Menlo Park is a suburban, tree-lined community in San Mateo County midway between the major cities of San Francisco and San Jose. Menlo Park offers visitors easy access to Stanford, Palo Alto and Silicon Valley. It is best known for its old-fashioned downtown area, and for being the home of venture capital and Meta (formerly Facebook). It also encompasses the USGS Headquarters, Veterans Administration Hospital, SRI Campus, and portions of the Stanford University campus, including the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC).
Menlo Park is relatively small (36,000 residents) 19 sq mi (49 km2), nestled between the San Francisco Bay (and US 101) in the north, and the Pacific Coast Mountain Range (and I-280) in the south. The town is divided in half by El Camino Real (CA 82), the Caltrain railway and the downtown commercial center. The academic and business hubs of Stanford and Palo Alto are to the east, while East Palo Alto and Redwood City are to the north and east. To the west, Menlo Park it is bordered by the estates of Woodside and Atherton.
While leafy and suburban Menlo Park is considered one of the more affluent parts of Bay Area, it pales in comparison to the large, walled-off mansions of Atherton. Northern portions of Menlo Park, north of US 101, are typically less affluent and tend to offer fewer attractions to visitors. In the south, Sand Hill Road is home to dozens of venture capital firms, which manage tens of billions of dollars for financing Silicon Valley technology companies that have become the economic backbone of Silicon Valley.
This article is primarily about Menlo Park's downtown area which is active during business hours. Most businesses close by 8-9PM, so there isn't much to do after that. Because neighboring Palo Alto and Redwood City are more urbanized, and just a short distance away, some residents turn to these towns for more dining, beverage and entertainment options.
Downtown Menlo Park is accessible by automobile, rail, bus and plane from San Francisco (30 miles or 50 km away) and San Jose (25 miles or 40 km away).
Primary access by car is via CA-82 (El Camino Real), US-101 (Bayshore Freeway) or the more scenic I-280 (Junipero Serra Freeway). Access from the East Bay, is via CA-84 and the Dumbarton Bridge. Menlo Park is served by local ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.
Perhaps, the easiest way to get to and from downtown Menlo Park is by using Caltrain.
- 1 Menlo Park Station (behind Keplers). Served by Caltrain. Local and semi-local trains, including some express trains, stop in Menlo Park. From the train station it's a short walk to downtown. Trains tend to run every hour and at higher frequencies during commute hours. The train station is also a connection point to the local SamTrans bus service.
- SamTrans is San Mateo County's regional bus system. It provides routes which service areas north of Menlo Park toward San Francisco.
- Stanford runs a free shuttle called Marguerite that makes stops in Menlo Park. It's best suited for traveling between Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Stanford.
- VTA is Santa Clara County's regional bus and light rail system. It provides transportation from Palo Alto's train station to areas south of Menlo Park toward San Jose.
Menlo Park is roughly equidistant (about a 30-minute drive) to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and the San Jose Mineta Airport (SJC). San Francisco's status as a major airline hub means that travelers are more likely to come through SFO.
- From San Francisco International Airport, it's possible to get to Menlo Park via public transit: take the BART train from the San Francisco Airport to the Millbrae station, then connect to Caltrain heading south and get off at the Menlo Park station. The combined BART/Caltrain trip will likely take 1 to 2 hours, depending on timing and train connections.
- From San José Mineta International Airport, take the free shuttle bus #10 to get to the Santa Clara Caltrain station. From there take a Caltrain north to the Menlo Park station.
Menlo Park has an appealing and very walkable downtown area that is centered along Santa Cruz Avenue. It extends for about 10 blocks south (a 15- to 20-minute walk) from the Caltrain station, across El Camino Real, and down to Camp Fremont Park.
Biking is a good option for exploring beyond downtown Menlo Park. Biking can also be combined with the train or bus. Caltrain and the regional SamTrans or VTA bus systems can get you to further destinations. Ride sharing apps, like Uber and Lyft are also good, but more expensive options.
Most Menlo Park residents drive a personal automobile when they are not walking or biking.
- 1 Downtown Menlo Park, 500-900 Santa Cruz Ave (Between Caltrain Station and Camp Fremont Park). Enjoy a walk (between the historic train station and the equally historic Camp Fremont Park) along Santa Cruz Ave, Menlo Park's old-fashioned commercial district. You can shop, have a coffee and a snack, or a meal at an outdoor table, do some thrifting at the second hand stores, admire the boutique furniture shops and art galleries along the way.
- 2 Meta Headquarters (Formerly Facebook), 1 Hacker Way. A stronghold squeezed between the freeway and the Bay, Meta's headquarters neighbor the less-privileged Belle Haven area of Menlo Park. The large, iconic thumbs-up sign has been replaced by the Meta logo. On the other side of the sign, cloaked by the trees, you can still find the rusting logo of Sun Microsystems—the defunct tech company, once hailed for its advocacy of open-source software, which used to be headquartered here until its acquisition by Oracle in 2010. Back then, the offices used to be nicknamed "Sun Quentin", due to their resemblance with the prison of San Quentin in the North Bay.
- 3 Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), 2575 Sand Hill Rd (in Menlo Park on Stanford University property), ☏ . M-F 8AM-5PM. A state-of-the-art physics research faculty, SLAC is run by Stanford University for the Office of Science of the US Department of Energy. 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.
- 4 United States Geological Survey – Menlo Park Campus (USGS), 345 Middlefield Rd, ☏ . 8AM-4PM. The USGS has a large office in Menlo Park where visitors can see various geology-related exhibits. Allow one hour for the self-guided tour. See this page for additional information. You can also obtain detailed maps before setting off on an expedition to a remote location. Free.
- 5 Allied Arts Guild, 75 Arbor Rd. M-Sa 10AM-5PM. More than just a scenic art and craft shop, the Allied Arts Guild is a historic and architectural gem. Founded in 1928, it is a complex of 20+ artist studios, fine art galleries, shops, a restaurant, and several beautiful formal gardens. Designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, it is used as a venue for both public and private events. A portion of sales proceeds are donated to a local children's hospital. Free.
- 1 Menlo Park Farmers Market (on Chestnut Street between Santa Cruz and Menlo Avenues), ☏ . Su 9AM-1PM. On Sunday morning, there's a farmers market with fresh foods from the local area. You'll find fresh produce, nuts, breads, pastries, meats, seafood and flowers. Live music is typically provided.
- 2 The Guild Theatre, 949 El Camino Real, email@example.com. A music and event performance space providing live music and entertainment to the Peninsula region. The venue holds about 500 patrons and hosts a wide range of music, film, and special events programming.
- 3 Ride a Bike (Pedego Electric Bikes), 807 Santa Cruz Ave. W-Su 10AM-5:30PM. As a biking hub, Menlo Park has excellent connections with other cities in the South Bay. Bike rides can be taken to Stanford (2 miles), Palo Alto (3 miles), Woodside (6 miles), Los Altos (7 miles), or the Portola Valley Loop (16 miles). Bicycles can be rented at Pedego Electric Bikes.
- 4 Camp Fremont Park (intersection of Santa Cruz Ave and University Dr). Sunrise-sunset daily. Nice place to take a break, enjoy a cup of coffee, or a bite to eat, or some reading under the tall coastal redwood trees at historic Camp Fremont Park. The history of the park is described by informational displays at the entrance. Free.
- 5 Summer Concert Series, Camp Fremont Park (intersection of Santa Cruz Ave and University Dr). W 6:00-8:30PM. During the summertime Menlo Park puts on a series of free concerts in the park. Local bands play a variety of music. A gourmet grocery across the street, Draeger's, sells sandwiches and picnic fare. Pizza restaurant Amici's is also a popular choice for take-out among summer concert attendees. Free.
- 6 Hike Bedwell Bayfront Park, 1600 Marsh Rd. Sunrise-sunset daily. A pleasant place with trails and bay views to walk, bike, watch birds and bring children to explore local nature.
There are many shops in downtown Menlo, the ones listed here are unique or especially popular.
- 1 Kepler's Books. Tu-Sa 10AM-8PM; Su M 10AM-6PM. A landmark and one of the last independent bookstores on the peninsula. It features a large selection of literary, tech-y, science-y, and local interests as well as best sellers. Kepler's is a frequent stop for many authors on book tours.
- 2 Little Sky Bakery, 506 Santa Cruz Ave (Next to Philz Coffee). Tu-Su 8AM-4PM. Freshly baked loaves of bread, giant cookies, scones, muffins, savory and sweet pastry items are offered at their storefront.
- 3 Feldman's Books, 1075 Curtis St, ☏ . Daily noon-5PM. Buy and sell your used books here.
- 4 Penzeys, 771 Santa Cruz Ave. M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 9AM-3PM. A specialty spice store. You can get spices, salts and dried herbs from all over the world.
- 5 Cheeky Monkey Toys, 640 Santa Cruz Ave, firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM. An independent toy store offering a wide range of products for children from newborns to adults.
- 6 Goodwill Boutique, 711 Santa Cruz Ave. Daily 10AM-6PM. Non-profit thrift store for pre-owned clothing, housewares and more.
- 7 Discovery Shop (American Cancer Society), 748 Santa Cruz Ave. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-4PM. A non-profit thrift shop featuring furniture, art, clothing, housewares, books, DVDs and other household items.
- 8 The Shop, 725 Santa Cruz Ave. M-Sa 11AM-5PM. The Shop offers used clothes, housewares and accessories, with all proceeds benefiting the Junior League
- 9 Luminaire, 870 Santa Cruz Ave. M-Sa 10AM-6PM. Upscale, European-style modern furniture, lamps and home accessories.
- 10 Menlo Park Design District, 800 Santa Cruz Ave, ☏ , email@example.com. The Design District is a selection of more than 20 retail stores, interior designers, art galleries and architects.
- 11 Oriental Rugs, 800 Santa Cruz Ave. Menlo has an abundance of specialty rug shops along Santa Cruz Ave: Stephen Miller Gallery, The Rug Center, Istanbul Rugs or The Oriental Carpet.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
- 1 McDonald's, 1100 El Camino Real. Daily 6AM-11PM. The original American fast food. Hamburgers, fries, breakfast sandwiches and all that McDonalds has to offer.
- 2 Subway, 809 Santa Cruz Ave. 7AM-8:30PM. National sandwich shop chain. Offers good low cost options.
- 3 Posh Bagel, 869 Santa Cruz Ave. Daily 6AM-5PM. A bay area chain that serves bagels with cream cheese and eggs. The bagels are made onsite and are often fresh from the oven. The seating area is limited so it's better to get bagels to go.
- 4 Bagel Street Cafe, 746 Santa Cruz Ave. M-F 6AM-3PM, Sa Su 7AM-2PM. Casual eatery serving a range of housemade bagels & toppings, coffee, bagel sandwiches, salads & drinks.
- 5 Le Boulanger Cafe, 720 Santa Cruz Ave. Daily 7:30AM-3PM. Offers bakery items, sandwiches, flat breads, soups and salads in a casual setting with both indoor and outdoor seating.
- 6 Trader Joe's, 720 Menlo Ave. Daily 8AM-9PM. Trader Joe's is perhaps the least expensive option for buying a meal in Menlo Park.
- 7 Mami Cheli's, 989 El Camino Real Suite B. Daily 10AM-8PM. Serves Salvadoran style tacos, pupusas, quesadillas, burritos, and tortas. The freshly made pupusas are worth the trip. Limited seating, mostly it's a grab-and-go kind of place.
- 8 Mountain Mike's Pizza, 1001 El Camino Real. Daily 11AM-9PM. Casual pizza chain offerings.
- 9 Chef Kwan's. Daily 11AM-3PM 4-9PM. Longtime favorite for Chinese take out food.
- 10 Round Table Pizza, 1225 El Camino Real. 11AM-10PM. National pizza chain founded at this restaurant location in 1959.
- 11 Cafe Borrone, 1010 El Camino Real, ☏ . W-Su 7AM-4PM, Th F until 8PM. A Menlo Park favorite for coffee, breakfast and lunch. It has a big indoor/outdoor seating area that spills out onto the plaza and El Camino Real. The food is a California-style and tends towards being healthy.
- 12 Stacks, 600 Santa Cruz Ave (park underground from El Camino Real), ☏ . Daily 7AM-2:30PM. Hearty American breakfast foods with generous portions in a family-style atmosphere.
- 13 Mama Coco (Cocina Mexicana), 1081 El Camino Real. Daily 11AM-9PM. Family run, relaxed and colorful setting with indoor or outdoor seating.
- 14 Jason Cafe, 1246 El Camino Real. Daily 7AM-3PM. Generous portions and classic breakfast plates like omelets, scrambles, eggs Benedict, waffles and pancakes are available all day.
- 15 Draeger's Bistro Cafe, 1010 University Dr (upstairs on the 2nd floor). Daily 7AM-1PM. Serving coffee drinks, pastries from the bakery and special breakfast plates.
- 16 Jeffrey's Hamburgers, 888 El Camino Real. Daily 11AM-8PM. A 1950s style hamburger joint. It has big booths, a counter, neon signs and car references. There's lots of seating so even when it's busy it's easy to find somewhere to sit down. The food is American staples- hamburgers, grilled cheese, milk shakes, and french fries.
- 17 Galata Bistro (Mediterranean Grill), 827 Santa Cruz Ave. Daily 11AM-2:30PM, 4:30PM-9PM. Mediterranean comfort food. Has outdoor seating.
- 18 Sultana Mediterranean, 1149 El Camino Real. Great Mediterranean food with an emphasis on Turkish cuisine. The falafel and hummus are local favorites.
- 19 La Stanza Cucina Italiana, 651 Oak Grove Ave, Suite H, ☏ . Tu-Su 4-8:30PM. Family run restaurant serving Sicilian-style food in a comfortable and intimate setting.
- 20 Roma, 820 Santa Cruz Ave. Daily 10:30AM-2:30PM, 4:30PM-9PM. Fine Italian dining indoors or street side on the patio.
- 21 Tilak Indian Cuisine, 683 Santa Cruz Ave. Daily noon-2PM, 5-10PM; closed Tu. High quality Indian vegetarian and meat dishes, appetizers, breads and sides available for the dining room, patio or to go.
- 22 Back A Yard Caribbean Grill, 1189 Willow Rd. M-Sa 11AM-7PM. This is where to get your Jerk Chicken & Beef Oxtail, Curried Goat, Barbeque Spareribs, Jerk Tofu and Coconut Curried Tofu.
- 23 CoffeeBar, 1149 Chestnut St. Daily 6:30AM-6PM. An upscale coffeeshop. Has a variety of espresso and pour-over coffee options and a selection of breakfast treats and lunch options. During the day it can be hard to find a spot and there are a lot of people working on laptops.
- 24 Mademoiselle Colette, 867 Santa Cruz Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-4PM, Su 8AM-2PM. A Parisian patisserie serving coffee, breakfast, lunch and very fancy French pastries. The food is rich and the atmosphere cozy. There's outdoor seating for warm afternoons. It's a good spot for a special treat, a date or an intimate conversation.
- 25 Kyosho Sushi, 605 Santa Cruz Ave. Tu 5-8PM, W-Su 11AM-8PM. Upscale sushi restaurant close to the Menlo Park train station.
- 26 Draeger's Market, 1010 University Drive. Daily 7AM-9PM. High end supermarket with gourmet hot and cold deli items, sandwiches, salads, sushi, barbecued meats, and other delicacies. Can be taken to go, or eaten in Camp Fremont Park.
- 27 Amici's East Coast Pizzeria, 880 Santa Cruz Ave. Daily 11:30AM-9PM. Thin crust pizza is the main attraction here, but salads, pastas and sides are also offered.
- 28 Bistro Vida, 641 Santa Cruz Ave. Daily 11:30AM-2PM, 5:45-9PM. One of the two great French restaurants in town. It has a dark, cozy vibe with a large bar. It can get very busy and sometimes there's a wait. Has outdoor seating.
- 29 Ristorante Carpaccio, 1120 Crane St. Tu-Sa 11:30AM-2PM, 5PM-8PM. Local favorite for Italian food, very close to Menlo Park's downtown. It's often busy even on a Tuesday night. The crowd is slightly older.
- 30 Camper, 898 Santa Cruz Ave. Tu-Sa 5:30-8PM, Sa 10AM-2PM. California comfort food. The name is a portmanteau of California (CA) and Menlo Park (MP). If you want to eat at somewhere that's uniquely Californian, this is the place to do it. The food is fresh Californian fare and is accordingly expensive. Has outdoor seating.
- 31 Left Bank, 635 Santa Cruz Ave. Daily 11:30AM-8:30PM. The other French restaurant in Menlo Park. It's bigger than Bistro Vida and has a more lively bar. The atmosphere is friendly and bright. Has outdoor seating.
- 32 Flea Street, 3607 Alameda de Las Pulgas. Tu-Sa 5-8:45PM. Local star chef, Jesse Cool, has been serving local and sustainable California cuisine here since 1980.
Coffee and tea
Menlo Park has many coffee and tea shops. Local favorites are:
- 1 CoffeeBar, 1149 Chestnut St. Daily 6:30AM-6PM. An upscale coffeeshop. Has a variety of espresso and pour-over coffee options and a selection of breakfast treats and lunch options. During the day it can be hard to find a spot and there are a lot of people working on laptops.
- 2 Saint Frank Coffee, 1018 Alma St (across the railroad tracks from the train station). Daily 7AM-4PM. Serving pour over and espresso drinks with pleasant outdoor seating.
- 3 Cafe Borrone, 1010 El Camino Real (Parking available underground from Santa Cruz Ave). W-Su 7AM-4PM, Th F until 8PM. Classic European cafe serving breakfast, brunch and lunch with indoor and outdoor seating.
- 4 Philz Coffee, 506 Santa Cruz Ave. M-F 5:30AM-5:30PM, Sa Su 6AM-5:30PM. Famous for their custom hot and cold, pour over coffee options. Baked goods and light lunch fare are also available.
- 5 Canteen Coffee, 1300 El Camino Real (in Springline Plaza). M-F 7AM-3PM, Sa 8AM-2PM. Local coffee shop serving Sightglass coffee. Relaxed ambiance inside with plenty of seating. They have your typical coffee and espresso drinks as well as pastries and a music collection on vinyl LPs.
- 6 Andytown Coffee Roasters, 1302 El Camino Real (in Springline Plaza). Offering freshly roasted beans, coffee, espresso and snacks in a relaxed and pleasant space.
- 7 Starbucks, 643-693 Santa Cruz Ave (corner of Santa Cruz Ave and Curtis St). Daily 5:30AM-6PM. Worldwide coffee chain offers signature drinks, beans and light meals as well as convenient bathrooms and wifi. Indoor and outdoor seating available.
- 8 Peet's Coffee, 899 Santa Cruz Ave. Daily 5AM-7PM. A California-native chain of a coffee places. This shop on Santa Cruz Ave was the 2nd store established by Mr. Peet after founding the company in Berkeley in 1966. It's a good place to get a snack and people-watch with big windows that look out onto the street in one direction and onto a park in the other.
Most restaurants in Menlo Park close by 9PM, so a late night drink can be a challenge. While nearly all restaurants in town serve wine and beer, and some have a bar, there are several places that stand out for liquor and cocktails.
- 9 British Bankers Club, 555 Santa Cruz Ave. M-Th 4-9:30PM, F Sa 4-10PM, Su 4-9PM. If you're looking to have a drink somewhere nice British Bankers Club is hard to beat. They have two bars, one inside and one of the roof. The inside one is a long wooden bar with big windows surrounding it. California is a casual place but it's not uncommon to see men in a tie or women in a dress. The rooftop bar serves oysters and ismore relaxed. Even when Menlo Park is hot the rooftop bar is still an oasis of cool.
- 10 Canteen, 550 Oak Grove Ave. M-Sa 5-9PM. Cocktails, wine, craft beer are served along with small, tapas style plates.
- 11 Barebottle Brewing Company, 550 Oak Grove Ave, Suite B. Tu-Sa noon-11PM, Su M noon-9PM. Fresh, innovative craft beer styles available from 24+ taps.
- 12 Left Bank Brasserie, 635 Santa Cruz Ave. Su-Th 11:30AM-8:30PM, F Sa 11:30AM-9PM. Lively bar with indoor and outdoor seating.
- 13 Bistro Vida, 641 Santa Cruz Ave. M-Sa 5:45-9:30PM, Su 5:30-8PM. A French bistro with a dark and cozy vibe. Has extensive street-side seating outdoors.
- 14 Camper, 898 Santa Cruz Ave. M-Th 5-8PM, F Sa 5-8:30PM. Upscale contemporary California-style cuisine and cocktails with pleasant indoor and outdoor seating options.
- 15 Oak+Violet (In the Park James Hotel), 1400 El Camino Real. M-Sa 5-9PM. Cozy hotel bar with a beautiful indoor/outdoor patio.
- 16 The Dutch Goose, 3567 Alameda de Las Pulgas, firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-We 11AM-Midnight, Th-Sa 11AM-2AM. Family friendly sports bar and restaurant serving sandwiches, burgers and fries. Features many TVs and a casual patio strewn with peanut shells. Open late.
- 1 Best Western Plus Riviera, 15 El Camino Real (on the border of Menlo Park and Stanford), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. $230 per night.
- 2 Menlo Park Inn, 1315 El Camino Real, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. This contemporary and stylish inn is a unique presence amidst the charm of historic downtown Menlo Park and the Palo Alto area. $120 per night.
- 3 Red Cottage Inn & Suites (closed for renovation as of July 2023), 1704 El Camino Real, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. It's two miles from downtown, with cottage-like rooms with private mini-patios and gardens and complimentary deluxe breakfast bar.
- 4 Rosewood Sand Hill, 2825 Sand Hill Rd, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Noon. 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. $1500 per night.
- 5 Stanford Park Hotel, 100 El Camino Real. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Noon. On the border of Palo Alto next to Stanford Shopping Center and close to Stanford University. $280 per night.
- 6 Park James Hotel, 1400 El Camino Real, ☏ , Josh@parkjames.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Noon. Upscale hotel featuring a restaurant and bar called Oak + Violet. $350 per night.
The area code for Menlo Park and the surrounding area is 650.
Free Wi-Fi is available at:
- Menlo Park Library, 800 Alma St.
- Most coffee shops like Starbucks, Peet's and CoffeeBar
Phone and Computer Repair
- Techloop Electronics Repair, 708 Santa Cruz Ave
- Menlo Medical Clinic, 1300 Crane St. - Appointment required.
- The local newspaper is The Almanac. It's available for free along Santa Cruz Avenue in newspaper boxes.
|Routes through Menlo Park|
|San Francisco ← Redwood City ←||N S||→ East Palo Alto → San Jose|
|San Francisco ← Redwood City ←||N S||→ Palo Alto → San Jose|