Stanford Shopping Center

Palo Alto is known for many things including the birthplace of Hewlett Packard and the highly acclaimed Stanford University. Another of its noteworthy claims to fame is Stanford Shopping Center. The open-air mall has a distinct European flair that is sprinkled with over 140 shops, eateries, cafes and lush gardens.

Set along the infamous El Camino Real bordering its Stanford University namesake, Stanford Shopping Center embodies the refined atmosphere of Palo Alto. As you stroll along its spacious outdoor corridors, there is much to discover. In addition to a myriad of shopping opportunities offered by renown, high-end stores and local retailers, the Center has many dining options, from Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar to kid-friendly favorites like The Melt and Max’s Opera Café. Its award-winning gardens with their water features and sculptures offer areas of tranquillity and beauty that locals and tourists alike find enchanting. Open all year round, the European Street Market abounds with colorful fresh produce and gourmet specialty foods.

The land on which the Center sits belongs to the University, part of its 8,800-acres of inalienable land. After the sharp decline and then sudden increase of students at the University during and after World War II, Vice President for Business Affairs at Stanford, Alf Brandin, decided it was time to investigate other ways to create income that wouldn’t leave the school so dependant upon tuition. He decided commercial real estate was a financially viable option, and in 1954, embarked on a development project on the parcel that had been Leland Stanford’s vineyards. When completed, the commercial complex totalled nine buildings that served as home to 45 businesses including Ross Clothiers, Blum’s Restaurant and anchor stores The Emporium and I. Magnin & Co. The Center was an immediate success, its popularity and income generation growing as Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue joined in the early 1960s. In 2003, the University sold the Center for $333 million while still retaining ownership of the land.

The Center has continued its expansion and evolution, adding new retailers as others left and building upon its Euro-charm that also included a distinct Palo Alto flair. The wold-famous Stanford Shopping Center attracts visitors from all over Silicon Valley and the world and as such, was the launching pad of the very first Victoria’s Secret and the inaugural (mini) Apple retail location.

Enchanting no matter the time of year, when decorated for the holiday season, the Stanford Shopping Center is a captivating site. A wonderful place to get into the spirit of the season, Palo Alto’s Stanford Shopping Center is the perfect place enjoy an afternoon shopping for gifts or delicious produce, relax in the garden with a cup of coffee or tea, or to enjoy an evening meal with friends or family.

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