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What to See at Stanford University: 10 Cool Spots on Campus

Discover what to see at Stanford University on a photo walking tour of Stanford University from the perspective of an alumnus.
I went to graduate school at Stanford University a (*cough*) few years ago now. I still go back to the San Francisco Bay Area a few times a year for work but it's been at least 5 years since I last visited Stanford. 

I decided to rectify this on my last visit and did a proper Sidewalk Safari photowalk around campus. Here are ten things I noticed as I took a trip back in time to explore my alma mater.

What to see at Stanford University: Memorial Church

1. Great Chemistry

I naturally started my walk near the chemistry department since I spent so much time here pursuing my PhD. It was here, in the Chemistry Gazebo, that I defended my thesis and officially became Dr. J.
Chemistry Gazebo at Stanford University

2. Hoover Tower

Hoover Tower is a great anchor point on campus and can be seen from almost anywhere. I didn't climb to the top this time but have done so on past visits. It is possible to go up and take in sweeping views of Silicon Valley. 
Hoover Tower at Stanford University

3. Memorial Church

Stanford's non-denominational Memorial Church is one of the first things you see in the distance when entering campus on Palm Drive. The colorful paintings on the facade sparkled in the summer sunshine.
Stanford University Memorial Church

4. Time Capsules

Each year, graduating seniors contribute to the class time capsule. Countless students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors walk over the markers each day under the shaded portico near Memorial Church. The tradition dates back to 1892. 

There doesn't seem to be an official timeline for opening the time capsules but one 'planted' by Jane Stanford herself in 1898 was recently discovered accidentally during a construction project. 

Markers for the class time capsules at Stanford University

5. Tressider Union

I can't say that as a graduate student I spent all that much time at Tressider Union. However, my fondest memory is slurping down a cold busting Jamba Juice when I wasn't feeling well. 

I made a pit stop at Jamba Juice on this hot summer day to sup on a refreshing mango smoothee.
Jamba Juice at Tressider Union in Stanford University

6. Birdwatching

Stanford's campus is nicknamed The Farm and features some amazing natural beauty. I wasn't into birdwatching as a graduate student, but I am now. 

I spotted an American Robin and a Western Bluebird as I was strolling around the university.
American Robin and Western Bluebird at Stanford University

7. Lake Lagunita

I also rarely took hikes as a graduate student (too busy with my research, I guess...). This time, I rectified that with a walk around the dry bed of Lake Lagunita. 

I glimpsed The Dish (centerpiece of another popular walk) and Hoover Tower in the distance. Up close, I saw dry but beautiful flora and what's that log...what's that log moving across the trail? 

It turned out to be a gopher snake. They are intimidating because they are so large but apparently not poisonous. 
Stanford University - Lake Lagunita

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: College towns are some of my favorite travel destinations in the U.S. because they have such great energy. Visit CMU and Pitt if you find yourself in Pittsburgh, the University of Michigan if you are in Downtown Ann Arbor, or Vassar College if you plan a Poughkeepsie itinerary.

8. Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden

Calming myself after the unexpected snake encounter, I collected myself in the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden. 

The installation was created in 1994 (a year before I arrived at Stanford) by artists from New Guinea and according to the project director, Jim Mason, was "an opportunity to experiment with and reinterpret New Guinea aesthetic perspectives within the new context of a Western public art space."  

In all this time, I never knew this beautiful and peaceful art installation was just a short distance away between the Chemistry Department and Lake Lagunita. I really needed to get out more as a graduate student. I suppose that's why I'm making up for lost time now.
Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden at Stanford University

9. The Gates of Hell

The Stanford campus features a wealth of Rodin sculpture. The Thinker was aptly placed on campus as was the darker Gates of Hell

Soon after I arrived on-campus to pursue my chemistry degree, ground was broken on a cutting edge art museum and renovations to the Rodin Sculpture Garden. The result is a zen outdoor space to sit and appreciate Rodin's art.
Gates of Hell at the Rodin Sculpture Garden at Stanford University

10. Solar Charging Stations

Some things change and some things remain the same over time. We've seen a number of examples of the latter (e.g., Rodin sculpture, Jamba Juice, the old chemistry gazebo). 

However, when I chanced upon this solar powered device charging station, I knew we had firmly arrived in the 21st century. 

Meant to resemble an old gas pump, the station featured a number of ports to plug in laptops, phones, and tablets for students on the go taking advantage of a natural energy source that Stanford gets plenty of...the sun!
Solar charging station at Stanford University
I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane. If you have the chance to visit Stanford during a visit to the Bay Area, I highly recommend it. It's one of the most beautiful campuses I've been to and I've visited more than 25 universities around the world over the years.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other ideas for things to do in the San Francisco Bay Area? Here are some of my top suggestions:
Why not see multiple areas around San Francisco on a Bay Area birdwatching hike at various places in the South and East Bay? Another great option (if you are less outdoorsy) is to take yourself on a self-guided tour of the best margaritas in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: What to See at Stanford University: 10 Cool Spots on Campus
What to See at Stanford University: 10 Cool Spots on Campus
Discover what to see at Stanford University on a photo walking tour of Stanford University from the perspective of an alumnus.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog