GETTING THERE: Palo Alto is about 17 miles from San Jose, Calif., and just over 30 miles from San Francisco or Oakland. Numerous carriers fly from the Washington area airports to all three cities; round-trip fares typically start at about $350, but sale fares sometimes drop to as low as $200. If you prefer not to rent a car, Caltrain travels from downtown San Francisco or San Jose to downtown Palo Alto. Details: 510-817-1717, www.caltrain.com or www.transitinfo.org.

GETTING AROUND: Palo Alto is extremely walkable, and you can ride free shuttles provided by the town and the university.

WHERE TO STAY: Cowper Inn (705 Cowper St., 650-327-4475, www.cowperinn.com) is a downtown B&B in a Craftsman-style house furnished with antiques and wicker rockers on the porch. It has 12 rooms with private baths for $150 a night double; two rooms with a shared bath start at $80.

The Sheraton Palo Alto (625 El Camino Real, 888-625-5144, www.sheraton.com) is a pleasant low-rise between the town and the campus and a few blocks' walk to either one. During the week a double generally starts at $179, but rates can drop to $119 on weekends.

For those with a luxury budget looking for elegance in the midst of downtown, consider the Garden Court Hotel (520 Cowper St., 800-824-9028, www.gardencourt.com), where rooms start at $299.

WHERE TO EAT: Cool Cafe (650-725-4758) at the Cantor Art Museum on the Stanford campus serves organic cuisine with a great view onto the Rodin Sculpture Garden. Sandwiches and salads start at about $5.

Vino Locale (431 Kipling St., 650-328-0450) is a small European-style wine bar featuring wines from 70 area wineries and "slow food" meals. Salads and sandwiches start at about $6, or reserve ahead for the seven-course seven-wine meal served monthly for $75 to $135.

For beer, British ale and great fish and chips, try Rose and Crown (547 Emerson St., 650-327-7673), where bar fare starts at about $6. Vietnamese cuisine goes upscale at Tamarine Restaurant and Gallery (546 University, 650-325-8500); dinner entrees range from $15 to $22.

Director Francis Ford Coppola owns Cafe Niebaum-Coppola (473 University, 650-752-0350), which explains the movie memorabilia. Food is rustic Italian, with entrees beginning at $9.50 and pizzas from $10 to $14. Evvia Estiatorio (420 Emerson St., 650-326-0983) is a cozy Greek restaurant with great lamb dishes. Dinner entrees start at $15.75. Wolfgang Puck's Spago (265 Lytton Ave., 650-833-1000) has upscale American cuisine with Asian and Mediterranean influences, just like the one in Beverly Hills. Dinner entrees range from $19 to $38.

Fun places with moderately priced but excellent food include La Morenita (800 Emerson St., 650-329-1727), a family-owned Mexican place where the daily special goes for $5.95. For fab cheeseburgers and milkshakes in a 1950s-style diner, head to the Peninsula Fountain and Grille (566 Emerson St., 650-323-3131).

WHAT TO DO: Free daily walking tours provide a quick overview of the central parts of the Stanford campus, but the $5 golf cart tours take you to the outer boundaries of campus, including the Red Barn Equestrian Center, a national landmark still filled with horses.

You may stroll through most of the campus's major attractions, including the Rodin Sculpture Garden, the Cantor Arts Center, the Herbert Hoover exhibit and Hoover Tower ($2 for observation deck) and the Memorial Church, but for guided tours consider signing up before your visit. Hiking and biking trails are also open to the public. For details about tours and campus events: 650-723-2300, www.stanford.edu.

INFO: Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, 650-324-3121, www.paloaltochamber.com.

-- Cindy Loose