Los Gatos is a Great Place for a Weekend Away, a Family Reunion or Romantic Date

July 30, 2010

Sign for Old Town Shopping Center in Los Gatos on University AvenueLos 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 at any time of the year! 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?

Whether you’re on a vacation or a staycation, there’s lots to do and to enjoy in the Town of Los Gatos for people of all ages!

  1. Free music  Los Gatos has a variety of free musical concerts outdoors throughout the summer, as well as special holiday performances throughout the year.
  2. Awesome parks  Our parks can’t be beat! Oak Meadow park, with it’s historic carousel and small gague railroad, and the adjacent (and expansive) Vasona Lake County Park are a great place to picnic, throw around a frisbee, bird watch, let off steam at various playgrounds, do some sailing or take a paddle boat ride. And a discussion about Los Gatos parks would be incomplete without mentioning…
  3. 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. Among the foothills and the Santa Cruz Mountains are a plethora of hiking trails which branch out into expansive open space wilderness.
  4. Wine tasting  Napa and Sonoma are lovely, but you do not need to go that far to find excellent wines! We have tasting rooms both in town (Testarossa and Gali Vineyards as well as wine bars like Rootstock) and in the hills above Los Gatos. Have a look at the website for the Wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains and be amazed at the selection so close to Town!
  5. 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 more restaurants than ever now offer outdoor dining. Several restaurants downtown can package food to go so you can picnic at the park. If you’re just passing through, it’s a great place to pick up a quality cup of locally roasted coffee or a sweet treat (I recommend Dolce Spazio’s gelato!)
  6. 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.)
  7. Shopping The charming downtown area is full of all kinds of shops! But even away from the main streets, this is no indoor-mall kind of town. Scenic Los Gatos offers unique shopping experiences at outdoor malls, standalone mom-and-pop shopsm as well as a few chain stores. Shop away!
  8. Scenic neighborhood strolling If hiking the Los Gatos Creek Trail is not for you, don’t fear! You can stroll or roll through downtown Los Gatos and still enjoy the view. Meander off the main roads among beautifully well preserved neighborhoods full of Victorian homes in the Edelen, Broadway, and Almond Grove neighborhoods. Or follow a flight of stairs up to 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 tour of downtown Los Gatos through a free downloadable app.
  9. Museums  Los Gatos is home to a history and art museum. Check out the current offerings online at NUMUlosgatos.org.
  10. Movies  Los Gatos boasts a classic movie theater, recently rennovated for a more luxurious viewing experience, that is right in the heart of downtown.
  11. Petroglyph  Paint and fire up some ceramics and make memories that you can take home with you! Great for all ages.
  12. 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!
  13. Farmer’s Market every Sunday morning next to Town Plaza Park – great food, flowers and more often then not, live entertainment.
  14. Bocce Ball  can be played at Campo di Bocce restaurant over a glass of wine and a slice of pizza or under the trees at Oak Meadow Park
  15. Dog friendly  despite it’s namesake the town is a very dog-friendly place! There’s a dog park that Los Gatos shares with the neighboring city, Campbell.
  16. 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)

La Campagna Building in Los Gatos at the corner of Main Street and Santa Cruz AvenuesAnd…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? Make Los Gatos your “home base” and 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!

Children will love many things about Los Gatos & nearby areas

  • Vasona & Oak Meadow Parks: the carousel, the train, the paddle boats, the playgrounds (esp the firetruck and real airplane!), the 100+ acres of lawn, the lake, the ducks and swans, and more!
  • Eating at The Diner of Los Gatos, where burgers come in large paper “cars” with 50s styling (and milkshakes are generously portioned)
  • Outdoor music (where you don’t have to be too formal or too neat)
  • Decorating ceramics at Petroglyph
  • Bocce Ball
  • Movies
  • Shopping at Affordable Treasures and the Wooden Horse
  • Nearby: the Children’s Discovery Museum (San Jose), Great America Theme Park (Santa Clara), the Beach & Boardwalk (Santa Cruz), horseback riding 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 bed and breakfasts. (I don’t know why not – the downtown area strikes me as perfect for a B&B!)  Some residents do rent out their homes for vacation rentals, though, and you can find them listed on sites like AirBnB.

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 (not my thing and the idea terrifies me, frankly).

Religious Retreats:  There are religious retreat centers nearby, too.  The Holy Names Sisters (Catholic) 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. There have been other similar retreat centers in the area, but I’m not sure which are still around as of 2022.

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!

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Vasona Park’s Fantasy of Lights (Light Festival)

2021 Fantasy of Lights in Los GatosThe 23rd annual Fantasy of Lights show at Vasona Lake County Park begins soon! Occasionally people call me to ask about it – please note that I do not run the event – I am only posting information about it. Full info can be found on the county’s park website, linked below.

23rd annual Fantasy of Lights: get your tickets now, they sell out fast! Entry with prepaid tickets only!

When: The Fantasy of Lights

Walk-thru Weekend Dec 4 & 5, 2021 from 4 to 9 pm

Drive-thru Nights Dec 7 – 30, 2021

As always, the Fantasy of Lights is closed on Christmas Day (Dec 25).

Where: Vasona Lake County Park, 333 Blossom Hill Road (near University Avenue) Los Gatos, CA

How much: Tickets must be purchased in advance available online through EventBrite.

Walk through cost is $10 for ages 13 and up, $5 for ages 4 – 12, and free for 3 and under

Drive through cost is $20 – per vehicle. One household per vehicle!

More details:

Please visit the Santa Clara County Parks page for the Fantasy of Lights to get more information and updates on this event.

Please check the county’s page for this event (bring a mask!).

More questions? PLEASE do NOT call me about this event. Please contact the SCC Parks Dept and check out their website for the Fantasy of Lights! The Vasona phone number is (408) 355-2201.

Please visit Live in Los Gatos for year round events, neighborhood information, photos around the town, interesting real estate market data, haunted places and the occasional historical tidbit.

 

Los Gatos is a wonderful place to visit during the holidays, but it’s also a great place to live year round! If you are interested in buying a home in Los Gatos (or selling one), please contact me, Mary Pope-Handy. I’m both a Realtor in town and a resident myself, working full time in helping nice folks to buy & sell homes here and throughout the west valley.

If you aren’t familiar with the area, here are a few things to know!
Buy a home in Los Gatos (info on neighborhoods, school districts, homes for sale to browse online, links to important local sites & info)
Relocating and buying a house in Los Gatos
Los Gatos real estate on Facebook
Los Gatos real estate market statistics & trends for houses
Los Gatos realty trends and stats for condos & townhouses

 

 

 

The Cornucopia Fruit Stand

Edit (10/15/2021): Sadly, Cornucopia looks like it is permanently closed. What may have been Los Gatos’ last permanent farm stand closed it’s doors this winter after tree sales and the property sold in February. On Facebook the family has bid farewell with a “Thank You” with many more from patrons and business associates in reply. The large property so close to El Camino and Netflix will likely be intended for development. We will miss you, Cornucopia Fruit Stand!

Original Article (10/27/2019):

Perched at a slight angle on Winchester Boulevard, the Cornucopia Fruit Stand is a celebrated remnant of the town’s agricultural heritage that you can still enjoy. Established in 1976, Cornucopia continues selling seasonal produce almost year-round. Spring and summer mean fresh fruit and veggies, and for the holidays it’s a great spot for top-grade Christmas trees.

This weekend my family and I stopped by the Cornucopia Fruit Stand in Los Gatos to stock up on some Halloween pumpkins. If you’re still looking for a squash for your porch, Cornucopia has a plethora – from Sugar Pie Pumpkins for carving to the fancy Cinderella pumpkins! And what would a pumpkin patch be without some festivity? Los Gatos’ Original Great Pumpkin Patch (as they proudly call it) is decorated with painted pumpkins (also for sale), instagrammable photo spots, friendly scare crows, and classic Halloween stand-in cutouts for the kids.

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The Promenade: Strolling Downtown Los Gatos with Live Music this Summer! 7/1 – 8/12, 2021

Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce: The Promenade Thursdays poster
Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce poster for the Promenade!

The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce invites the community to celebrate summer together with free live music all summer!

Thursday Promenades in Downtown Los Gatos

There’s a party in downtown every Thursday Promenade beginning this week! Every Thursday evening, 3pm to 8pm from July 1st to August 12th, the stretch of North Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Los Gatos between Main St and Bachman (that’s from Dolce Spazio to Andalé for the foodies) will transform into “the promenade.” The street will be open to foot traffic, and two stages will bookend the promenade with live musical entertainment!

Bands will begin performances at 4:30pm on the North Stage (Bachman), and at 5:30pm on the South Stage (Main), with entertainment from a different group each week. See the lineup (and any changes) on the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce calendar, the Thursday Promenades page linked above, or Camber of Commerce social media pages.

Drivers, plan to reroute around this stretch of N. Santa Cruz Ave on Thursday nights. While there is usually plenty of parking along the old rail line behind the shops, it tends to fill up with festival traffic, so schedule in some extra time for parking. If you’re coming for the event, consider traveling by bike, or using a ridesharing service if you plan on patronizing any of the bars or brewery!

As someone who regularly attends free summer concerts in Los Gatos, which were mostly canceled earlier this year (and the Fiesta de Arts / Wine Walk postponed until September), the Promenade is music to my ears!

So invite your friends to eat, drink, play, and stroll the night away!

Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce: Thursday Promenades Live Music Schedule 2021
Musical lineup, taken from the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. Click to see the original post.

JCO’S Place for Fine Art

Julie Jenkins at JCO'S Place for Fine ArtLove 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, located on University Avenue (address is near the bottom of this article).

A few years back, when JCO’s was located on N Santa Cruz Avenue near the theater, I was strolling past this gallery with my daughter, plus my visiting niece and nephew, who hail from Boston, and noticed some beautiful, over-sized 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 an upcoming 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 in downtown LG, take a few minutes and stop by JCO’s Place.  I think you will enjoy it!

Painter at JCOS Place for Fine Art in Los Gatos

JCO’s Place for Fine Art

Julie Jenkins

805 University Avenue #E • Los Gatos CA 95032

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

JCOSPLACE.com

Los Gatos Historic Home Tour

HHTBigBash2018_WebBanner.jpg

The annual Los Gatos historic home tour returns to town for one day only on April 21st, 2018, and tickets will be available to purchase online as soon as February 26th. Sponsored by the New Museum of Los Gatos (NUMU), the annual event showcases beautiful Los Gatos properties from different eras and frequently their gardens, too.

The focus of this 23rd annual Los Gatos historic home tour will be the lovely Johnson Avenue neighborhood!

Seven houses will be on display for tour-goers. The medley of event features also includes some live music and vintage cars for show on the street.

The NUMU site offers this teaser about the Los Gatos historic home tour: “The program guide provided to all tour goers includes historical and architectural information on the featured homes as well as back stories and trivia on the history of the Johnson Avenue neighborhood, including the locations of the former sites of a private zoo of exotic animals, and the baseball field where Los Gatan Hal Chase practiced. (He was later implicated in the Black Sox scandal of 1919.)”

Sunday evening, in lieu of the usual second tour day is a new event, entitled A Bigger Bash.

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).

http://www.numulosgatos.org/hht

Please also see this list of downtown, central, and historic Los Gatos neighborhoods

Los Gatos historical walking tour app: LOST GATOS

Michael Kane as Mountain Charlie 2007 Historic Walking Tour in Los Gatos
Michael Kane as Mountain Charlie in the 2007 Historic Walking Tour in 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.

Discover LOST Gatos: Self-Guided Walking Tour

Today, there’s an app for that!  It’s called Discover LOST Gatos and as of this writing, there are 3 different self-guided tours:

  1. The Heart of Los Gatos (approximately a 35 minute walking tour with 12 stops)
  2. Los Gatos: The Gem City (a 45 minute walk with 12 stops
  3. The Cradle of Los Gatos (50 minute stroll with 13 stops)

The app has been released for Android and iPhone, so you can find it online wherever you get your phone’s apps – just search for “discover LOST Gatos”. It is also available in web format online at losgatos.stqry.app/ no download necessary.

The Mercury News did a nice article on this and will fill in the details on who’s behind this wonderful idea.

http://www.mercurynews.com/los-gatos/ci_30098778/los-gatos-discover-lost-gatos

As for me, I just downloaded it to my phone and look forward to getting to know our beautiful town a little more!