A prestigious town, Atherton offers high-end homes that include older traditional ranchers as well as magnificent new estates. Living here you get plenty of space, as most lots are at least 1 acre.
Atherton’s neighborhoods have distinct personalities. For example, you can find a warm sense of community in Lindenwood, privacy and exclusivity in the gated properties of central Atherton , and a country feel (and Las Lomitas schools) on the west side of town.
There is strong family connectedness in Atherton, and residents want to preserve the area and its history. For equestrians, Atherton is home to the Menlo Circus Club, a show barn with public access that hosts weekly polo matches April–October.
Menlo Park is a haven for families. With highly rated public and private schools and a plethora of parks, it is a wonderful community for children. Adults will be attracted to its location (with proximity to Stanford University and Sand Hill Road and easy Caltrain access) and the many amenities of its charming downtown, which hosts a weekly Sunday farmers market.
The home selection in Menlo Park is diverse. There are small cottages, older traditional ranchers, remodeled ranchers, and beautiful new homes of all architectural styles. Lots sizes vary by neighborhood. You will find smaller lots (5,500 square feet) in the “county area” (serviced by San Mateo County instead of the city), mid-size lots (8–12,000 square feet) in central and West Menlo and larger lots (12–14,000 square feet) in Sharon Heights. Some other neighborhoods include, Allied Arts, Felton Gables, Linfield Oaks and The Willows.
Menlo Park has a small-town feel and is a very social community. Residents meet at downtown restaurants, fitness studios, and the city-run gymnasium, tennis courts, and aquatic complex at Burgess Park. Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club and Menlo Country Club (nearby in Woodside) are also part of the community.
A mid-size city that feels like a big one, Palo Alto is an energetic, multicultural community. It is at the heart of Silicon Valley, and this history as well as the present tech scene give it a sense of prestige. The city’s proximity to Stanford University also attracts residents as does its excellent public and private schools.
Although Palo Alto is more spread out than most of the other mid-Peninsula cities, many neighborhoods offer excellent walkability, and residents are into biking. Most lot sizes are smaller than Menlo Park and Atherton ranging from (~5–7,000 square feet), but this does not diminish home values. Anything is possible in Palo Alto including the opportunity to purchase the size you desire, up to an acre.
Neighborhoods that are exclusive yet warm and charming include Old Palo Alto and Crescent Park. Other sought-after areas include Green Gables, Midtown, and Professorville, and South Palo Alto. Architectural styles run the gamut. There are 1930s cottages, adobe and Santa Fe styles, ranchers, remodels, and new homes. One style that is somewhat unique to the area is the Eichler (modern single-story homes with open floor plans and lots of glass), and there are many of these in Palo Alto.
Palo Alto boasts two major business districts, along University and California avenues. Town and Country Shopping Center and Stanford Shopping Center, at the northern edge of town, also offer many restaurants and shops. Farmers markets take place downtown (May–Dec.) and year-round on California Ave.
The City of Palo Alto has a large recreation department with many class offerings and facilities such as community centers, parks, Rinconada Pool, and the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo.
Portola Valley hugs the western edge of Silicon Valley. It has an open and outdoor feel and a slightly rural sensibility. Living here means you are a bit farther away from shopping than in other communities. But what you lose in commerce, you gain in natural space. Lots are at least 1 acre except in the Ladera area, and many properties have views.
The town has plenty of conveniences, though. There are grocery stores, a few restaurants, and Portola Valley’s architectural-award-winning town center, which includes a library, playing fields, and a community center and hosts concerts and a farmers market.
There is a great sense of community in Portola Valley. Residents love the naturalness of their town and are dedicated to preserving the landscape. With great schools, a wonderful cycling community, and an equestrian community around the Portola Valley Training Center, there is something for everyone.
The Ladera section of Portola Valley is the closest to the amenities of Menlo Park and Palo Alto. It offers ranch-style homes on 8–12,000-square-foot lots. Homes in desirable central Portola Valley are of a various architectural styles, and there is contemporary construction in Westridge. Portola Valley Ranch is a neighborhood of modern homes attached to a community center and trails for those who like the wildness of the area but want to minimize yard duties.
A world apart, Woodside offers exclusivity and privacy as well as a strong sense of community in a rural setting. The town’s culture derives from a combination of horse-lovers and cyclists, and this translates into a down-home, warm feel.
Within the horse community, you will find a show-barn culture as well as the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County. These groups come together at the Woodside Trail Club, which helps maintain hundreds of miles of well-groomed riding trails across Woodside and Portola Valley. There is an annual Day of the Horse event in town, and the mounted patrol sponsors a junior rodeo as part of Woodside’s July 4 celebration.
Woodside offers the luxury of space. Average lot size is 1–3 acres, and home styles include older ranchers as well as exquisite estates. The area is also adjacent to several open space preserves, some which allowing biking and riding.
Furthering its country credibility, there is no downtown or shopping district in Woodside. There is a town strip with a town hall, fire station, several stores, a market, and a few restaurants. However, it is an easy trip to the conveniences of neighboring mid-Peninsula cities. Woodside does have its own public school district (K–8), and it is excellent.
I am knowledgeable about many other Peninsula communities and have sold homes from San Francisco to Santa Clara. If you would like details on a town or city not detailed above, please get in touch.