The drive to Palo Alto Hills is unlike the drive home most Palo Alto residents experience. Winding rural roads with glimpses of rolling golden hills through the foliage and very few cars make for an enjoyable commute for residents of this neighborhood. and it's easy to forget it's only a stone's throw from Silicon Valley.
The Palo Alto Hills neighborhood is an oasis for those looking for a serene setting to live in. With large lots featuring sizable homes with breathtaking views of the Bay Area, it is an ideal place to get away.
Palo Alto Hills residents moved to the neighborhood for many of the same reasons, to get away from the busy Silicon Valley life and relax in a place with friendly neighbors and spectacular views.
Palo Alto Hills resident Mark Nadim has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years and still says his favorite thing about his home is its natural, relaxing qualities.
"It's nice to have the fresh air and wildlife," Nadim said. "It really makes it a serene place to live."
Other Palo Alto Hills residents like Jay Weber are very appreciative of the neighborhood's tranquility. Weber was particularly taken by the laid-back, private atmosphere when he moved in seven years ago.
"The partly rural feel of the neighborhood is nice. It is quiet, but not deathly quiet. It is quiet enough that you can take a deep breath and take it all in," Weber said. "It is also a nice drive when you are coming back from work and driving through the trees. You feel like you're going to a different space."
In order to have larger lot sizes, residents must live further apart and do not see each other as frequently as they might if they lived in another Palo Alto neighborhood. For Weber this was a big adjustment for him and his wife when they moved from Menlo Park. While they do not see people as often as they did in their previous neighborhood, Weber says they do see a few neighbors when they go on walks or runs.
There is still a strong sense of community in the neighborhood.
"We do not always see our next-door neighbors," Nadim said. "We may not be close by but I know that if I need help, it is only a phone call or an email away."
Within Palo Alto Hills, residents have easy access to a few activities including the Palo Alto Hills Golf Course and Country Club and Foothills Park. Access to Foothills Park is particularly exciting for Weber and his wife since they lived in Menlo Park prior to moving to Palo Alto Hills and the park only allows Palo Alto residents to visit.
"Foothills Park is a real gem and a real plus to the neighborhood," Weber said. "When we were looking at this house, we were Menlo Park residents so they wouldn't let us into the park and we wanted to see it. We saw it on the map but we didn't know what a gem it really was until we actually moved here."
While residents do have easy access to a variety of outdoor activities and live in a very peaceful, secluded place, simple things like going downtown or doing grocery shopping are more time-consuming than they are for most Palo Alto residents. Most attractions within Palo Alto and surrounding cities are at least a 20-minute drive away. Nadim says this can make it more difficult to stay connected to the Palo Alto community.
To maintain connections within the neighborhood, Nadim, who also happens to be the president of the neighborhood association, organizes an annual holiday party at the country club. The event brings neighbors together to celebrate the holidays as well as address neighborhood business. It is very popular among residents and is a favorite neighborhood event of Weber's.
Although it is more remote than any other neighborhood in Palo Alto, residents still find their location ideal because they are close to outdoor areas that most locals do not get to visit on a daily basis.
"Every morning when I run up to Vista Hill, I get to see the whole Bay Area laid out in front of me," Weber said. "I get that same view three times a week but that is still the highlight of living here for me."
FIRE STATION: No. 8, Foothills Park, 3300 Page Mill Road (during summer); No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road
LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road
LOCATION: off Page Mill Road: Alexis Drive, Country Club Court, Bandera Drive and Laurel Glen Drive
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Mark Nadim, president, Palo Alto Hills Neighborhood Association, 650-949-5672; email@example.com
PARK: Foothills Park, 3300 Page Mill Road
POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Nixon Elementary School, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School
SHOPPING: Downtown Los Altos, Portola Valley, California Avenue