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palo alto and surrounding area

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North Carolina
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palo alto and surrounding area

I'm going to Palo Alto with my daughter in October on business, but will have two days to "play". Any good suggestions of what to do? Thinking about going to SF one day. Should I drive in? A good friend says not to take the Cal train because of the area we'll end up in. Is there parking available? Second day, would like to see the Pacific coast. Suggestions of where to go? Thanks.

Sunnyvale...
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1. Re: palo alto and surrounding area

What would you two enjoy? outdoors? theater? clubs? music? shopping? tourist stuff? Chinese/Mexican/Italian/Irish food? ???? You will have a car with you?

Caltrain's not bad. It's an especially good idea on a weekday when parking will be a pain; and traffic and navigation may give you anguish.

Caltrain's SF terminus is at 4th and Townsend, a couple blocks from the PacBell baseball stadium and maybe a five-ten minute walk past the Moscone Convention Center to Union Square. If you walk along 4th St, it's fine, maybe a little dusty, but that's what you get in an urban environment. Instead of the 15-20 minute walk, a taxi between Union Square and the train station might cost about $5-7. If you take the train, be sure to review its schedule. It's somewhat frequent during the day, but trickles out to maybe one every two hours from 7pm to maybe 1am. It can be a lousy way to get marooned. Taxi back to Palo Alto will run about $100.

If you stray more than a block from 4th St, the neighborhood gets a bit sketchy, yes. There's no reason to stray. Once you get to Market and cross it, make a beeline for Union Square. Straying from that path will get you into the drug-deal-land Tenderloin or a not so interesting business center. Beyond the drugs and immediately physically intimidating areas that you've just avoided, there's going to be street people and racy elements in almost all parts of SF. The 1+ hr walk between Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf is kind of interesting. You could of course, catch a Cable Car ride too.

The coast. Take a look at a map. If you take Hwy 92 from Palo Alto to Half Moon Bay, October fills the path with pumpkins and other crowd-attracting colorful stuff.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: palo alto and surrounding area

Caltrain will take you to Fourth and King in San Francisco (last stop, all the northbound trains will go there), it's a block from the baseball park and hundreds of fans take Caltrain to the games all the time (home season is over now, though, so the danger of being puked on by a drunken fan is past). Also hundreds of people commute to the city every morning and evening on Caltrain. There is no reason to avoid this area, although the blocks going north between the station/ballpark and Market Street are not the most scenic or happening and it gets a bit run down especially as you pass under the Bay Bridge approach.

Instead, I would advise walking up King Street past the ballpark (take a tour if you like and one is available), to the Embarcadero along the bay, there are several pieces of sculpture to see and you will pass under the Bay Bridge as it soars overhead. Then you will come to the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street, where you can get a bite to eat from oysters to hamburgers. Then you can take the F-Market antique trolley line to Fisherman's Wharf in one direction or the Castro in the other. Or take the California Street cable car to Chinatown and/or the top of Nob Hill (Grace Cathedral, Fairmount and Mark Hopkins hotels and more). If you don't want to walk, there are always cabs at the Caltrain Station, along Townsend Street, the other side from King, which will take you anywhere you want to go.

Parking is very scarce in San Francisco and you will miss a lot if you attempt to drive around the city. When I drive in, rarely now, I find an unrestricted parking space and leave the car there for the rest of the day, walking and/or taking public transit to get around.

For the coast, well, you could take Page Mill Road west under I-280, and up over the top of the ridge to Alpine Road, down past Heritage Grove of redwoods to Pescadero Road out to the coast, but this is a very steep winding narrow route and you would possibly be cursing me the whole way.

Instead again, take 280 to 92 up over the ridge and down to Half Moon Bay where you can get a bite to eat. Then head south along the coast towards Santa Cruz. On the way you can visit the elephant seals at Año Nuevo (you need reservations) and see redwoods at Henry Cowell, just outside of Santa Cruz. Go to the boardwalk at Santa Cruz. Take Hwy 17 or Hwy 9 back over the ridge to the 85 freeway back to 280.

For Caltrain, you will need to buy a ticket from the machines at the station before you board. You will want a "day pass" to zone 1.

Caution, the doors are about to close.

San Mateo...
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3. Re: palo alto and surrounding area

Or you can take Altrain to Millbrae and then hop over to the BART which will take you to Union Square.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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4. Re: palo alto and surrounding area

If you want some ideas for Palo Alto:

I love the Stanford Mall - great place to walk around and beautiful with all the flowers.

Also, how about walking around Stanford's campus? I love the campus - flowers, water fountains, palm trees, great architecture, what's not to like! And don't miss the gorgeous chapel there - all the visitors I ever took there loved it!

Shoreline Park in Mountain View is fun if you want to go to a park - my favorite park in the area.

Downtown Palo Alto is neat - at least drive through, but I would recommend walking around and getting an ice cream or something to eat (pizza my heart or taxi's would probably be fun places to eat for your daughter).

As far as the Coast goes, you don't "need" a day if you are just wanting to drive down it a bit and make a few stops. Depends on what you are looking to do. You can always make a detour on your way up or down from SF.

South Carolina
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5. Re: palo alto and surrounding area

Another idea to experience Palo Alto - if you will be there Thursday - Sunday evening. Dine in one of the many restaurants/cafes downtown. Then take in a double feature at the Stanford Theatre. They play old classics. Between shows, an organist performs. It is well worth your time. And the refreshments are a bargain!

6. Re: palo alto and surrounding area

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