Menlo Park's California live oak, located on the grounds of the Civic Center, is just one of the many attractions found in and around Menlo Park. The city's rich and diverse history is alive and well today throughout local neighborhoods. The original wooden sign post displaying the city's name created by town founders Dennis J. Oliver and his brother-in-law D. C. McGlynn may be gone, but plenty of attractions are still around today for all to enjoy as part of the experience of living in or visiting Menlo Park.
Menlo Park Attractions - Stanford University - Sunset Magazine Gardens
Founded by former California governor Leland Stanford, Stanford University remains a vital part of Menlo Park, evidenced by the university's contribution to the city's thriving downtown district. The university struggled some during its early existence, but soon thrived when expansion began in the years following World War II. The university would soon contribute to the growth of the area's famed Silicon Valley. This embrace of technology would become a perfect fit for Menlo Park, especially with companies like Facebook calling the city home. The sprawling campus is a big draw for locals due to several events sponsored by the university throughout the year that are open to the public.
Sunset Magazine Gardens
Considered a lab for western living, the massive garden grounds here are an impressive collection of flowers, plants, and trees not easily found in one place anywhere else in the world. Originally designed by Thomas Church, the garden is divided into sections representing the various climate zones in the west. Even the grasses are carefully chosen to continue the theme of western living. Guests can take a self-guided tour during the work week. Location: 80 Willow Road in Menlo Park.
Menlo Park Historic Landmarks
• Camp Fremont - Named after Major General John C. Fremont, the camp was used as a training facility for the 8th Division of the United States Army during World War I. The camp operated from 1917 through 1919. Once spanning 7,203 acres of land in Menlo Park, the camp had 1,124 structures used to train 27,000 men during its peak operation.
Location: Today, all signs of the camp are gone, but it's former location is now the corner of Santa Cruz Avenue and El Camino Real in Menlo Park.
• Menlo Park Railroad Station (Caltrain station) - Built in 1867 by the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad, this is the oldest railroad station in California that is still operating today. The basic structure has remained virtually unchanged, with two side platforms still welcoming trains to the city. Currently owned by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, nearly 4,000 passengers still use the station today.
Location: 1120 Merrill Street in Menlo Park.
• Church of the Nativity - Constructed under the guidance of Archbishop Alemany of San Francisco, this Roman Catholic church officially became a parish in 1877 with William Speckels acting as the church's first resident pastor. Meant to provide spiritual guidance to people in the surrounding areas, the church would change locations during its early years, prompting locals to refer to it as a "roamin' Catholic church." Featuring hand-made stained glass windows and side altars, the church survived the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and remains a popular gathering place today.
Location: 210 Oak Grove Avenue in Menlo Park.
• Rock Magnetics Laboratory - The original laboratory was built in the 1940s and replaced by the current structure in 1996. In the 1950s, scientists at the laboratory conducted experiments on reverse-polarity magnetization in rocks. The goal was to prove that rocks of the same age, regardless of where they are found on Earth, have the same magnetic structure. Research here lead to more accurate plate tectonic models.
Location: 345 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park.
• Barron-Latham-Hopkins Gate Lodge - Also known as The Gatehouse, this is the oldest structure in Menlo Park and the only gatehouse still in existence in the State of California. The 280 acre estate built in 1864 by leading capitalist William Eustace Barron.
Location: 555 Ravenswood Avenue in Menlo Park.