"Palo Alto, California, USA" Top 5 Page for this destination Palo Alto by elji

Palo Alto Travel Guide: 104 reviews and 256 photos

About Palo Alto

I have lived in Palo Alto for about 3 years now. How to characterize it? Palo Alto is a hub for technological innovation and home to Hewlett-Packard and nearby Stanford University. The population is mostly quite wealthy, tends to be workaholics and creative thinkers. (But more the type of creative that wears khaki pants than the type of creative that wears body piercings!)
Just sitting at a coffee shop and listening to the people around you, you are likely to overhear conversations of people who are in biotechnology, or who are researchers or inventors, product designers, computer programmers, etc.

The population is both wealthy and politically liberal. I would say in general people are probably more socially liberal and financially conservative. A really high percentage of people here voted compared to the national average, and more than 60% of those voted for John Kerry this last time around. There are some beautiful homes here and many streets lined with huge trees. The downtown area at night is full of people out walking around or going to restaurants. People here who can afford it tend to spend a lot of money on nice cars, electronics, fashionable clothes, eating out, manicures, facials, etc. It is a very different atmosphere than San Francisco, much less bohemian and much more small town. People make eye contact on the streets and they drive politely for the most part. There is very little crime, and it is a very peaceful, comfortable place to live.

Interesting facts

Radiohead wrote a song called Palo Alto. Here are some of the lyrics: "in a city of the future / it is difficult to concentrate / meet the boss, meet the wife / everybody's happy / ... / i'm too busy to see you / you're too busy to wait / but I'm ok, how are you? / thanks for asking, thanks for asking."

The Donnas are from Palo Alto and played together since high school. Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead used to hang out and play in coffee shops here in the 1960s.

Palo Alto has a large population of squirrels, including many black squirrels. Black squirrels are found in very few places in the United States. I have never seen a black squirrel in nearby Redwood City or Mountain View. For some reason they just like Palo Alto!

Best things to do and places to go

Favorite restaurants: La Morenita (homey Mexican food, good rellenos), Siam Royal (Thai, good food & cheap lunch specials), The Mint Leaf (Thai and Vietnamese), Sushi Ya (very small sushi place, nice staff), St. Michael's Alley (upscale neighborhood restaurant near downtown), Peet's coffee

Spa: Watercourse Way, very elegant Asian-inspired decor, private hot tubs;

Yoga: The Yoga Center of Palo Alto (on Cowper Street).

Walking: Stevens Creek Trail (which is actually about 5 miles away in Mountain View, but a quick trip down the highway). This is a lovely creekside trail through the middle of an urban area, but you will see ducks, a burbling creek, and sometimes big fuzzy caterpillars. It is mostly flat, and 4 miles from one end to the other (not a loop). Also try "The Dish" a hilly 4-mile loop trail, also paved, in the grassy hills above Stanford. No bikes or rollerblades allowed.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:trees, good food, most everything a person needs in a small area
  • Cons:expensive, no live music for the most part, less diverse than the city
  • In a nutshell:peaceful, comfortable place, but expensive
  • Last visit to Palo Alto: Dec 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.--Anais Nin.”

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