Menlo Park, California
Spanish-Colonial Art Studios, Shops, Café, and Gardens
I love going to the Allied Arts Guild. It’s not just the unique artist studios and shops; it’s also the Spanish-Colonial architecture, delightful murals, peaceful gardens, and lovely café that draw me there. This charming historic property is tucked away in a residential neighborhood in Menlo Park not far from the Stanford Mall.
I enjoy viewing the Spanish-style white stucco buildings with tile roofs, painted doors, iron grill-work, and colorful gardens inspired by the Alhambra in Spain. But what I love most is feeling as if I’m in a village in Spain far away from the fast pace of Silicon Valley.
On a recent hot summer day, I headed to the Allied Arts Guild for lunch with a friend at the Blue Garden Café. The allure of the café for me that day was dining under a canopy of shade trees surrounded by flowering plants in the Garden of Delight.
The Blue Garden Café offers a peaceful garden setting for lunch or an afternoon tea. European-style bistro tables line the perimeter of a circular brick patio. The tables are well-spaced to allow for private conversations and unobstructed views of the gardens. At the center of the patio, water splashes from a fountain into a small, round, blue-tiled pool. The sound of the fountain creates a soothing and relaxing atmosphere.
Featured in the Garden of Delight are blue agapanthus, aster, salvia, and hydrangeas. We visited the garden when the deep blue hydrangeas were in peak bloom. It was a pleasant surprise.
After lunch, we took a leisurely stroll through the Rose Allee Garden. A stone path, lined with low hedges, leads you past rose bushes in the shape of small trees. There are views of the Blue Garden from this path should you choose to shop instead of dining at the café.
Before leaving the Allied Arts Guild, we wandered through the Court of Abundance Garden. A stone water fountain, marigolds, wallflowers, nasturtiums, and agapanthus decorate this garden. On this summer day, nasturtium blooms filled the garden with an abundance of yellow and orange color. Blue agapanthuses planted alongside an art studio provided a striking contrast to the golden colors of the garden. A vibrant mural, painted on the side of an art studio, depicts a woman carrying a basket of fruit on her head.
We didn’t spend time in the artists’ studios and shops on this trip. But on past visits, I’ve enjoyed seeing the handmade pottery, handcrafted jewelry, and art galleries with color etchings, watercolors, and oils. An Artisan Shop operated by a volunteer organization supports the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. The Artisan Shop promotes and sells the art of the handmade.
Whether you are from out of town or live in the Bay Area, the Allied Arts Guild is a unique Spanish-inspired complex well worth a visit.
Allied Arts Guild Website: http://www.alliedartsguild.org/