Downtown Los Altos Offers Palo Alto Residents VarietyMarch 14, 2014
In the last few years we have seen a significant facelift to downtown Los Altos. Once a very sleepy downtown, the Village, as downtown Los Altos is affectionately known, has become an exciting center of activities and entertainment. It is becoming a great alternative to those seeking some new sights and activities after spending time on the neighboring Palo Alto’s University Avenue and Mountain View’s Castro Street. On sunny weekends, Los Altos Avenue, which leads directly into downtown Los Altos, is lined with families on foot, bikes, or scooters.
Radiating a block or so on either side of Main Street, downtown Los Altos is home to boutiques, inviting cafes, salons, and “mom-and-pop” stores. Unlike the downtowns in neighboring Palo Alto and Mountain View, downtown Los Altos is still quaint, low key, and less hectic. According to the Los Altos Village Association’s website, “the tree lined streets of downtown Los Altos, lush with green in summer and verdant colors in fall, evoke the quaint, village atmosphere of small-town America.” One of the biggest testaments to the small-town feel is Los Altos’ Kiwanis annual Pet Parade, a wonderful tradition of the city since 1948, where hundreds of children and their cats, dogs, chickens, and other pets participate. This year’s Pet Parade is held on Saturday, May 17th.
Downtown Los Altos has been undergoing exciting revitalization at the hands of Google Co-Founder, Sergey Brin, who is a resident of Los Altos Hills, and his company, the Passerelle Investment Company. From Randy Lamb’s 46-high-end condos at the corner of West Edith Avenue and 1st Street, to the new podium-style Safeway that will be completed this year, to the new small businesses run and operated by The H&H Company are some of the new development projects of downtown Los Altos. Within the last few years, downtown Los Altos has become home to a child-friendly arcade, Area 151; the Helix by Exploratorium, a two-story community science center, funded by a 1-year grant by Passerelle; a hobby shop; a DIY studio; and not to mention wonderful new restaurants. In the summer, downtown Los Altos is also home to a weekly farmer’s market, which is a great activity for families.
Ten years ago, for local high school students on a tight budget, the only real lunch options in downtown Los Altos were the Italian Deli, Le Boulanger, The Posh Bagel, and Round Table Pizza. In the last few years, a host of new and exciting restaurants have come to downtown Los Altos. Spot Pizza on Main Street, is a hub of activity during the lunch hour, with local high school students and local businessmen and women craving a good slice of pizza and maybe a salad. Spot Pizza is a very affordable option while conveniently located close to the intersection of Main Street and San Antonio Road, across the street from the Library.
Two new Mediterranean restaurants have also come to downtown Los Altos. A few years ago, Los Altans had to go to downtown Palo Alto or Mountain View to get a falafel, a gyro sandwich, or tabouleh. Now with Village Kebab on State Street and Café Nur on Main Street, anyone craving a Middle Eastern meal need only head into the Village.
For young families with rambunctious and energetic children, two of the restaurants run by the H&H Company are perfect fits: Bumble and Forest on First. Both restaurants are on First Street and just a quick stroll to Area 151, a child-friendly arcade. These restaurants provide excellent children-friendly activities so the little ones are entertained while mom and dad enjoy a meal.
After finishing a meal, families can enjoy time outside. Downtown Los Altos is conveniently located a short bike ride from one of Los Altos’ hidden gems, Shoup Park. Hidden at the end of a downhill path, right off of University Avenue, this 3+ acre park with its abundant trees, two district play areas, and perfect location bordering Abode Park, is a perfect place to unwind and let the children run free. It is not uncommon to see children biking making around the park or enjoying a spontaneous game of football or soccer.
Downtown Los Altos has become an excellent option for families seeking a bit of variety in their weekend activities. With its small-town charm, the Village is a perfect weekend destination for a family wanting to get a good meal and a little activity.