Visiting the Bay Area and have a few days to spare? Or maybe you’re a local in need of a staycation? Palo Alto is a great city to explore and these 10 photogenic spots will surely impress your friends on Instagram. We had a perfect two night stay at Four Seasons Palo Alto and got a chance to visit all these gems during the weekend. Check out the list below and see my complete itinerary map at the bottom of the page!
1.) Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto
2050 University Ave, East Palo Alto, CA 94303
The Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley is a perfect place to stay while in Palo Alto. The hotel is right off the 101 freeway and is central to all the spots on this list. Upon check in, you are greeted inside the newly designed lobby with a glass of champagne. We stayed in the Four Seasons Executive Suite and it was simply luxurious. The corner suite had a great surrounding view of the city and Bay as well as the beautiful pool area. The bathroom is stunning in full marble with bathtub and shower. The suite also features many areas in each room for a place to sit and do some work. The luxury doesn’t stop there, the Four Seasons Palo Alto is also the first hotel to partner with Plum, an in-room table-top appliance that preserves, chills and serves wine by the glass.
During our two night stay, we had the pleasure of dining at the Four Season’s Quattro on the first floor. You can’t go wrong with anything you order on the brunch menu, but our absolute favorite of the meal was the Creme Brûlée French Toast. On our last morning, we decided to sleep in and order room service. Their in-room breakfast menu offers a great variety and we ordered classics like the Belgium waffles and Eggs Benedict. We were also pleasantly surprised that they offered Juice Served Here pressed juice and that certainly helped us get some energy to enjoy the rest of our day in Palo Alto.
If you get the pleasure of staying at the Four Seasons Palo Alto, don’t forget to check out their awesome pool area, spa services, and the cafe/bar across the lobby, [esc]. This hotel certainly provides its guests with all the opportunities to have a perfect and restful stay. There’s a photo op at every corner from the lobby to your hotel room.
456 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
HanaHaus is located on Palo Alto’s University Ave and is a great spot for you to hang out with friends, do some work, and grab a great cup of coffee from Blue Bottle. The patio area at the entrance is perfect for an Instagram snap with the stunning columns and archways leading to the main entrance of the building. The string lights also add a coziness to the surroundings and will sure to impress your Instagram following! Further inside, the tiles on the ground make for a perfect backdrop for Instagram-ing your coffee, too!
Pro tip: Order the New Orleans coffee from Blue Bottle for a morning pick me up before setting off on your adventures!
3.) The Stanford Theatre
221 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Further down the road on University Avenue is the Stanford Theatre. The theatre, which opened in 1925, is a wonderful date spot that now shows classic old movies like the Wizard of Oz. The gorgeous theatre lights up at night and is an old gem in Palo Alto. Snapping a photo of the theatre at night really brings you back to that era when it opened and it truly lights up the surrounding area.
Pro tip: Check their website for movies that are currently showing and grab tickets to end the night with dinner and a movie!
4.) Arizona Cactus Garden
450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
After exploring University Avenue and its offerings, make your way to Stanford University. It may be an university, but has many spots to explore and perfect for photo-taking. Start out at the Arizona Cactus Garden! It’s a beautiful garden with dozens and dozens of different cactus plants. Follow all the paths and take in the great variety of plants here. Each area of the garden is a photo opportunity that you can’t miss!
Pro Tip: The Stanford Mausoleum is a few yards away and is a gorgeous piece of architecture you can’t miss while in the area!
5.) Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts
328 Lomita Dr, Stanford, CA 94305
Not only does Stanford University have a cactus garden, but it also houses a magnificent museum with free entrance! The museum is an amazing sight to see not only before walking in, but the front room as well. It features a breathtaking amount of marble from the staircase to the columns. Aesthetically pleasing to the eye and perfect for your Instagram shot. Leave a good hour or two to explore this museum and take in all the incredible art pieces. Each room houses different art pieces and each one will bring out your creativity that you can showcase in your photos!
Pro tip: Tours are also free and there is a cafe here as well if you would like to grab lunch!
6.) Hoover Tower
550 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
It will be hard to miss the Hoover Tower while at Stanford University, but did you know you could take an elevator to the observation deck at the top? For a small fee of $4 ($3 for seniors and children), you can visit the top of the tower for a beautiful view of Stanford and surrounding Palo Alto area. A guide will escort you to the top and give you some history of the tower itself. No matter the weather, the view is perfect for a quick Instagram shot. Add some dimension and cast some cool shadows for your pictures!
Pro tip: There are signs that say no photography, but they only apply to the front room when entering the Hoover Tower. You are free to take as many pictures as you would like at the top!
7.) Stanford GSB Artwork
655 Knight Way, Stanford, CA 94305
There are two standout pieces near the Stanford Graduate School of Business: Peter Wegner’s Monument to Change as it Changes (top picture) and Ways to Change (bottom picture). The first piece is located in front of the Knight Management Center next to the cafeteria. The wall is covered in multi-colored paint cards that flip around to create different patterns and shapes. It’s a cool piece that is relaxing to watch and pretty infatuating. The second piece, Ways to Change, is located across from the TA Associates Café a few yards away. It’s features a massive black panel with adverbs that can be used to modify the word “change”. The words will blink and create visual patterns.
Pro tip: You can park your car at the Graduate School of Business parking structure for a small fee.
8.) Palo Alto Art Center
1313 Newell Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94303
The Palo Alto Art Center is a small unique space that has exhibitions, art classes, and workshops. One piece that stands out is the art installation by Patrick Dougherty located behind the art center which can be seen from the main road. The piece, called “Stickworks,” uses techniques similar to birds and basket makers. It’s an incredible art installation that is fun to explore.
Pro tip: Sign up for workshops like a ceramics class online!
9.) Facebook HQ
1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, CA 94025
While staying in the heart of the Silicon Valley, what better place to visit than the headquarters of the biggest social media platform in the world? You can’t tour the inside of Facebook HQ unless you have a friend or family member that works there, but you can take a photo for your Instagram with their “Like” sign outside before entering the parking lot.
Pro tip: The sign is located before entering the parking lot. Park nearby and walk to the sign using the crosswalks!
1911 Landings Dr, Mountain View, CA 94043
Another Silicon Valley giant located right next to Palo Alto is Google’s Headquarters. Like Facebook, there is no official tour to the public unless you know a Google employee. However, there is a public visitor’s center that features a bunch of android statues as well as a merchandise store. The Google bikes are limited to Google Employee use, but it makes a great prop to pose with for your Instagram!
Pro tip: The visitor center is closed by 5pm, but you can pose with the statues outside anytime.