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Palo Alto

Welcome to Palo Alto

As part of both the Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Metropolitan Area, Palo Alto is a city with a foot in both worlds, in more ways than one. Often referred to as “Birthplace of the Silicon Valley”, Palo Alto is often defined by its technology sector and innovation and as home of Stanford University. However, it is also a city named after a 1,000 year old redwood tree. It is a city that honors its cultural roots through the preservation of historic sites within the city and miles of undeveloped natural habitat around it. The citizenry of Palo Alto appreciate this distinction and work hard to maintain it through various community groups and public works projects. Their hard work has paid off, making Palo Alto one of the premier communities in the area.

Lay of the Land

Thirty-five miles south of San Francisco and 14 miles north of San Jose, Palo Alto is within Santa Clara County but borders nearby San Mateo County. The city is also bordered by Mountain View to the south, Menlo Park to the north, and the Skyline Ridge of the coastal mountains on the west. Palo Alto is located on a 26 square mile plot of land, with over a third of the total surface area being wide open and undeveloped. Being a technological hub, Palo Alto has predictably high median household incomes and median home prices. The average home value for the area is well over 1 million dollars while the median household income is $121,074.


Its strategic location means that Palo Alto is accessible by several major surface routes. These include Interstate 280, Highway 101, and Highway 84. It also benefits from having dedicated light rail stations relatively close. It also houses one of the busiest CalTrain commuter stations in the area. The CalTrain commuter train services run from just north in San Francisco to as far south as Gilroy. Intercity transportation is made possible by local bus lines, numerous walking and bike paths, and internal shuttle services.

Local Highlights

As a focal point for the economy of Silicon Valley economy, Palo Alto is home to over 7,000 different businesses employing an estimated 98,000 people. While Hewlett-Packard is the name traditionally associated with Silicon Valley and Palo Alto, numerous technology based firms also reside in the Stanford Research Park. The city is also home to a burgeoning bioresearch industry as well as serving with nearby Menlo Park as a hotspot for venture capitalists. However, the city also maintains numerous retail, dining, and cultural sectors for residents and visitors alike.

Sand Hill Road is the international center of the Venture Capital community providing funding for startups around the world. The earliest Venture Capital companies in the world sprung up in Palo Alto including Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Kleiner Perkins funding startups including Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple.

From a cultural perspective, Palo Alto is most notably home to Stanford University. The university provides a plethora of activities for visitors and resident alike, including the Hoover Tower, Memorial Church, Cantor Arts Center, and Sculpture Garden. The town also houses a collection of professionally maintained gardens, including the Sunset Magazine Gardens, the Gamble Garden, and the Filoli Estate & Gardens. Finally, many people also enjoy visiting the Stanford Linear Accelerator, where the university manages a government owned particle physics research lab.

Palo Alto features four distinct shopping locations: Stanford Shopping Center, Downtown Shopping District, the California Avenue Shopping Area, and Town and Country Village. Each of these areas has its own unique ambiance and array of retail locations. Additionally, each shopping location has a collection of local restaurants and cafes scattered around the area. While most of the eateries in the area are local establishments, Palo Alto does have its fair share of chain restaurants. Most of the nightlife in the area is centered around the dining establishments and eating. Many of the restaurants in the area maintain extremely late hours, often staying open well past midnight in and around University Avenue.

Finally, Palo Alto has an astoundingly large park system, with over 4,500 acres of dedicated land spread out over a total of 28 city parks. Many of these parks include basic amenities such as playgrounds and picnic areas as well as dedicated walking trails. However, they also include specialized facilities such as tennis courts, basketball courts, community gardens, skate bowls, par courses, community gardens, and aquatic activities support.


Palo Alto has an amazing school district with a proven track record and history of distinction within the area. The district currently contains 12 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and two high schools. It also provides adult education services, early childhood services, and educational services to critically and chronically ill children at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Finally, Palo Alto is home to over a dozen specialized private schools. These schools reflect the needs of a culturally diverse community and focus primarily on bilingual educational programs and culturally specific curriculum.