I “Like” Palo Alto

President Obama wasn’t the only person who visited the Facebook offices in Palo Alto, California last week. Just a day later, I did!

"Facebook Wall at Palo Alto offices"

I was shown around the large, open work spaces, while learning about the company’s many benefits and perks. I even caught a glimpse of Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a meeting in the glass-walled conference room called the “Aquarium”.

Palo Alto has long been a Silicon Valley business center with large global companies like Hewlett Packard as well as emerging technology startups. I like that.

Here are some other things I like about Palo Alto.

"Stanford Chapel in Palo Alto, California"

"Burghers of Calais sculptpures at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California"

Nearby the Facebook offices is Stanford University, well-known worldwide for its academics and athletics programs. I enjoy walking around the campus to admire the architecture, paying special attention to the interdenominational Stanford Memorial Church at the center of the campus. I also like the Rodin Sculpture Garden and other Rodin outdoor exhibits, The Burghers of Calais and The Gates of Hell. The university’s Cantor Arts Center has over 200 of Rodin’s works.

Next to the university is Stanford Shopping Mall with large department stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman-Marcus as well designer boutiques in an open-air setting with fountains and flowers throughout.

The area of Palo Alto that I especially like is downtown along tree-lined University Avenue and its cross streets. I lived here for several years and loved the tempting aromas coming from the many upscale and eclectic restaurants. Zibibbo, Empire Grill and Tap Room, MacArthur Park, Lavanda, and University Café are just a few. Peninsula Creamery on High Street is a good choice for diner fare like hamburgers, club sandwiches and milkshakes. They even offer a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The Prolific Oven on Waverley Street is on old favorite of mine being a non-pretentious coffeehouse with a wonderful bakery. Regulars go there to read the newspaper, meet friends and use free Wi-Fi in the laid-back atmosphere while enjoying coffee and a pastry (in this photo, the Tiramisu Cheesecake).

For film buffs, St. Thomas Aquinas Episcopal Church is just a few blocks from the bakery on Waverley Street. The church was the setting for a funeral service in the cult classic Harold and Maude. The movie was filmed in several locations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Stanford Theater on University Avenue opened in 1925 and shows classic Hollywood films. It’s currently closed while they get ready for the next film series, but from April 1 – 18 they paid tribute to Elizabeth Taylor by running many of her movies. There’s even a Wurlitzer Organ that is played during intermissions of some shows to make for an authentic old-time movie experience.

Although many go to Mac’s Smoke Shop on Emerson Street for tobacco, pipes and cigarettes, I like its extensive selection of magazines and newspapers. It’s a small, busy, old-fashioned kind of place.

Right next door at 552 Emerson is a real gem. It is the United Nations Association Center store with items made by grass-roots businesses in developing nations around the world. It is staffed solely by volunteers who are passionate about the shop and the good they do promoting the efforts of the United Nations principles and values. During the holidays, their UNICEF (United Nations Childrens Fund) cards and gifts proceeds go UNICEF.

Located between San Francisco and San Jose, Palo Alto is conveniently located for visitors to the Bay Area to spend some time. There’s much here to “like”.

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30 thoughts on “I “Like” Palo Alto

  1. John in France

    There is too much of USA I don’t know, and especially not Palo Alto. I’d love to know more about the Facebook offices!!!??? Any ex Stanford Uni twins skulking outside the front doorway!!

  2. Laurel

    So nice that you got to meet up with Amy, I love meeting up with travel blogging friends. I haven’t heard much about Palo Alto so this was a nice introduction to it.

    1. Cathy Post author

      It’s great to meet other bloggers. Hope I get a chance to meet you sometime, too — especially if it would be in Turkey!

  3. Michael Figueiredo

    What a clever title for such a fun article! It’s so cool that you met up with Amy, got to tour the Facebook offices, AND saw Mark Zuckerberg too. The city of Palo Alto looks like a great place to visit. I’ll have to check it out sometime.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks, Michael! Appreciate the compliment on the title. I thought it was pretty clever, but you never know what everyone else will think!

  4. Grace

    Awesome you go to meet Amy. I actually did get to visit Facebook last year and thought they had a cool facility. What’s great about Palo Alto and the surrounding areas is that you get a lot of innovative companies with their brainiac employees hanging around.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Glad you got visit Facebook, too. It’s definitely a unique kind of energy in areas like Palo Alto where there’s lot of brainpower and entrepreneurial spirit.

  5. jade

    This is so great and exactly what the travel your own city series was created for- first of all… totally jealous that you went into Facebook! (also jealous of Amy) And I’ve always wanted to go to Palo Alto for no other reason than Felicity’s character was from there… silly I know, but looked lovely on TV!

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks, Jade! Palo Alto is a lovely town. I enjoyed living there for several years. Hope you get to visit there sometime and follow in Felicity’s footsteps 🙂

  6. Christina

    What an awesome introduction to Palo Alto! I have only been to San Francisco in California, and I liked it a lot. I shall include Palo Alto on my next trip to northern California, would love to explore it more!

  7. Jeremy B

    Palo Alto is a beautiful place to enjoy! I have always been a fan of colleges and universities (as I have mentioned before) but Stanford aside, it’s great to wander the streets of the town. If you want a wake up call, just check out some of the homes for sale to shock you back to reality! 🙂

  8. Craig Makepeace

    Have never been to Palo Alto, so thanks for the heads up and would love to check out Stanford and the surrounding areas of the campus. College towns are great to explore, we don’t have the college scene in Australia like you guys.

    And a tour of facebook’s headquarters, that’s very cool. You must introduce us to Amy when we come to visit, lol…

  9. John

    A tour of Facebook HQ and Tiramisu cheesecake! You can’t get too much of a good thing. What did you earn about the environmental impact of their operations, especially after the recent controversy over Facebook using electricity generated by coal? Something I that I believe has now been rectified.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I’m sorry to admit that I didn’t hear about the electricity controversy. I’ll look into that.

      The tiramisu cheesecake was definitely a very good thing!

  10. Jim

    Nice one Cathy, kind of liked the ‘like’ in the title. I’ll give this post a like! Now what inside job can we get Amy to do for us….?

  11. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    We love Palo Alto! Kali did his undergrad at Stanford and I was only twenty minutes away, so we spent a number of years exploring the city and campus. University Avenue is one of my favorite places to spend a chill evening, and the theater is so quirky. I really miss it there!

  12. Travelogged

    I love visiting colleges, and when I was in Half Moon Bay, CA, for a few days I went to see Stanford. We didn’t have enough time to see the town of Palo Alto, though. Stanford is beautiful!

    1. Cathy Post author

      I love visiting colleges, too! Nice to know others do, too. Stanford is quite beautiful, I think. I love the palm trees lining Palm Drive as you enter from downtown Palo Alto. Next time you’re in the area, check out Palo Alto – I think you’ll like it.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I lived in Palo Alto for about five years before moving north a couple of towns. I liked the kind of combination vibe — university town and high-tech. What I really miss are the wonderful aromas from all the restaurants that would waft up to my apartment!

  13. Katrina

    Cathy, you have such a lovely way of making the domestic seem fantastic. I really love the way you appreciate all the little details of a place and make it come alive. 🙂

  14. Pingback: Mystery, History and CuriOdyssey | Traveling with Sweeney

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