Six scenic destinations for “walking-talking meetings”
Spending too much time sitting in fluorescent-lit conference rooms? Then why not let your feet do the talking and take your next meeting on the road? Here are six scenic destinations for walk-and-talk meetings that promise to boost your creativity*, improve your health and give you a whole new perspective on the amazing place where you work.
The Red Barn
Before Stanford was a world-class university, it was Leland Stanford’s Palo Alto Stock Farm for harness-racing horses. The Red Barn was headquarters for Stanford’s horse breeding business, and from 1880-1891, the farm’s trotting horses broke world-speed records in all age brackets. After Leland Stanford died, Jane Stanford had to sell some of his famous horses to keep the university financially afloat until his estate was settled. Today the Red Barn is home to the Stanford Equestrian Team, and on most days you can watch its riders training in the nearby ring. Map your walk here.
Designed by the same architect as San Francisco’s Coit Tower, Hoover Tower was named after Herbert Hoover, the thirty-first president of the United States, who graduated in Stanford’s Pioneer Class of 1895. The tower is part of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, which was founded with Hoover’s large collection of early twentieth-century print and archival materials. The first nine floors of the 285-foot building house over one million volumes on social, political and economic change in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The observation platform on the fourteenth floor is open to visitors and offers an aerial view of the campus and much of the Bay Area. An elevator ride to the top costs $4. Map your walk here.
The Arizona Cactus Garden
Hidden in a grove of eucalyptus trees between Palm Drive and Quarry Drive, many Stanford employees are unaware of the scenic walking path that loops by the Stanford Family Mausoleum, the Angel of Grief sculpture and the Arizona Garden. The botanical garden of cacti and succulents was installed by landscape gardener Rudolph Ulrich in the early 1880s, as part of a grand new Stanford family estate that was never completed. When the Stanford’s only child, Leland Stanford Jr., died unexpectedly of typhoid in 1884, his grieving parents abandoned their plans and instead founded a university in his memory. Map your walk here.
The Noteworthy Trees Tour
When Frederick Law Olmsted, the renowned landscape architect of New York City’s Central Park, began planning Stanford’s physical campus in 1886, he rejected Leland Stanford’s plans for vast expanses of lawns and formal gardens. Instead, he advocated for more natural landscaping and groves of trees:
“With a rare opportunity to work in the West, Olmsted intended a living tree museum, featuring a complete library of native trees as well as drought-tolerant species from around the world.” Source: Stanford Magazine
Today there are estimated to be 43,000-plus individual trees on campus, with more than 400 different species documented by Stanford tree lovers at trees.stanford.edu. If you’d like to view some of the more noteworthy trees, Stanford botanists have organized a website of tree maps and walks. Download a map or sign up for Stanford tree news here.
Stanford’s Innovative New Power Plant
In 2015, the Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI) project, moved the university from a 100% fossil-fuel-based heat-and-power plant to a more efficient electric-heat recovery system that utilizes renewable energy and electricity from the grid. It was one of the first large-scale implementations of the heating/cooling technology roadmap recommended by the International Energy Agency. This new system, along with Stanford’s solar power procurement, reduces campus greenhouse gas emissions by 68% from peak levels. In its first year of operation, it reduced campus potable water use by 18 percent. The plant offers free guided tours twice a month on Thursdays at 10 a.m. Map your walk here.
Cornelius Bol’s Donkey Park
Stanford employees who work near Page Mill Road can walk down the shady path to Bol Park and feed a carrot to Perry, the real-life inspiration for “Donkey” in the animated film Shrek. The land and adjacent donkey corral was once owned by Cornelius Bol, the Stanford physics professor who invented the mercury-neon high-intensity vapor lamp in 1935. For 20 years, this bright-white “Bol lamp” was used in movie projectors and searchlights. It was reported that a Bol bulb the size of a matchstick could illuminate a man 500 feet away. Bol often allowed neighborhood kids to play with his donkeys, and after he died, his heirs sold 4.75 acres to the city for $65,000, half the market value, to establish Bol Park. Map your walk here.
To learn about more amazing things to do and see on Stanford campus, visit the Discover page.
* Give your ideas some legs: the positive effect of walking on creative thinking. Oppezzo M, Schwartz DL. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2014 Jul; 40(4):1142-52. Epub 2014 Apr 21.
Courtesy of Stanford Medicine Connected.