Translating into ‘tall stick’ in Spanish, Palo Alto is named after a coastal redwood tree called ‘El Palo Alto’. A charter city in the San Francisco Bay area, it lies in the Santa Clara County in California. If you’ve come here to start finding rooms for rent in Palo Alto, you’ll be happy to know it’s a city filled as much with nature and wildlife, as it is with technology.

One of the principal cities of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto is also home to many natural habitats from forests to streams and marshes. Let’s dive into what the city has on offer!

Getting to know Palo Alto

Established by Leland Stanford Sr. on founding Stanford University, Palo Alto is now one of the most expensive US cities to live in, Home to the highest educated in the country. But being home to high-tech companies to Google, Tesla & Ford, that comes as no surprise, does it?

When you go looking for cheap rooms for rent in Palo Alto, you’ll be welcomed with moderate winters, and warm, dry summers. But if you hate the rain, you’ll love this place even more. Despite being in a ‘rain shadow’ region, it hardly gets any rain at all.

Top neighborhoods in Palo Alto

  • Professorville: Professorville gets is name from when Stanford University professors started building homes in the area in 1889. A tiny neighborhood, it is pedestrian friendly, close to the Town & Country shopping center and the Caltrain transit station.
  • Barron Park: Barron park is not at all ‘barren’ to say the least. It’s abundant with vegetation, creeks, and hidden bike paths that its residents enjoy with plenty of amenities close by.
  • Fairmeadow: A neighborhood featuring an urban suburban feel with a bunch of restaurants, cafes, parks and more, this spot is attractive to more homeowners and retirees.

University life in Palo Alto

Palo Alto is the birthplace of Stanford University, with the highest population of liberal educated Americans. To add to its universities, the city also has many branches of libraries that offers links to primary source databases with collections of magazines, newspapers, and other print articles, along with digital material from the California Digital Library.

Top Universities in Palo Alto

How transit-friendly is Palo Alto?

Walkability & cycling

Sidewalks are available on almost every city street in Palo Alto, making it a walker’s and biker’s paradise.

Palo Alto is known to pioneer the bicycle boulevard concept in the 1980s by prioritizing streets for cyclists and providing special traffic signals and diverters, along with a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over Matadero Creek.

Since 2003, Palo Alto has also received a Bicycle Friendly Community ‘Gold’ status from the League of American Bicyclists.


Home to two major freeways: Highway101 & Interstate 280, the city also has State Route 84 passing through. If you’re a car owner, you should know that there are no parking meters here. Yay! All municipal parking lots are free, but limited to 2-3 hours per weekday, from 8 am – 5 pm.


The city justifies its position as one of the most expensive cities in the US with the Palo Alto Airport, which is one of the busiest single-runway airports in the country. And its usual passengers are daily commuters who fly to work in their private aircrafts!

However, if you’re not one of them, the nearest commercial airports for the public are San Jose International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.


Train services are available via Caltrain in Palo Alto.

  • One of the regular stations in Palo Alto is in downtown (local, limited and express), which is known to be the second busiest (behind 4th and King in San Francisco) on the entire Caltrain line.
  • The other regular station is located at California Avenue, (local and limited).
  • Located beside Alma Street, The Stanford Station at Embarcadero Road, is used for occasional sports events at Stanford Stadium.


The Palo Alto Transit Center is the major bus hub for northern Santa Clara County.

  • The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) provides the primary bus service through Palo Alto with service to the south bay and Silicon Valley.
  • San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) provides service to San Mateo County to the north.
  • The Stanford University Free Shuttle (Marguerite) offers a supplementary bus service between Stanford University and the Palo Alto Transit Center.
  • The Palo Alto Free Shuttle (Crosstown and Embarcadero) offers services to major points in Palo Alto, including the main library, downtown, the Municipal Golf Course, the Palo Alto Transit Center, and both high schools.

Cultural activities in Palo Alto

  • The Palo Alto art center: See, make art, be creative and expand your community, as they say at the Palo Alto art center. Built in 1971 by the community, for the community, it is a place to freely engage with art. And of course, you can view its many exhibits on display all year round.
  • Pacific Art League: The Pacific Art League, built in 1921, promotes and trains emerging artists in the San Francisco peninsula. It currently enrolls over 2,500 students of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels in classes. And the faculty consists of 40+ experienced artists. Online galleries showcase several exhibits a year, including an annual anniversary show juried by local artists.
  • The Stanford Theatre: First opened in 1925, it served for decades as Palo Alto’s premier movie house, with classic films playing all year round. Its mission is to bring back the movie-going experience as opposed to watching films on the bus or in the living room with the many platforms we have now.

Historical spots in Palo Alto
  • St. Thomas Aquinas church: If you’re a history buff, take a trip to the oldest church in Palo Alto: The St. Thomas Aquinas Church. A registered historic landmark, its distinctive Carpenter Gothic Victorian style makes for a pretty good sight!
  • The Frenchman’s tower: Built in 1875 by a reclusive French refugee, Paulin Caperon, who fled France after the Franco-Prussian war, it’s an enigmatic tower that held the Frenchman’s library on the first floor, and a water tank on the second

The strangely out of place folly was originally built as part of a French immigrant’s irrigation system, but now it simply stands as a curiosity. – Atlas Obscura

  • Woman’s Club of Palo Alto: Founded by 24 women in the 1890s, the Woman’s Club of Palo Alto is a cultural, philanthropic, and social club. In 1898, it formed a circulating library and donated books, and that ultimately led to the first public library in Palo Alto! And In 1911, the club also worked for the California women’s suffrage movement.

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