Referred to as the Birthplace of Silicon Valley and home to a leading research university, it’s no surprise that Palo Alto is considered one of the most educated zip codes in the country.
The allure of Stanford University and job opportunities at companies like Tesla, Hewlett-Packard and nearby Facebook have built a diverse, affluent population that attracts commuters on weekdays and curious visitors on weekends. Home to more than 7,000 businesses, this is the economic center of Silicon Valley.
This 26 square-mile city stretches from the San Francisco Bay to Skyline Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Its varied terrain offers a unique opportunity to be in the bustle of a busy downtown one minute and on a hiking trail the next.
The city’s historical and cultural identity is much entwined with its most famous landmark, Stanford University. The university opened its doors in 1891 and was in need of a college town to support it—so began the development of Palo Alto. As both university and city grew, it wasn’t long before the area was swarming with students, professors, entrepreneurs and commuters, much as it is today. One of the city’s most notable modern day residents is Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.
You can best feel the buzz of the city when you stroll University Avenue, a popular downtown area with many recognizable brand names as well as independent boutiques and one-of-a-kind dining destinations. Notable favorites include Nola, a cajun New Orleans-themed hotspot; Nobu, a chic Japanese food experience; and Il Fornaio, authentic Italian dining at its finest. Due to the influx of college students and countless food and drink options, Palo Alto has a much more active nightlife than surrounding cities on the Peninsula.
With 36 city-owned parks and 13 neighborhoods to choose from, Palo Alto is more than industry and commerce. It is home to a renowned public school system, recognized for high standardized test scores and the quality of its advanced classes at both public high schools. Residents also have close access to world-renowned healthcare facilities and doctors at Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
One-third of the city is dedicated to open space resulting in a community that is as committed to its environment as it is to its cultural and educational offerings. Popular hiking trails include the Stanford Dish, Adobe Creek Loop and trails within the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve. Even more unique to the city is Foothills Park, a 1,400-acre preserve exclusively open to city residents and their accompanied guests.
Palo Alto sits in the northern part of Santa Clara County, 35 miles south of San Francisco and 14 miles north of San Jose. Its close proximity to major highways and bridges, make it an ideal homebase for accessing the wider San Francisco Bay Area. It has a population of 67,178, according to a 2017 U.S. Census estimate. The city is divided into 13 neighborhoods:
- Palo Alto Hills
- Green Acres
- Barron Park
- South Palo Alto
- College Terrace
- Old Palo Alto
- Green Gables
- Crescent Park
- Community Center