This may be an El Niño winter, but right now there’s a break in the precipitation. As much as we appreciate the rain, we also appreciate the warm, sunny, dry days also. Yesterday I broke out of work mode for an hour and enjoyed a walk at Vasona Lake County Park. Here are a few photos. To my readers in snowy climates, yes, Los Gatos really can be this nice in February!
TheLos Gatos Farmers’ Market is a community treasure and gathering point for the townsfolk. Every Sunday, Los Gatans gather downtown at the Town Plaza Park area for a little shopping, casual munching and entertainment. The outdoors market iss full of organic produce, plants and cut flowers, ready made food, include delicious crepes, and often music or other entertainment. While many Santa Clara County Farmers’ Markets are seasonal or subject to weather conditions, this one is open year round, every Sunday, from 8am to 1pm (though some booths begin to break down around 12:30 or so)
The Los Gatos Farmers’ Market is located in Downtown Los Gatos at the Town Park Plaza on Main Street & N. Santa Cruz Avenue (Montabello Way & Broadway). Pets are not allowed in the market, which wraps around the park on the paved roadway, but may be in the park itself.
Over the years, I’ve taken a number of photos of this local gathering spot. Some are current images and others are 5-10 years old.
Will you be visiting Los Gatos for a day or weekend, or staying for a lifetime? Either way, there are tons of things to do for children of all ages both in and near Los Gatos.
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: https://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/
Something is always happening at the big and beautiful, 150 acre Vasona Lake County Parkand adjacent 12 acre Oak Meadow Park (belonging to the Town). These sister parks are connected and share the Los Gatos Creek, meandering trails, the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad at Oak Meadow. The parks enjoy beautiful scenery, both within the many acres and also looking up at the coastal range that separates this valley from the Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
It’s a wonderful place for a family or company picnic and is often the site for beginning races, walk-a-thons, and other charitable causes, and it’s also the location for many cultural festivals throughtout the year. Most recently, there was an enormous, two day Iranian/Persian New Year’s Festival called Norouz that drew several thousand people from all over Silicon Valley. The San Jose Mercury News covered it and had a great little video on their website on this event, take a look! As you can see, Vasona and Oak Meadow aren’t just a couple of nice parks, they’re places for the community to gather, enjoy themselves and nature and to do it in a gorgeous spot.
Here are some of the regularly scheduled, annual events at Oak Meadow and Vasona that invite us to enjoy some recreation time there:
June & July: Vasona Vibrations (free concerts Saturdays 5-7pm)
July & August: Shakespeare in the Park
August: In the Park After Dark Movie Week
Saturday evening on Labor Day Weekend: Los Gatos Park Dance (begun in 2013)
September: Screen on the Green
October: Halloween Train Rides (Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad)
December: Fantasy of Lights
And because these are parks, there are great learning opportunities and classes available there too. The Parks and Recreation Department offers sailing lessons – as you can see from the pic, my kids enjoyed these a few years ago (and may teach there this summer too). Paddleboats can be rented in summer as well. A hands-on approach to introducing kids to nature is provided by the extremely popular , which recently enjoyed an expansion at Vasona.
Historically, these parks are interesting too and there are some things you might not know about them.
A rumor has been circulating in the Belwood – Belgatos – Surmont area about a mountain lion death earlier this week in or near Belgatos Park. It’s been confirmed that a mountain lion was killed on Monday evening by a Belgatos resident. The mountain lion had killed multiple animals or livestock on the resident’s property so the owner sought and received a permit to kill it from the state fish & game department. This apparently happened on private property, most likely close to the park.
In late March, 2011, another mountain lion was killed in Redwood City. In the SF Gate article, it was relayed that:
“One of the big cats was treed in Palo Alto in 2004, a cougar showed up in a condominium complex in Pleasanton in 2006, and in September one was found roaming near Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto.” (All killed, as well)
Los Gatos celebrates Arbor Day and its 30th year as a “Tree City USA” on April 30th beginning at 10am at Belgatos Park (330 Belgatos Lane, and the end of Belgatos Road in Los Gatos). Several trees will be planted at the upper meadow of this park, and many more at other spots around town, thirty in all to signify the 30 years of being noted as Tree City USA.
What part of the Los Gatos parks don’t we need or use?
Unfortunately, Los Gatos is not immune from the massive economic crisis we’re now enduring. And that’s also true for the Los Gatos Parks Department.
Budget cuts are coming to the Los Gatos Parks Department. So what can be cut?
It’s always easy to say “no one uses” this or that park if you’re not there to see or use it. One item on the potential chopping block is the upper meadow at Belgatos Park (shown above is the lower area, not far from the playground, the photo below is of the upper meadow). The argument being made is that the water is expensive and no one uses that part of the park, so perhaps we should plant some trees and forget about maintaining a lawn. Is that true? Not when I’ve walked up the trail toward the resevoir. The upper meadow is a great place for picnics, throwing a frisbee or enjoying some peace and quiet away from the playground, restroom, and the hill where kids slide down on cardboard – we jokingly call that lower meadow and hill “cardboard hill” (seen above).
Belgatos Park is at the far eastern edge of the town boundaries, so perhaps it seems extraneous. But it is also connected to the Heinz Open Space Preserve and lots of connected trails. Altogether is is a magnificent place for locals to enjoy the outdoors.
If you were going t cut services to one of Los Gatos’s many parks, which one would you cut, where and why? At one time, the playground at Belgatos Park was also eyed as a place to be cut to save some money, but local residents voiced their objection and the playground was refurbished.
Hopefully there will be a hearing before any needed cuts are made. Meantime, ponder the question – what should be cut?