The SF Mid Peninsula is anchored by the vast lands and perennial contributions of Stanford University. In 1938, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started HP in a Palo Alto garage on Addison Street, and Silicon Valley was born. The mighty influence of Stanford and Silicon Valley contribute to all Mid Peninsula cities and real estate markets, including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, Redwood City, Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Here's what makes each of these beautiful communities unique.
The city of Palo Alto sometimes feels like a fantasy city, with its leafy trees, open spaces, adorable architecture and progressive values. If you visit Palo Alto, you’ll find about 20 parks sprinkled throughout, with most neighborhoods within walking distance of a place to play, a library and an elementary school. Overhead, the streets are thick with trees, a neighborhood walk will be filled with charming nooks and crannies, community centers and other praiseworthy amenities.
Menlo Park, sandwiched between Redwood City and Palo Alto at the southern edge of San Mateo County, is relatively small (33,000) but mighty in terms of local people’s achievements, quality of life, and things it is famous for. Just a stone’s throw from Stanford University, Menlo Park has benefited from the university’s presence as much as its big sister, Palo Alto.
Atherton’s winding, tree-shaded streets are enough to attract most people, but those looking for a home there also appreciate the ample lot sizes, which locals call "the Atherton Acre." Located in the middle of the bustling Mid Peninsula, Atherton, with its dim street lighting and low street signs evokes an English village. Privacy is paramount in Atherton, as well-known athletes, business people and other celebrities live here. On many streets, high walls and fences keep the curious from seeing much.
If you want to a chic townhouse by a marina or in a cabin in a wooded canyon or even an historic bungalow near a downtown, Redwood City has all of it. Two decades ago, the city was a sleepy suburb with limited nightlife. Now there are a lot of things to do in Redwood City, especially in its comparably lively downtown, well in to the wee hours. There are plenty of live performances, movies and new restaurants and bars as well as a gourmet butcher and hip coffee shops.
The town of Woodside began as a convenient location for sawmills to process redwood lumber in the 1830s. It gradually morphed into small horse and cattle ranches, and a place for wealthy San Franciscans to build country estates, especially after stagecoach service began in the 1850s. Woodside’s green rolling hills are studded with oaks and redwoods, and its Old World charm preserved in its Town Center, where historic buildings are protected and used for real estate offices, restaurants or banks.
House hunters who spend their work days in crowded cities might want to feel like they live far away from the hustle and bustle of urban life, in a place where they can see stars from their backyards and hear owls hooting. Portola Valley is only 13 minutes from downtown Palo Alto, yet it feels like it’s hours from civilization. The “walk score” of most homes is a number 5 to 7, which is very low, but the town’s quiet idyllic life and array of nearby trails (many which run right behind people’s homes) make up for it.
Los Altos’ oak-studded terrain draws many who seek to live where there are larger lots, high-quality schools and yet close proximity to Silicon Valley companies. Remnants of apricot and plum orchards are evident here, but Los Altos successfully bridges a rural lifestyle with the sophistication of modern-day living on the Mid Peninsula.
The town of Los Altos Hills, just west of its sister city of Los Altos, offers larger, more luxurious homes on inviting narrow roads with stunning bay views. Large, gated properties populate the rolling foothills along with a rural canopy of native oaks and manzanita. Los Altos Hills does not have a town center but it's within minutes of downtown Los Altos.
Sun-splashed Mountain View is a dynamic and diverse city with sprawling parks and a vibrant downtown. Located in the northern part of Silicon Valley, Mountain View is home to Google, Synopsis and Microsoft. It has a bustling downtown nestled next to a quaint residential neighborhood with picturesque Victorian homes alongside 1920s style bungalows