The Palo Alto area offers recreational opportunities for almost every interest, from the casual walker to those looking for serious hiking, biking, golfing, tennis and other activities.
One of the most popular walks and runs on the entire Peninsula is known as The Dish, named after the large old radiotelescope used for research in the Stanford foothills and visible from throughout the area.
Rain or shine, you'll find hundreds of locals and Stanford students walking or jogging the trail.
The paved trail climbs the hills and offers spectacular views of the Peninsula, the campus and the coastal mountains. On a clear day visitors can see San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and the East Bay. The main loop trail is 3.5 miles and takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to walk.
There are three gated entrances. Most visitors use the Stanford Ave. gate, located where Stanford Ave. intersects with Juniperro Serra Blvd. Parking is allowed on Stanford Ave., but be sure not to park on the side streets where Stanford residential parking permits are required or you'll be ticketed. The Gerona gate is near Campus Dr. and Lake Lagunita, but there is no parking. The Alpine gate is near Interstate 280 on Alpine Rd. at Piers Lane. The trail from the Alpine gate intersects with the main loop trail near the big dish and adds about a mile and a half to the full loop.
The Dish area is open from sunrise to sunset (from 6 or 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 to 8 p.m. depending on the season.) No dogs or bicycles are allowed.
Stanford security staffs a small gatehouse at the Stanford Ave. main gate and patrols the trails.
The Baylands Nature Preserve
The Baylands protects some of the last remaining salt-marsh and mud-flat habitats on the West Coast. It offers excellent birding year round. Wintertime high tides bring bird watchers from around the world. In the spring and fall, the Baylands is a prime stopover or destination for birds traveling on the Pacific route of their migration flyway.
Located at the end of Embarcadero Road, offers miles of flat walking trials that allow visitors to explore the area's extensive wildlife habitat. A staffed visitor's center has exhibits and a boardwalk extending into the bay and the nearby duck pond is a fun place for younger kids.
The Pearson-Arastradero Preserve , in the foothills beyond Stanford, has a small unstaffed visitor's center with exhibits and a network of easy trails ideal for one- to two-hour hikes.
Casual walkers with an interest in history and architecture will enjoy one of several historical walks around Palo Alto residential neighborhoods that date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Historic preservation is a big part of Palo Alto's culture, and historic home tours take place a number of times each year.
Palo Alto Stanford (PAST) Heritage is a nonprofit organization supporting the preservation of the historic architecture, neighborhoods, and character of the greater Palo Alto-Stanford area through informed citizen involvement and education.
Recreational Area and Wildlife Sanctuary
Many people are surprised to discover beautiful Shoreline Lake on the doorstep of sunny Mountain View. Not only is Shoreline a safe and expansive waterway for many water sports, including sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and canoeing, it is also a wildlife sanctuary and home to many rare, migratory birds, such as the burrowing owl. As you cruise the lake (no motorized craft are allowed, due to the fragile ecosystem which supports a host of native wildlife) you may come across migratory birds nesting on the island in the middle of the lake, but please don't disembark or disturb the wildlife.
Proximity to the Bay
Shoreline Lake, unbeknownst to many, is entirely manmade. Saltwater is pumped in from the bay, which is just a brief walk from the 50 acre lake's shores, and can be viewed from several vantage spots along the pathways that traverse Shoreline's banks.
People are encouraged to use our extensive rolling grasslands for picnicking, but due to the sensitive nature of the parklands, barbequing, ball games and pets are not permitted within the park grounds.
On the outside of the park there is a dog run where you can exercise your canine pet. On the fringes of the park there is a designated kite flying area where you may find a plethora of exotic and colorful kites soaring in the skies each week.
If you get hungry during your visit to Shoreline, never fear, there is the Lakeside Café, which is open daily from 8:30am – 7:30pm (varies by season). The Lakeside Café, as the name suggests, is located on the edge of Shoreline Lake, and also regularly hosts functions. Hot and cold sandwiches, salads, pasta, desserts, snacks, hot and cold beverages, including espresso, beer and wine are available.
Are you looking to have catered party, company or team-building function in a beautiful lakeside setting? We cater to all needs. Our banquet room and patio eating area are nestled comfortably on the edge of Shoreline Lake, and we offer a varied and delicious menu for all tastes. Our team-building events feature a program from which you can choose water or land-based activities.
Equipment Rentals and PFD Requirements
A day at Shoreline would not be the same without the added treat of the rental of one of our many varied watercraft available from the Shoreline Aquatic Center. Just make a bee line straight to the boathouse and you can choose from pedalboats, canoes, kayaks, rowboats , or for the more experienced person, a windsurfer or a sailboat . Equipment is rented on an hourly basis, and PFDs (lifejackets) are compulsory for everyone, and provided free of charge with the equipment rental or for a small charge for those providing their own watercraft. If you don't feel like going out on the water, bicycles are also available for rental, with safety helmets provided free of charge. A driver's license or credit card is required with your rental. The windsurfing and sailing equipment is available only to qualified sailors, and Shoreline Aquatic Center offers private and group lessons to interested parties. Private lessons are available all year, group lessons are available from February-October.
For those with sailboats there is a fee of $6 per day. Windsurfers and other types of craft are $5 per day.
Grass Rigging Area
One of the many attractions of Shoreline Lake is the large grassy area, alongside the beach, just outside of the café, which is a designated rigging and launching area for windsurfers.
Restrooms, Lockers and Showers
Restrooms are located along the pathway to the entrance of the café and boathouse. Just outside the restrooms are pay lockers for everyday use and cost $2.00 each use. Freshwater showers are situated near the grass rigging area adjacent to the café.
Shoreline is a great place to practice because the winds are very predictable. They are lighter in the mornings (5-8 knots until about 12:30pm) and gradually build in the afternoons increasing to 15-18 knots by 3:00pm. Typically this is the wind pattern March through September.
Silicon Shores Corp.
Shoreline Aquatic Center 3160 N. Shoreline Blvd. Mountain View, CA 94043
General Driving Directions to the Shoreline Aquatic Center and Lakeside Café
3160 N. Shoreline Blvd. Mountain View, CA 94043
On the 101 heading northbound from San Jose, Sunnyvale or Cupertino take the Shoreline Blvd. exit and make a right at the stoplight onto N. Shoreline Blvd. heading north/east. As you continue on N. Shoreline Blvd you will pass through the gatehouse and enter the Shoreline Regional Park. Continue on Shoreline Blvd. as it winds through the park, past the golf course, and Rengstorff House. Follow the signs to the Lakeside Café/Sailing Center. Shoreline Blvd. will dead-end in our parking lot!
Coming on the 85 northbound, take the Shoreline Blvd. exit and make a right at the stoplight onto N. Shoreline Blvd. heading north/east. As you continue on N. Shoreline Blvd you will pass through the gatehouse and enter the Shoreline Regional Park. Continue on Shoreline Blvd. as it winds through the park, past the golf course, and Rengstorff House. Follow the signs to the Lakeside Café/Sailing Center. Shoreline Blvd. will dead-end in our parking lot!
On the 101 heading southbound from San Francisco, Burlingame, San Mateo, Foster City, Redwood City, Menlo Park or Palo Alto take the Shoreline Blvd. exit and make a left onto N. Shoreline Blvd. heading north/east. As you continue on N. Shoreline Blvd you will pass through the gatehouse and enter the Shoreline Regional Park. Continue on Shoreline Blvd. as it winds through the park, past the golf course, and Rengstorff House. Follow the signs to the Lakeside Café/Sailing Center. Shoreline Blvd. will dead-end in our parking lot!
Alternate Shortcut Route From North
Exit Rengstorff Ave. and turn right onto Amphitheatre Pkwy crossing over 101. Continue until you reach N. Shoreline Blvd stoplight and turn left. You will pass through the gatehouse and enter the Shoreline Regional Park. Continue on Shoreline Blvd. as it winds through the park, past the golf course, and Rengstorff House. Follow the signs to the Lakeside Café/Sailing Center. Shoreline Blvd. will dead-end in our parking lot!
For public transportation, we suggest a taxi or CalTrain to the San Antonio station. As of January 2013 the CalTrain fare from San Francisco is $7.00 for a one-way trip and $14.00 for a day pass. From San Antonio station, walk southwest on Pacchetti Way a few blocks to the bus station on California St. Catch the Santa Clara VTA Bus 40/L'avenida, $2.00 fare as of January 2013. Disembark at Charleston and Amphitheatre Parkway. Walk south on Amphitheatre Parkway towards the Shoreline Amphitheatre. Pass the soccer field on your left and look for the trail that borders Permanente Creek. Follow this trail through the golf course to the Shoreline Golf Links parking lot, and take the footbridge to your left. After passing the historic Rengstorff House, look for the Boathouse and Lakeside Café on the edge of Shoreline Lake. The walk from the bus stop is less than a mile. Check bus times for weekday and weekend service.
Parking is ample and there are designated spots for trailers and for the unloading of windsurfing equipment.