Visiting Los Gatos
Locals may remember that a few years back, there was a wonderful “Los Gatos History Walk” put on every year or so. Town residents would don garments from a bygone era and take on the persona of legendary Los Gatos figures for a few hours. Both fun and educational, it provided a sense of the town’s past – both the buildings and the people’s. It was absolutely wonderful while we had it.
Today, there’s an app for that! It’s called Discover LOST Gatos and as of this writing, there are 3 different tours:
- The Heart of Los Gatos (approximately a 35 minute walking tour with 12 stops)
- Los Gatos: The Gem City (a 45 minute walk with 12 stops
- The Cradle of Los Gatos (50 minute stroll with 13 stops)
The Mercury News did a nice article on this and will fill in the details on who’s behind this wonderful idea.
As for me, I just downloaded it to my phone and look forward to getting to know our beautiful town a little more. You can find it online wherever you get your phone’s apps – just search for LOST Gatos.
Love fine art? A fun place to stop in and get tempted by the work of creative people can be found in downtown Los Gatos at JCO’S Place, which is just a few steps from the Los Gatos Theatre, literally under its marquee.
This afternoon I was strolling past this gallery with my daughter, plus my visiting neice and nephew, who hail from Boston, and noticed some beautiful, oversized paintings. I did a double take when I saw one of Tom Brady, # 12, as you don’t normally find a lot of Patriots art here in Los Gatos. Stepping in, that wasn’t the only piece from the Northeast. It was a surprising find!
Not everything is Brady, Patriots, and Boston – there was plenty of other football art on display to keep in the theme of the game for this season and the multiple celebrations of SuperBowl 50 here in Silicon Valley. To get a better sense of the diverse offerings, check out the blog portion of her website: http://www.jcosplace.com/art-blog .
Why the Tom Brady and Patriots focus? I wish it were because they would have been in tomorrow’s game. Instead, it turns out that the proprietor of the store, Julie Jenkins, hails from Boston. I had a fun talk with her. She is very warm and welcoming, and I’d love to come back to see what she brings in next.
The shop also had an artist painting and visible from the window, Nick Brown, a very talented guy. What I saw looked quite a bit like our eastern foothills, but I didn’t get a chance to talk much as my younger relatives were ready to continue our walk through downtown Los Gatos.
Next time you are out for fun on North Santa Cruz Avenue in LG, take a few minutes and stop by JCO’s Place. I think you will enjoy it!
JCO’s Place for Fine Art
45 N Santa Cruz Avenue
Hours: As of this writing, closed or by appointment Mon and Tues. Check the most current hours on the site: http://www.jcosplace.com/visit.html
Chocolate Dream Box has been a part of the Los Gatos landscape, in one location or another, for many years. It first opened in downtown along North Santa Cruz Avenue, then was located on Los Gatos Boulevard and Blossom Hill Road at King’s Court Shopping Center, and now calls The Downing Center (at the corner of Union & Los Gatos-Almaden Road) home.
Today I stopped in to see the new shop, to buy a gourmet chocolate gift and see how the owner, Holly Westbrook, and staff are doing. I’d blogged about it in 2011, back at the old location, and thought an update was in order, too, for their new location (and my blog’s new location).
Things seem to be great overall. The new store is bigger and brighter than the former one was and feels comfortably roomy. The decor is always beautiful, with a hint of Europe here and there to remind visitors of the inspiration.
What’s selling? Old favorites, such as the dark and milk chocolate cats, can still be found, and as always, there’s an abundance of specialty candies and exceptionally beautiful and tasty truffles. There are non-candy gift items too, pretty affordably priced also. Today I saw a pewter fleur de lis that was quite tempting…
The move was, of course, a lot of work for them, and if you’re local, you know that they hadn’t wanted to move but got forced out by their former landlord. Any business owner would be concerned about losing customers with a new location, but I imagine in time everyone will find their way to the new shop – it’s only 1.5 miles away from the old one. An unexpected element, though, happened too – the Yelp reviews from the old location could not transfer to the new one – ouch! If you are a fan, cruise on over there and give them a shout out. I did that today; it’s great to support our local Los Gatos businesses!
Truffles, truffles, and more truffles. The biggest problem with visiting the Chocolate Dream Box is figuring out which one(s) to buy! Continue reading
If the weather’s fine, as it often is here, you might start by introducing your kids to Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks, which are adjacent to each other. Oak Meadow includes a great airplane that kids can climb on, a beautiful carousel and a small train that loops into Vasona and back. Vasona has paddle boats that can be rented (seasonally). And of course there’s lots of playground equipment and sprawling lawn for those who want to toss a ball or frisbee around. For time outdoors, these parks are hard to beat. Read more about these very cool parks here: http://liveinlosgatosblog.com/vasona-and-oak-meadow/
The Youth Science Institute is a program offered at Vasona to help educate students on nature. This is not a one day event but is extremely worthwhile. Check it out: http://www.ysi-ca.org/
If your little people like to hike and explore, the Montalvo estate and grounds in Saratoga is a great nearby option on a dry day, too. Montalvo is an arts center but there are wonderful trails which can be enjoyed. But no picnicing, sorry! Learn more at my Valley of Heart’s Delight blog: http://sanjoserealestatelosgatoshomes.com/great-time-of-year-to-visit-villa-montalvo/
All ages: any of the free music events, all of which are out doors, virtually all summer long in Los Gatos!
Touristy but still fun
Roaring Camp and Big Trees http://www.roaringcamp.com/
The Mystery Spot http://www.mysteryspot.com/
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk http://beachboardwalk.com/
California’s Great America in Santa Clara (amusement park, rides) https://www.cagreatamerica.com/
Time to eat!
There are MANY great kid-friendly restaurants in Los Gatos. A few of my favorites are these:
- The Diner of Los Gatos (hot dogs and burgers come in paper “cars”) http://.LGDiner.com
- Andale – patio dining http://andalemexican.com
- Double D’s sports bar – lots of tv screens, pool table, things going on, not stuffy! http://www.doubleds.com/
- Gelato at Dolce Spazio (or Fro Yo elsewhere) http://www.dolcespazio.com/
The Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose https://www.cdm.org/
The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose https://www.thetech.org/
Petroglyph (in Los Gatos, Willow Glen, and Santa Cruz locally) http://www.petroglyph.com/
Looking for more ideas? There’s a slightly longer list of kid friendly things to do on another of my blogs. Have a read:
The annual Los Gatos historic home tour returns to town the weekend of April 11th and 12th, 2015, and you can purchase tickets now or sign up to volunteer. Sponsored by the Museums of Los Gatos, now called NUMU, the annual event showcases beautiful houses in town, and this time around will include gardens, too.
The NUMU site offers this teaser: “The 2015 tour features four houses including a 1910 bungalow, 1905 craftsman, 1885 folk Victorian, 1904 Richardson Victorian and an acre-sized outdoor collection of household items, classic cars and farm tools that illustrate the architectural roots of Los Gatos.” Please visit the link below or click on the image at the right to get all of the details and to purchase your advance tickets (more costly if you wait to the day of the event).
A few days ago, I had the very pleasant experience of dining at Oak and Rye for the first time. It was a gloriously sunny and warm winter day, so my friend and I opted for patio dining, which was ideal.
Oak and Rye is a Los Gatos restaurant well known for offering excellent pizza, but also equally tasty salads. This made a delicious midday pairing. We each enjoyed a Gem Lettuce salad (with cashews, apple shavings, bleu cheese, and croutons), followed by a Young Cheezy pizza, a “white pizza”, which we shared. Both the food and the service were wonderful. As an added bonus, there seemed to be lots going on that afternoon along North Santa Cruz Avenue, providing ample “people watching” opportunities.
I’d go back in a heartbeat. If you haven’t tried Oak and Rye yet, do give it a spin. You won’t be disappointed.
Oak and Rye Pizza
303 North Santa Cruz Avenue, Los Gatos 408 395-4441 http://www.oakandryepizza.com/
Please note: as with all my reviews of eateries, wine bars, businesses, etc., there was no payment or benefit given to me for this online article. It was written in response to my favorable experience at this establishment only. I do not know the owners, managers, employees, or anyone there.
July 30, 2010
Los Gatos is a wonderful place to live, but also it is a great place to visit for a retreat, a weekend getaway or a family reunion – especially in summer! Whether you are travelling alone, with one special person or thirty of your closest relatives, there’s a lot to do and to enjoy in Los Gatos.
Why vacation in Los Gatos?
There’s lots to do and to enjoy in the town of LosGatos for people of all ages!
- Free music Los Gatos has a number of free musical concerts outdoors (Jazz on the Plazz on Wednesdays, Vasona Vibrations on Saturdays and Music in the Park on Sundays) throughout the summer
- Plays under the stars Enjoy Shakespeare and other plays at scenic Oak Meadow Park in July in August (it is really worthwhile to time your visit to be here for these performances!)
- Awesome parks Our parks can’t be beat! Huge Vasona Lake County Park is a great place to picnic, throw around a frisbee, do some sailing or take a paddle boat ride. There’s also an historic wooden carousel and a great small guage railroad train running through Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks (which are adjacent to one another.)
- Wine tasting We have tasting rooms both in town (Testarossa and Fleming Jenkins) and in the hills above Los Gatos. Napa and Sonoma are lovely, but you do not need to go that far! Have a look at the website for the Wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains and be amazed at the selection!
- Amazing restaurants Los Gatos offers all kinds of foods and menus for all kinds of budgets, ranging from simple and affordable to world-class and pricey. Many restaurants are also “kid friendly” – And, there are loads of places which offer outdoor dining too. Several restaurants downtown can package food to go so you can enjoy the live music while eating at the park.
- Spas and massages There are a number of places for experiencing a relaxing massage, so go ahead…be pampered! (The Spa of Los Gatos is my favorite but I understand that the Hotel Los Gatos also has great massages too, and I know there are others.)
- Hiking galore The Los Gatos Creek Trail is perhaps the best known of many places to “go take a hike”, but Los Gatos is crawling with scenic places to hike or go mountain biking.
- Shopping This is no all-indoor mall area! Scenic Los Gatos offers unique shops as well as a few chain stores. Shop away!
- Scenic strolling If hiking the Los Gatos Creek Trail is not for you, don’t fear! You can walk through downtown Los Gatos and meander off the main roads to stroll among beautifully well preserved neighborhoods full of Victorian homes in the Edelen, Broadway, and Almond Grove neighborhoods…. Or walk up a flight of stairs and take in the Fairview Plaza area. What could be prettier than the “painted ladies” of yesteryear? Prefer the downtown area? That works too. The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce provides an historic walking map of downtown Los Gatos with the most interesting spots highlighted.
- Museums Los Gatos is home to both an hisoric museum (at Forbes Mill) and an art museum (at the old fire station). Check out the current offerings at their shared website, MuseumsOfLosGatos.org.
- Movies Los Gatos boasts a classic movie theater that is right in the heart of downtown.
- Petroglyph Paint and fire up some ceramics and make memories that you can take home with you! Great for all ages….
- Ongoing events The Los Gatos Chamber has a great calender of Los Gatos events which you should check out – there’s loads going on all the time in Los Gatos
- Sunset Concert Series at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in late winter, early spring.
- Farmer’s Market every Sunday morning next to Town Plaza Park – great food, flowers and more often then not, entertainment too
- Bocce Ball – can be played at Campo di Bocce restaurant or at Oak Meadow Park
- Dog friendly – the town is a very dog-friendly place, and there’s a dog park that Los Gatos shares with the neighboring city, Campbell.
- Romantic Los Gatos and the nearby areas are full of wonderfully romantic places, both restaurants and otherwise. Please see my post, Great Places to Kiss (in LG)
And…there’s even more nearby!! Go just a little further and you can enjoy several fabulous things in neighboring Saratoga, too: horseback riding (at Garrod Stables), concerts at Montalvo and at The Mountain Winery, and more shops, restaurants and spas in downtown Saratoga too.
Got more than a couple of days? Spread out and see a bit of Silicon Valley, including the Winchester Mystery House, Great America Theme Park, The Tech Museum of Innovation or the Children’s Museum in San Jose. Or go “over the hill” to the beach & boardwalk at Santa Cruz – it’s only about 25 minutes away in regular traffic. You’re just scratching the surface! But make Los Gatos your “home base”.
Children will love many things about Los Gatos & nearby areas
- Vasona & Oak Meadow Parks: the carousel, the train, the paddle boats, the playground (esp the real airplane!), the 100+ acres of lawn, the lake, the ducks & swans
- Eating at The Diner of Los Gatos, where burgers come in large paper “cars” with 50s styling
- Outdoor music (where you don’t have to be too formal or too neat)
- Making ceramic items at Petroglyph
- Bocce Ball
- Nearby: the Children’s Discovery Museum (San Jose), Great America Theme Park (Santa Clara), the Beach & Boardwal
k (Santa Cruz), horseback rid
ing at Garrod Stables (Saratoga)
What about accomodations in Los Gatos?
Hotels: There are a number of wonderful hotels in Los Gatos, including the Hotel Los Gatos, the Toll House Hotel and The Garden Inn (where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio spent part of their honeymoon). Unfortunately, Los Gatos does not have any & Bs. (I don’t know why not – the downtown area strikes me as perfect for a & B!) Some residents do rent out their homes for vacation rentals, though. Check Craigslist.com for that!
Clothing optional resort: There are other types of accomodations, too. Up in the hills a little bit you’ll find the Lupin Lodge, a clothing optional resort. (I can’t say much on it because I’ve never been…the idea terrifies me, frankly.)
Religious (Catholic) Retreats: There are religious retreat centers nearby, too (that is more up my alley!). The Holy Names Sisters have a retreat place close to downtown [Los Gatos at 82 Prospect Avenue, Los Gatos 95030 tel (408) 354-2312]. I made a retreat there in the early 80s and it was very, very nice. Not too far away, the Presentation Sisters have a retreat grounds also [19480 Bear Creek Road Los Gatos CA 95030 (408) 354-2346]. I have not yet visited but understand that they have done some “green building” there.
Whether you want a quiet day or two or more by yourself, a romantic weekend with the one you love or to organize a reunion of family & friends, there’s plenty to do in Los Gatos. Summer is a particularly good time to vacation here because of the many free music concerts and the fabulous plays. But year-round, there’s always something to do and enjoy, so come visit. You may like it enough that you’ll want to stay!
December 13, 2009
If you have family & friends coming to visit you this holiday season, perhaps you’re wondering what you might do that would be a fun and a unique experience for them. What about a trip to Campo di Bocce? In addition to the regular menu selections, now there’s a fixed price menu option of a three course meal, with or without wine, at good prices ($19 without wine, $27 with it). If the weather’s good, dine outside – and make your friends from snowy places insanely jealous of our weather. If not, there are lots of tables indoors too.
Want to play a little bocce too? It’s $10 per person to play (unless you’re staying in a hotel here in Los Gatos – they have specials for visitors, just show your room key for discounts on playing bocce as well as your food & beverage tab).
Campo di Bocce is located at 565 University Avenue at the corner of Andrews in Los Gatos. You can reach them by phone at 408 395-7596 or visit them online at CampoDiBocce.com.
(This is not a paid post and I was not asked to write it – I have eaten there a number of times, indoors and out, and have found the food and service to be very good.)
October 25, 2007
A friend sent me a link to a Bedbug Registry. I knew, from a conversation that I’d had recently with Janet Thrasher of Thrasher Termite & Pest Control in Los Gatos, that bedbugs were on the rise and the subject of much discussion (and action).
But I didn’t know that there was a “Bedbug Registry”.
Well, have no fears, Los Gatos appears to be a bedbug free zone. At least from my look at the registry a moment ago.
Planning a trip? Maybe you will want to stay right here and take in one of our resort-like hotels or motels!
May 05, 2007
Creek embankments are cool and inviting on a warm spring or summer day. It is very tempting to inch your way down to the stream, toss away the flip flops and let the gentle current sweep past your dusty, dry toes.
But please be careful.
Everything is very, very green this time of year. The grass and live oaks and scrub all tangle together with thistles and berries and vines. Among them, blending in just perfectly, is poison oak.
I’ve been really lucky in my life: I’ve never been snared by this itch-inducing plant. But my older brother, Steve, used to chase after golf balls into the rough at Pasatiempo and often came back with much more than a ball or two. He would become terribly swollen up, each occurance worse than the one before. The Calomine Lotion was slathered on generously and dried into a crusty nastiness that I will never forget. He looked awful, and felt worse.
Somehow I just never got it. Maybe it’s that I don’t play golf – am not supposed to due to some rods in my back for scoliosis. And in Spring I am plagued with hayfever – green things are not as tempting to me as to others. So avoiding contact with the tall green everything always seemed to be in my best interest.
My better half, Jim, is a volunteer Parks Commissioner for the town of Los Gatos and he spends a great deal of time in parks. On Sunday we went through Belgatos (again) and this time, Jim taught me how to identify poison oak. I’d always heard “leaves of three, let it be” and knew that in the autumn, the leaves turn a bright red. But I really didn’t know, other that that, what it looked like.
Immediately prior to my lesson in identifying poison oak, I allowed Bella, our dog, too close to the stuff and he hollared, “don’t you see the poison oak?” Apparently I was tempting fate and Jim realized I was clueless. He made sure, right then and there, that I got a lesson in how to recognize it. (Our vet has confirmed that dogs can, and do, carry the poison oak plant oils home, an amazing way to infect everyone quickly. Jim pictured our pooch spreading it to every member of the family.)
What I then noticed was most cruel: the poison oak was interwoven with wild blackberry bushes on the creek banks.
Talk about a tease.
Now I know what to look for. I want you to be equally well armed. Have a good, long study of these photos and make sure you don’t ever get too close to a plant that looks like this – no matter how many berries beckon you, no matter how delicious that water looks on a warm day.
It’s not worth it. Ask my brother.