Whether you ‘like’ it or not, Facebook has pretty much taken over the world and all of our social lives just within the past few years, and it all started in the small city of Menlo Park. An iconic Silicon Valley site and hometown success, the original Facebook Headquarters is a must-see if you’re visiting the Peninsula. Snap a pic next to the big thumbs-up and be THAT person on your high school friends’ news feeds.
Looking for a cute brunch spot? Check out Café Borrone. Just across the street from Downtown Menlo Park, Café Borrone is a great spot to catch up with old friends or just grab a quick bite to eat on your lunch break. If you can snag a table outside on the plaza, you’re golden. Friendly staff and longtime ‘regulars’ at the café make a warm peaceful environment out of this Menlo Park hotspot.
Café Borrone, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA, USA, +1 650 327 0830
Dating back to 1955, this independent bookstore is a local landmark. Due to the decline of sales at bookstores in general, Kepler’s found itself in the same situation as many bookstores and had been forced to close in 2005. Thousands of loyal customers and local community members responded with demonstrations on the plaza and, within weeks, Kepler’s was back! With several events happening all the time, it isn’t uncommon to see well-known authors at a signing. Local celebs like Betsy Franco [James Franco’s mom] and even James himself have also been known to stop at Kepler’s.
Cheeky Monkey Toys
Locally owned by Anna and Dexter Chow, Cheeky Monkey Toys is a paradise for kids of all ages. Lining the front counters, it’s like a real life Zonko’s Joke Shop with fun little gag gifts like fake vomit and whoopee cushions for the immature inner child in all of us. From Legos and Hot Wheels to all the latest in Princess dress-up chic, this mom-and-pop store has got it all and more.
This one is for all you foodies out there. Left Bank is a casual yet upscale French brasserie located right at the front of Downtown Menlo Park. The popular eatery specializes in Mediterranean cuisine with an ever-changing menu of dishes inspired by southern France. With a gorgeous main dining room and outdoor patio seating options, Left Bank is perfect for a casual drink and some appetizers with friends, or for a romantic date night.
Left Bank, 635 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park, CA, USA, +1 650 473 6543
If fancy food isn’t your thing, try The Refuge. A popular nighttime spot, ask anyone from around town and you’ll be told the same thing: you absolutely have to try the pastrami! If sandwiches don’t appeal to you, no worries. Regulars will tell you that they come for the food, but stay for the atmosphere. They have burgers and all kinds of delicious feel-good food with the ambience of a small-town dive bar.
The Refuge, 1143 Crane Street, Menlo Park, CA, USA, +1 650 319 8197
With such amazing weather in the Bay Area, sometimes you just want to be outside to soak in all in. Just before the Stanford Hills, Sharon Park is a hidden oasis and a well-kept local secret. Just off of Sand Hill Road and tucked behind some trees, the park is centered around a gorgeous peaceful lake with grassy areas ideal for an afternoon picnic. A popular spot among folks with kids, the park has a small playground for the youngsters and a quiet gazebo on the lake for Mom and Dad.
Dating back to 1926, The Guild is a historic local theater that will transport you back in time. Popular mostly with an older crowd, this movie theater has been getting a lot of buzz recently among twenty-somethings. The retro little theater is also a really fun place to meet new people with similar interests at different shows. There are a lot of screenings of cult favorites like Rocky Horror Picture Show as well as indie and foreign films which make for fun date nights and a great place to hang out with old friends.
The Dutch Goose
If you’re new in town or want to grab a drink with co-workers, The Dutch Goose is your premier destination. Inside, you’ll find a classic bar scene with your basic burgers-and-fries kind of menu to go with the ice cold beers on tap. It isn’t the menu people come for, though. Besides the usual TVs, there are some cool old-school arcade games that remind you that this hangout has been around since the 1960s. Behind the building, there is a heated patio area where everyone hangs out and mingles. It’s like a backyard BBQ with a hundred new friends.
The Dutch Goose, 3567 Alameda De Las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA, USA, +1 650 854 3245
Driving Through Atherton
Just past the city limits of Menlo Park, there is a little town called Atherton. If it sounds familiar, it might be because it was named the richest zip code in the entire country in the year 2015. Gorgeous mansions and beautiful estates line the streets of this posh little suburban town. Driving through Atherton, you’ll see the reality that is the thriving tech movement when you pass the homes of several noted Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and moguls.