We all need a weekend getaway every once in a while! Especially after you’ve worked from home for months, became a teacher for the kids (don’t get me started on the Algebra homework), started a garden, and found too many DIY projects on Pinterest.
If you’re looking for Bay Area road trip ideas or even Bay Area road trips during COVID, Gilroy, California should be at the top of your list. Gilroy, California is a small town away from the city with delicious food, fun for the kids, shopping galore and as many outdoor adventures as you can handle. Read on for 9 reasons why you need to make Gilroy your next road trip destination in California!
1. Wine Tasting – With Over 34 Wineries to Pick From
Satori Winery 2019.
When you think of wine tasting in the Bay Area, the first thought you should have is the Santa Clara Valley – California’s first premium wine production region. In the early 20th century, Native Americans named Santa Clara Valley “the Valley of the Heart’s Delight” due to the incredible beauty and significant amount of orchards. Imagine this: rolling green hills in your full view, a cloudless blue sky above, great company, and even better wine. French and Italian immigrants who settled here during the Gold Rush era recognized the rich soils and Mediterranean climate as the perfect New World home for their European grape varietals. Gilroy is not only part of Santa Clara Valley, Gilroy is home to more than 34 family-owned wineries and tasting rooms—some of which date back to the early 1900s and are still family owned and operated!
Even though some of Gilroy’s wineries have been around since the turn of the century, we are still one of California’s best-kept secrets when it comes to wine tasting.
Just follow the wayfinding signs along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail to discover award-winning wines, stunning vineyard views, and a casual, relaxed atmosphere that makes wine tasting fun—not intimidating. The person pouring your wine may very well be the vintner himself, or herself! Whether you’re looking for Bay Area wineries or planning a trip to Gilroy, make sure to go wine tasting in Gilroy to get a true feel for our history and culture.
2. We Are the Garlic Capital of the World – Get Your Garlic Fix on the Road to Garlic
Archived photo at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
What more can you ask for than year-long garlic food! Our Road to Garlic features all the best garlic foods you can eat (including garlic ice cream and garlic wine if you’re feeling adventurous) here in the Garlic Capital of the World!
Most people know Gilroy as the Garlic Capital which is true, and therefore we have some of the most incredible garlic-fused culinary experiences you can have! If you’re visiting Gilroy and are looking for garlic themed restaurants to eat at, take any pick on the Road to Garlic map! Some of our personal favorites include Garlic City Cafe, Old City Hall Restaurant, The Milias Restaurant and The Westside Grill. If you really love garlic, come to the Gilroy Garlic Festival held every year on the last weekend of July. Whether you’re looking for garlic-themed restaurants, garlic gifts or garlic experiences, we have you covered with over 38 options to pick from!
3. The Best Authentic Mexican Food – Spend the Day Following Gilroy’s Taco Trail
Another great culinary experience in Gilroy is our Gilroy Taco Trail! The Bay Area offers numerous options for Mexican food, more specifically tacos. However, Gilroy’s Taco Trail features over 28 authentic Mexican restaurants, all of which offer delicious Mexican food! Nearly 54% of Gilroy’s community is Hispanic and Latino, and we’re proud to say you can taste the love of our community in every dish at each restaurant. Make sure you try the enchiladas or albondigas soup at Victoria’s Mexican Restaurant. The best burritos in town are at Gaeta’s Taqueria—and it’ll be up to you to find your favorite taco spot! Gilroy locals love the tacos at Station 55 Cocina, Gaeta’s Taqueria, Mi Gusto Es Mexican Restaurant, La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant and El Charrito Market!
4. Casa de Fruta: Delicious Food, A Place to Rest, Fun for Kids and Great Wines
Casa de Fruta is one of the most popular stops you can make when traveling through Gilroy. Whether you grew up in Gilroy or have driven through Gilroy at some point, it’s very likely you drove by Casa de Fruta. When you’re on a California road trip and looking for a rest stop to stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat, this is the place to stop. The Zanger family planted their first orchards in 1908, opened a cherry stand in the 1940s, and now welcome over 2 million visitors a year from all over the world!
Casa de Fruta has a fruit stand, an RV Park and Inn, wine, deli, sweet shop, a restaurant, and a Chevron gas station to cover anything you need or want. Casa de Fruta has numerous options for the kids as well! They have a Carousel, Casa de Choo Choo (a two-mile long track that meanders through the park, passing along scenic Pacheco Creek), Casa de Sluice (pan for gold) and the Playground which includes a duck pond, play train engine and caboose!
5. Ostrich Farm: Ostriches, Ponies, Reptiles, Pigs and more!
One of our most unique family fun experiences in Gilroy is the Gilroy Ostrich Farm! Learn about ostriches at the farm, where the owners are committed to educating the public about ostriches and their history. Learn how they can play a role in creating a more sustainable food system by conserving our landscapes and restoring the vitality of the foodshed and its inhabitants. Besides these massive birds, you can also visit with pigs, rabbits, chickens, alpacas, goats, sheep, ponies and various reptiles! If you’re looking for family fun in Gilroy, the Ostrich Farm is an educational experience for the whole family. Plan your trip now!
6. A True Hikers’ Paradise
When we say Gilroy is beautiful, we actually mean breathtaking, lush, and even magical. Hiking in Gilroy is beautiful year-round, and we have our mild California climate to thank for that. However, one of the most incredible times to visit Gilroy is about a month after it starts raining, when everything starts to turn bright green. Imagine Ireland, but in California! Gilroy has many hiking trails in our County and State parks. Some of them include Mount Madonna County Park, Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park, Uvas Canyon County Park, and Pinnacles National Park. Most of these trails are dog-friendly, equestrian-friendly and are anywhere between moderate to difficult depending on what kind of hiking in Gilroy you’re looking for!
7. Gilroy Premium Outlets
One of Gilroy’s main visitor attractions is the Gilroy Premium Outlets, featuring over 145 different stores. If you’re looking to “shop ‘til you drop,” you’ve come to the right place. Gilroy Premium Outlets is one of Northern California’s largest outlet centers, where you’ll find impressive savings at more than 145 factory outlet stores. Save 25-65% on top brands including Kate Spade, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Coach, Gap, Hugo Boss, J.Crew, Lucky Brand, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, H&M, Timberland, Tommy Hilfiger, and more. Make sure to stop by our California Welcome Center for discount coupons and fun Gilroy gifts! We’re located at Gilroy Premium Outlets in Building A, near Forever 21.
8. Gilroy is a Central & Affordable Location to Nearby Attractions and Cities
If you’re traveling for business to the Bay Area or planning a Bay Area vacation, Gilroy is one of the most central and affordable locations you’ll find for nearby Bay Area attractions and cities. If you’re planning on visiting Monterey, Santa Cruz or San Jose and need to find a place to stay that’s not too far, Gilroy is perfect! If you’re traveling north or south to San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara or San Francisco, Gilroy has beautiful lodging, camping and RV park options. Gilroy also has delicious restaurants to eat at and easy walking trails if you need to stretch your legs and break up the drive. You don’t need to fly if you can drive, and Gilroy is a great road trip destination!
9. Gilroy Gardens – Fun for the Whole Family!
Gilroy Gardens whole mission is to educate and inspire families, especially children, to appreciate horticulture and the importance of trees in our lives by providing fun to the whole family in a beautiful garden setting. Gilroy Gardens features numerous rides (more than 20), plus water features (Bonfante Falls, Bonfante’s Splash Garden, Paddle Boats, Rainbow Garden Round Boat Ride and the Water Oasis) and the Circus Trees (over 20 that were originally grown and created by Axel Erlandson in the early 1900’s). Gilroy Gardens is without a doubt a staple item of Gilroy, and we encourage you to show your support by visiting Gilroy Gardens as soon as they reopen in 2021! When you think of family fun in Gilroy, Gilroy Gardens is one of the top spots to visit, and we can’t wait to welcome our visitors and community back as soon as it’s open. Make sure to check the Gilroy Gardens website and follow them (and Visit Gilroy) for updates on their reopening!
Gilroy can’t wait to welcome you, whether you’re planning a California vacation in 2021, 2022 or beyond. We hope this list provided you with some reasons to visit Gilroy, a community with a spice for life. We hope to see you soon!