In addition to the world-renowned Stanford Shopping Center , Palo Alto features a vibrant downtown shopping district , a quieter but popular shopping and restaurant district centered around California Avenue just south of the Stanford campus, and Town & Country Village , a specialty center on El Camino Real across from Stanford Stadium.
With 140-plus stores, dozens of restaurants and coffee shops, and public art by nationally acclaimed artists, the open-air Stanford Shopping Center is considered one of the top shopping centers in the country. The Center features award-winning gardens, a European-style street market, and 1.3 million square feet of premier retail space . Located conveniently off El Camino near downtown and Stanford campus, the Stanford Shopping Center embodies the Palo Alto spirit and is a wonderful destination for any type of shopper.
Downtown Palo Alto
Defined roughly by Alma and Webster streets and Lytton and Forest avenues, downtown Palo Alto is a charming combination of small-town accessibility and urban ambience. Outdoor cafes, tiny coffee shops, bookstores, mom-and-pop specialty shops, national chains, art galleries, two movie theaters and numerous restaurants attract shoppers, eaters and entertainment-seekers of all ages. Parking along University Avenue can be difficult during the peak restaurant hours, especially on weekends, but there are several large garages available to the public.
A Downtown Palo Alto Parking Map shows the garages and the color-coded parking areas.
The California Avenue business district is bounded by El Camino Real, Park Boulevard, Sheridan and Cambridge avenues, just a few blocks from the Stanford campus. This 6-block wide by 3-block long area is Palo Alto's most historic shopping district, established in 1855 as the town of Mayfield, and annexed to Palo Alto on July 6, 1925. The district offers a wide variety of retail and professional businesses, and is home to many outstanding and diverse restaurants, including coffee shops and comfort food establishments, from the casual to more upscale establishments.
Mom and pop businesses abound. Four generations of the same family own the cobblery. There is a stationery store, a ladies clothing boutique, a yoga studio and two day spas, a jewelry store, the largest consumer and professional camera store in the south bay area, a beloved natural foods/vitamin store, two grocery stores (one noted for its kosher food selection,) a popular wine sales and tasting shop, and more. California Avenue hosts a year-round Sunday morning farmer's market, rain or shine!
Living up to its original motto, "Small town shopping in the heart of the city", the district also boasts 14 pieces of public art, a collection that began in 1996. So to locals and art aficionados from around the world, California Avenue is also known as "Palo Alto's Avenue of the Arts". The collection includes several prize winning pieces, among them "Sun Flowers", first prize winner of the prestigious Northern California Chapter Institute of Architects, for Green Design and another for Urban Design. It is an elegantly crafted tables and chairs grouping in front of Country Sun Natural Foods.
Town and Country Village
Located across the street from Stanford University , this hacienda-style mall at the intersection of Embarcadero Road and El Camino Real has approximately 50 businesses, from clothing to jewelry stores to gift and souvenir shops, as well as causal restaurants and cafes. Town and Country Village offers shoppers a relaxing atmosphere, with numerous family-owned quaint businesses and plenty of parking.
Midtown Palo Alto
The Midtown Palo Alto shopping area, on Middlefield Rd. just south of the busy Oregon Expressway, is a popular neighborhood-serving commercial district. It features Long's and Walgreens drug stores, a small Safeway, several cafes and restaurants and many independent businesses.
Midtown is a favorite among residents of south Palo Alto due to its convenience and the easy availability of parking. It is also home to the Winter Lodge, a popular outdoor ice skating facility.
Depending on the time of year, visitors can enjoy at least one—if not both—of Palo Alto's farmers' markets. With both markets located in bustling areas of town, visitors can buy fresh food while experiencing a taste of Palo Alto locals. A perfect way to buy locally and eat seasonally!
Downtown Palo Alto Farmers Market
The outdoor market opens the second Saturday in May and runs every Saturday from 8 a.m.-noon through the second Saturday in December. Farmers and merchants sell locally grown fruits and vegetables and other edibles including cheese, bread, honey, eggs, fish and flowers. Visitors can also enjoy music all morning. The market is located on Gilman Avenue (behind the downtown post office on Hamilton Avenue), and visitors can find free parking underneath City Hall. A portion of the proceeds from the operation of the market are donated to Avenidas, which serves seniors on the Midpeninsula.
California Avenue Farmers Market
Located on California Avenue, east of El Camino Real, the California Avenue Farmers Market supports farmers selling a wide variety of organic and traditionally grown produce, fresh fish, assorted breads , cheese, fresh honey, flowers, made-to-order foods and crafts. The market operates year-round on Sundays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.