Gilroy has never worried about its garlic breath. This Santa Clara County town is the self-proclaimed garlic capital of the world and proud of it. Everyone’s invited to the Gilroy Garlic Festival each July, but live theater productions, an awesome mall and Gilroy Gardens theme park promise a perfect visit any time of the year.
For more on the Gilroy Garlic Festival, visit [CBS SF Events]
Getting to Gilroy in the South Bay is easy from San Francisco, just head south on US-101 following the signs for San Jose. Allow 1.5 hours for the 80 miles through Santa Clara County. Take exit 357 onto Leavesley Road/CA-152 West, where you’ll notice the billboard for the world’s garlic capital.
Morgan Hill Community Playhouse
17090 Monterey Road
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Price: $18 adults/$14 seniors, students and children
South Valley Civic Theatre at Morgan Hill has been presenting musicals and plays for 40 years with local staff and actors putting on quality shows at reasonable prices every time. Productions slated this year include Tony-Award winning musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” plus family favorites, “James and the Giant Peach,” “Big the Musical,” “Deathtrap” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” The non-profit theater group makes its home in this 1920s church in nearby Morgan Hill, just two blocks off US-101.
3050 Hecker Pass Highway
Gilroy, CA 95020
Price: $29.99 adults/free children younger than 3/$10 parking
Gilroy Gardens, the must-see place in town, is a family theme park set in lush surroundings with a calendar of events that’s chock full of fun throughout the year. Enjoy 21 rides and 22 attractions, including a boat ride and an antique car ride through the botanical gardens. A picnic area and RV parking (no overnight stays permitted) are located just three miles west of US-101.
Casa de Fruta
10021 Pacheco Pass Highway
Hollister, CA 95023
Prices: $6.50 fun pass/$13 all-day pass
Casa de Fruta is a unique, family run orchard 15 miles along Route 25 from Gilroy. Take the kids for a ride on a painted pony on a handcrafted Italian carousel with 1,400 twinkling lights, or hop on a two-mile narrow gauge rail train through the orchard, past the creek, the zoo, and the enclosure with peacocks and rare white deer. Visit the duck pond and a climbing caboose in the children’s playground as well. In addition, a 24-hour restaurant, a wine shop stocking lots of local nuts and a giant fruit stand mean nobody’s going home unsatisfied. An RV park for overnights and a family picnic ground are on the premises as well.
Related: Best Spot For A Picnic In North Bay
Gilroy Premium Outlets
681 Leavesley Road
Gilroy, CA 95020
Gilroy Premium Outlets are a shoppers’ paradise with 145 brand-name factory outlet stores including Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Coach, Gap, Hugo Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Samsonite, Timberland, Sony, Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor and Nike. Find attractive prices on fashion, housewares, home furnishings, gifts, accessories, luggage and shoes. The shopping center is one of ten Premium Outlets located in California, less than five minutes’ drive off the Leavesley Road exit on US-101 in Gilroy.
28 Martin Street
Gilroy, CA 95037
In a small town like Gilroy, you want to eat in a long-established local favorite, a family run restaurant where it feels like someone’s mother is in the kitchen. You’ll know O.D.’s Kitchen by the line outside the door. Most diners are happy to wait a little while for eggs benedict with homemade hollandaise sauce, creamy clam chowder, half-pound burger with fries, a cobb salad with house-made balsamic vinaigrette featuring that local garlic. Enjoying slow food at fast-food prices is a perfect fit for a Gilroy meal.
Related: Tony’s Table: Garlic Shrimp Rigatoni
Laurie Farr is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.