There is no shortage of fun things to do in and around Palo Alto, California. Stanford University is just two miles away and features such cool sights as the Rodin Sculpture Museum and Hoover Tower. San Francisco is about 40 minutes north and offers popular attractions like Pier 39 and Alcatraz. And beach lovers will be in heaven as the Pacific Ocean is easy to access both near (Half Moon Bay) and far (Santa Cruz).
Cantor Arts Center & Rodin Sculpture Garden
Fans of Rodin will flock to Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center where the largest collection of Rodin bronze sculptures outside of Paris resides. Discover nearly 200 works, including Rodin's world-renowned sculpture "The Thinker," located in three easy-to-navigate galleries. Next to the Cantor Arts Center is the Rodin Sculpture Garden, which is where many more of his bronze works of art are displayed. Admission to the museum and sculpture garden is free. The sculpture garden is open 24/7 and offers daily tours that are also complimentary. For more information, visit http://museum.stanford.edu/news_room/rodin.html.
At 285 feet, Stanford University's Hoover Tower provides great views of the campus and Bay Area from its observation deck. Part of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Hoover Tower was constructed in 1941, one half-century after Stanford opened its doors. Enjoy exhibits featuring dozens of memorabilia from President Hoover's career locate on the ground floor of Hoover Tower. The observation deck is open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It's closed during final exams as well as breaks in the academic schedule. For more information, visit http://www.stanford.edu/home/welcome/campus/hoover.html.
Less than 10 minutes away is the Shoreline Amphitheatre. Highlighted by one of the largest tent structures in the world, Shoreline plays host to some of the biggest names in the music industry. Catch everyone from The Dead and Cheap Trick to Santana and Cheryl Crow. Summertime is when Shoreline really kicks into gear. Rock out with Coldplay in July 2009. For more information, visit www.shorelineamp.com/.
Known officially as California Historic Landmark No. 976, the Hewlett-Packard garage is the birthplace of Silicon Valley. Visit the original house, shed, and garage at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto and see where William Hewlett and David Packard formed their venerable partnership. This historic site was restored to its original 1939 condition in 2005. For more information, visit http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/garage/.
Filoli House and Garden
Located in nearby Woodside, Filoli House was built in the early 20th century and is one of the most prestigious country estates from that period. In 1976, it was opened to the public as part of the National Trust for Historic Preservations. The mansion, which encompasses 36,000 square feet of living space and boasts a whopping 43 rooms, is located on more than 600 acres, surrounded by beautiful gardens. What's more, there's a 7-acre orchard along with terrific trails for hiking. Filoli House also has a big claim to fame. During the 1980s, it was photographed for the nighttime television soap opera "Dynasty." For more information, visit www.filoli.org.
If you're a tourist in San Francisco, you have to visit Pier 39. It's the law. This very dense section of Fisherman's Wharf overflows with every type of souvenir shop where you're sure to come away with a plenty of memorable mementos, a wealth of restaurants that are famous for great clam chowder and spectacular seafood entrees, and unique street performers that play music, do magic, and perform stand-up comedy. The highlight, of course, is the sea lions who, when it's not foggy, love to bask in the bright sunshine. For more information, visit http://www.pier39.com/.
From San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, it's a short boat ride to famous (and infamous) Alcatraz Island. You can take a tour of the prison that once held Public Enemy Number One, Al Capone. But there's more to Alcatraz, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, than jail. It's also where you'll find the West Coast's oldest lighthouse that's still in operation. Don't miss the natural side of Alcatraz, which boasts delightful gardens, cool tide pools, and unique birds. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/alcatraz/.
San Francisco Nightlife
The City by Bay has nightlife with a lot of life to it. World-class restaurants feature a wide array of cuisine, from Mexican to Asian to Indian. Top-notch theatres present eclectic local productions alongside classic Broadway hits. And if you like coffee, there are more cafés per capita, especially in North Beach, San Francisco's famed Italian neighborhood. Other neighborhoods with bustling activities include the Mission, Marina District, Chinatown, and the Fillmore. For more information, visit http://www.sanfrancisco.com/nightlife/.
Wine is the main event in Napa Valley. St. Supery Vineyards, Grgich Hills Estate, and Rutherford Hill are just some of the wonderful wineries frequented by wine experts and newcomers alike. Savor everything from wine tasting to winery tours to a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Plus, the mountains surrounding Napa are spectacular. Get the best views via a hot air balloon ride. When the sun goes down, consider going down to Historic Napa Mill in downtown Napa. Enjoy award-winning restaurants, first-rate shops, an art gallery, and the Napa Valley Opera House. For more information, visit http://www.napavalley.com/.
A delightful day at the beach awaits you less than an hour south at Santa Cruz beach. Old-fashioned fun is not far away at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which just happens to be the oldest amusement park in the state. Thrill rides, kid rides, and arcade games round out this well-rounded destination. Other attractions include laser tag, mini golf, and bowling. For more information, visit http://www.beachboardwalk.com/.