Ask A Local About Los Altos
How long have you lived in Los Altos? My parents moved my family to Los Altos when I was a young child and I’ve been here ever since.
What do you like best about it? It’s full of natural beauty and encourages its’ residences to try new things. If you’re 60 and want to take up the banjo, there’s a class for that. And if you’re in your 20’s and want to take up knitting, your neighborhood will encourage it! I also think it’s really cool that the city offers a Newcomers Club, which hosts social gatherings so you can get to know your neighbors.
What do you like least about your neighborhood? There’s honestly not much to complain about. I love how you’re surrounded by nature and that the town is a bit more rustic. I guess my only complaint would be is that there’s not a lot of nightlife. But Palo Alto is only a 10 minute drive from away, so it’s not too bad.
What kind of transportation do you use? Los Altos is a small enough town that there is no real ‘mass transit’ option. There are buses and wonderful walking trails and bike lanes though. And the Caltrain is about a 10-15 minute drive in Palo Alto so if you don’t have a car it’s not terrible. Though I would suggest owning one.
How has it changed over the years? For me, the most notable change has been the downtown. It’s always improving and adding new shops and restaurants.
What's the neighborhood housing stock like? The number of homes on the market right now is pretty slim.
Better for buyers or renters? I’d say you probably have more options as a renter, but if you’re looking to rent a home I think it makes more sense to buy one.
Nearest grocery store (and why you like it)? Luckily I live next to Foothill Produce, which has relatively inexpensive produce and a large variety.
Good for kids? Absolutely! Many of the residents here see the school district as something to invest in rather than just benefit from, making it one of the most reputable in the state. On top of that, Los Altos is often ranked in the top 40 safest cities in America.
Notable Residents: Los Altos has been home to Frank and Josephine Duveneck who founded Hidden Villa; Jesse Grant, son of Ulysses S. Grant; Andrew Grove, co-founder of Intel; Charles Geschke and John Warnock who founded Adobe; Mary Ross, the first Native American female engineer; poet, Janet Lewis; world-renowned blues guitarist, John Lee Hooker; and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google.
Best place to get Boba? Teaspoon is by far one of the best places in Los Altos...okay maybe the whole South Bay. This place is always crowded but there is indoor/outdoor seating which I do appreciate and they’ve always got an amazing soundtrack playing in the background. While I do love the basic black milk tea with boba, they also have an amazing grapefruit green tea.
Best place to grab a drink? I really enjoy Honcho’s. They offer a great selection of craft beers, wine, sake, champagne, and specialty cocktails. Plus free popcorn and pretzels! What I really enjoy, is that they have outdoor seating and once a month you can enjoy a live band. It’s a very fun atmosphere.
Best place to experience the outdoors? If you have children Shoup Park is a great place to stop by. There’s plenty of slides, jungle gyms, and swings. Plus there’s a cute little creek that kids normally play in. Redwood Grove Park is also a really wonderful spot right next door to visit for a nice walk. It’s a lovely place to get outside, watch the white butterflies in the Spring, or enjoy a picnic. And it’s also stroller and wheelchair accessible! I’d also suggest Windy Hill Preserve and the San Andreas Fault Trail for hiking.
What’s something unique about Los Altos? In 1899, young carpenter J. Gilbert Smith arrived from Oregon to pursue an engineering degree at Stanford. After he bought 5 acres of land on which the town of Los Altos would later arise. There he built a farmhouse, while also planting his apricot orchard (a section remains an orchard to this day). His house survived the 1906 earthquake without damage and is today designated a California Historical Point of Interest.
Favorite guilty pleasure? Ever since I was a child, I have loved coming to Hidden Villa. It’s a working farm and wilderness area that has about 4 miles of hiking trail. It also has great programs and tours for people to learn about the animals and gardens.
Favorite neighborhood traditions? Oh god, where to begin? The Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Fall Festival every October. Then downtown merchants oversee the annual Festival of Lights Parade, held the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The Los Altos Village Association hosts a variety of events, including the Easter Egg Hunt, Arts & Wine Festival, outdoor Friday Movie Nights, Halloween Spooktacular and the seasonal farmers’ market. Then, Los Altos Forward organizes monthly First Friday that promote local shopping and dining. And last, but certainly not least, local service clubs host many events as well. For example, the Kiwanis Club hosts the beloved Pet Parade every May, which precedes the Rotary Club’s Fine Art in the Park show.
Your favorite fun fact about your neighborhood: Los Altos earned its place on the map thanks to Sarah Winchester (yes, the same Sarah Winchester who built the Winchester Mystery House) and the railroads. Sarah once owned the land the city now encompasses. And when Altos Land Co. needed to purchase a strip of her land for the Southern Pacific Railroad line, she insisted that it buy her entire property. Because they now had more land than required, they set about making the surrounding area a destination.
Claim to fame: Though it’s located in Cupertino today, Apple was born in Los Altos in the garage of Steve Job’s parents.
Final words? Los Altos is a wonderful and welcoming community, surrounded by nature, and filled with heart.