Gardens, grapes and garlic
THIS SANTA CLARA COUNTY CITY is well known as the Garlic Capital of the World, but the annual festival that celebrates the pungent plant is only one of Gilroy’s many attractions. With miles of trails, amusement parks full of gardens and agricultural mastery, there is more than enough in Gilroy to please everyone in the family.
French and Italian immigrants who settled here during the Gold Rush recognized the rich soils and Mediterranean climate as an ideal new home for their European grape varietals. The region’s wineries offer tastings and tours for the grape-obsessed, especially along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail, which includes more than 25 familyowned wineries and tasting rooms.
Local restaurants often include Gilroy’s beloved garlic. The dedicated garlic heads come for the Gilroy Garlic Festival at the end of July—a three-day celebration of food and drink, music, arts and family entertainment.
A visit to 4,595-acre Coyote Lake/harvey Bear Ranch park can easily take up the better part of a day, with local wildlife exhibits, a 635-acre lake for fishing and boating, camping and boat-launch facilities, and miles of hiking, bicycle and horse trails winding through oak canyons. The Gilroy Gardens family theme park lures families with more than 40 fun rides, exhibits and majestic gardens (including the legendary “circus trees”).
Once just a fruit stand, Casa de Fruta is another popular destination for travelers, from its Casa de Choo Choo miniature locomotive to antique farm machinery and freshly baked treats. Shoppers enjoy searching for special buys at the 145 designer and name-brand stores at Gilroy Premium Outlets.
Walk back in time near downtown Gilroy, where more than 75 historic buildings allow history buffs to meander at their own pace to learn more about the region once called “Pleasant Valley” and the town’s founder, John Cameron Gilroy. Favorite stops include the City Museum (in a building that housed the town’s first public library) and Old City Hall.
FAMILY DAY at Gilroy Gardens, top; garlic harvesting contestant at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, below.