Things to Do in Palo Alto

Things to Do in Palo Alto, CA
Family friendly

Parks – Twenty-eight neighborhood parks offer an assortment of amenities including children’s playgrounds, picnic tables, playing fields, and walking paths. Many parks feature specialized facilities such as tennis courts, basketball courts, skate bowls, community gardens, dog exercise areas and par courses.

Magical Bridge Playground – Designed to be a socially inclusive playground for children of all ages, physical and cognitive abilities, Magical Bridge Playground addresses the unique play needs of many kinds of children in the community, and allows everyone to play together on the unique play-structures.

Junior Museum and Zoo – Great place for families to explore, discover, create and play. The zoo is home to over 50 species, about 200 specimens total.

Palo Alto Children’s Library – The oldest freestanding children’s library in the country, it features a wonderful collection that includes picture books, beginning readers, classics and contemporary fiction, nonfiction, and so much more. Media and magazines are available for checkout as well.

Palo Alto Children’s Theater – Come watch a show performed by the children of Palo Alto at the Palo Alto Children’s Theater!

Arts and culture

Theater and opera

Palo Alto Players – Come see a spectacular performance by the Palo Alto Players, the Peninsula’s first theater company. Since 1931, Palo Alto Players has been continuously producing quality live theater, including comedies, dramas, classics and musicals in Palo Alto.

TheatreWorks – A pioneer in diversity programming, a regular home to world and regional premieres, and a widely-hailed source of original new works for the American stage, TheatreWorks is the nationally-acclaimed professional theatre of Silicon Valley.

West Bay Opera – Experience the wonder of opera at the West Bay Opera at an affordable price. First-class singers, a top-notch orchestra, and a magical stage makes for a sparkling, unforgettable performance.

Stanford University

Stanford University tours – Self-guided tours with map, free guided campus tours from Stanford.

Stanford Dish – Enjoy the scenery and take a hike or jog down the trail at the Stanford Dish.

Stanford athletics – Internationally acclaimed football, baseball, basketball teams and more. (seasonal schedule)

Cantor Arts Center – Immerse yourself in the fantastic art collections at the Cantor Arts Center. The arts center’s diverse collections span continents, cultures and 5,000 years of art history and include one of the largest presentations of Rodin bronzes outside Paris. Admission is free.

Anderson Collection – Stanford University has become home to the core of the Anderson Collection, one of the world’s most outstanding private assemblies of modern and contemporary American art. Admission is free.

Bing Concert Hall – Bing Concert Hall’s 842 seats are arranged in a “vineyard” format, with seating sections ringing the stage. What’s more, the center-section seating begins on the same level as the stage. The result is a concert experience of unparalleled intimacy, offering exquisite sightlines from all angles and a rare conjoining of artists and audience.


Stanford Jazz Festival – The Stanford Jazz Festival (SJF) attracts over 15,000 jazz fans every summer with artistic programming that represents the rich history of jazz, as well as the diversity and creative fertility of the contemporary jazz scene. Over the years, many of the greatest jazz artists have performed at SJF: Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Dave Holland, Louis Bellson, Hank Jones,

Clark Terry, Joe Williams, Roy Haynes, Christian McBride and many dozens of other legendary artists have appeared at the festival.

Stanford Shopping Center Summer Jazz Series – SFJAZZ has announced the lineup for its SummerFest concert series held Thursdays at the Stanford Shopping Center. The free performances run 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the courtyard between Nordstrom and Crate & Barrel. Clifford Brown Jr. serves as emcee.

Arts centers and galleries

Palo Alto Art Center – Take a look at the whimsical art galleries at the Palo Alto Art Center, which features both local artists and featured work of talented students in the school district.

PACE Gallery – Pace is a leading contemporary international art gallery representing more than 70 artists and estates.

The Foster – Experience beautiful art and inspiring journeys in this quiet, contemplative place. It houses the permanent collection of watercolor wilderness adventures of the artist, Tony Foster.


Museum of American Heritage – Go back in time when you visit the Museum of American Heritage and discover inventions that shaped America in a century-old home and garden.

Hewlett Packard House and Garage – historical site of birth of Silicon Valley (on Addison). Not open to public.

Computer History Museum – Spend a day at the Computer History Museum. Find out why computer history is 2000 years old. Learn about computer history´s game-changers in the fantastic multimedia exhibitions.

Outdoor and recreation
Nature preserves

Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve – Go on a biking trip around the Palo Alto Baylands and enjoy the natural wonders of the bay. These walking, biking and running trails connect to the Shoreline Bayshore.

Los Trancos Open Space Preserve – Enjoy nature to its fullest at the Los Trancos Open Space Preserve, a 274-acre area located in the Santa Cruz Mountains above Palo Alto. The preserve is situated at about 2,000 feet and always has fresh air scented with fragrant bay leaves, sweet grass and damp woods. Here, visitors will find a pleasant environment of rolling grassland knolls alternating with oak woodland and cool shaded forest.

Shoreline Aquatic Center – Take the whole family down to Shoreline lake for a nice afternoon boating session. There are small boats for rent and a chic lake side restaurant.

Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden – Relax, read a novel or take a stroll amidst the beautiful flower-decked paths of the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden.

Farmers markets

California Avenue Farmers Market – Wander through the delightful farmers market on California Avenue and enjoy naturally local grown produce. Open every Sunday.

Downtown Farmers Market – Open every Saturday May through December.


Golf Courses – Enjoy a day at of golf and fun times with family, friends and colleagues at Palo Alto Golf course.


Mineta San José International Airport – Conveniently serving a wealthy and diverse region approaching four million people and thousands of Silicon Valley companies, SJC is Silicon Valley’s airport.

1701 Airport Blvd., Ste. B1130, San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 392-3600 |

Palo Alto Airport – Flying lessons and plane watching with the Stanford
Flying Club.

Fitness Centers

Stay active at these family friendly fitness centers.

JCC – Fitness center with indoor and outdoor pool, volleyball, basketball, children’s play area, as well as weekly family events. Get a free three-day guest pass with full access to the gym.

YMCA – Members enjoy an assortment of free dance and group exercise classes (yoga, Taekwondo, Zumba). Basketball courts, indoor heated swimming pool and a gym with workout machines are available for use. Fun for the whole family.


Stanford Theatre – Watch a timeless movie classic at the stylish Stanford Theater, designed and built as a movie palace styled in Neoclassical Persian and Moorish architecture.

Ice skating at Winter Lodge – Come ice-skate with friends at the outdoor skating rink at Winter Lodge.


Stanford Shopping Center – Treat yourself to a day at a luxury spa and shop to your heart’s content at brand-name stores.

Town and Country – Check out the chic boutiques at Town and Country shopping center at the heart of the city.

Downtown Palo Alto – This is the place to go to shop, eat and play. Downtown Palo Alto hosts a fantastic collection of cozy outdoor cafes, bookstores, specialty shops, art galleries, boutiques and much more.

California Avenue – The new place to go in town for awesome restaurants and outdoor cafes and small, family-owned businesses.