Downtown Palo Alto is a lovely tourist destination. There lies my disappointment. I like my college towns to be edgy, progressive and artsy. This town caters to the rich tourist more so than the poor college student. Having said this, it is still a very walkable downtown with everything located on University Avenue. There are very few hipster joints, but you will see upscale clothe stores. Not too many bohemians, but plenty of Polo and North Face.
Not far from the Stanford University campus it is a nice little downtown that reminded me of Pasadena, California which similarly to Palo Alto has a university famous for tech graduates - Cal Tech. Downtown Palo Alto is lined with numerous shops and restaurants and signs for many small software startup companie line the side streets.