A Hidden Adventure: The Stanford Arizona Cactus Garden

03.21.2021

If you have a thing for cactus or just want a stroll in a lovely garden, I highly recommend this hidden gem on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, CA. 

Have you ever been to Stanford’s campus?  You are in for a treat. As one of the world’s leading research universities, Stanford is known for many things, but few people know about the Arizona Cactus Garden. The campus is quite beautiful and is home to a Rodin sculpture garden, many historical monuments, and the very special Arizona Cactus Garden.

Originally, Jane and Leland Stanford commissioned the design of The Cactus Garden by landscape architect Rudolf Ulrich in 1881. They planned on building a beautiful home surrounded by a manmade lake and lovely gardens. Sadly, their only son died of typhoid fever at the age of 15, in 1884. Consequently, they never built the home, or the lake, and instead named a university after their late son, Leland Jr. The Cactus Garden later became a popular place for Stanford students to stroll through with their dates. Over time, however, the Arizona Cactus Garden was sorely neglected. Thankfully, in 1997, a group of volunteers began renovating and preserving the historic garden.

It is so pleasant, calming, and simple. No fees, no fuss, no crowds and very covid friendly! And plenty of great photo spots! There are over 500 cacti and succulents in this small garden. It’s a little patch of Arizona in northern California!

Plan on roaming out of the garden to see The Stanford Family Mausoleum with Sphinxes and another memorial of the Angel of Grief statue nearby.

Now, move your car across the road and treat yourself to some lunch and shopping at the awesome Stanford Shopping Center!

Know before you go

The garden is tucked into campus a bit, so Siri may have you pulling into random driveways. It is located on the south side of the mausoleum off of Quarry Road between Campus Drive and Arboretum Road. The best place to park is in a parking lot near the corner of Welch Road and Quarry Road. There is a path into the garden from Quarry Road.

xx,

Carrie

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