Situated just outside of Palo Alto, California, Stanford University is one of the world’s most prestigious centers of higher education. (It was last ranked by U.S. News & World Report as fifth in the nation.) The private research university was originally founded in 1885 by its namesake, Leland Stanford, who made his fortune in the railroad industry and served as governor of California.
At over 8,000 acres, Stanford also has one of the largest college campuses in the U.S., and it is often considered one of the most beautiful. Though not on main campus, Stanford also owns the 1,200-acre Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, the seasonal Lake Lagunita, and even its own golf course. Of course, visitors to main campus will find no shortage of landmarks, some of the most popular including the Main Quad and Stanford Memorial Church – often referred to as “the University’s architectural Crown Jewel.” Though only open to the public once per year, Stanford Mausoleum (where founder Leland Stanford and his wife Jane are now buried) is another one of the school’s architectural highlights.
Sights at Stanford
The more academically oriented can take a trip to the Cecil H. Green Library, flagship of the university’s extensive library system. All told, the university’s collection includes almost 9 million volumes, of which over a quarter million are rare books. Though the university’s labs and research facilities are world-renowned, the arts also flourish at Stanford: the Cantor Center for the Visual Arts boasts pristine sculpture gardens and 24 art galleries in total, including the largest collection of Auguste Rodin works outside his native Paris, France.
Visitors to campus also love to visit the 285-foot Hoover Tower, one of the school’s most iconic structures and home to the Hoover Institution Library and Archives (originally founded by eventual U.S. President Herbert Hoover). Its design inspired by the cathedral in Salamanca, Spain, the tower’s observation deck provides stunning views of Stanford and the surrounding Silicon Valley area.
Whether you’re visiting as a prospective student or simply looking to enjoy a walk on the campus’s gorgeous grounds, getting to Stanford University is a breeze. Bus and train services will take you to the Palo Alto Caltrain Station, where you can take the free Stanford Marguerite Shuttle across campus. This is an especially convenient option for travelers coming from San Francisco or San Jose, but the campus is also easily accessible by car via Highway 101 or 280.