Tips & Tricks For Gilroy Gardens

This past Tuesday I took the kids to Gilroy Gardens. Gilroy is mostly known for their garlic and they host an annual garlic festival every year that draws some serious crowds, but they also have this little gem, Gilroy Gardens, an amusement park themed around agriculture (which we seriously love since we farm). The grounds are beautiful and well kept, with lots of shade and a family friendly vibe. This park is geared toward the entire family and there is something for everyone. Here are my best tips and tricks while visiting Gilroy Gardens.

1. Arrive when the park opens. This time of year the operating hours are 11 am to  5 pm during the week and 10 am to 6 pm on weekends. Arriving when the park opens will help you get a great parking spot right by the main gates and guarantee that you will be able to see and do everything the park has to offer.

2. Check the calendar. Gilroy Gardens is a small amusement park and it is not open year round. Make sure you plan accordingly and know the days they are operating and their hours. Right now Gilroy Gardens is open everyday for the month of July, but the calendar changes in August.

3. Ride all the rides. There are over 40 rides, gardens and exhibits and the lines are never long, so you should be able to ride everything at least once. You can read more about the rides here.

4. Check out their fun-filled water play areas where you can cool off from the heat by visiting their Water Oasis, Bonfante's Splash Garden, Splash and Squirt, and Bonafante Falls. For those who don't want to get wet, take a ride in a round boat in their "creek" or paddle a swan or duck shaped boat on the lake! You can read more about the water play areas here.

5. Explore the trees at Gilroy Gardens. There are amazing circus trees. Made using elaborate tree grafting processes, these trees are amazing works of art, as well as natural wonders. Make it a family scavenger hunt of sorts finding each new tree. Pick up a brochure at the entrance that shows you location and information about each one. You can read more about the trees here.

6. Try all the food! They offer more than usual amusement park food and it is so good! Yes, they have hamburgers, pizza, chicken strips, hot dogs and fries, but their restaurants are equipped to offer healthy choices, non-fried foods, reduced calories, vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. You can view all the dining options here

7. Be familiar with the height requirement for rides. Gilroy Gardens might be the only amusement park you will encounter where your children may be too tall for some of the rides. Several of the rides are made for toddlers and preschoolers and this means that older kids may not be able to ride everything (Bulgy the Goldfish is one example). Of course, there are plenty of rides with height limits that go the other way. 

8. Take time to visit attractions like the Oak Park Playground. Ride thrills are great, but kids love some unstructured play time too. It is a giant playground and perfect for all ages. It's great to hit this area up before heading home. Let the kids run and get all their wiggles out.

11. Make sure you stop and visit their shops while enjoying the park. There are several stores and kiosks that have a wide variety of unique souvenirs and gifts for everyone. Make sure to take home a reminder of the great family fun you had!

12. Gilroy Gardens is even more magical once the sun goes down. Halloween at Night (select evenings, Sept 21 - Oct 28) provides scares and dares, tricks and treats, and plenty of spooky-but-not-too-scary nighttime fun for all ages. During Holiday at Night (select evenings, Nov 23 - Dec 31), guests will step into a winter wonderland filled with millions of sparkling holiday lights and enjoy ice skating under the stars, visits with Santa, and a grand holiday feast with all the trimmings. A special New Year’s Eve celebration includes gourmet food and drinks, live music, and a spectacular fireworks celebration at midnight.

We give Gilroy Gardens two thumbs up!  Thank you for having us!

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