The first time that I visited the West Coast I found a small haven that I instantly fell in love with. It was a town that just took my heart and it made me realise that I could picture myself living here one day. Fast forward 4 years to 2017 and I want to introduce you to Palo Alto.
Calling Palo Alto a “small town” isn’t really correct. It’s larger than a town, but not quite on the city-scale. It’s 30 minutes south of San Francisco and is the birth place of many tech companies, such as Hewlett Packard, SurveyMonkey, and Groupon. I guess I shouldn’t leave out that Palo Alto is also the home of Stanford University, the world’s 2nd best place to study. It’s a place that gets it’s name from the 1,077 year old sequoia tree that still grows there, and is the Spanish translation of the term “tall tree”.
But it’s not the tall trees or tech companies that has me loving Palo Alto. It’s the small-town feel and the ability to find something to eat from a different corner of the world every 20 feet, because let’s face it, a day out isn’t complete without the smells and feels of tons of different foods that you can’t eat because of your commitment to your current no-carbs, no-sugar, no-fun, healthy eating.
Despite that, I took some time out last week and ventured towards Palo Alto. It was rainy, cold and dreary which meant my first stop had to be coffee at my much loved Blue Bottle Coffee. It’s housed in an old cinema with so much character, a beautiful fountain and plenty of outdoor seating in the courtyard, more suited to a summers day than the one I arrived on, but hey-ho, I wasn’t going to let a little rain put me off! I ordered my coffee* and took my seat outside, ready to enjoy some people-watching and Instagram-stalking.
*The cookie accidentally landed on my plate and it would have been rude to turn it away..
Having been to Blue Bottle a couple of times now, I know that what ever you choose from their simple menu, you won’t be disappointed. They have even partnered up with the super-tasty San Francisco-based chocolate company, Tcho, and produced their new dark chocolate creation. Now, dark chocolate isn’t my first choice but if you like coffee-flavoured chocolate, you need to try their award-winning Mokaccino, another of the pair’s masterpieces. If you ever get the chance to try any of Tcho’s chocolate, whether it’s one of their pairings with Blue Bottle Coffee or not, go for it, you’ll never look back!
And so the rest of my day consisted of, #1, drying out from the sudden down pour (because said person is too stubborn to carry an umbrella), and #2 wandering the many shops that the Stanford Shopping Centre has to offer. I can hear you cry: a shopping centre on a university campus? I know! Stanford is a university known for being one that boasts it’s many well-off students, but I’m sure a high-end shopping centre isn’t top of the list of any students weekend plans, right? *rant over* Aside from that, I love it. Mainly because it’s my closest source of Kate Spade-loveliness, but it’s also home to many other well-known stores such as Michael Kors, All Saints, Cartier and Tiffany & Co., as well as everyday stores like Macy’s, Lush, Sephora, Apple, and J.Crew.
Although I ventured to Palo Alto on what started as a pretty miserable day, it turned out quite sunny but still cold (for California!). I managed to wonder around, take in some sunshine and admire the many different shops and scenery on offer.
One of my most recent finds, (and now favourite shops!) is Anthropologie. Why has it taken me so long to find this beauty?! They have so many great products: plants to cutlery, bed sheets to makeup, they have it all. I think I managed to spend a good 30 minutes browsing their store, with probably about 20 of those smelling their many different scented candles. I am proud of myself that I managed to exit the store having parted with less than $10 of my (D’s) money on two gorgeous monogrammed mugs, but having mentally spent hundred’s more on blankets, jewelry, jumpers, and shoes. I made a promise to myself that I will be back in the future, madly waving my first pay check at every sales person who will make eye contact with me!
If you are wanting to see everything Palo Alto has to offer, you definitely won’t be able to do it in a single day. F A C T. There is so much to see, so many miles to walk, and so many places to stop for coffee/cake/drinks/pretty things that you will soon run out of time. To make the most of the many things it has to offer, you need to spend a couple of days there to take it all in. There are plenty of different places to stay in the area, ranging from the top-of-the-top, Four Season Silicon Valley to the more wallet-friendly bed and breakfasts, such as Dinah’s Garden Hotel (you need to check out their themed rooms!).
Luckily, Palo Alto is on my doorstep and can safely say that I will be spending a lot more time there, exploring the quirky cafes and to find the hidden treasures that I am sure I have so far missed!
Have you been to Palo Alto? Do you love finding those places that you never want to leave? Are there any other places in NorCal that you recommend I explore? I’m open to suggestions!