Introduction to Palo Alto, California

Incorporated in 1894, Palo Alto derived its name from a majestic coastal redwood tree (called "El Palo Alto") found along San Francisquito Creek, a settlement spot of early Spanish explorers. Known as the "Birthplace of the Silicon Valley," Palo Alto is home to the garage that housed the launch of the Hewlett Packard Corporation. Today Palo Alto boasts more than 6,000 businesses including several innovative technological firms residing in the Stanford Research Park. However, Palo Alto is perhaps best known as the home of Stanford University, although technically the school is not located within the city limits.

Palo Alto is located 15 miles north west of San Jose and 35 miles south east of San Francisco. It is bordered by Menlo Park to the west, East Palo Alto to the north, Mountain View to the east and Stanford (site of Stanford University) to the south. The city is served by two major freeways, U.S. Highway 101 and Interstate 280, and is also traversed by California State Highways 82 (El Camino Real) and 84.

Palo Alto Events and Attractions

Palo Alto is home to a number of annual events, including: the May Fete Parade, an 80+ year old event and Northern California's oldest children's parade; the Annual Summer Festival, held around the 4th of July holiday and featuring a Chili Cook-Off; and the Palo Alto Black and White Ball, offering live bands, theatrical performances and food from top Bay Area restaurants.

Museums in Palo Alto include the Museum of American Heritage, the Palo Alto Art Center and the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo. Art galleries located within the city limits include ART21, ArtsIndia West, the Bryant Street Gallery and the Chelsea Art Gallery. Nearby cultural attractions include:

  • Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University (Stanford).
  • Computer History Museum (Mountain View).
  • Coyote Point Museum (San Mateo).
  • Hiller Aviation Museum (San Carlos).
  • Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace (Stanford).
  • Los Altos History Museum (Los Altos).
  • San Mateo County History Museum (Redwood City).
  • Tech Museum of Innovation (San Jose).

Located only about a half-hour away is the city of San Francisco, home to many popular attractions including Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Nob Hill, the Museum of Modern Art, the Embarcadero Center, Alcatraz, the Wells Fargo History Museum, Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco Zoo and the Cable Car Museum

Professional sports teams residing in San Francisco include: MLB's San Francisco Giants, the NFL's San Francisco 49'ers, pro basketball's Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco Dragons of Major League Lacrosse.

San Jose is even closer, only about a 15-minute drive away. Pro sports teams there include: the San Jose Giants (Minor League baseball affiliate of the San Francisco Giants), hockey's San Jose Sharks (NHL) and the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League.


Total Population 66,478
Male Share of the Population 49.4%
Female Share of the Population 50.6%
Senior Citizens 17.3%
Employed Population 16+ 31,312
Age of the Population 41


% of people married 57.7%
Average household size 3

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 79.9%
Median Earnings25+ $88,743
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $20,231
Median Earnings With High School Degree $24,156


Median Family Income $175,336
% Above Poverty Level 94.6%
% Below Poverty Level 5.4%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 23 minutes
% Working from Home 7.8%
% Walking and Biking to Work 14.4%
% Using Public Transportation 5.8%


People Living Alone 27.6%
Median Gross Rent $2,210
Median House Value $1,564,600


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 46.1%
US/American 0.2%
English 10.2%
Irish 6.9%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Palo Alto Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Large City 15 miles NW of San Jose, California
County Santa Clara
Standard Zip Codes 94301, 94303, 94304, 94305, 94306, 94307
P.O. Box Zip Codes 94302, 94308, 94309, 94310
Phone Area Codes 650
Time Zone Pacific (-8 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 37.441
Longitude -122.141

Palo Alto Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Distance 0.7 miles
Jan Temp 40 to 58 F
Apr Temp 47 to 69 F
Jul Temp 57 to 79 F
Oct Temp 50 to 73 F
Annual Precip 15.7 inches
Distance 6 miles
Jan Temp 36 to 60 F
Apr Temp 42 to 73 F
Jul Temp 51 to 88 F
Oct Temp 45 to 79 F
Annual Precip 28.7 inches
Distance 7.9 miles
Jan Temp 42 to 58 F
Apr Temp 50 to 68 F
Jul Temp 58 to 78 F
Oct Temp 54 to 74 F
Annual Precip 14.8 inches

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Atherton 7,081 $250
East Palo Alto 29,198 $51,685
Los Altos 30,075 $208,586
Los Altos Hills 8,314 $250
Menlo Park 33,064 $160,378
Mountain View 77,973 $124,398

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Palo Alto Public Libraries

Palo Alto City Library
Palo Alto, California
(650) 329-2516

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Palo Alto High Schools

(Sorted by Number of Students)

Serves 1,718 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 19.2

Serves 1,662 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 18.2

A Non-traditional School
Serves 47 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 13.4

Palo Alto Colleges

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