Recognized as the Garlic Capital
of the World with an annual Garlic Festival, Gilroy, California now offers
another reason to put the fair city on your list of stops. If affordable
places to stay, great restaurants, wineries, breweries and world-class
shopping at Gilroy Premium Outlets factory stores doesn't pique your
interest, it eventually will as word escapes the groves of rare circus
trees that inhabit Gilroy Gardens.
In the tradition of California theme parks
that are named for their founders such as Disneyland (Walt Disney) and
Knotts Berry Farm (Walter and Cordelia Knott), Gilroy Gardens is the
brain child of Michael Bonfante, owner of a chain of northern California
Nob Hill grocery stores. His new 75-acre theme park has been a labor
of love wtih ecology at its roots. Gilroy Gardens is described as a wholesome
place where you can have fun with your family in a rich, garden setting
that is environmentally friendly. With natural trees and groves filling
the landscape, adults and children will be treated to over 40 rides, music
and shows, restaurants and educational displays, including the rare circus
trees that once thrived in the nearby Santa Cruz mountains.
Just the facts: Rides include a
beautifully restored, rare Illions Supreme Carousel (only three in the
world), Garlic Twirl, Artichoke Dip, Apple and Worm,
South County Back Roads (Antique & '50s Cars, Rainbow Garden
(round boat), Mushroom Swing, Panoramic Wheel, Merry-Go-Round, Sky
Trail, Quicksilver Express, Trains (Coyote & Redwood), Spinnin' Eddy, Tubs-O-Fun, Balloon Flight, Paddle Boats, Timber Twister,
Strawberry Sundae, Miggo & Bulgy and Banana Split.
Attractions & Gardens include Circus
Trees, Rhododendron Falls, Castle Deck, Oak Park Playground, Cantilever
Deck, Splash & Squirt, Bonfante Falls, Dinosaur Walk, Claudia's Garden,
Rainbow Garden, Monarch Garden, Camellia Garden, Pinnacle Garden, Sycamore
Bridge, Lily Pond, Coyote Lake, Trestle Falls, Cowboy Bluff, Dixie Cup
Plaza, Pitch 'N' Win, South County Picnic Grove, Learning Shed, Mission
Plaza, Circus Tree Experience, Red & White Animatronics Show and Pinnacle
Restaurants and Shops include South County
Sandwiches, Sugar Plum Farms, Miguelito's Tacqueria, Uncle John's BBQ,
Villa Pasta & Pizza and Skeel's Orange Freeze, Gilroy Garlic
and Splits 'n' Sundaes. There's a Bonfante Gardens Retail Nursery,
a photo shop, mercantile and dozens of other shops and kiosks.
Admission: Price is around $30 for adults
with $7 parking. (Subject to change) This is not
the officially Gilroy Gardens web site but is provided as a community
service. For information on their admission prices, hours of operation
and other important updates, call the number listed Gilroy
Gardens Theme Park • 3050 Hecker Pass Hwy • Gilroy, CA 95020 Hwy.101 to
152 West Phone: (408) 840-7100 gilroygardens.org
10,000 trees and nearly one-half million plants
fill the park.
Gilroy Gardens was established a 501 (c)(3)
not-for-profit community charity
Staff spent a remarkable 8500 hours and three
years in the restoration and assembly of the Supreme, one of the most ornate
carousels ever made.
Gilroy Gardens Golf & Games
Family Entertainment Center opened in 2000. Three miles west of downtown
Gilroy on Hecker Pass Highway 152, Golf and Games is a 36-holes
miniature golf course that offers the most scenic setting of its type on
the West Coast. The two layouts -- the Redwood Course and the Circus Tree
Course -- are designed in a thicket of mature trees including magnificent
redwoods. Information on parties and booking facilities: 408/840-7100.