Stanford for the Pre-College Crowd (like WAY Pre-College)

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Known for grooming tech scions like Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Stanford University has set itself apart as a top-tier educational institution that attracts the best of the best. But, did you know the 8,100-acre campus has plenty to offer families and young kids as well? Read more to find out why Stanford is not just for college co-eds anymore.

memorial churchPhoto: Memorial Church by Cathy Lara


Campus Tour
Looking for the full Stanford experience? Then head to the Visitor’s Center for a student-led, hour-long walking tour of The Farm— the local’s nickname for the university. Tours are free and offered twice daily at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., seven days of week. (Though tours may be limited during academic breaks or holidays. Check here for availability.)

295 Galvez St.
Stanford, Ca

red_barn_stanford_horsesPhoto: Stanford Equestrian Team FB

The Red Barn
This historic, on-campus stable and equestrian center will wow little horse lovers. Watch the horses strut their stuff in the arena or play in one of the turn-out areas.

Insider tip: There are some visitor parking spots in the Electioneer Parking lot, just outside the Equestrian Center.

Friendly reminder: Though beautiful, these creatures are also powerful, so be sure to keep a close watch on your little ones, remind them not to run and refrain from feeding or petting the horses without the owner’s permission.

100 Electioneer Road
Stanford, CA

Memorial Church
With 140 stained glass windows and countless colorful mosaics, it’s no wonder Memorial Church has been called Stanford’s “architectural crown jewel .” Built in 1903 in honor of Leland Stanford, one of the university’s founders, this non-denomination church is open to expore, except during regularly scheduled service times. Stop by for a free, guided tour on Fridays at 2 p.m., or explore the church on your own following this self-guided tour.

450 Serra Mall
Stanford, Ca

Hoover Tower
To view the Stanford campus from above, ride the elevator to the top of Hoover Tower and let a tour guide point out the sights. Tickets are $2 for adults and $1 for kids under 12, and children under the age of 7 must be accompanied by an adult.

Insider tip: Strollers are not allowed at the top of the tower and cannot be stored in the lobby, so it may be a good day to use the baby carrier instead.

550 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA

Cantor Arts Center

Photo: Manda Bear B. via Yelp

Cantor Arts Center
It’s never too early to awaken the inner Picasso in your little ones. Visit the Cantor Arts Center and explore 5,000 years of art history spanning several continents under one roof. Admission is free and the museum—accessible to wheelchairs and strollers—is open six days a week.

Insider tip: Children are always welcome at the museum, however family-focused tours are offered Sundays at 12:30, 1, 1:30 and 2 p.m. Check out a Family Art Pack from the main lobby or ask for one of three Family Art Guides during your visit to unleash the inner Picasso in your little ones.

328 Lomita Drive at Museum Way
Stanford, Ca

stanford oval lawnPhoto: Cathy Lara


The Oval
Drive, bike or stroll down Palm Avenue (the official entrance to Stanford University) to find the perfect place to soak in some sun—and maybe let a little genius rub off on you—while on campus. Bring a blanket, ball or picnic basket and join the other visitors and students along the promenade to enjoy perfectly manicured gardens, plenty of grass to run around on and even a few fountains to splash in.

Palm Dr.
Stanford, Ca

Main Quad
Located at the heart of the Stanford campus between Memorial Court and Memorial Church, the Main Quad is surrounded by the 12 original classrooms of Stanford University. Each lap is just over a quarter mile, so if “get moving” was one of your goals for 2015, the Quad is a great place to start.

Lake Lagunita
Though depending on the time of year, it may not look much like a lake, Lake Lagunita offers a great opportunity for an easy, flat hike on the south side of campus. The dirt path around the lake is just shy of 1 mile and is suitable for strollers and explorers of all ages.

Corner of Junipero Serra Blvd. & Campus Dr.

The Dish
With its wide, paved path, hiking The Dish is a great opportunity to let the kids get some energy out while enjoying great views of the Bay Area and local wildlife. And, if you make it to the top on a clear day, you can see all the way to San Francisco.

Insider tip: There is not much shade on the trail, so be sure to pack your sun protection. Also, watch out for guards patrolling the area on golf carts.

Corner of Campus Dr. & Junipero Serra Blvd.

tootsie's stanfordPhoto: Cathy Lara


Coupa Café
With its think global, buy local mindset, Coupa Café provides delectable goodies at fair and responsible prices. From pastries to paninis and fair trade coffees to quesadillas, this quick and delicious option will satisfy cravings big and small, sweet and savory.

Insider tip: Sit outside to enjoy your treat while you watch the little ones romp in the sunshine.

Coupa Café at the Green Library
571 Escondido Mall
Stanford, CA

Coupa Café at Y2E2
473 Via Ortega Mall
Stanford, CA

Coupa Café at Huang Engineering Center
475 Via Ortega Mall
Stanford, CA

Coupa Café at GSB (Graduate School of Business)
655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA

Tootsies at the Stanford Barn
Not to be confused with the historic Red Barn that houses Stanford’s Equestrian center, Tootsies offers generous portions in a refined, rustic atmosphere. Sit outside amongst the lavender bushes and enjoy a sandwich or salad or take your cappuccino to go and stop by Stanford Shopping Center, only a short walk away.

Insider tip: Like them on Facebook to stay up to date on the day’s specials.

700 Welch Rd.
Palo Alto, Ca

Cool Café
The Rodins aren’t the only works of art on display at the Cantor Arts Center. Open for lunch, Cool Café offers inspired gourmet soups, salads and sandwiches made from local, sustainably-raised ingredients at a reasonable price.

Insider tip: Speaking of Rodin, be sure to check out the Rodin sculptures in the garden next to the café.

328 Lomita Dr.
Stanford, Ca

What are your fave spots in Stanford? Share your hangouts and hidden gems in the comments section below!

—Cathy Lara and Ashley Burton

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