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At BeWell, it is our mission to guide and empower the Stanford community to live healthy lifestyles and create a vibrant culture of wellness. So why would a list of families activities on campus be relevant to wellness initiatives?
As stated in a just-published Stanford Medicine publication, “Connections with others alter not only our production of hormones but the actions of immune cells and the pattern of our sleep cycles. Supportive relationships, not surprisingly, can improve mental health, but they can also enhance physical health” (learn more: Relationships: Ties that heal, Stanford Medicine, Spring 2016). BeWell recently explored these same themes in our “Connections” month in March, 2016 (see Connecting for wellness and A culture of connections).
We’d like now to turn those wellness concepts more specifically to families. It is often said that “blood runs thicker than water,” meaning that family comes first, and that strong family relationships lie at the heart of an individual’s well-being. We believe that to stay strong as a family, there must be a focus on quality time together … and most of us do not have the time or money to travel extensively with our kids. So, once in a while, take a look no further than the Stanford campus for dozens of ideas for short, convenient, family activities that even some cynical teens in your family might (without admitting it, perhaps) truly enjoy. And for your “adult” children, over 18, look to the end of this article for activities you can still do together — because family time shouldn’t end when you’re your kids go off to college.
The family map
Hidden in plain site on the beautiful Stanford campus is an eclectic mix of family-friendly sites. Check out such Stanford campus treasures as sphinxes, koi ponds, a mechanical clock and model railroad. Visiting with older family members?: Check out the Architecture & Landscape at Stanford map (a self-guided tour).
Visit the Observation Platform at Hoover Tower. The observation platform is located on the 14th floor of Hoover Tower. When you step off the elevator, be welcomed by a tour guide who is available to point out Stanford University landmarks and, on a clear day, sights around the San Francisco Bay Area. The tour only costs $3.00 for adults, and children under 12 cost $2.00 each. Open 7 Days a week from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion has exhibits open to the public and is located next to Hoover Tower. The exhibits are open Tuesday–Saturday from 11 a.m – 4 p.m.
Self-guided treks/visits (all FREE):
- Have a picnic in the Oval.
- Walk the labyrinths (Windhover and Memorial Church).
- Visit the BeWell Community Gardens or Stanford Educational Farm (tours from 12:15-12:45 p.m., by appointment at this email).
- Attend a 30-min. Compline Service (hymns, anthems and chants sung by Stanford and local choral ensembles in the tranquil candlelit ambiance of Memorial Church), held select Sundays during the academic year, 9:00–9:30 p.m.
- Explore the Stanford Foothills with a hike to The Dish.
- Learn about the just-opened New Perimeter Trail.
- And here’s a great list of hiking trails:
Be a participant!
Staff, faculty and retirees have access to nearly 20 athletic, recreation and wellness facilities on campus — including one of the world’s finest golf courses, a driving range, tennis courts, playing fields, three 75,000-square-foot sports and rec centers, an aquatic center, and one of the largest collegiate climbing walls in the country — all with the swipe of your Stanford ID card. Spouses/domestic partners with a courtesy ID card and dependents up to age 26 with a recreation ID card can access the state-of-the-art facilities as well. More information: Explore Stanford’s athletic and recreation facilities.
Be a spectator!
Did you know that there are only 7 ticketed sports at Stanford (football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, baseball and men’s and women’s soccer)? There are 29 other varsity sports that are free! Water polo (men’s and women’s), men’s volleyball, wrestling, women’s lacrosse, synchronized swimming, golf, field hockey, tennis… and so many others! Some sports are harder to watch, like sailing or fencing and squash, but they’re free nonetheless.
If you are a Stanford faculty/staff member, there are many ways you can get discounted tickets to sports and other events. You can even attend certain ticketed events for free (even a football game!) with your family (up to 4 people) through BeWell, if you are benefits-eligible and show that you have taken the Stanford Health and Lifestyle Assessment (SHALA).
Keep your eye out (see: http://www.gostanford.com/) for special sports events hosted on the Stanford campus. For example, just recently, Stanford hosted the NCAA Women’s Tennis, 2nd Round, right at the Taube Tennis Center. While the event cost $8, imagine taking your daughter to see 3 matches occurring at once in one stadium: thrilling! Here’s Stanford’s own Carol Zhao, ranked #5 in the country, in action… right next to her, her teammates are playing against Texas A&M. The poise, determination and team work (hear players shouting out words of encouragement in between points!) of these women was truly inspiring … and all easily seen from the front row without a reservation! (And, by the way, on May 24, Stanford’s Women’s Tennis Team won the whole NCAA tournament!)
Team Cardinal Kids Club
Created as an affordable option to introduce families to The Farm and our exemplary student-athletes, this official kids club of Stanford Athletics is available for all youth in 8th grade and below. Team Cardinal members receive a Team Cardinal VIP Pass, lanyard and free admission to over 75 events (including all men’s and women’s soccer games, all women’s volleyball games, all women’s basketball games and all baseball games).
The Cantor Arts Center has programs just for families — family tours, studio art-making sessions, family films and more.
The Stanford Art and Art History Department galleries, including the Stanford Art Gallery, are currently featuring exhibits that may appeal more to your teens and adult children, and less to your very young children. But check back throughout the year, as in the past they have featured such free, family-friendly exhibits as the marvelous “On the Shoulders of Elephants” photography exhibit in April/May 2016.
One activity that really can bring a family together, in a very unique and rewarding way, is volunteering together. If you are a Stanford alumni, or know someone that is, consider linking up with Beyond the Farm — which seeks to extend Stanford’s spirit of service to communities around the world through the volunteer efforts of alumni, family and friends. Some recent examples: the Reading Bonanza in East Palo Alto — #BeyondTheFarm#readingisfun.
Or how about a family walk/run together for a good cause?
Example: June 19 is the Summer Scamper Race.
Or have you thought about donating blood together? The Stanford Blood Center is often very much in need of certain blood types, and there are donation locations not just in Palo Alto, but also in Menlo Park and many mobile locations. It’s easy to make an appointment to donate. Coming up soon: the BeWell Blood Drive, which occurs right at ASRC Basketball Court #1 on Friday, July 1, from 11am-5pm. Each donor gets a pair of tickets to any Cinemark Movie Theater!
While the aforementioned hiking, volunteering, art exhibits and sports events may attract your older children as much as some who are younger, there are also “adult-only” activities to consider doing with your “kids” who are 18 or older.
Take a class together!
Stanford Continuing Studies has hundreds of interesting classes for those over 18. Stanford Recreation also offers Fitness & Rec classes — not just for staff and faculty, but also their spouses and their dependents over age 18. The Stanford Health Improvement Program (HIP) also offers over 200 Healthy Living, Behavior Change, and Group Fitness programs and classes.
Attend a lecture together!
Too busy for a class? How about attending a guest speaker, workshop or special symposium together? Staff and faculty receive free — or highly discounted — rates to attend lectures and events, which include world-renowned speakers and cultural performances. Speakers on campus have included the Dalai Lama, Warren Buffett, Fatou Bensouda, George P. Shultz, Wendy Kopp, Bill Gates, Tony Blair and Oprah Winfrey. Check out http://visit.stanford.edu/activities/ to learn more, or see Stanford Continuing Studies: events/speakers.
When you are in a class or attending a talk, you may not have the opportunity to relate directly to your family member(s)… but there is something very compelling about having “a shared experience” that you can talk about later. After the class or talk, have a nice meal on campus… or just head home and await some interesting family dinner conversation!
We all know that it’s a challenge getting around campus, finding parking, and that it’s difficult even on weekends with your family if you’re attending popular, special events or even just want to stroll around. Here are some transportation tips/resources/discounts that can help. More parking/transportation options here.
Know of another family-friendly site on campus? Share the love! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what we’ve missed.