Gilroy, the Garlic Capital of the World

Gilroy Garlic Festival

Garlic Festival – much missed!

Gilroy is a scenic area well known for wineries, farmland and fruit stands.  More than anything,  it’s most iconic produce is garlic, which used to be celebrated late each July with the annual Garlic Festival, which, sadly, has been discontinued.

In summer days, the scent of garlic fills the early morning air and blows north along the coastal foothills so that those of us in Silicon Valley get a healthy nose full when grabbing our morning paper off the driveway. This has been my experience since I was a small child and I’m happy that all the progress of the last 40 or 50 years hasn’t changed the smell of garlic heralding mid-summer.

If you’re exploring this city, be sure to also check out Morgan Hill and San Martin, the other South County communities, too!

Gilroy: shopping, dining, wine tasting, parks, golf, and more

A nice easy, and fairly fast trip by car will bring you to South County and to this city nestled at the base of the coastal range.  It’s a wonderful day trip to explore the backyard of Silicon Valley, or better, take a whole weekend to get to know the area.  There’s a nice downtown area where you can do some shopping and dining.  Go out a bit and there are a number of fabulous wineries to check out.  And lest we forget, Gilroy is a local epicenter of bargain shopping.

At the intersection of highways 101 and 152, the Gilroy Premium Outlet Mall is found.  Go with the intention of spending money, because resistance is futile once you park your car.  We have shopped there many times and often found some especially good pricing on clothes.

Many will attest that cars are found for a better price there, too.

This area is also home to a charming family amusement park (aimed at younger kids), Gilroy Gardens.  Adults and children alike will appreciate the astounding topiary and twisted special trees which are unlike those you’d find anywhere else.  Even if you don’t have small kids, it’s worthwhile to visit this park just to see the amazing trees at least once.

Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Coyote Valley and nearby areas make up the “south county,” which has a little slower pace of living and quite a bit more affordability in housing. The commute is long.  The summers are hotter. So there are some trade-offs.

Love golf? There are several courses here: Eagle Ridge, Gilroy Golf Course, and Gavilan Golf Course are all in town.

Eagle Ridge Golf Course and neighborhood, Gilroy

 

Gilroy neighborhoods

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Kids in Silicon Valley: Fun Places to Go!

Fun Places for Kids In and Near San Jose - Winchester Mystery HouseWhat’s Are The Fun Places for Kids In and Near San Jose?

There are oodles of fun things for kids and the young-at-heart to do in San Jose and the greater Silicon Valley area. Here are a few of the more dramatic highlights!

In San Jose, Santa Clara and nearby

 

Happy Hollow Zoo and Park This is a great place for younger kids. It features a petting zoo, non-scary rides, and places to run off steam. Happy Hollow is undergoing a giant renovation and will be closed for part or all of the summer of 2008. Please double check the website or phone the park prior to visiting to make sure it’s open! Tel 408 277-3000.In Los Gatos: Oak Meadow Park (12 acres) and Vasona Lake County Park (150 acres – these are adjacent, interconnected parks).  Oak Meadow is a town of Los Gatos park, Vasona is a county park, but they are connected!  Of special note at Oak Meadow are the real Air Force jet that kids can climb on (local kids often refer to it as “the airplane park”), the hand painted carousel and Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad train which begins in Oak Meadow but mostly rides through Vasona, and the paddle boats on Vasona Lake. (Post on Live In Los Gatos about these 2 parks.)  There is a fee to park at Vasona.  Los Gatos town residents can park for free at Oak Meadow – but places fill up fast!

The Children’s Discovery Museum in downtown San Jose can’t be beat, especially on a too warm, too cold, or too rainy day! It is a hands on, fun place for kids. One of the most popular items is a stagecoach which kids can climb into. Warning to parents: the acoustics could be better and sometimes it’s overly loud in there.

The Tech Museum of Innovation Recommended for kids ages 7 and up, but especially for kids 10 and up. There’s an IMAX theater as well – fantastic shows! Great downtown San Jose location.

California’s Great America in Santa Clara. Suitable for all ages but teens will like this best! This park does offer some water play areas and some little kid areas (but it’s expensive for that). Shows in air conditioned theaters will be welcome on warm days. Check out the Wow Card (or VIP Pass if you want to park close) if you’ll be back again in the same season.

The Winchester Mystery House:  This is a beyond-unique 160+ year old Victorian Mansion build by Sara Winchester with the thought that if she never stopped building, she would never die. Interesting but odd architectural accents throughtout the home!This historic landmark sits near the lovely Santana Row shopping center, just off 280 and near Stevens Creek Blvd. (It is a “half exit” from 280 – you can exit 280 southbound to get to Winchester and you can enter 280 northbound from Winchester, but not vice versa.)

List of Attractions Throughout Santa Clara County and Beyond
Gilroy (south of San Jose)
Gilroy Gardens (formerly Bonfante Gardens)Want to make a bigger trip of it to The Garlic Capital of the World? Gilroy offers great shopping to dress up those kids (or yourself)! . And maybe when that’s all done, do some wine tasting. If you can take a tour, the kids may not even get bored. List of wineries (and breweries) in and near Gilroy. And lastly, don’t forget the Garlic Festival! It happens in late July every year. Yes, it’s hot. Yes, they do really serve Garlic Ice Cream. You need to try it at least once! The Gilroy Garlic Festival – information, recipes, calendar, fun stuff for kids.

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