Gilroy, California & Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy is a city in Santa Clara County, California, which was once a rural community known primarily for agriculture and its garlic crop.  Even today, you can smell garlic growing in the fields as you drive along Highway 101 south of Santa Clara and San Jose's Silicon Valley region. And if you should happen to be in town in late July, you will be amazed to see thousands of people swarming to enjoy the famous Gilroy Garlic Festival.  With wineries abounding in the region,  this event offers exquisite foods from gourmet chefs who don't just serve up garlic.  Garlic is a flavorful and healthy ingredient used in a variety of foods and is popular throughout the world.  In the California "melting pot", chefs representing a variety of nationalities and food types have treated over 2 million guests to unique, one-of-a-kind recipes and dishes at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.  While one of the most popular foods is garlic bread, with nearly 30,000 slices  served at a recent  festival, don't be surprised to see garlic in just about everything, including ice cream! The festival, which has been in existence since 1978,  is always held on the last full weekend in July. Information: 408-842-1625. Web site: (Be sure to visit their web site if you want to purchase garlic recipes cookbooks.  They also have last year's top 3 cook off winners' recipes posted. 


With under 50,000 people living in Gilroy, this Garlic Capitol and "Tree City USA" is known for its peaceful residential environment, award-winning parks, golf and recreation, historic buildings and architecture along tree-shaded streets. It's easy to look at  the surrounding countryside and understand Gilroy's roots are deep in agriculture.


Visit Goldsmith Seeds' famous "Field of Dreams" horticultural attraction, historical downtown, six nearby California missions,  tour of the plant where Indian Motorcycles are made and enjoy doing what millions of tourists love, shopping.  Gilroy Premium Outlets has over  145 stores. 681 Leavesley Road, Gilroy -- 408-842-3729 ... 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 Rock Maze.


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. 

Of note: 

  • 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. 
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


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. 

Information: 408-842-6436

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