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Menlo Park

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San Mateo County : Menlo Park
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Menlo Park in the Peninsula area of the San Francisco Bay Area is located just north of Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. Menlo Park is known mostly for abundant high-tech employers. It encompasses portions of the Stanford University campus, including the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC). Sand Hill Road is home to dozens of venture capital firms, who manage tens of billions of dollars for financing Silicon Valley technology companies that have become the economic backbone of the region.

Menlo Park was, during the 1970's, a very bohemian town. The town's main bookstore, Kepler's Bookstore, used to be located in a run-down Victorian house on the city's main strip. It had the largest collection of Mad Magazine publications this side of New York. Keplers is famous for allowing people to sit on one of their many old chairs and sofas to read without buying. Going from one section to another meant traversing a creaky, dilapidated wood floor. It had a cool poster section, with many drug culture references. Throughout time, it moved to various locations, and now has ended up on one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in Menlo Park (El Camino and Menlo Ave). Formerly catering to a mostly student audience, it now serves up non-discounted books to the wealthy elite of Menlo Park. Just outside of Kepler's doors is a coffee house (surprise!) that caters a variety of influential and not-so-influential types: Barrone's is the only place in Menlo Park offering a $10 mediocre breakfast.

The prices of real estate in Menlo Park have increased anywhere from 10 to 20 fold over the past 30 years, depending on the area. Formerly a nice retirement community with affordable real estate for middle class families, Menlo Park is now only affordable to the "option laden" wealthy. Don't even call a realtor unless you are able to spend a million; several million would be better. SUV's are a common sight, with soccer mommies preferring the Escalade to the Voyager mini-van. Mercedes Benz dealers love this area... it's the official car of Menlo Park (joke).

Walking downtown used to be a pleasant experience. One could experience the pleasures of an ordinary sleepy college town, while shopping a variety of stores. They included a hometown bakery, a coffee shop where the locals gathered, hair salons, furniture stores, health food shops, and more. Now you can only buy baked goods at Le Boulangerie; Coffee isn't so bad - you have a choice of two dozen different coffee shops. Taking a stroll downtown takes you past one of the many eateries with outdoor seating.

Get in

By train

Take the Caltrain to Menlo Park Station, located conveniently behind Keplers.

By bus

SamTrans [1] has several routes which service the community including El Camino Real, Sharon Heights and Marsh Manor.

Get around

See

  • Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), 2575 Sand Hill Road (The center is in Menlo Park but is on Stanford University property.), Phone: 650-926-2204 – Public Affairs Office, 650-926-3300 – SLAC Directory, [2]. M-F, 8AM-5PM A state of the art physics research faculty, SLAC is run by Stanford University [3] for the Office of Science [4] of the US Department of Energy[5]. SLAC is also home to the world's longest building. SLAC offers public and private tours of the facility. For public tours, there is a signup sheet online. For private tours contact the public affairs office.

Do

Buy

  • The United States Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, 650-853-8300. 8AM-4PM. The USGS has a huge office in Menlo Park where you can obtain detailed maps before setting off on an expedition to a remote location.
  • Kepler's Books, [6]. It's not in the same league as Powell's books in Portland, but it's one of the last independent bookstores on the peninsula. Kepler's is a frequent stop for many authors on book tours.

Eat

  • The Oasis, 241 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, 94025. This Stanford student/fan hangout has great burgers, pitchers of beer and the etched signatures and initials from thousands of visitors over the years. It's a friendly atmosphere and a fun place to watch Stanford sports on TV.
  • Tu Casa Taqueria, 875 Hamilton Avenue at Willow Road. Parking is terrible for weekday lunch due to proximity to Sun Microsystems. This Mexican restaurant has a wide array of choices with filling portions at great prices. Try the Chile Relleno plate. At $7.50, you will not go home hungry. And you get all the chips you can eat with a light salsa. Also serves Salvadoran food. Bring cash or use the in-house ATM.

Drink

Sleep

  • Best Western Riviera, 15 El Camino Real, +1 650 321-8772 (fax: +1 650 321-2137), [7].
  • Menlo Park Inn, 1315 El Camino Real, 6503267530, [8]. The contemporary and stylish Menlo Park Inn is a unique presence amidst the charm of historic downtown Menlo Park and the Palo Alto area.
  • Red Cottage Inn & Suites, 1704 El Camino Real, 650-326-9010, [9]. Located two miles from downtown, with cottage-like rooms with private mini-patios and gardens and complimentary deluxe breakfast bar.
  • Rosewood Sand Hill, 2825 Sand Hill Road, 650-561-1500, [10]. A luxury hotel that offers 123 guest rooms, resort amenities, 12,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a full-service spa, outdoor swimming pool and an on-site restaurant.
  • Stanford Park Hotel, 100 El Camino Real, [11]. On the border of Palo Alto next to Stanford Shopping Center and close to Stanford University.

Stay safe

Be careful to check for ticks [12] after hiking in fields in the Bay Area. There is a high rate of lyme disease transmission in the Bay Area. If a bulls' eye rash develops at the tick bite site, immediately seek medical help and treatment with antibiotics.

Get out

Routes through Menlo Park
San FranciscoRedwood City  N noframe S  East Palo AltoSan Jose




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