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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
  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!