Gilroy Gardens is located in Gilroy, Calif. and is California’s only horticultural theme park featuring more than 40 family attractions including six majestic gardens, educational exhibits, rides and the world famous Circus Trees.
$13 off admission with a coupon from http://www.sfbayfun.com/coupons.html
Love, love, love Gilroy Gardens. Perfect for my 4 and 2 1/2 year old. My 4 year old can get on most rides other than the Swan boats, plenty of other rides for my 2 year old to enjoy. Super, duper clean park that was teenager free. This park is definitely geared for kids 1 yrs-8/9 years old. Any older kids probably would be bored. Prices are very reasonable for souveniers and food. There is no food allowed however we have had no issues bringing in a small amount of snacks and juice/water for the kids. There is a grassy picnic area just before the entrance of the park if you plan to bring your lunch. Park can get busy so my suggestion would be if you have little ones, like I do, is get there early when the park opens. Rides that get crowded and have lengthy lines are the South County Backroads and Pit Stop Racers rides, the Rainbow Garden Boat Ride and the Swan/Duck Paddle Boats. Try to make it to these 1st. The train also can get crowded, I suggest riding at the stop in the back of the park. Water splash area is wonderful and can take an entire day up so try and do rides, lunch first and then plan for water fun!
We have also been able to attend their special Holiday Lights event that goes through December. This is event is in the evening and also has an option to purchase dinner with ticket. Dinner was standard and worth the extra money for the ease. There was a very cute Charlie Brown Gang performance during dinner that we enjoyed and then the characters came around during dinner to say hi. We were also able to take our hot chocolate out, bonus as it does get chilly at night! This Holiday Lights event runs about 4 hours and we really enjoyed seeing the park at night filled with 1000's of lights. The event ends with a laser light show over the lagoon. My kids loved this! Try and watch this in front of the Oak Park Playground. P.s. Don't forget to enjoy the real snow sprinkles at the entrance of the park!
This place is a great way to take our child to an amusement park without spending the big bucks. I wish they didn't charge for parking, but if you look for coupons online you can make up for it. This place is best for young children. The rides are small and slow, but the children get to ride by themselves in a fun, safe place. It's got a water area, a playground and so many rides that we didn't even see them all in one half-day. The food is OK and in general it's just a really nice, fun place that will be great for a limited amount of time, so go before your kids get hooked on Mickey and enjoy it.
Four of us spent the day here in July 2010 and enjoyed every minute. We liked the designation of the rides/adventures for all ages and could easily walk to those specific areas for my grandson's interests and age.
Immaculate place+can purchase food or bring some in.
Initially thought the admission price was high but after realizing that price included all rides, it became more realistic.
It's nice to have a theme park that has fruits/veggies as the theme! I love the typical parks like Disneyland (and planning to go there again in July!), but really liked the unique atmosphere of the agricultural theme. Of course, I couldn't resist buying a plush, sunglasses-wearing garlic mascot to bring home!
We brought our 4 year old and 18 month old, and both had a great time. We got there shortly after it opened at 10, and amazingly were still there when it closed at 6. We hit the train ride first, where there was no line, and got an overview of the entire park. The waterfalls, lake, and trees were all beautiful. When we returned and got off, the line for the train went all the way down the stairs.
It was Memorial Day weekend, so there were lines for all the rides, but it wasn't so bad. The rides were pretty typical, mostly ones that spun around. There were two small car rides that even the smallest of kids, including my 18 month old, could ride. He had a blast riding in the back of the little fire engine with big sister in front.
Be careful to check the height requirements grid for all the rides, especially if you have a tiny child, like our daughter. She could not ride alone on the majority of the rides even though she's 4. Also, we waited for a long time in the monorail line, and once we got to the front, they measured my 18 month old and said he couldn't go on. :( I assumed the monorail would be okay for small kids, but there's a 36 inch height requirement.
The Balloon Flight ride was fun for all 4 of us, but the wait was loooong. Same with the antique car ride; super fun for the kids because they can actually semi-steer the car right and left, but a long wait for the 2-seaters.
Be sure you know if it's butterfly season or not before you tell your little girl that she's about to see butterflies in the Monarch exhibit! We didn't see a single butterfly (Memorial Day weekend).
Loved the circus trees! And the rock maze was fun. We checked out the water area, which looked like a lot of fun, but didn't go in because it was too cold. Next time!
There is a big playground area with play structures, monkey bars, slides, etc. This was great for our 18 month old because he had been sitting and sleeping in his stroller for much of the time and needed a place he could run around on his own.
There were a lot of food options, but we chose to do the all-you-can eat Barbecue. I think this may have been a special event for the holiday weekend, though, so it might not be offered all the time. It was $15 per person, which was a little too expensive for what you get. But it WAS all you can eat, so it may be worth it if you eat a lot! They had chicken and hot dogs (no ribs, no beef), beans, rolls (no cornbread), salad, drinks, and push-ups and ice cream sandwiches.
Funnel cake at Skeel's was yummy. Crispy, great texture, and strawberries on top.
We would have upgraded our tickets to a season pass for $10, but the line to do so as we were leaving was waaay too long. At the end, don't forget to take a look at the picture they took of your family at the beginning. Expensive to buy prints (one 5x7 for $15, and various packages), but it's good for those, like us, who didn't have any pics of the whole family together.
Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful! We've been going to Gilroy Gardens since it first opened and was called Bonfante Gardens. The landscaping, the Circus Trees, and the beautiful waterfalls are what keep us coming back. We just threw our 3 year olds party here in October and everyone had a BLAST! The rides were perfect for their ages. My older daughters were bored because they were too big for the rides, but the little ones LOVED it. The food was good and reasonably priced The children loved running through the water sections on the hot and humid Gilroy weather. The lines are not too long because not very many people can stand the very hot weather. They have a small petting zoo and pony rides for a fee. I don't like paying extra for something I already paid to get into, so we avoided that section. They have lots of animal shows that my kids enjoyed. My favorite was the butterfly garden. The girls LOVED searching for butterflies there! The whole theme park is absolutely breathtaking. We did a circus tree scavenger hunt, using the guide given at the entrance. It was very interesting to learn the background of the trees and the park. I highly recommend it.
This is a great place to hang for families with kids up to 10 years old. Older kids will no doubt be bored here, as there are really only a couple of coasters. But little ones, like our 2 and 5 year olds, will find the rides exciting enough. Reasonable price, not for profit and they often have specials on admission and membership (which has free parking every time). The downside is the short operating calendar, but if you can eek out a few visits, the membership is worth it.
You can probably skip the shows, they aren't too great, but if it's hot out and you need a break it's a nice option.
Bring a change of clothes or preferably a bathing suit and Watch out! to use the water feature, which kids will love.
Skip the duck boats, which are hard to operate unless you are even in weight and strength.
We lived in California for just over a year and visited Gilroy Gardens at least 10 times. It is such a great theme park for the younger crowd WITHOUT the huge crowd of a place like disneyland. Of course it costs much less than disneyland and their season passes are really reasonable. One thing about Gilroy Gardens is that it is very clean and very well taken care of. They include rides for the super little to adults. Very senior citizen friendly. They have places to eat, places to get snacks and places to cool off. Make sure you check out all of the awesome trees they have growing in the park. Bring your swimsuits on hot days and cool off in the water park area.
If you have a chance to upgrade to a season pass then do it! Saves money and you will definitely want to come back to Gilroy Gardens. Kids of all ages can enjoy the park. There is an area for the smaller kid rides and then rides for everyone throughout the park.
There a different shows throughout the day so check the maps and relax while watching them!
There are many different dining choices and you can always pack your own snacks. If you are there during the summer the water park is the place to be for the kids, they love the slide and the many waterfalls!
Our stroller was stolen under 3 minutes while parked in the stroler parking zone in front of the marry-go-around. We are told by security people there are very limited cameras and they cannot tell if stroller was taken out of the park.
Imagine having your kid kidnapped and they cannot tell anyting. There is also very limited security at the park, but rather a "false sense of security".
My wife's wallet in a bag under the stroller was also stolen. All security people could do was to walk the park with us looking for the stroller.
We have been vising this park for the last couple of years. My daughter is now 3 and a half and loves coming here. The place is in a very nice garden setting and most of the rides are geared toward younger kids so my daughter gets to ride most of them.
We took my daughter here when she was 1 1/2. And despite being so tiny she absolutely has no fear. The faster and higher a ride goes the bigger her smile and the louder her laugh. It is very rare to go somewhere that there are many rides available to someone her height. Even now that she is 2 1/2 we still have difficulty. And when we went to Gilroy Gardens I was very, very happy that there were plenty of rides for her to enjoy. Even rides that most places will not let her ride on she was able to ride on here. I love this place and if I lived a bit closer I would definitely invest in a season pass.
We've been to Gilroy Gardens in the spring, the heat of summer and also for the holiday lights in December. As you can tell, we like it.
- My 3 year old enjoys about 1/3 of the rides (Red Engine, Pit Stop Racer, train, South Country Backroads,...) The rest are probably best for kids 5-8.
- Bring towels and swimwear if you go in the summer. The water features are fun, but the kids will certainly get wet. There's one water park for 1-3 year olds and the other for 3-8 year olds.
- If you're an amusement park family, you can get a Gold pass at Great America and it will also work at Gilroy gardens. For only $20, you can upgrade your pass and get free parking for the season.
- Holiday Lights - Beautiful, but not as crazy-tricked out as other Christmas lanes around the Peninsula. The laser light show is average and a bit hyped, but great if you're kids are bit sensitive to noise. These fireworks are smaller than your Disney-sized shows and a good first experience.
Remember that the park doesn't open until 4pm in the winter for the Holiday Lights and it's only on the weekends. Dress warm or else you'll freeze and end up wearing home a Gilroy Garden sweatshirt (which you'll now find in every closet in the Lee household)
My 4.5 year old daughter is a speed junkie. After riding the Quicksilver Express 3 times (in the back, mind you) she asked, "Can't it go faster?". Ummm. No.
I thought the Quicksilver was fast enough thankyouverymuch. However GG needs more thrills for those kids who want more action than a twirling garlic or spinning strawberry can provide.
My kids are 2 and 4, and Gilroy Gardens is totally geared toward their demographic. We visited for the first time this year, ended up doing the upgrade to a season pass, and we've been back twice more in less than two months.
Rides are catered toward young kids, but the roller coasters are fun (albeit not "crazy thrilling") for adults as well. There's really something for everyone. We saw an elderly grandmother having the time of her life "driving" the old-fashioned cars. The park is clever -- and a bit kitschy in parts (eg, the garlic and artichoke rides).
Gilroy Gardens (formerly Bonfante Gardens) originated as a private park built around its botanical gardens. The grounds still boast an amazing assortment of flora -- really cool trees (grafted in funky ways) and fragrant flowers. Mini "gardens" throughout the park are great for short strolls, and when you need a rest (especially on those 100-degree Gilroy summer days) there are plenty of benches spread throughout the park to sit and take a rest.
Speaking of those hot days... It's a good idea to bring along swim gear (or at least a spare set of dry clothing) so the little ones can romp around in Splash Gardens. Definitely a relief from the heat, and a nice break from the rides.
Food isn't bad; there's quite a variety. You can't bring sandwiches and larger items into the park, but drinks and snacks from home are okay. Prices are reasonable.
We found that membership was worthwhile because we plan to return at least a few times this season. The park is nonprofit, and membership is tax-deductible. Benefits include 20% off food (which you pretty much have to buy anyway) and souvenirs, as well as free parking ($10 a pop). So even with the apparent high cost, it might make sense to take the plunge.
We love this place and will go back for at least the next couple of years.
I really like visiting this place. It's a mixture of a theme park and botanical garden. Price of admission is cheaper than most theme parks, and you can usually find discount tickets somewhere. It's a good sized place; not huge, but not small either. The gardens are absolutely gorgeous, and they have lots of fun rides that kids and adults can enjoy.
We had a blast here! We had planned to do other things, but at the last minute changed our minutes and came here. It was a blast for everyone in the family! We could all ride the rides, and play the games. It was a theme park so food and souvenir prices were what you'd expect them to be. We will be going back next time we are in California. It's not too crowded, like Disney or 6 Flags, and there are plenty of things to see, like the tree's, and to do, like the ecotarium.
Went in August.... HOT!!! My 3 year old love to ride waterpark and the race car that went around in a circle...perfect size for him. yes, everything is small scale. Pefect for tots kids under 7 or max 8. Some of the rides were probably a bit too much for a 3 year old, like the mushroom ride and the banana boat ride. But for the rides he did do, he really enjoyed them.
We love Gilroy Gardens in the summer, but the Holiday Festival of Lights was a treat. At this time of year, the gardens are spectacular, lit with millions of miniature white lights. On the night we went, rides and attractions were open and there were no lines. Kids can skate on the tiny ice rink, and it was fun to see all the decorations as we rode the train through the park (sometimes in almost complete darkness, which was cool!) The park was very manageable as there were no lines for the rides or attractions. The fireworks and laser show is short (which is good if you have a few two year-olds in tow) and not extremely impressive, but it entertains and captures the holiday spirit. It's just FUN to wander the park after dark, surrounded by all the winter cheer. Be sure to wear your warmest clothes; we nearly froze!
We spent a gorgeous October day at Gilroy Gardens. For a Sat. we knew it would be packed, but the lines went fast and there was plenty of room for all those strollers. The water area was just right for our 3 1/2 yr. old and who doesn't love a merry-go-round, caterpillar ride, and artichoke cups. I recommend measuring your child before you go and look up the rides to see what they can ride on alone and/or with a chaperone...so you know what to expect. Also, for the weekends in the fall, get there right when the park opens and I recommend that duck boat ride. Bring a lunch and you can eat it in their nicely shaded area just outside the park.
What's nice about Gilroy Gardens is that the whole park is geared towards small kids (I'd say 7-8 and younger). Even toddlers can have a great time here. In addition to the rides, there are some very cool play structures and a train that runs around the park. It's cheaper and less crowded than the adult theme parks, although in the middle of the summer Gilroy's pretty hot, so be prepared.
Get the inside scoop from parents who have been there!