Two of our favorite things to do are going to concerts and adventuring/exploring, and in the summer, our travels often include both. We get our concert tickets first, then plan an entire vacation around the concerts, finding all sorts of fun things to do in the area during the day.
On our recent trip to Mountain View, California to see Dead and Company play two shows at Shoreline Amphitheater, we spent a couple days exploring the area and visiting the Computer History Museum, the Tech Museum of Innovation, the NASA Ames Exploration Center, Mission Santa Clara De Asis, and Stanford University, where we visited the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden and Hoover Tower.
Hoover Tower was our primary destination on the Stanford University campus because of it’s observation deck and stunning views of the Stanford campus, the foothills, and the San Francisco Bay Area. We visited Hoover Tower on a gorgeous, sunny, clear day so our views stretched far and wide!
Hoover Tower is a 285 foot tall Stanford University landmark with a 14th floor Observation Deck and a carillon of 48 bells. Inspired by the cathedral tower at Salamanca and designed by architect Arthur Brown, Jr., the tower was finished in 1941 to celebrate Stanford University’s 50th anniversary. Today it receives approximately 200 visitors each day.
Hoover Tower is one of four buildings that make up the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, a Stanford-affiliated public policy research center founded by Herbert Hoover.
The lobby of the tower houses the Herbert Hoover and Lou Henry Hoover exhibits, featuring memorabilia from the careers and lives of the 31st U.S. president and his wife, both of whom were Stanford alumni. No photos are allowed anywhere in this area!
The nine floors above house the Hoover Institution Library and Archives. Before Herbert Hoover became President of the United States, he amassed a large archive collection of materials related to early 20th century history and donated them to Stanford to found a “library of war, revolution and peace”.
The next three floors are used for offices and at one point, exiled Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn lived on the 11th floor upon invitation by Stanford University before he moved in 1976.
The Hoover Tower Observation Platform is located on the 14th floor. When we arrived, there was a line to visit the observation deck with a wait of about 20 minutes. When it was our turn, a docent took us up the elevator to the 14th floor where we were greeted by a tour guide who is available to answer questions and point out the sights.
We enjoyed our leisurely visit, first relaxing by the fountain in front of the tower, then exploring the lobby museum exhibits, and finally visiting the observation platform. The views were spectacular, the breeze was blowing, and it really was a perfect day.
Hoover Tower Carillon
At the top of Hoover Tower, there is a carillon of 48 bells.
The original carillon of 35 bells was cast in Tournai, Belgium and in 1940, was gifted to Stanford University for installation in Hoover Tower by the Belgian-American Education Foundation. The largest bell of the original 35 is inscribed, “UNO PRO PACE SONO” which means “for peace alone do I ring.”
The carillon underwent a two-year refurbishment at the Royal Eijsbouts foundry in the Netherlands and returned to the tower in 2002. The restoration replaced some bells with newly cast ones and the added new bells to increase the instrument’s range to four octaves. With a new keyboard and 48 bells tuned to concert pitch, the carillon makes beautiful music for special university events.
Know Before You Go
- Hoover Tower is part of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace and is located at 550 Serra Mall, Stanford, California 94305 at Stanford University in Santa Clara County.
- On the 14th floor of the 285 foot tall bell tower is the Hoover Tower Observation Platform that provides visitors with 360 degree views of the Stanford campus, the foothills, and the San Francisco Bay Area. A tour guide is available to point out landmarks and sights.
- The tower was completed in 1941 to celebrate the university’s 50th anniversary.
- Open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and closed during academic breaks and finals.
- Admission is $4.00 for adults and $3.00 for seniors and children 12 and under — cash only. All children under the age of 8 must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18 and no more than two children are allowed per adult.
- Strollers, skateboards, and backpacks or large bags are not allowed on the platform and cannot be stored in the Hoover Tower lobby.
- Permit parking is monitored Monday thru Friday from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm. Metered parking is monitored Monday thru Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Parking is free on evenings and weekends.