Located just 30 miles outside of San Francisco, Palo Alto is found between Stanford University and Silicon Valley. An accumulation of academics and entrepreneurs, I was unsure what to expect from this intimate Californian city, arriving with limited expectations.
Instantly, Palo Alto felt like a neighbourhood village from the film, ‘Home Alone’. Beautiful long streets connect block after block with children playing as the sun falls, painting the streets a golden haze.
There are two major areas in Palo Alto with the Epiphany hotel centrally located just off Emerson. Architecturally, I was in heaven. Just three years old, the hotel is still incredibly new and is designed like a piece of art both outside and in. With incredibly helpful and attentive staff, we couldn’t have asked for better place to stay. Balcony views over a bustling street accompanied a huge bedroom on the 5th floor; it’s safe to say we weren’t ready to leave.
It’s clear that Palo Alto was never going to be the ‘coffee hub’ of America. Third wave coffee is yet to reach the outer districts of California yet even still, there are a couple of places worth checking out. Coupa café is a fun, local spot and while by design, it’s much like the major coffee chains across America, they serve a decent breakfast with a great atmosphere. A café isn’t just about the coffee and I’m starting to appreciate the value in following where the locals go and accepting how they take their coffee!
Blue Bottle Coffee is definitely where the quality reaches its peak in Palo Alto. Head 30 miles towards the coast and the coffee scene in San Francisco is a whole different ballgame but in Palo Alto, this is where you’d find me. While I wasn’t a fan of their filter options, they make really good espresso-based coffees and I spent many afternoons in the beautiful old courtyard space.
If flavoursome food is first on your city-guide then you’re certainly in luck. I can really recommend two restaurants in particular: Resposado and Pizzeria Delfina. Resposado serve some of the best Mexican dishes I have ever had and Delfina is a great pizza spot, with only a handful of restaurants spread around San Francisco and its surroundings.
After a few days in Palo Alto it was time to head into the city yet there’s something so beautifully unique about this place that I can’t quite describe. Visiting the States yet staying somewhere smaller and more intimate was a great experience as I tend to find the high rise buildings, chains and billboards overwhelming. With old, welcoming, historic neighbourhoods and a lack of tourists, I can highly recommend spending some time away from the hustle and bustle and exploring another side of California.