Best classes/lecture series
Kepler's Literary Foundation
Kepler's Literary Foundation is dedicated to enriching and inspiring the community through literary and cultural programs. The arts organization has hosted hundreds of community workshops, writing classes, online discussions and author events featuring notable guest speakers, such as Dolly Parton, virtually and in person since forming as the nonprofit arm of the independently owned Kepler's Books in 2017.
1047 El Camino Real, Suite 201. Menlo Park; keplers.org
Best Concerts/Theater Performances
TheatreWorks has provided audiences with innovative dramatic and musical productions every season for the past 51 years. Even during the pandemic shutdown in 2020, it never went completely dark: The Tony Award-winning nonprofit theater pivoted to online programming, creating new works with creative teams across the country. This season, audiences have the opportunity to enjoy performances in person or remotely.
500 Castro St., Mountain View; [email protected]; 650.463.1960
Palo Alto Art Center
Over the past five decades, Palo Alto Art Center has become a hub for Palo Alto's cultural community, serving thousands of users each year. With its expansive gallery spaces and fully equipped studios where adults and children can learn how to paint, draw and make ceramics. The center is considered the place to see and create art. During the pandemic, the center turned to pottery wheel rental programs, curbside fire and glaze programs, outdoor classes, virtual classes, and more. What's new: A series of exhibitions and public programs focused on the climate.
1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto; cityofpaloalto.org; 650-329-2366 (search "Palo Alto Art Center")
Cantor Arts Center
From in-person exhibits to online classes and tours, Cantor Arts Center provides a variety of opportunities to appreciate art. The museum houses the largest collection of work by French sculptor Auguste Rodin in an American museum, as well as collections and special exhibitions from different cultures and time periods. During the pandemic, the museum used new technology to put 3D renderings of its extensive art collection on its website, enabling viewers to virtually walk through much of the center's 130,000-square-foot campus, and with the click of a button, zoom in on each piece of art. The museum also pushed out new exhibitions online and offered a large library of artist talks, learning guides and tours virtually led by docents. And now that the museum is fully open, these digital programs have become part of its regular offerings.
328 Lomita Drive, Stanford; museum.stanford.edu; 650-723-4177
Best Outdoor Escape
Foothills Nature Preserve
Since opening its gates to the general public in December 2020, Palo Alto's Foothills Nature Preserve has attracted visitors near and far — and for good reason. Located in the Santa Cruz foothills about 7 miles from downtown Palo Alto, the city-owned park provides easy access to 1,400 acres of open space and access to trails connecting to green spaces throughout the greater region. It's also home to three ecosystems, redwood groves, streams and a variety of wildlife, including bobcats and wild turkeys. There are campgrounds, picnic areas, an artificial turf recreation area and a man-made lake for fishing and non-motorized boating.11799 Page Mill Road, Los Altos Hills; cityofpaloalto.org; 650-329-2423 (search "Foothills Nature Preserve")