In its earliest years of the latter 19th century, Menlo Park was awash with bucolic charm. Because of that, a temperate climate and a newly minted train station, many San Francisco businessmen chose to reside there. Leafy, secluded neighborhoods are still a hallmark, and with a small population plus a convenient Peninsula location, it remains an attractive place to live. The downtown's main artery, Santa Cruz Avenue, bustles with boutiques, shops and excellent restaurants, in addition to markets at either end: upscale Draeger's on one side and casual Trader Joe's on the other.
A favorite gathering spot is Café Borrone, across the street from downtown on El Camino Real. There's plenty of seating indoors and out, perfect for perusing material purchased at adjacent Kepler's, an independent bookstore that has been around more than 50 years.
The crown jewel of Menlo Park's architectural treasures is the Allied Arts Guild, a collection of shops, gardens and artists' studios. For golf enthusiasts, there is the highly regarded members-only 18-hole course at the Sharon Heights Golf & Country Club. Sunset magazine has its headquarters in Menlo Park, where every spring the facility hosts Celebration Weekend, a festival of activities featuring Sunset experts.
Of course, many residents just might cite Menlo Park's prime location as its No. 1 asset. It offers quick access to Interstate 280 and Highway 101, and is next door to Stanford University and Stanford Shopping Center. The city seems to straddle the bustle of the South Bay and the acres of lush woods and sprawling grasslands that form nearby open space. Quiet life in Menlo Park is deliberately reserved and protected.
Average household income: $89,100
Average household size: 2.4
Median age: 37.4
College graduates: 61.7 percent
Source: San Jose Mercury Online