The 16th annual Fantasy of Lights show at Vasona Lake County Park begins soon, and some people have started phoning me about it already. 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 – see link below.
When: The Fantasy of Lights runs from Monday Dec 8 to December 23, 2014 from 6 – 10pm. Prior to that, on November 23 ONLY it is a “walk through” event which runs 5pm to 9pm.
Where: Vasona Lake County Park, 333 Blossom Hill Road (near University Avenue), Los Gatos
How much: The cost varies.
$15- per Vehicle starting Dec 7th
$25- per Vehicle 10-25 guests (no discounts)
$50- Commercial buses (no discounts)
Please visit the Santa Clara County Parks page for the Fantasy of Lights to get more information on bus rides, special events and more! And to learn how to ride the Billy Jones train to see the lights (you’ll get many but not all of the lights), click on this link.
(More questions? PLEASE do NOT call me about this event – I’m a Realtor in Los Gatos, I’m not in charge of this venue! 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 even some historical tidbits.
ALSO – SPONSORS AND DONORS ARE SOUGHT!
Please check out the parks’ page for info on becoming a sponsor or donor:
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
Coming soon – info on the Shannon Valley Ranch neighborhood. For now, though, here are some photos of the Shannon Valley open space and trail – a lovely area with fantastic views.
These photos date back almost two years, to January 2013 (a dry, pleasant winter day!) so views of the housing that was going in then will be quite different looking now.
On the right: in the distance, see the Guadalupe Landfill, also known simply as “the dump” locally, which is accessed off of Guadalupe Mines Road. Below it , see the Brookside Development in Almaden (with Los Gatos schools) getting ready for building. Those homes are in now – at least many are!
Same photo – The Shannon Valley Ranch neighborhood is off to the right, in Los Gatos at the far eastern edge. The dividing line between Almaden and Los Gatos is the Guadalupe Creek – though the school district does not stop at the creek boundary, oddly enough.
The next image, seen on the left, is of the Shannon Valley Ranch Open Space Trail. This connects to a network of trails in east Los Gatos though you have to cross Santa Rosa Drive to go from one to the next. Even so, from here you can reach the Santa Rosa Open Space, Heinz Open Space, and also Belgatos Park trails – whether you are walking, mountain biking, or riding horseback, it’s possible to go and go with only a very short patch on asphalt as you traverse Santa Rosa Drive.
The views are gorgeous from the Shannon Open Space trails, which is situated on the back side of Blossom Hill (the actual hill, not the road). Looking across, you see the coastal foothills and local landmarks such as Loma Prieta. To the east, you can enjoy views of Almaden and the east foothills, depending on your vantage point. The hill is not too steep – though I’m the first to admit that I’d rather be walking down than up!
Something to be aware of is that with all this open space there also comes wildlife such as coyotes, bobcats, deer, mountain lions, skunks, possums, racoons, rats, mice and snakes. Rattlesnakes are indigenous to this area and they sometimes like to come out on the trails to sun themselves, so please be careful when walking, running, or hiking or otherwise moving across these spaces. You don’t want to find a rattler with your foot!
Here’s a sign that I found both disturbing and amusing regarding the presence of snakes (and also who’s got the right of way on the trail). I never knew who was supposed to yield to whom vis-a-vis horses, pedestrians and bicyclists – did you? But according to this sign, folks riding horseback are to give way to those on foot or bikes.
This upcoming winter it is expected (and frankly, after the prolonged drought, HOPED) that we will have an El Nino year with abundant rain. If you have never been out to the Shannon Valley Open Space area – do it sooner rather than later.
My better half, Jim Handy, used to be a volunteer Los Gatos Parks Commissioner (for about 7 years) and he created a map of the trails which you can see on Google for this part of town. Here’s the link to the Shannon Open Space and nearby trail areas.
But do watch for snakes!
Fairview Plaza feels like a step back in time – and in many ways, it is. This little neighborhood is so quaint and unique that it seems perfect for a movie set. Located close to downtown and equally close to huge expanses of open space, it enjoys its own park, has an interesting history and is enough off the beaten path that it goes largely undisturbed.
In 1880, Frank McCullough came to Los Gatos and bought 166 acres of prime real estate. From that land, he donated a parcel to become a park, now Fairview Plaza Park. At one time it included playground equipment and a bird sanctuary too. Today it’s a little more congested with cars on the street, but it’s still quite pleasant. This little park is the heart of the neighborhood. Have a look at the video to get a feel for the area, then continue reading for more info on the neighborhood.
Being an older part of town, Fairview Plaza is an official historic district for the town. It gets some special attention for this, but also some restrictions so that the character of the neighborhood is not harmed by bad remodeling or additions.
A prized part of Fairview Plaza is the Clara Huntington Perkins house, which was designed by Julia Morgan in about 1918-1919.
To get to Fairview Plaza, you have two choices. You can make use of a walkway / staircase that rises from Bayview and makes a direct connection to the neighborhood, or you can arrive there via Pennsylvania Avenue, Fairview Avenue, and then Fairview Plaza. The street is really an enormous cul-de-sac, with no “through traffic.” But unlike the cul-de-sacs of suburbia, this one is an entire community unto itself. Make a visit up there and rest a bit in the community park. You will enjoy pretty architecture but also a glimpse back in time. Enjoy!
(And if you liked this video, please see http://www.YouTube.com/popehandy for more videos of Los Gatos neighborhoods.)
View homes for sale in the Fairview Plaza neighborhood
Below, browse available real estate listings in the Fairview Plaza neighborhood, the Glenridge neighborhood and the Almond Grove neighborhood – lovely residential areas with historic homes!
June 22, 2012
Why Live in Los Gatos?
All of Santa Clara County (the San Jose and Silicon Valley region) has great weather, low crime, beautiful hills in sight and excellent schools. So why chose Los Gatos to call home in particular?
Los Gatos enjoys all of the features that most people want, such as good schools, nice neighborhoods and low crime. The downtown area is nestled into the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, making it especially scenic. It’s more than that, though: it’s a fun place in which to live. It’s got great community involvement. There’s truly something for everyone in this lovely town which was once dubbed the “Gem City”.
Beautiful architecture in Los Gatos
In a valley full of tract housing and strip malls, Los Gatos offers several historic neighborhoods with lovely Victorian architecture. While most of the town’s subdivisions are not so old or distinctive, the downtown area includes several districts you’ll enjoy seeing, among them these: Edelen, Almond Grove, Fairview Plaza, Broadway, and Glenridge. The downtown commercial district includes a few historic buildings, too.
The outdoors is well appreciated in Los Gatos, and it is a big part of what makes this town special. The Los Gatos Creek Trail pleases athletes, who can enjoy fabulous scenery for biking, rollerblading, running, or walking. We have great parks throughout the town, and they have everyone in mind from little tots to people on horseback. Our county park, Vasona, has boating and kids and adults can take sailing lessons. Doglovers even have a dog park which is shared with neighboring Campbell.
In summer, the townsfolk enjoy free music on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays with Jazz on the Plazz,Vasona Vibrations and Music in the Park. Oak Meadow Park features Shakespeare in the Park under the stars too.
Outdoor wintertime festivities include the tree lighting ceremony the first Friday evening in December, carriage rides through the historic downtown, and a holiday parade the first Saturday in December plus a beautiful Fantasy of Lights display each night at Vasona Park from about Thanksgiving through the last day of the year. There is a Plein Art show, an arts & crafts fair, a Fourth of July town picnic, and an annual fall carnival too – you name it!
November 21, 2010
The 2010 season of the “Fantasy of Lights” at Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos runs from November 26 to Dec 31st and is open from 6 – 10pm nightly (every night, no exceptions).
This year marks the 12th anniversary of this very popular Silicon Valley lights festival in which people drive approximately 1.5 miles through a beautiful path of themed light displays.
The Fantasy of Lights does have an admission charge which covers the cost of the event (employees, extra lights, police help with the traffic, etc.).
When: The Fantasy of Lights runs from November 26 to December 31, 2010, 6 – 10pm nightly.
Where: Vasona Lake County Park, 333 Blossom Hill Road (near University Avenue), Los Gatos
How much: The cost varies. For the best deal, get early bird tickets! $10 discount admission per vehicle through December 9th. $15 from Dec 10th – Dec 31st. For cars, minvans etc. holding 10-25 people, cost is $25 (no discounts) $50 for commercial busses.
To see info from years past and comments from some visitors, please visit my older post here on Live in Los Gatos:
January 29, 2008
Perhaps the most hotly contested and divisive issue in the history of Los Gatos has been the skatepark ballot initiative. It is upsetting to see how much hostility has emerged.
The Los Gatos Observer carries the controvery in an “up close and personal” kind of way. There have been an inordinate about of personal opinions, rebuttals, comments, and accusations – all found on this news site’s pages. It’s a soap opera with a political bent.
As for me: I have just one request. Please vote. My hope is that the town gets a huge turnout next Tuesday and that the voters will speak their peace and then we will HAVE peace. Truthfully, I am sick of the complaints. Most of them are coming from the “pro D” camp, but they are found on both sides. I am sick of the stolen political signs. And perhaps most of all, I am sick of the villification of the other side. There are good people on both sides of the argument and it is sickening to read the villification of folks on the other side of the argument. Arguments could be made for voting either way – so let’s leave the “ad hominems” out of it.
And then, please, let’s move forward.
June 23, 2007
Things are heating up now and you may be thinking about where to go for a little relief. There’s the beach, of course – it’s always temperate over in Santa Cruz on the water (and a nice breeze usually blows too). There are all the usual air conditioned places (stores, malls, theaters). But there’s also a little place in Los Gatos, hidden from the view of most folks, where you can get a surprising amount of relief from the heat.
And amazingly, it’s right in the middle of town!
The secret location is along the Los Gatos Creek Trail under the Vasona Dam spillway. The rush of water through the gates creates a cool, light mist that floats down like some of the “misters” that you may have encountered at Disneyland, Paramount’s Great America in very nearby Santa Clara, or in waterparks like Raging Waters in San Jose.
To get there, the easiest approach is via Garden Hill Drive, which is off of Lark Avenue in Los Gatos. Follow the road almost to the very end, when it takes a sharp bend to the left. Park your bike or car and enter the park/trail and follow the path northwest (away from the freeway) and you will find the misty spot not too far up.
There are no benches or tables, so this is a spot not intended for picnicing – but I think it’s a great place to do it nonetheless. (In fact, there’s a warning sign to not go too close to the spillway.) It is not secluded (so ixnay on the romantic spot, this did not qualify as one of my “Best Places to Kiss” in Los Gatos) but it is cool and comfortable and refreshing.
Would you like to see some photos from the dam area? I have compiled a Vasona dam area 60-second slideshow (plus extra photos if you want to see them). Take a look!
Do you have a favorite place to cool off? I’d love to have you share it here!
November 21, 2006
Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos and Surmont areas of Los Gatos
On the far eastern end of Los Gatos lies a friendly and active neighborhood of about 500 homes: Belwood of Los Gatos, and also the Belgatos and Surmont neighborhoods – all of whom now share a cabaña.