Palo Alto  is a large area with seven zip codes and THREE train stations (the main station known as "Palo Alto", California Avenue and on game days the "Stanford" stop).  The City of Palo Alto is located in Santa Clara county. It is about 35 miles south of San Francisco and 14 miles north of San Jose. Palo Alto is a charming mix of old and new.

Area view:

See also neighborhood maps


Palo Alto’s earliest recorded history dates from 1769 when Gaspar de Portolá noted an Ohlone settlement. The name is derived from Spanish for "stick", and colloquially for "tree" which is combined with "alto" for "tall"; giving the meaning: "tall tree" ~ See: "El Palo Alto: Rooted in History".

The establishment of Stanford University in 1885 made the area one of the world’s leading places of learning. 

First people came to Northern California for gold (in 1848/49), then they came for a different metal a hundred years later! From the Hewlett-Packard Garage to Fairchild Semiconductors (in San Jose) came about the birth of "Silicon Valley".

Today this region stretches across the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. This region that includes, among other noted firms, the headquarters for Google, Intel, Cisco Systems, Adobe, Nvidia, eBay, Palantir Technologies, Oracle, Facebook, and Apple! (For a full list of companies based in Silicon Valley see this link).

Tech goes hand in hand with venture capital firms! See: "The First Trillion-Dollar Startup".

Palo Alto is ranked as  being part of the 10 best places to live in America. You may wish to see the series "Silicon Valley " from PBS and the portal: San Francisco Bay Area (on Wikipedia).

As of the 2010 census, the city’s total resident population is 64,403. About 39.000 people come into the town daily for work-related reasons. More demographics: City of Palo Alto Population estimates, July 1, 2018 and demographic and Housing Estimates

History Resources

Content adapted from


 Start with a shopping trip to Town and Country  located at 855 El Camino Real:

The other large outdoor mall is the Stanford Shopping Center.

- This is one of the more charming shopping centers in California. And it is extremely dog friendly!

The Hewlett-Packard House and Garage is located at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto.

This garage is the birthplace of Silicon Valley. The idea for such a region originated with  Dr. Frederick Terman, a Stanford University professor who encouraged his students to start up their own electronics companies in the area instead of joining established firms in the east. The first students to follow his advice were William R. Hewlett and David Packard, who in 1938 began developing their first products.

Stanford’s Palm Drive

The Cantor Center for Visual Arts

The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is a vital and dynamic institution with a venerable history. Founded in 1891 along with the university, the historic museum was expanded and renamed in 1999 for lead donors Iris and B. Gerald Cantor .

The Cantor’s encyclopedic collection spans 5,000 years, includes more than 44,000 artworks and beckons visitors to travel around the world and through time: from Africa to the Americas to Asia, from classical to contemporary.

With 24 galleries presenting selections from the collection and more than 20 special exhibitions each year, the Cantor serves Stanford’s academic community, draws art lovers from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond and attracts campus visitors from around the world.

The Cantor is also famous for its outdoor sculpture, including the Rodin Sculpture Garden, modern and contemporary art across campus, and the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden.

Hanna–Honeycomb House

About the Frank Lloyd Wright Designed House

Stanford Memorial Church

Stanford Memorial Website

The Hoover Tower

Tower Website

Visit Google (Mountain View)

"Googleplex" is located at 1900 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View.

- See this page for details on your visit options:

Facebook (in Menlo Park)

The original The Facebook Inc headquarters were located at  471 Emerson Street in Palo Alto.  In 2004, when Facebook was then known as, they leased space at  156 University Avenue, in Downtown Palo Alto. Then in Feb 2005, Facebook leased 471 Emerson at the corner of Emerson and University Avenue. In December 2011, Facebook was spread out across about a dozen locations downtown, including the Magnolia Hi-Fi building and a small office space at 101 University and 1601 California Avenue. At the end of 2011, Facebook completed their move to Menlo Park.

Location: 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA

Timeline history: via

Esther Clark Nature Preserve

Official web page

Located at the end of Old Adobe Road off of Arastradero Road. See > Trail Map in PDF guide

Stanford Dish Hiking Trail

Offers a great view of the Bay Area and is a lovely walk. Two notes: No public bathroom options seem available on the hike (as best as I can tell) and bikes are not allowed. See this area map.

Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve

Bounded by Mountain View and East Palo Alto, the 1,940-acre Baylands Preserve is one of the largest tracts of undisturbed marshland remaining in the San Francisco Bay. Fifteen miles of multi-use trails provide access to a unique mixture of tidal and fresh water habitats. It is an important habitat for migratory shorebirds and is considered one of the  best birdwatching spots  on the West Coast. (Best to drive and start your walk HERE at TERMINAL BLVD in Mountain View).

Baylands official web page |  Hotspots for birds

Open hours are generally from 8:00 a.m. to a specific time based on sunset. Closing times are posted at the entrance gates to all preserves. Details:  Open Space Hours

Dogs are welcome in Palo Alto Open Space preserves as long as these rules are followed

Related:  Rules and Regulations

Further reading: History of Baylands Nature Preserve

Arastradero Preserve

Official name: Enid W. Pearson Arastradero Preserve is a wonderful place to un-plug in Silicon Valley! See: Trail map  |  Pearson-Arastradero Preserve Seasonal Trail Status  |  Official Information  |  Rules and Regulations |

Address:  1530 Arastradero Rd
- Google Plus Code:  9RPG+RF Palo Alto, California

Further (general hiking) information:  | 

Note: Foothills Park, the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve, and the surrounding area are habitats for the California mountain lion. See more on

Palo Alto Foothills Park

City of Palo Alto Park Page

Los Trancos Open Space Preserve


Esther Clark Nature Preserve

Website Located at the end of Old Adobe Road off of Arastradero Road. (Trail Map in PDF guide)

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

Preserve Website

Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve

Information from

Charleston Slough


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© 2020 Ardan Michael Blum | This Palo Alto Tourism Guide was last updated 05/23/2020

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