Papua New Guinea Garden (Photo by urbanorganism)

Just because you didn’t go to Stanford doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the campus. Plenty of the private school’s beauty is open to the public — you just need to know where to look.

Bypass the crowds at Hoover Tower and obligatory photo in front of the Main Quad. Instead, explore the-not-so-obvious, hidden gems that we compiled for you:

Arizona Cactus Garden

Photo by megsnaps_

The Arizona Cactus Garden, home to over 500 different cacti and succulent species, was first planted by Jane and Leland Stanford around 1880 to accompany an estate that was never built. Today you’ll find lizards happily baking on rocky beds and overgrown agave the size of giant octopi. Take in the beauty and soak up the sun, but watch out for those prickly spines!

Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone River

Photo by krishna7stars

Located just northeast of the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, lies a slithering wall set a few feet below ground level. “Stone River,” created by British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, is made of sandstone bricks salvaged from Stanford buildings destroyed in the 1909 and 1989 earthquakes. Walk amongst the wall and feel the flow of Goldsworthy’s design. Two nearby picnic benches are shaded by oak trees, allowing for a serene lunch escape.

Stanford Mausoleum

Photo by kelleyabroad

A large stone tomb in the Stanford Arboretum is where Leland, Jane, and Leland Jr. permanently lie. Sphinxes guard the Stanford Mausoleum on every side, but visitors are welcomed to visit and pay homage to the founding family. Not so spooky during the day. Nighttime is a different story.

Rodin Sculpture Garden

Photo by metrograp

Alongside the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, an impressive collection of Rodin’s bronze sculptures are waiting. Headless bodies and bodiless heads leave visitors awestruck at Rodin’s handle on human form. Go at off hours to snag an unobstructed photo of The Gates of Hell and avoid sounds of young children dragging their feet through the rocky garden grounds.

Thai Cafe at Jordan Hall

Photo by kelseysry

If your tour leaves you hungry and you’re near the Main Quad, head to the psychology building (Jordan Hall) to experience the lore of Thai Cafe. Curries, noodles, soups and daily specials are $7 and served from a single window by the cafe’s infamous proprietor. Bring your cash because that’s all they accept and note that the window is only open 11am-2pm Monday-Friday.

Reflecting Pool in Engineering Quad

Photo by nickbastone

Four geysers rise from the reflection pool at the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center quad. Grass hills abound for sun bathing, cat naps and yoga stretches. A tranquil stop to rejuvenate for the remainder of the day.

Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden

Photo by _philadams

Across from the Faculty Club, a jungle rises and transports its visitors to a far away island. The garden offers shade and tree sculptures commissioned from artists across six villages of Papua New Guinea. White eyed crocodiles and masked men make these carvings come to life. Jackrabbits and ducks wander at dusk.

Nick Bastone Profile Photo

Nick Bastone

Editor of Is America Great?, Some things I learned at Square, and Cool Young Kids

You May Also Like

A growing tradition: At Christmastime, Peninsulans flock to the Santa Cruz Mountains to cut down their own trees

San Francisco Peninsula beach pollution has worsened, perplexing locals.

The mysterious case of the SF Peninsula’s poop-polluted beaches

Prohibition rum runners and deadly shipwrecks: Pescadero’s Pigeon Point Lighthouse turns 150

Growing up: How vertical plantscapes are bringing the outdoors inside