4 Ways to Cool Off in Palo Alto Summers

June through September is the warm season in Palo Alto. Temperatures typically reach 80 degrees and the city expects little to no rain during these months. Occasionally, summer brings to Palo Alto heat waves that take high temps close to triple digits. These high-pressure weather systems originate near the equator in the Pacific Ocean and tend to take both residents and meteorologists by surprise. Certainly, such weather is rare enough in Palo Alto to merit special news bulletins and extreme weather advisories.
If you live in Palo Alto or want to, it helps to have strategies and routines for summer swelters. Complicating matters is the City of Palo Alto’s ban on filling new swimming pools. As the drama of California’s historic drought unfolds, Northern California communities like Palo Alto get the trickle-down effects, and the more mercurial the temperatures, the more disruptive the weather can be to your life.
If you’re in the area looking for real estate or if you’re visiting one of the many beaches, you’ll want to have a contingency plan for how to stay cool in Palo Alto. Here are four creative ways to maintain and enjoy your lifestyle when the map on the news turns red.

1. Seek indoor or nighttime events and activities

For example, as a break from using your computer, you could visit the Computer History Museum to learn how this all happened. The museum highlights the deep past of computer programming that’s led to today’s Googles, Facebooks, and what-have-yous. It’s located in Mountain View and suits both adults and younglings who are technologically inclined. The museum’s signature exhibit, “Revolution,” takes you through the first 2,000 years of the evolution of computing. Revolution and its 19 galleries occupy more than 25,000 square feet.
The City of Palo Alto recommends Rinconada Pool and the Mitchell Library as places safe from mirage-inducing heat levels. If you haven’t been to Rinconada, it’s a public pool on Embarcadero Road with separate areas for laps, recreation, and wading, plus fountains and kids’ play areas. The Mitchell Library (open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.) is highly rated and exudes the sense of infinite possibility unique to the best libraries.
For one-time events, consult Palo Alto event calendars on,, and Together these calendars represent close to a full picture of communal social and recreational opportunities in Palo Alto. In any given week, options may include specific events (meditation, mapmaking, children’s theater, etc.) and cultural programming (poetry readings, art festivals, etc.).

2. Get your workout in early

One of the annoying things about extreme weather is that it can wreck your routine for physical activity. To be safe, you should avoid strenuous workouts in extreme heat from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For those who don’t belong to a gym or own a Peloton, it can take some imagination to break a workout-related sweat.
If you’re a golfer, you probably know to book the earliest tee time you can when the forecast calls for heat. If you’re the first group off, you get the added benefit of no wait times. Foursomes at Baylands (the best public course in Palo Alto) starting around 7:30 a.m. should be off the links by noon. The same principle applies to runners and cyclists. Hit the trail early! For a different pace, you also can walk the charming Gamble Gardens early in the morning.

3. Drive up the coast

One of the unique things about the Bay Area is that unexpected weather patterns emerge from the nearby water. For example, sometimes, when it’s hot and dry in Palo Alto, the weather gets surprisingly cooler as you travel up the peninsula. And you might find that getting out from the city into nature is an added relief.
You might consider heading north for a day trip when thinking of ways to beat the heat. Once you get out of the residential Bay Area, opportunities abound. The Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Hamilton Wetlands are just a short drive northward in Marin County.

4. Take in a movie at a public or home theater

We mentioned earlier the iffy status of home swimming pools anywhere in California, including Palo Alto. Until such time as the drought relents, an air-conditioned movie theater is your coolest option. Two unique theaters — the Stanford Theatre and the Aquarius Theatre — play the nearest showtimes to Palo Alto homes. The former shows films from Hollywood’s Golden Age, and the latter shows the best independent and foreign films. But if you want a ticket to a mainstream release, your best bets are ShowPlace ICON Mountain View or Redwood Downtown 20 and XD.
Knowing what you know now about heat waves in Northern California, you might feel like installing a home theater, or buying a home that has one. The total cost for a home theater room ranges from a few thousand dollars to $50,000+ and depends on your stipulations for variables like type of screen (television or projector), gaming consoles, surround sound (5.1 or 7.1), home theater chairs or couches, multi-level seating, and custom lighting.
Because of society’s affinity for home entertainment, it’s likely that your home theater someday will add more value to your home than it originally cost. That could prove especially true for homes in the few places as affluent and tech-savvy as Palo Alto. Lump in the inevitability of Web3 and VR and it’s not a stretch to say theaters are the new pools. Not to push home theaters too much, but they can be the centerpieces of children’s birthdays, lairs for streaming entertainment, and sanctuaries for hot days.

Stay cool!

If you’re moving to Palo Alto and searching for real estate, don’t worry if you’re coming from a colder climate. With the right approach, you can thrive in the hotter months. If you’re ready to take the next steps and start looking for your forever Palo Alto home, reach out to experienced local agent Gretchen Swall for guidance.

*Header photo courtesy of Visit California

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A natural born problem solver, Gretchen is known for her resourcefulness in challenging situations. As an agent who is prepared for all situations and knowledgeable in her craft, she is a huge asset to her clients and is thorough in educating them every step of the way.