Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - August 19, 2011

Nirvana (Fun Stuff)

Art Gallery

While downtown Palo Alto has lost many art galleries in the recession, Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center still hosts an array of high-quality and often big-name exhibitions not far away, with admission still free. Current shows at the museum feature classical and avant-garde book arts of the past and present; and a new display of African art, including ancient pottery and modern Tuareg jewelry. Last year, the upstairs contemporary gallery was renovated with splashes of color and bold works. And, yes, that eerily realistic Duane Hanson sculpture of the cement worker "Dave" came back. Lomita Drive and Museum Way, Stanford; 650-723-4177. museum.stanford.edu

Live Entertainment

Musicals put on by TheatreWorks come in a medley of styles. There are the Broadway shows like "Into the Woods," which the company has done more than once. And the new takes on old favorites, like the 2007 hit musical version of Jane Austen's novel "Emma." Theater also rocks at TheatreWorks; the musical "Wheelhouse," about a traveling rock band, is set to open in June 2012. Plays both serious and comic are also a fixture at TheatreWorks, which is now in its 42nd season and puts on shows at Palo Alto's Lucie Stern Theatre and the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. P.O. Box 50458, Palo Alto; 650-463-1960. theatreworks.org

Live Music Venue

After a long work week, remember: you can't dance and stay uptight. It's a supernatural delight, when everybody's dancing in the moonlight. On Saturdays all summer long, in parks all over town, local bands provide this powerful rejuvenating service as part of Palo Alto's Twilight Concert Series. It's free and there's something for all ages and tastes. Such a fine and natural sight. Various locations in Palo Alto; 650-463-4930. cityofpaloalto.org/recreation

Palo Alto Park

Weekly voters enjoy walking on sunshine through Foothills Park, a space exclusive to Palo Alto residents. The rugged, 1,400-acre park has 15 miles of hiking trails along with picnic tables, a small fishing lake and views of the Bay Area. Sharp-eyed visitors may even catch a glimpse of wildlife. 3300 Page Mill Road, Los Altos Hills; 650-329-2423. cityofpaloalto.org, search "Foothills Park"

Place for a Children's Party

Want to hang out with a hedgehog? Befriend a bat or bobcat? Since 1934, the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo has been delighting local kids with its animal encounters and hands-on exhibits. And since it's available to rent for private events, it's sure to be a hit for anyone looking to party down with furry and feathered friends while increasing their science IQ.

1451 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto; 650-329-2111. www.cityofpaloalto.org/jmz

Place to Enjoy the Outdoors

A dash around the Stanford Dish in the foothills exposes one to a symphony of sound — rustling squirrels, chirping herons and the occasional rock anthem thumping out of a jogger's headphones. The scenic loop has long been a favorite of runners and nature strollers who this year voted it "Best Place to Enjoy the Outdoors." Wildlife is just part of the fun. Runners and hikers who brave the Dish's steep ascents are rewarded with scenic panoramas of Stanford University, Palo Alto and the San Francisco Baylands. Entrance at Junipero Serra Boulevard and Stanford Avenue, Stanford; dish.stanford.edu

WiFi Hot Spot

Where are the best spots in town to score Wi-Fi access? The people have spoken (quietly, of course, as befitting library fans. Shh!) and declared Palo Alto's Main Library a wireless winner. So bring a laptop and prepare to put in your best earbuds, search the Web and soak in the bookish atmosphere. Don't have your own computer? No problem; the library offers loaner laptops and public Internet terminals, too. Another favorite is Coupa Cafe, where patrons can text, type and Skype away while enjoying delicious coffee, enticing treats and amazing atmosphere. See the complete listing for Coupa Café in the Coffee House category. Main Library: 1213 Newell Road, Palo Alto; 650-329-2436. cityofpaloalto.org/library; Coupa Café: 538 Ramona St., Palo Alto; 650-322-6872. coupacafe.com

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