221 University Ave.

Throw it back to the golden age of cinema and check out one of the classic films screened at the historic Stanford Theatre.  Famous for its festivals of Alfred Hitchcock movies, Hollywood musicals, and even original 3D movies from the 1950’s, the theater provides a welcomed contrast to the modern innovations of the rest of Silicon Valley.  Besides the film itself, enjoy a Wurlitzer organ that gets played during intermission and a gallery with original movie posters.  Tickets are only $7.00 and shows usually run Friday through Saturday.


3590 Laguna Ave.

If you’ve assumed that the only celebrities in the Bay Area are the CEOs of various tech companies, think again! On Sundays at Cornelis Bol Park, you can meet the inspiration behind the character of “Donkey” in the Shrek franchise.  That’s right: the model for Shrek’s annoying, yet adorable, talking pal lives right here in Palo Alto, along with another friend, Niner.  The donkeys live in a private corral just behind the park, but they make visits on Sundays and special occasions. If donkeys aren’t your thing, the park also offers paths for biking or jogging.


221 University Ave.

Ever wondered how Silicon Valley began? Drop by this one-car garage to discover where William Hewlett and David Packard created their company, now famous for an impressive array of printers, scanners, and computers, as well as for inspiring the names of two different buildings in Stanford’s very own Engineering Quad.  So far, visitors can only take photos from the sidewalk, but even a quick viewing of the HP birthplace might motivate you just enough to finish (or start) that P-set.



One of the more puzzling Palo Alto secrets, Frenchman’s Tower is a mysterious two-story edifice made of red brick that was built in 1875.  Its lack of doors and bricked-over windows have led to incredible intrigue, which is proven by more than one hundred years of curious Stanford students and other visitors sneaking over its barbed wire enclosure and etching their initials into the bricks.  Originally built by Peter Coutts and eventually sold to Leland Stanford, the tower can be easily viewed from the street.


1431 Waverley Street

A slightly farther away alternative to a day of reflection at Windhover, the Elizabeth Gamble Garden offers a beautiful outdoor site to rest, relax, and recuperate.  It was created by the granddaughter of one of Procter & Gamble’s cofounders and donated to Palo Alto after her death in order to share her love of nature and gardening.  Now a popular destination for outdoor weddings, the garden is available to the public for free every day during daylight hours.

By: Georgina Grant

Photography: Ryder Kimball