Everything is loud and I hate it.
January 5, 2014 1:29 PM   Subscribe

I live in Palo Alto and find it impossible to concentrate and get anything done in public, my office being the only exception I've found. My apartment has single-pane windows and faces a busy street. I can hear traffic, car stereos, and even loud sidewalk conversations really, really well. The cafes where I can actually get a seat are also super-loud. I am picking up 77-80 dB on my phone mic at La Boulange right now, even when no music is playing. It is unbearable. Where can I find respite (defined as being able to concentrate, read, and work on a laptop) within 30 minutes of downtown PA via some combination of bike, bus, and Caltrain? (Do not suggest headphones or earplugs.)
posted by Nomyte to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What about a study carrel at your local library? Mine has tiny rooms around the sides that can be reserved for set amounts of time.
posted by Beti at 1:34 PM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I live in Chicago and have the exact same problem (though I would love to find a coffee shop that plays no music-- do such places exist??). I don't know if you are near a university library that has public access but I find them to be much better than public libraries in every way.
posted by Blitz at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2014

You may have already considered this, but there are a lot of quiet places on the Stanford campus. There are the various libraries, but some like the main Green one require a pass (which you get can get for 7 days), but others don't require one. Not many people go to the specialty specific libraries; I remember the Earth Sciences Library being a good place to study...plus cool geology artifacts to look at. You could also try finding open rooms in the academic buildings when there's not a lecture going on.

Here's info on visitor wireless access on campus.
posted by slomodinkens at 1:42 PM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

The single quietest place in Sili Valley is the San Mateo County Law Library, which is very close to CalTrain. This is followed by the cafe at the Rosicrucianism temple in San Jose.
posted by parmanparman at 2:06 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you start poking around with libraries, be aware that the downtown Palo Alto library sometimes has obnoxiously limited hours, the temporary main library location is small and somewhat crowded, and the Mitchell Park library is also in a temporary location (haven't been there). Instead, I'd hop on a Caltrain to Mountain View and go to the library on Castro street - it's huge, which makes it quieter than the Palo Alto ones.

The quietest cafe in downtown Palo Alto is probably Tea Time, but it may not be quiet enough.
posted by asphericalcow at 3:39 PM on January 5, 2014

When I've needed a study place I've had luck finding unused, unlocked classrooms on the Stanford campus. I thought that without a student ID, you can't get into the libraries there, but slomodinkens has the better info.
posted by Rash at 4:29 PM on January 5, 2014

The Mountain View public library has a quiet study area on the second floor.
posted by plinth at 5:42 PM on January 5, 2014

I really think Stanford is your best bet. There are quiet, accessible places in both Meyer Library and the second floor of Tresidder Union. I know the student union seems a strange place to suggest, but really, the second floor is typically very quiet.
posted by shesbookish at 6:31 PM on January 5, 2014

Menlo Park's main library is open until 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Totally bikeable from downtown since it's a straight shot down Alma with a bike bridge over the creek.
posted by littlemisslaika at 7:47 PM on January 5, 2014

Most of Stanford's specialty libraries agree accessible to the public. The math library (in the bath building, 380) has a nice balcony and is extremely quiet, bordering on deserted. And there are even outlets on the balcony. I also remember there being a Coupa Cafe inside Y2E2 that was extremely quiet, but that could be old information.

Off-campus, have you tried prolific oven?
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 10:44 PM on January 5, 2014

Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but you might consider using a white-noise generator at home. It tends to even out the sounds you do hear so that they are less distracting.
posted by Aleyn at 12:28 AM on January 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

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