If you took Driver’s Ed in Saratoga or Los Gatos, you were probably made to park on the steepest hill around – Nicholson Avenue with its 23 degree grade. Positively frightening! But local bicycle enthusiasts take on Nicholson not with motor vehicles, but on their bikes in a race that has become a Los Gatos classic – the Cat’s Hill Classic bicycle race, which runs through the Almond Grove, Glenridge and Bachman Park neighborhoods of Los Gatos Saturday, March 26, 2022. There’s even a kid set too.
Please get the full scoop here on the organization’s website.
The Town of Los Gatos is home to many lovely neighborhoods with historic homes (Broadway Area Historic District, Fairview Plaza and others), but perhaps none is so quaint or popular as the Almond Grove neighborhood. (See video drive through this neighborhood near the bottom of this article.)
Location, location, location: the Almond Grove’s got it
The location itself could be very compelling alone as the Almond Grove neighborhood is as much “in town” as “walk to town” with so many activities and opportunities happening along North Santa Cruz Avenue, Main Street and University Avenue – all a stone’s throw away. Quite vibrant, downtown Los Gatos enjoys an inordinate amount of restaurants, shops, coffee houses, bars, places to dine , taste wine, stroll or take in a film. It’s also home to free musical concerts in the summer, a parade in December, a gorgeous new public library, a Farmer’s Market every weekend and many other events year round. Finally, the Almond Grove is set near two parks, Bachman Park and the Los Gatos Town Plaza, so there’s a good amount of open space nearby too. There’s something for everyone!
Traditionally designed neighborhood with good community results
The allure of the Almond Grove is more than convenience, though. There’s an old time friendliness that seems to come with the big, welcoming front porches on so many of the older houses. Dwellings are also set closer together than one might find in suburbia, too. Rather than live so much in the privacy of the backyard, there’s an invitation implicit with this combination of close neighbors and a front porch that seems to underscore that residents are part of the neighborhood community and a bit less secluded.
The Almond Grove displays that sense of community from October to January especially, when it steps out as the best decorated corner of Los Gatos with a huge percentage of participation in the effort. Halloween is a great example. People’s enthusiasm is evident in by the beginning of October as props come out for the spookiest day of the year. Sometimes even in September, “Land of the Giant” sized spiders begin to appear, life-sized ghosts start to swing from porches and trees, the normally tidy and trim picket fences become smudged with spider webs, and every manner of Halloween decor drapes the district. On Halloween night, the Almond Grove district becomes positively overrun with enthusiastic kids from all over Los Gatos. I’ve been told that some homes get as many as 1,000 trick-or-treaters on Halloween night there.
The Town of Los Gatos is celebrating 125 years of incorporation this Friday, August 10th, from 6pm to 8:30pm at 5 parks around town:
Blossom Hill Park
La Rinconada Park
Live Oak Manor Park
The townwide birthday song is to be sung at 7:30pm.
I am sure that some of this blog’s readers will wonder why we are having five simultaneous, smaller celebrations rather than one grand one in downtown. The answer is: I don’t know. I do know that at least for the Belgatos party, the town had trouble getting a local person to want to be in charge of it. To me it is a strange idea to celebrate simultaneously but not do it as a whole, since the point of incorporation was to bring the townsfolk under one umbrella, as it were. If any readers can shed light on this approach, the comments would be most welcome.
In any event, happy birthday, Los Gatos!
P.S.: Want to brush up on your Los Gatos history? The town’s got a nice synopsis you can read online.