Palo Alto is a bustling, small city on the peninsula south of San Francisco. It is adjacent to Stanford University and home to hundreds of Silicon Valley technology companies, ranging from VMware and Hewlett-Packard to tiny startups operating in garages.Palo Alto means tall tree in Spanish, and in this case refers to an aging redwood tree at the north end of the city. The 1061-year-old Coast Redwood, which stands 110 feet (34 m) high and has a base diameter of 90 inches (229 cm), marks a campsite for the Portola Expedition Party of 1769.Accessible by train, bus or automobile from nearby San Francisco (about 25 miles/40 km) and San Jose (about 20 miles/32 km) airports. US 101 is the primary highway access, although I-280 also passes through the western edge of Palo Alto. Palo Alto Municipal Airport, which is a few miles from the center of the city, serves private aircraft. Across the Embarcadero road from the south access gate of the airport is the Palo Alto Tech Center where the city runs a free shuttle to downtown and the Caltrain station.The cheapest way to get to Palo Alto from the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) was to take SamTrans bus KX, but this line no longer travels to Palo Alto. It appears a connection in Redwood City is required.An alternative is to take BART from SFO to Millbrae (via San Bruno on weekdays), and then take Caltrain from Millbrae to Palo Alto, which will cost $9.50. Or take the KX (or another bus) to a CalTrain station.From the San Jose International Airport (SJC), you first take the free shuttle bus #10 to get to the Santa Clara Caltrain station. From there you either take Caltrain, for $4.50, or take VTA bus 522 or 22 to get to Palo Alto for $2.Bus service runs through most of the major areas within the city. Routes are concentrated around El Camino Real and University Avenue. The Palo Alto Shuttle is free, and serves the otherwise unserved Embarcadero Road corridor, as well as the VA Hospital.Bike lanes are nearly everywhere and make riding convenient and safe. One of the most prominent lanes runs down Bryant Street and takes you from South Palo Alto to the downtown district located in North Palo Alto.Automobiles are definitely the most convenient way to get around, and parking is plentiful everywhere except the downtown area. Municipal parking is complimentary and fairly well dispersed, but usually limited to 2 hours during the business day.Palo Alto (University Ave.) and California Avenue are stops along the Bay Area train route that goes to San Francisco known as Caltrain . Both stations also have free shuttles (The Marguerite), which go to the Stanford University campus.Palo Alto’s main shopping district is on University Avenue, between El Camino Real and Middlefield Road. It is a great long street of shopping, coffee spots, eateries and outdoor dining. Influenced by a college and upscale tech demographic, there is a variety of stores available from the local shop, to a unique designer store. A second, smaller shopping area is on California Avenue between El Camino Real and Alma.Palo Alto enjoys a very low crime rate, although visitors should take basic precautions against petty crime as with any tourist hotspot. Palo Alto’s downtown is home to a small number of homeless people and beggars, but they are much less visible than their counterparts in Berkeley. To the north of Palo Alto, the city of East Palo Alto and the unincorporated area of North Fair Oaks suffer from high crime rates and should be avoided or traversed quickly.Be careful to check for ticks after hiking in fields in the Bay Area. There is a high rate of Lyme disease transmission in the Bay Area. If a bull’s eye rash develops at the tick bite site, immediately seek medical assistance and treatment with antibiotics.Downtown Palo Alto, along University Avenue, has free WiFi.Palo Alto is a good base of operations for visiting both the Silicon Valley and San Francisco, as it is halfway between that city and San Jose. Trips to San Francisco on Caltrain leave frequently and stop just south of downtown. The ride lasts about an hour, and Caltrain’s rush-hour Baby Bullets travel the distance even faster. Check out Caltrain schedules , and make sure to buy a ticket before boarding.To the west, the beautiful Coastal Range provides excellent biking, hiking, and other outdoor sports. Taking Page Mill Road due west will get you, eventually, to Highway 1 on the beautiful peninsula coast (although Highways 84 and 92 are preferable, especially the latter). And Santa Cruz is accessible from Highway 17, Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35 to Highway 9), or beautiful Highway 1.If you’re touring universities, the University of California, Berkeley is just across the bay. Take US-101 north through San Francisco and across the Bay Bridge to I-580 north, exiting University Avenue. Or by public transport, take the Stanford Marguerite shuttle to CalTrain and ride the Caltrain to Millbrae. At Millbrae, switch to BART and ride to Downtown Berkeley. (See 511.org for more).
Airport: PAO Palo Alto Airport of Santa Clara County Cities in United States
Country: United States