This page was created by Pat Jordan when she asked neighbors how to entertain out-of-town guests when they visit. Feel free to add your suggestions and to correct outdated information.
Cantor Art Museum, Stanford Campus, includes the Rodin Sculpture Garden on the south side and a nice cafe. Lomita Drive at Museum Way. The new Anderson Collection (modern art) building is next to Cantor on the north side. http://www.museum.stanford.edu https://anderson.stanford.edu/
Other Stanford Campus ideas: Memorial Church (lovely mosaic angels on the ceiling), Hoover Tower, and the Arizona Cactus Garden. http://web.stanford.edu/group/religiouslife/cgi-bin/wordpress/memorial-church/
Shoreline walk to see the birds (at end of San Antonio Drive), and Shoreline Park and Cafe (at end of Shoreline Drive): Take your binoculars, have lunch, watch the boats. http://www.mountainview.gov/depts/cs/shoreline/ http://www.shorelinelake.com
Rengstorff House - If open, visit it while at Shoreline Park; they have docent tours. http://r-house.org/
Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center. Take Embarcadero Road to the end, going North, and walk around the duck pond and out on the boardwalk. The interpretive center building is closed for renovation during Winter 2016 and early Spring 2017, but the Baylands remain open.
Gamble Gardens. Free - open daylight hours - 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto (past Churchill Street, before you get to Embarcadero). http://www.gamblegarden.org
Palo Alto Community Garden, next to main library at 1213 Newell Road - you can stop and see what people are growing on any particular day.
Computer History Museum, off Shoreline and Pear Avenue. http://www.computerhistory.org. Good lecture series.
The Tech Museum in San Jose. http://www.thetech.org/
Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park, SF. Purchase tickets ahead of time to avoid the line and plan for enough time. http://www.calacademy.org/
Allied Arts Guild, open Mon.-Sat., 10-5, 75 Arbor Road at Cambridge Ave., Menlo Park. http://www.alliedartsguild.org/
Community School of Music and Art, on San Antonio Road in Mountain View for small events and concerts. http://www.arts4all.org/
Los Altos History Museum. http://www.losaltoshistory.org
Lock Museum on Castro Street in Mountain View. Check before going to see whether it is open. http://www.jehninglockmuseum.com/
Filoli House and Garden Tour, Woodside. http://www.filoli.org
The Museum of American Heritage, Palo Alto, features a Lego train layout during the Christmas/New Year's season. See the Calendar under Programs & Events. http://www.moah.org
Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose (a favorite). http://www.cdm.org
Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito; recommended for a nice day since you wander around between buildings. It's near the water. http://bayareadiscoverymuseum.org/
Palo Alto Junior Museum on Middlefield, with small zoo. http://www.friendsjmz.org
Hidden Villa, Los Altos. A wonderful place to see a CSA at work! Walk through the chicken coop, watch the pigs, goats, cows and enjoy a picnic. http://www.hiddenvilla.org/
Redwood Grove, Los Altos. http://www.losaltosca.gov/recreation/page/redwood-grove-nature-preserve
Windy Hill, Portola Valley, Skyline entrance. Short easy 0.2 mile walk along Anniversary Trail with view of entire south bay, SJ to SF. http://www.openspace.org/preserves/pr_windy_hill.asp
Borel Hill, Russian Ridge, on Skyline just north of Page Mill. Entrance across from Skyline vista point and parking. 0.5 mile walk uphill. Views of the SF bay, hills and ocean. http://kevingong.com/Hiking/BorelHill.html http://www.summitpost.org/borel-hill/219546
NASA's Ames Research Center, Mountain View. Small, but interesting and free place to visit. https://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/home/exploration.html
SAN FRANCISCO--about an hour drive.
SF MOMA. Just reopened 2016 and it is better than ever. This can easily be a day visit. There's excellent shopping nearby. Or, you can do SFMOMA in the morning, break for lunch at Yerba Buena or any of the other nearby eateries. Then stop by the Jewish Museum, just a block away, in the afternoon. Finish the day with some shopping, just a block away, and call it a day.
OAKLAND--about 50min drive, during non-peak hours
Oakland Museum-- not overly large museum and very family friendly. Underground parking is accessible. The California exhibits, ongoing, are a good introduction to California history. We never tire of it. Usually have ongoing exhibits of contemporary art. Nice cafe for light meal. The giftshop is a lot of fun. Their buyer has a good eye.
Mountain Winery, Saratoga
Winetasting, Livermore. No need to drive 1-1/2hr to Napa Valley! Livermore is closeby; about 45min away. Makes for a very nice day trip. You can drive from winery to winery, or, bike along the roads. I'm partial to Ruby Hill Winery and Concannon, but there are many excellent wineries. All friendly and low key and not overly crowded.
The Left Bank, Menlo Park (have the fondue appetizer)
Carpaccio, Menlo Park (Italian), have the coffee con vov at the end of the meal
Il Fornaio, Palo Alto (great brunch/breakfast)
La Fiesta, Mountain View (Mexican), authentic atmosphere and great margaritas
Calafia, Palo Alto. Local, organic and affordable meals. Take out and Lunch available.
Chaparral Ranch; Milpitas; horseback riding opportunities for all ages: trail rides, lessons, day camps, beach rides, and more. http://www.chaparralcorporation.com