Local Area

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Local Area


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3 College Sophomore

Local Area: Palo Alto/silicon valley are definitely not my fave, but tons of cool things are nearby.

San Francisco is awesome. Half Moon Bay is super awesome. Big Sur is awesome.

It's very easy to get stuck in the bubble. Try taking the Caltrain to the city, or join the outdoor recreation program so you can go camping in the more beautiful parts of California, or beg someone with a car to take you to the beach.

Go get off campus though! It's super important. Stanford is great but it's exhausting.

4 people found this useful Report
3 College Senior

Local Area: In Palo Alto itself, there isn't much for college students to do. Once you turn 21, there are a few bars and dance clubs that are really fun. Unfortunately, if you're not 21, Palo Alto doesn't offer much in the way of fun things to do. There are a lot of really good restaurants though, along with a couple nearby shopping malls. Also, Stanford offers a handy free shuttle service around town, in case you don't have a car. Mostly students stay on campus, which isn't too bad, considering there are parties, concerts, plays, an art museum, etc.

2 people found this useful Report
3 College Senior

Local Area: Palo Alto is not so much for the young people. Stanford feels like a bubble. You have to take a 1-hour train to get to the lively places, such as SF.

4 people found this useful Report
4 College Freshman

Local Area: Palo alto is a great town, I just wish I could get off campus more often!

5 Recent Alumnus

Local Area: Weather is great, friendly people, great ideas flowing around

2 people found this useful Report

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Student Author OverviewWhat's this?

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Students' feelings about Palo Alto range from neutral to unsatisfied. It’s a yuppie town with restaurants and activities to match. Students are happy with the food offerings and the safety of Palo Alto, but they don’t think of it as a college town. Campus is large and isolated, so you either need access to a car or the patience to endure public transportation in order to explore. Still, if you manage to get out of the bubble, the Bay Area has a lot to offer. There’s San Francisco, Berkeley, and San Jose, as well as many beautiful nature preserves. People also venture to Tahoe or Yosemite National Park.

As freshmen, most students are happy with the local atmosphere. Going into Palo Alto is a special treat reserved for a couple times a month. You’ll be happy eating most of your meals in the dining hall and finding your fun at campus events. Plus, the standard freshman experience involves trips to San Francisco, Tahoe, Yosemite, Half Moon Bay, and other areas. Despite the natural beauty and pristine cities of the Bay Area, many agree that the region is currently experiencing a downturn. Any time of day, you will notice huge amounts of traffic. The region is so nice that everyone wants to be here. There were plans to make BART (the region’s subway system) come all the way down and around the Bay. This would do wonders to help the traffic problems, but in Silicon Valley, and especially around Palo Alto, local pressure has prevented these developments.

Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. Stanford's campus is a whopping 8,180 acres, only a third of which is heavily developed.
  2. Prior to becoming a university, Stanford's land was a stock farm used for breeding horses; hence Stanford's nickname, "The Farm."
  3. In addition to 25,000 trees, a lake, and 670 buildings, Stanford's campus is also home to its very own 49-megawatt power plant.
  4. Stanford contains a winding network of underground steam tunnels. Most of the openings have been sealed off, but it is a popular undergrad pastime to find the few unsealed manholes and explore the system illegally at night.
  5. Stanford's land contains SLAC, a two-mile, linear accelerator operated by Stanford for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Notable Natives
  • Robert Frost - American poet
  • Sidney Howard - American playwright, screenwriter
  • Jerry Garcia - American musician, Grateful Dead
  • Allen Ginsberg - American poet
  • Teri Hatcher - Actress from "Desperate Housewives"
  • William Randolph Hearst - American newspaper magnate
  • Steve Jobs - Co-founder and CFO of Apple, Inc.
  • Ken Kesey - American author
  • Jack London - American author, "Call of the Wild"
  • George Lucas - "Star Wars" creator, producer, screenwriter
  • Alicia Silverstone - Actress known for "Clueless"
  • John Steinbeck - American writer; "The Grapes of Wrath," "East of Eden"
  • Jerry Yang - Co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo!
Local Slang
  • Frisco: A shortened word for San Francisco; locals neither say, nor approve of this phrase
  • Hella: "Very" or "really," as in, "These pants are hella tight."
Points of Interest
  • Arastradero Preserve
  • Cantor Arts Center
  • Castro Street
  • Digital DNA
  • Half Moon Bay
  • HP Garage
  • Matadero Creek
  • Palo Alto Art Center
  • Palo Alto City Hall
  • Santa Cruz boardwalk
Shopping Centers
  • Hillsdale Shopping Center
  • San Antonio Shopping Center
  • Stanford Shopping Center
  • Westfield Valley Fair Shopping Mall
Movie Theaters
Aquarius Movie Theater
430 Emerson St.
Palo Alto
(650) 266-9260
Movie Theaters
Century Cinemas 16
1500 N. Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View
(650) 961-3828
Movie Theaters
CineArts @ Palo Alto Square
3000 El Camino Real Bldg #6 at Page Mill Rd.
Palo Alto
(650) 493-0128
Major Sports Teams
  • Golden State Warriors: NBA
  • Oakland Athleticss: MLB
  • Oakland Raiders: NFL
  • San Francisco 49ers: NFL
  • San Francisco Giants: MLB
  • San Jose Earthquakes: Major League Soccer
  • San Jose Sharks: NHL
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • Los Angeles: : 6 hours
  • San Francisco: : 1 hour
  • San Jose, Calif.: : 30 minutes

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 70 responses

Very poor
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 65 responses

  • 8% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.
  • 20% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 25% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 45% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 3% Painfully remote.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 65 responses

  • 20% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.
  • 52% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 28% There aren't any nearby schools.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 65 responses

  • 46% Totally.
  • 49% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 5% No way.



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