Stanford University is a pretty technical place: think scientific breakthroughs and startups. San Francisco is often viewed as the cultural hub that Silicon Valley is not, but the area around Stanford has a lot to offer as well. For those who can’t quite make it to the city on the weekends, or want to see what a ‘techie’ area has to offer, here are a few fantastic things to do near Stanford on any given Saturday:
The Dish is a 3.5-mile hiking trail located on the backside of Stanford’s campus. The trail is named for the radio telescope tucked into the foothills—a great example of Stanford’s technical side. However, the trail is perhaps the most beautiful part of campus. On a clear day, you can see San Jose, San Francisco, and the East Bay from the top, and the backside of the trail looks out into the rolling green hills, making it easy to forget that you are in the heart of Silicon Valley. After the hike, head down the road to Portola Valley for brunch. Portola Kitchen is a local favorite that specializes in a rustic, Italian-Californian style of cooking. Stanford Dish, 400 Reservoir Road, Stanford, CA, USA, +1(650) 723-2560
If hiking the dish isn’t enough of a challenge, then jump on a bike for a ride through the hills behind campus. A favorite amongst local cycling enthusiasts is a route straight down Alpine Road. The Portola Valley area makes for a great ride most days of the year. On the way back to Palo Alto, stop by Zott’s Alpine Inn. This dive is pretty unique amongst the more expensive, high-end restaurants of Silicon Valley. Grab a burger and a beer and head to the large outdoor-seating area. The food may not blow you out of the water, but the atmosphere at Zott’s and a burger after a long bike ride makes for an ideal Saturday.
The Palo Alto Farmers’ Market, located in downtown Palo Alto, is a fun place to stroll on a Saturday morning. The market consists of local farms, bakeries, coffee stands, and much more. Grab some produce for the week, try some samples, and listen to live music. The market is seasonal, so it is closed in the winter months, but it is a great place to enjoy a Saturday morning the rest of the year. The California Avenue Farmers’ Market is another option for people who appreciate locally grown produce, but it is only open on Sundays. After spending some time at the Farmers’ Market, take a walk down University Avenue. There are so many great restaurants to grab lunch in the downtown area, or spend the rest of the day shopping.
Also along University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto is the Stanford Theatre, which first opened in 1925. The theatre is dedicated to showing Hollywood classics from Casablanca to Psycho. It is a non-profit operated by the Stanford Theatre Foundation, a historical gem in the downtown area, and a great place to see an old film on a rainy day (if it ever decides to rain here). Head next door to Scoop Microcreamery for some artisanal ice cream after the movie. Stanford Theatre, 221 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA, USA +1(650) 324-3700
Visit the Cantor Arts Center
Right off of Palm Drive, next to the Quad, is the Cantor Arts Center on Stanford’s campus. The museum was founded in tandem with the university and boasts a large collection of American and international art. The Stanford family donated their personal collection, and the museum’s prestige has grown since. The university also opened a new building next door to the Cantor. The Anderson Collection at Stanford houses 121 modern and contemporary works recently donated by the Anderson family. The Cantor even has an outdoor sculpture garden featuring pieces by Rodin. Pack a lunch, enjoy your meal outside the ‘Gates of Hell’, and head inside either museum to check out featured artists.