, your children wouldn’t feel sad to be here. It houses indigenous wildlife animals such as raccoons, bobcats, hedgehogs, bats, snakes, ducks, and more.

Similarly to that, this impressive area also features an interactive scientific exhibition that changes on a periodic basis.

It’s not so surprising this place has recorded millions of travelers all coming from various cities in the United States since its establishment in 1934 by Josephine O’Hara.

The best part is that these amazing amenities aren’t only fun and entertaining for the kids, but there are also engaging things for caregivers and guidance that are on site.

Take note that, except for Monday, this site is open to the public between 10:00 AM through 5:00 PM on other days of the week, and the entrance fee isn’t expensive.

Address: 1451 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94301, United States

7. Mitchell Park, Palo Alto

Things to do in Palo Alto

Sarah Rice / Mitchell Park

As different from Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo, Mitchell Park is a family-friendly attraction that provides something fun and pleasurable for travelers of various ages.

Situated on Meadow Avenue on the north side of Palo Alto, this 21.4-acre attraction offers a wealth of active recreational activities.

From Bicycle Trails to Water Play Structure and Walking Trails, there’s apparently something engaging and fun about this lovely region.

In fact, Picnic Tables, Pickleball Courts, and BBQ Grill sand playgrounds are other features of this delightful area.

So, why will you constitute an exception to the proportion of diligent travelers coming to this downtown because of this beautiful attraction?

If it’s about to cost, it’s affordable, if it’s security, the safety of everyone is an utmost priority here, obviously, no reason will be too good to justify that!

Mitchell Park opens all days of the week between 8:30 AM through 10:30 PM.

Just as you’d love, this park is dog friendly and there are several parking lots.

In fact, other than the admission fee, you’ll not make any extra payments to park your car.

If you are in Palo Alto, you will enjoy an afternoon thrill here!

Address: 600 E Meadow Dr, Palo Alto, CA 94303, United States

Looking for something more interesting in California? Why not check our list of top attractions in AnaheimSan Luis Obispo, and Fresno?

8. California Avenue Farmer’s Market

Things to do in Palo Alto

California Avenue Farmer’s Market

For several decades, California Avenue Farmer’s Market has been a favorite stop for several tourists coming to California.

Opening every Saturday between 9:00 AM through 1:00 PM, this open space area in Palo Alto features several vendors coming from various cities in the United States.

From various fresh farm produce to cakes, bread, ice cream, chocolates, and more, you won’t be short of options here.

The sellers are so friendly and there is also a historian in the market who wouldn’t do less to narrate the history of the state of California to every traveler in a comprehensive and interesting way.

Even at that, if you’re lucky to visit on any of the days meant for concerts, you’ll find here so much fun and more interesting!

Note, in this market; pets aren’t allowed, and you’re to come if you can properly identify yourselves.

Other than that, we recommend you check out other attractions if you’re coming in the company of your kids to Palo Alto. The reason is that there are no kid’s amenities in this market.

If you’ll be coming, endeavor to do so before 11:00 AM so as to avoid crows!

Address: 400 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306, United States

9. The Foster Museum At Palo Alto

The Foster Museum

The Foster Museum

Dedicated to the watercolor wilderness Journeys of Tony Foster, who was an artist-explorer, The Foster Museum is a private non-profit in Palo Alto.

It was established in the yet 2006 and its remarkable for being the only museum in the United States that houses the collection of the Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation.

Although, this area was formally used by Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital for storing ambulance facilities until its recent revocations. Ever since it was converted into a museum, it hasn’t stopped attracting several travelers, even beyond California.

If you care to learn more about Tony Foster’s creative works, this place is absolutely for you!

The admission fee is free, there are lots of parking spaces and the tour guides are great historians who are ready to narrate the history of this man in an impressive manner.

Bear in mind that it’s not every traveler who wanders is lost. Some are merely looking for a new site for a richer and newer vacation experience.

If you’re in Palo Alto, it’s certain you’ll have a richer and newer experience here!

As for its operation hours, note that this museum doesn’t open on Mondays.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday through Thursday, its hours of operation are between 9:00 AM through 4:00 PM.

On Saturday and Sunday, you can come for visitation between 12:00 PM through 4:00 PM

Address: 940 Commercial St, Palo Alto, CA 94303, United States

10. The Museum Of American Heritage

The Museum of American Heritage

The Museum of American Heritage

There’s no aspect of history that doesn’t teach mankind one lesson or the other.

In some, we learn to be wise, in others, we learn about inventions and discovery, whichever way, either is resourceful!

The Museum of American Heritage isn’t a typical history museum with stories about man’s existence or early lifestyle.

It basically celebrates and displays mechanical and electrical inventions and technology from the 1750s up to the 1950s.

Yes, this period was an era of discovery. Lots of inventions were made, but then, how were they discovered?

Don’t be an overthinker, The Museum of American Heritage will provide an answer to that!

The larger proportion of the exhibits is with labeling on them, which makes them quite easy to identify and interpret for travelers.

Although it’s a free attraction, nevertheless, to ensure its sustainability, you may need to make some donations.

In addition to that, the entire staff acts almost like an old friend. You’ll feel totally at home exploring this historic site.

If you consider a visit here necessary when next you’re in Palo Alto, take note that this attraction doesn’t open to the public on Monday through Thursday.

Meanwhile, on other days of the week (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), its hour of operation is between 11:00 AM through 4:00 PM.

Address: 351 Homer Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301, United States

11. Rinconada Park

Rinconada Park

The Rinconada Park

Rinconada Park is another top tourist site in Palo Alto. This attraction is a 19-acre multipurpose recreational center that offers diverse recreational activities among several majestic redwoods and lovely live oaks.

If you’re a fun-seeker and you want to have a nice time to yourself during your forthcoming vacation, endeavor to include Rinconada Park in your bucket list.

This park features a hiking trail, a bicycle path, a large swimming pool area, a playground, and sports fields.

Even if you’re not a fan of swimming, you’ll have a host of options to choose from.

Little wonder this attraction has been consistently cited as the “travelers paradise of Palo Alto”!

Whichever season, whichever period, you’re sure to leave this amazing place happier!

Although, the admission fee is free, nonetheless, if you’re desiring to use the pool, you may have to pay a little amount of money.

In fact, for the little ones on site, the water is so shallow, which makes it not risky for them to enjoy their time swimming too.

To put the record straight, take note that this public park opens all days of the week between 7:00 AM through 10:30 PM.

Address: 777 Embarcadero Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94303, United States

12. Stanford University Golf Course

Stanford University Golf Course

Stanford University Golf Course

Are you a golfer and you will love to check out a golfing attraction when next you’re in Palo Alto?

If you will, you will find everything pleasing about the Stanford University Golf Course!

Set in a scenic area, Stanford University Golf Course offers 18 holes for travelers of various skill levels.

Whether you’re new to golf or you’re a professional golfer, this fun place is inclusive for everyone.

This area is well-kept, the layout is so impressive and most of it all, it’s easier to hit the target.

In fact, there’s equally a Venezuelan restaurant right here where you’re sure of getting amazing American or Canadian food options.

It’s not so surprising that this place was rated in 2014 as one of the finest golf course centers in the United States of America.

Interestingly, as against what’s obtainable elsewhere, this attraction opens all days of the week, inclusive of weekends.

Between 7:30 AM through 6:30 PM every day, you can come here for a thrill as much as you like!

So, put up your golfing shoes and come for the best experience ever!

While coming, don’t leave your kids behind. There’s a large kid play area here that’s enough to keep them company if they’re coming with you.

Address: 91 Links Rd, Stanford, CA 94305, United States

Looking for something more fun in California? Why not check our list of top attractions in Pasadena, and Paso Robles

13. The Rose And Crown

The Rose and Crown, Palo Alto

The Rose and Crown

If you love beers and you’re coming to Palo Alto, consider including The Rose and Crown in your list of to-dos!

The Rose and Crown is Palo Alto’s oldest bar house that has been consistently blending and preserving its relevance through various diversity in its beer making.

Regardless of your pint, you can’t be short of an option in this lovely destination.

Even if you prefer cider to beer, it’s just a win-win for you to be here. You will love the cider that’s available!

How about its fresh fish and chips? It’s just so excellent as well!

The seats are perfect; the staff is so courteous and best of it all, the price of everything that’s available here is relatively low.

Importantly, the hours of operation here vary. While on Sunday its hours of operation are between 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM, on Monday, its opening hours are between 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the operating hours are between 4:00 PM through 12:00 AM. If you’re willing to come on Friday, you can come between 4:00 PM through 1:00 AM.

If you’ll be coming to The Rose and Crown on Saturday, you’ll have a full day of enjoyment between 2:00 PM through 12:00 AM.

Address: 547 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301, United States

14. Foothills Park

Foothills Park

Foothills Park

The Foothills Park is a 1,400-acre at Los Altos Hills, about 15 minutes drive away from Palo Alto.

This fun area is a nature preserve that was opened to the Public on 17th of December, 2020.

Although it has been in existence since 1969, over the period of its existence, it’s only accessible to residents and employees of Palo Alto.

The paradigm shift was a result of a lawsuit that eventually saw the light of day.

This 1,400-acre attraction features eight tents that are suitable for camping.

Each of this tent offer barbeque, a picnic table, water, and a food locker.

Other than that, each of these campfires features a campfire circle and a bathroom.

If camping is your favorite adventurous activity, endeavor to have a stop here for fun galore!

Even within the shorter period that it’s opened to the public, it has received tremendous turnout from travelers all over various cities in the United States.

Perhaps you may not derive much pleasure in camping, but that’s not it all!

This awesome site in Palo Alto equally houses various wildlife animals.

These animals include deer, lizards, dragons, and many more.

There are also flat grass lawns and heavy shade trails, which make it more interesting to explore this attraction.

Despite these great amenities, the admission fee is so affordable and only $6 is payable per vehicle within the premises.

If you’re a fun-seeker and you’re near Palo Alto, a short drive here will definitely suffice!

Address: 11799 Page Mill Rd, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022, United States

15. Palomo Archery

Palomo Archery

Palomo Archery

Although, not as popular as other attractions in Palo Alto, Palomo Archery is another beautiful spot that’ll be worth your time if you’re in Palo Alto.

Beyond its less popular status, you’ll have a memorable time if you’re on a visit here.

Precisely, Palomo Archery consists of a group & private archery instructor that teaches every traveler the safety and the fundamentals of shooting adventure.

If you have been so consistent in trying out something new on a daily basis, don’t exclude Palomo Archery from your itinerary.

Whether you’re a beginner or professional in this adventure, you will find here so interesting.

Note, except on Sunday when this place isn’t in operation, you can come on any other day of the week between 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

Address: 4022 Transport St, Palo Alto, CA 94303, United States

Final Remarks

From the above recommendations, it’s evident that Palo Alto has so many interesting attractions.

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly attraction to take your kids to for their next holiday or you want a site to enjoy a few days off work, you will not be wrong to visit Palo Alto.

There’s obviously something fun for everyone, regardless of age and interests.

So, carefully make use of our recommendations above to narrow down your itinerary.

Wish you happy travels to this adventurous city!