Whether you’re on campus because you didn’t feel like spending a fortune on plane tickets home or if you just want to avoid the inevitable Thanksgiving family drama, you’ll never have to worry about being bored during your week off. Below is a list of 10 fun and affordable things to do and places to visit in the Bay Area, all either biking or driving distance from campus.
Within biking distance
Black Friday shopping at the Stanford Shopping Center.
That designer jacket you’ve had on your Pinterest style board for months? Probably on sale now.
Go on a dessert crawl of downtown Palo Alto. My friend did this for her birthday, but Thanksgiving is also a valid excuse to gorge yourself on the wonderful sugary treats just a bike ride away. From ice cream sandwiches to macarons, gelato to cupcakes, your options are limitless.
For 9 years we’ve been leaving a little sweetness everywhere we go. To thank you for your love, support, and oh so #sweet indulgence, we’re giving away a sweet mini cupcakes to the first 90 Guests today!!! We’ll also be giving samples of Kara’s Karamel Corn and fresh Lemonade! Happy Birthday to us and #thankyou to you! #thesanfranciscosweet #XoXokaras
A photo posted by karascupcakes (@karascupcakes) on
Watch a movie at the Stanford Theater.
Step back into the 1920s in this vintage movie theater for some classic black-and-white movies (with a live accompanist on organ!). At this point you’re basically Gatsby.
Volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House.
Spend your Thanksgiving giving back by volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, which provides temporary accommodations for families with ill children at Lucille Packard. Grab a group of friends and sign up to make home-cooked meals.
Sheraton Palo Alto managers prepared dinner last night for the families at the Ronald McDonald House! @sheratonpaloalto @rmhstanford A photo posted by Sheraton Palo Alto (@sheratonpaloalto) on
Picnic on top of the Dish
Take friends/your significant other and a picnic basket to the top of the Dish. Not only can you enjoy your meal with a view, but you can also work off those calories simultaneously.
Within Driving Distance Visit Half Moon Bay.
About a 45-minute drive from Stanford, Half Moon Bay is a quiet coastal community famous for its gigantic Ritz-Carlton with a private golf course. Visiting the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, where you can see harbor seals and tide pools, is always a highlight, as is a trip to Sam’s Chowder House. Enjoying a hearty bowl of clam chowder on their oceanfront patio beats out dry turkey in my book, at least.
Happy Labor Day! Join us on the patio at Sam’s…we have an adirondack chair with you name on it! #relaxing #sunshine #laborday #halfmoonbay #samschowderhouse #seafood #oceanview A photo posted by samschowderhouse (@samschowderhouse) on
Rent an AirBnB by the beach (Sausalito).
Sausalito is a cute oceanfront town right outside of the city. Laid-back and full of chintzy shops, it’s great to visit for a day trip. AirBnB has several listings in Sausalito from a room in a houseboat to a beachfront cottage, perfect for a few days away from the buzz of Silicon Valley. Can you say quality R&R?
Explore San Francisco’s Japantown.
Less famous than Chinatown, Japantown boasts the same mix of tourism and authenticity. Japanese restaurants and stores are nestled all within a city block, perfect for exploring and spending the day. Favorite shops in Japantown include Belly Good Cafe’s character ice cream crepes (the owner hand-makes each crepe into an unique edible cartoon animal) and Daiso, where everything is $1.50, from Japanese seaweed snacks to cute stationary.
Walk Golden Gate Park (and the Golden Gate Bridge)!
Unlike driving, walking/biking across the Golden Gate Bridge is free of charge. About 2 miles both ways, the bridge can be chilly but offers great views of the Bay (and the occasional dolphin). An alternative is walking Golden Gate Park, just south of the Bridge. The Park’s unique features include a bison paddock, Dutch windmills, a historic merry-go-around and a Japanese tea garden.
Watch a Concert/Musical.
Artists performing in the Bay Area during Thanksgiving break include Grammy-winning jazz singer Esperanza Spalding, Chance the Rapper (sold out), indie pop artist Børns, and in a real throwback, ‘90s teen star Jojo. Also, the national tour of the musical, If/Then, is stopping at the Orpheum Theatre until early December. Thanksgiving break is prime time for catching Queen Elsa herself, Idina Menzel, in this original Broadway production.
Send Samantha Wong more cool places to visit at slwong ‘at’ stanford.edu.