Palo Alto may be known more for its start-ups than its slide collection, but it’s just happens to be a fantastic oasis for families as well (Those 18-year-old CEOs were kids themselves, like, yesterday, right?). From beautifully landscaped parks to its own museum and zoo just for little ones, there really is something for everyone. Take a peek at our guide to enjoying Palo Alto and be sure to share your favorite spots with us, too!

Bol Park Donkey

Photo credit: Barron Park Donkeys

Play

Heritage Park
What’s not to love about a well-maintained, fully-enclosed play area, complete with a shaded sand pit, picnic tables and a train-themed playscape? And for the bigger kids, just outside the playground lies a spacious green field fit for throwing a ball, reading in the shade or enjoying a sandwich on the grass.

300 Homer Ave.
Palo Alto, Ca
Online: cityofpaloalto.org

Bol Park
Named after Cornelius Bol, a Stanford physicist, Bol Park’s nearly 14 acres offer ample street parking, a spacious playscape for various ages and an adjoining creek for the explorers in the family. Bring a blanket and stretch out on the meadow or enjoy a mostly-shaded stroll along Bol Park Bike Path, which is just behind the park.

3590 Laguna Ave.
Palo Alto, Ca
Online: cityofpaloalto.org

Insider tip: Head South on Bol Park Bike Path to meet Perry and Niner, two donkeys that live near the park in a private corral. Legend says one of them served as the model for the donkey in Shrek.

slidebar_USAPhoto: Sliderbar 

Eat

Slider Bar
Nothing says “kid-friendly” more than pint-sized hamburgers. Meat-lovers will enjoy the “Old School” (made with Niman Ranch all natural beef patties) or the “Carolina Babe” (made with pulled pork), while veggie aficionados can try the “Heart Throb” or vegan “Naked Truth.” And be sure to try an order of their Belgian fries; they’re worth every salty, crunchy calorie.

324 University Ave.
Palo Alto, Ca
650-322-7300
Online: sliderbarusa.com

Café 220
A reasonably priced, casual Mediterranean restaurant, Café 220 may not have an official kids menu, but has plenty of kid-approved options, including chicken shish kabobs, gyros and hummus plates. If the tables are full, take it “to go” and grab a table in Lytton Plaza, just a few steps away on the corner of Emerson St. and University Ave. And hey, while you’re there, do as the locals do and let the kids eat with their hands.

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220 University Ave.
Palo Alto, Ca
650-853-8182

Douce France
Don’t let the fancy name fool you. This quaint café in Town and Country Village is a great place to grab a quick bite or special treat during some retail therapy. There are a number of soup, salad and sandwich options for grown-ups, but we won’t judge you if you order the nutella and banana sandwich off the kids menu instead.

855 El Camino Real, #104
Palo Alto, Ca
650-322-3601
Online: cafedoucefrance.com

tinpot_creamery

Sips and Sweets

Tin Pot Creamery
If you’re craving a scoop, but simple vanilla just won’t cut it, head to Tin Pot Creamery in Town & Country Village for some ice cream “with a twist.” Whether it’s Salted Butterscotch, Earl Gray Tea or Roasted Banana Fudge Swirl, the sweet treat is made daily on-site from natural and wholesome ingredients, so there’s sure to be something to satisfy even the youngest foodie in your brood.

885 El Camino Real, #121
Palo Alto, CA
650-327-1715
Online: tinpotcreamery.com

David’s Tea
For a quick pick-me-up in downtown Palo Alto, stop by David’s Tea. Let their experts guide you to the perfect cup, whether you’re a tea aficionado or a first timer. With plenty of herbal or low-caffeine options, the kids can enjoy a treat without sabotaging their bedtime later. The little ones may enjoy trying a “Tea Pop” – an iced mix of tea and Italian soda.

318 University Ave.
Palo Alto, Ca
650-462-1450
Online: davidstea.com

Bonus tip: The area’s only drive-thru Starbucks is just outside the neighborhood as well, at El Camino Real and Ventura Ave.

Palo Alto Junior Museum Zoo_Tortoise

Photo credit: Junior Museum by L. Lee H. via Yelp

Explore

Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo
Home to more than 50 species of animals and 2500 square feet of exhibits, the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo is fun for inquisitive little minds of all ages. Whether it’s learning more about renewable energy, exploring the world of bugs or getting up close and personal with Edward, the zoo’s African spurred tortoise, the JMZ is a must-visit for any aspiring scientist in your family.

Insider tip: Bring your lunch and enjoy a picnic in neighboring Rinconada Park before or after your visit.

1451 Middlefield Rd.
Palo Alto, Ca
650-329-2111
Online: cityofpaloalto.org

class-Gymsters_my_gym

MyGym Palo Alto
With more than 35 weekly classes for kids ranging from six week to 11 years old, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find one to exhaust – we mean enrich – your infant, toddler or even pre-teen. Teachers lead well-managed classes through age-appropriate exercises while allowing plenty of free time to allow kids to explore the gym on their own (under watchful parental eyes of course) and get their energy out. Free trial classes are available.Insider tip: As of Jan. 1, MyGym Palo Alto was offering a Groupon for 62% off a Lifetime Family Membership with Four Classes and Four Play Sessions.

2655 Middlefield Rd.
Palo Alto, CA
650-330-1760
Online: mygym.com/paloalto

Stanford Shopping Center
Located just off campus, Stanford Shopping Center has just what you’re looking for – whether it’s Nike or Neiman Marcus, Armani or American Girl…you get the picture. With plenty of dining options, you can shop ‘til you drop and then grab a bite to eat before you shop some more.

Insider tip: Stanford Shopping Center is dog-friendly (as well as kid-friendly), so expect to meet some new four-legged friends during your visit.

660 Stanford Shopping Center
Palo Alto, Ca
650-617-8200
Online: simon.com/mall/stanford-shopping-center

Did we miss any of your favorite places in Palo Alto? Tell us in the comments below! 

—Ashley Burton