Nestled between Redwood City and Palo Alto, Menlo Park is a treasure of a small town that has the sort of unexpected delights usually found in bigger cities. If you’re looking to escape the monotony of strip malls, outlets, and freeways, stop by and spend a day amongst idyllic tree lined streets that are currently bursting with gorgeous fall foliage.

left_bank_eating_girl

Photo courtesy of Left Bank

Eat

Left Bank
As soon as you enter the Left Bank you’ll feel like you’re in a beautiful brasserie in France. Everything from the decor to the soup du jour is so perfectly Parisian, we think this is an ideal place to go with the family for a special occasion dinner or a celebratory brunch. And they recently expanded their outdoor seating, so as to offer plenty of California sunshine with their delicious French-inspired menu.

635 Santa Cruz Ave.
Menlo Park, Ca
650-473-6543
Online: leftbank.com

Café Borrone
Whether you’re bringing an entire girl scout troop, or only eating with one child, Barrone is a perfect spot to go with kids. Not only is the staff very welcoming of children, but their menu is so expansive it’s guaranteed to have something to offer for everyone in your party. Their drink menu is also surprising, (the Aperol Spritz caught our eye)—so it’s also a lovely place for a low-key date night out, even if the kiddos tag along.

635 Santa Cruz Ave.
Menlo Park, Ca
650-473-6543
Online: cafeborrone.com

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Market Bar
The owners of Borrone recently opened up Market Bar, which is just a tad bit more formal than Borrone, but equally as welcoming to children. We think it’s a great place to take little kids and big when they’ve had a particularly hard day, as their mind-blowing dessert menu will immediately take away troubles, no matter how big or small.

1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, Ca
650-600-8095

Stacks
If the kids wake up demanding pancakes, we suggest you head to Stacks. Serving an “All American Breakfast and Lunch” seven days a week, menu highlights include a Vegetarian Frittata, Banana Macadamia Nut & Coconut Pancakes, and Mighty Meat Crepes.

600 Santa Cruz Ave.
Menlo Park Ca
650-838-0066
Online: stacksrestaurant.com

Angelo Mio
When you need a family meal that will absolutely please everyone, go to Angelo Mio. This classic Italian restaurant has a warm inviting ambience. And with classics like Pasta Marina, and specialities like their Chicken Lasagna, Angelo Mio ensures that no one goes hungry, and everyone goes home happy.

820 Santa Cruz Ave.
Menlo Park, Ca
650-323-3665
Online: ristoranteangelomio.com

 

Kepler's Books, photo courtesy of Kepler's Books

Photo courtesy of Kepler’s Books

Shop

Kepler’s Books
A Menlo Park institution that was founded in 1955 by peace activist Roy Kepler, Kepler’s has been a beloved and treasured book store on the Peninsula for 57 years. On Saturdays they often have a family story time so be sure to check their events calendar for starting times.

1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, C
650-324-4321
Online: keplers.com

cheeky_monkeyPhoto by Kindsey P. via Yelp

Cheeky Monkey
When grandma and grandpa want to take tiny tots to get a special gift, Cheeky Monkey will deliver. With unique toys from abroad, and classic books that feature San Francisco as the main character, this toy store is a local delight that is also a fun place to take the kiddos when they just need to sit in a display toy car and pretend to go “vroom.”

640 Santa Cruz Ave.
Menlo Park, Ca
650-328-7975
Online: cheekymonkeytoys.com

Willow Market
With seasonal local produce, delicious deli sandwiches, an outrageously large selection of craft beers, and old fashioned sodas, this specialty neighborhood grocery store is a long-time local favorite. Good to know: Every Monday from 4:30 p.m.-8 p.m. the best food trucks in the Bay Area set up shop here.

60 Middlefield Rd.
Menlo Park, Ca
650-322-0743
Online: willowsmarket.com

 

Occasions
If you need a special gift for a baby shower or a little one, we promise you will not leave this adorable personalized gift shop empty handed. With hats, baby clothes, and even ornaments perfect for baby’s first Christmas, this is a go-to stop for anyone looking to give something (or find something sweet for themselves) that is one of a kind.

825 Santa Cruz Ave.
Menlo Park, Ca
650-322-9273
Online: occasionsmp.com

burgess_parkPhoto by Menlo K. via Yelp

Play

Burgess Park
Easily the most popular park in town, Burgess is home to an exceptional pool, tennis courts, a duck pond, a playground, a lovely picnic table area, plus a skateboarding park. Also adjacent to the Arguilla Family Rec Center, this park is considered by many to be the beating heart to most the local children’s social lives.

701 Laurel St.
Menlo Park, CA 94025
650-330-6600
Online: menlopark.org

Sharon Park
With a pond filled with colorful koi fish and turtles, not to mention a fountain, the littles might forget about the super cool (and completely fenced-in) play structure. A paved, winding path is the perfect place for new bike riders or scooter fanatics.

Sharon Park Dr, & Lassen Dr.
Menlo Park, Ca
Online: menlopark.org

Allied Arts Guild
Beautiful gardens offer a tranquil setting to stroll near downtown Menlo Park. Once you walk past the entrance, you’ll be stunned to discover open artist studios and shops that sell beautiful art, clothing, ceramics, and much more. This is the perfect surprise get-away to take a child or family with an affinity for the arts. Good to know: Docent-led tours of the gardens are available Monday through Saturday.

75 Arbor Rd. at Cambridge Ave.
Menlo Park, Ca
650-322-2405
Online: alliedartsguild.org

U-Me, Menlo ParkPhoto courtesy of U-Me

U-Me
A large indoor playing space for children, U-Me has play structures and toys, as well as a daily activity and event calendar to ensure the little ones are always entertained. An adjoining café with a wall-length window gives parents the chance to sit and have a coffee, while keeping a close eye on their kids. The day pass is a bit pricey at $25, but they offer seasonal memberships seem to be a fair deal.

3355 Edison Way
Menlo Park, Ca
650-257-7511
Online: u-meplace.com

Did we leave out your favorite Menlo Park spot? Let us know in the comments!

—Melody Sorensen