Close your eyes and imagine floating gently downstream; take a dive into a clear, deep pool. The luscious water envelopes each inch of the body, dispelling the day’s heat or stress. Long laps and play times; lessons and workouts — Rinconada Pool offers a respite from the urban environment into something elemental. This City of Palo Alto community pool has lap swims, recreation swims, swim lessons for all ages, fitness classes, camps, pool parties and special events. A separate children’s wading pool has geysers, a circular waterfall, “Aqua-ducks” (water bicycles that squirt water), and a “beach” for infants. Both pools are 80 degrees. At $2 to $5, daily drop-in fees are a drop in the bucket. Memberships also available.
777 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, 650-463-4914; cityofpaloalto.org (search for “Aquatics”)
Cantor Arts Center is to Palo Alto art galleries as Claude Monet is to paintings of water lilies: by far the Best Of. Palo Alto may be better known for technology, but Cantor’s breathtaking architecture houses a consistent array of high-quality, big-name exhibits. As with the best things in life, Cantor’s admission is free. Through mid-August, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant of 1864, Cantor will feature an exhibition of 83 pieces by Carleton Watkins, America’s most influential 19th-century landscape photographer. The collection captures stunning glimpses of the Northern Pacific Coast’s wilderness sites.
328 Lomita Drive, Stanford, 650-723-4177; museum.stanford.edu
See complete listing for Nola under Happy Hour.
Place for a Kids’ Playdate
A zoo in Palo Alto? Who knew. The Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo is a place where children come to explore, play and discover through kid-geared science exhibits and a small community of zoo animals, including bobcats, ferrets, hedgehogs, snakes and a giant tortoise. More than 50 species of animals delight and engage the young, and old, passersby, making the zoo a perfect place for a playdate, birthday party or family outing. The museum runs a science outreach program with local schools and community groups as well, creating even more opportunities for kids, their friends and their caregivers to go wild for science and nature.
1451 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-329-2111; cityofpaloalto.org (search for “JMZ”)
It’s hard to beat the magnetism of an elite university like Stanford when it comes to drawing speakers that will spark the imaginations of students, faculty and local residents. Recent years have seen visitors such as Ira Glass, Rachel Maddow and the Dalai Lama, and professors from various departments will speak from time to time on engaging and timely topics. While students often get priority in seating (and better prices, when applicable), many lectures on campus are open to the public.
Stanford University, 650-725-2787; tickets.stanford.edu
Place for Live Entertainment
Palo Altans have no shortage of live entertainment options, but for the third year running, Weekly readers have chosen the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre as the best. That’s no surprise to Judge Luckey, artistic director for the theater company. “It’s a community treasure,” he said, noting that Palo Alto is a family-oriented town and that the Children’s Theatre is an ideal place for “adults and kids to experience the arts together in a community setting.” Apparently the word has gotten around. Luckey said that his company’s shows have been selling out regularly.
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-463-4930; cityofpaloalto.org/childrenstheatre
Palo Alto Park
Place to Enjoy the Outdoors
Year after year, the Best Of is a walk in the park for Foothills Park. Sprawled across 1,400 acres, the park includes miles of trails with striking vistas of the Bay Area, a lake (fishing and boating allowed), picnic areas and a seasonal campground (May through October). Foothills Park is exclusive to Palo Altans, so be sure to bring proof of residency. Resident wildlife includes deer, coyotes and the occasional bobcat.
3300 Page Mill Road, Los Altos Hills, 650-329-2423; cityofpaloalto.org (search for “Foothills Park”).
See complete listing for Coupa Cafe under Coffee House.
Place to Go for a Run
Running the Stanford Dish is an exercise in pain and pleasure, with panoramic views of Stanford University, the San Francisco Bay and surrounding foothills offering the mind a generous respite from the painful grind of running up and down steep hills. The popular hiking destination has been gradually transformed in recent decades, with a paved pathway taking over what used to be dirt paths, but it remains as popular as ever, with locals and tourists flocking every day to get their exercise and take in the natural beauty of the Dish — both the sweeping scenes in the distance and the birds and squirrels rustling closer at hand.
Main entrance at Stanford Avenue and Junipero Serra; dish.stanford.edu.