The state of California is mostly recognized for its celebrities, bright lights, and its bustling nightlife. Who can blame people for thinking this? The state is the very location of where stars are born and where dreams are made, Hollywood. But beyond the glitz and the glamour, California remains to be one of the top spots for solo backpackers and families alike. This is due to the fact that there are a ton of places to visit in the area. One that is worth the travel time and expenses is Gilroy Gardens.

Located at 3050 Hecker Pass Hwy, Gilroy, California, Gilroy Gardens is a garden-themed family theme park that rivals the likes of Six Flags and Disneyland. Formerly known as Bonfante Gardens, Gilroy Gardens spans a whopping 536 acres which houses 22 rides five attractions and so much more. The park is full of history that is worth noting as well.

Gilroy Gardens History

The park was initially founded by Michael and Claudia Bonfante. It was built over a period of 25 years after the couple decided to sell their Nob Hill Foods supermarket chain. When it was opened, the amusement park was made open to the public and it was first known as Tree Haven. It was a commercial plant nursery and a recreational facility for people that worked at Nob Hill Foods. It was then called as Bonfante Gardens.

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A Gilroy Gardens signboard you’ll find on the way to the entrance (Source)

In February 2007, the name was changed to what we know call as Gilroy Gardens. The place was overhauled greatly but despite this, the overall environment-friendly and natural appeal of the park were kept. When it first began operations as a theme park, it featured 19 rides, 27 attractions, and six gardens. The best garden in the area is the 24 Circus Trees that is filled with trees with trunks that were grown into various shapes.

It was not smooth sailing for the theme park early on. It suffered from low sales and low attendance during first to years. However, when Paramount Parks began to manage the park, things began turning for the better. It operated under the management of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company for a period. However, the city of Gilroy officially purchased full ownership of the park on March 5, 2008.

Gilroy Gardens’ overall appeal is well-supported by the gardens it houses. People love that the management continues to keep its surroundings clean and green. Visiting the area is a must for both locals and tourists alike. But, of course, it’s best knowing some of the important things about Gilroy Gardens first.

What are the Ticket Prices in Gilroy Gardens?

Daytime tickets for Gilroy Gardens start at $37. But this Holiday, standard ticket prices are at $31 only. It also offers a special price this Holiday season. For $42-45, people can get admission to the theme park as well as tickets to Gilroy Gardens’ signature Holiday Feast. Of course, the theme park also offers Gilroy Garden coupon and other discounts for groups as visitors that have 15-50 participants can buy tickets for as low as $29 each.

Alternatively, people can also get amazing premium cards. People interested in visiting the park regularly need only to spend $91 for the premium membership. This entitles them to unlimited visits to Gilroy Gardens, as well as free parking. Renewing the card comes as low as $87. The membership card also entitles people to other discounts, and Bring-A-Friend FREE Fridays and more!W

What are the Operating Hours of Gilroy Gardens?

The park is open during the weekends, but on certain occasions, it is open all year long. For instance, it will be open from January 1-4. Gilroy Gardens hours may vary as well but the park is typically open with a schedule of either 10am-5pm or 11am-6pm. Gilroy Gardens is vast and massive so people rarely have to worry about crowded places when it’s not Summer.

With these in mind, it is also important to understand the time zone in Gilroy. In this way, you’ll have an idea of what the best time is to visit. Gilroy, California is at the Pacific Standard Time. This means it is eight hours earlier than the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Travelers should plan their trips and tickets ahead.

When is the best time to visit Gilroy Gardens?

There are two things to consider when it comes to thinking about when is the best time to visit Gilroy Gardens. First is understanding what the climate conditions in Gilroy are. Gilroy City is located in Northern California’s Santa Clara County so its best to understand the weather conditions here first.

California experiences warm temperatures all year round. But of course, it is typically cooler during the months of November up to March. Sadly, it does not snow in California so people that want to experience Winter should not get their hopes up. Rain usually comes in Late December and the other months are typically dry.

The rest of the year is perfect for visiting Gilroy Gardens in all of its glory. For those that want to get to the theme park on days that are perfectly warm and cloudy, the days between April to June are ideal. With the area’s weather and climate in mind, it is not time to consider when the crowds are heavy.

The days between late May to early September are more popular times for tourists to visit California. For those that want to avoid heavy crowds in Gilroy Gardens, then it would be best to book tickets and a flight at some other time. Crowds are typically smaller during November and December so these are the times that are best that want a less congested Gilroy Gardens. But of course, this is California we are talking about so outside Gilroy Gardens, streets are still pretty populated.

Gilroy Gardens Tips

Now that we know all there is to know about the theme park, it is now time to know some tips to maximize your trip in Gilroy Gardens. From its attractions to its amazing gardens, here is a short but helpful Gilroy Gardens tips to take note of when visiting the theme park.

10Arrive Early

The theme park filled with people celebrating the 4th of July (Source)

One of the important Gilroy Garden tips that you need to know is to arrive early. Gilroy Gardens hours usually start at 10 AM. But since Gilroy Gardens is a theme park that’s family-friendly, you’ll likely have to beat the crowd if you’ll visit here during weekends and in Summer season. To do so, you’ll need to come early even a few minutes before the Gilroy Garden hours starts. In this way, you can find a parking space that’s just steps from the entrance. Additionally, arriving early at the theme park also lets you experience a cooler temperature compared when you come at around 2 or 3 PM. Another advantage of doing so will also give you enough time to enjoy the rides and explore the park while there’s not much crowd.

9 Be on the Lookout for Discounts

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A peek at the Gold Pass that you can avail for great discounts and other perks (Source)

Gilroy Gardens’ general admission fee costs $58 for this season. But the family theme park offers several ways to get discounted admission tickets, Gilroy Garden coupon, and other perks too. Thus, never forget to visit their website and research about other Gilroy Gardens tips to check for promos and tips on how you can score some perks.

Having platinum or gold season passes to California’s Great America also gives you perks. If you already have these passes, you can get free admissions to Gilroy Gardens. These passes are definitely a smart way to visit two of the Bay Area’s cool theme parks all year long.

8Be Sure to Check the Dates

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Gilroy Garden’s operating hours (Source)

While it’s one of the well-known theme parks in California, it’s not as big as Disneyland or the Universal Studios. Hence, expect that its operating hours are not as long as Disney’s nor the Universal Studios.

And while its season does expand most of the time, sometimes, it has parts that are not open year-round. Because of that, make sure to check your calendar and Gilmore Gardens’ website and other Gilroy Garden tips as you plan your itinerary. You don’t want to arrive there surprised that the attraction that you and your kids are looking forward too is closed.

Generally, the park is open from 10 AM to 6 PM during weekends and 11 AM to 5 PM on weekdays in the mid-Summer, Fall, and early Winter through Christmas. But note that the theme park has attractions that closed due to the season.

7Hop on to These Gilroy Garden Rides First:

A peek at Gilroy Gardens’ Quicksilver Express (Source)

Gilroy Gardens is one of the best spots for family bonding among the many attractions in California and it’s one of the top spots for family bondings too. Because of that, there are attractions that will build up a wait. So might as well take a look at this Gilroy Gardens tips for rides first to avoid long lines.

Quicksilver Express

Gilroy Gardens’ Quicksilver Express is probably the most popular ride that it has. So you might find yourself waiting a bit for this ride. Hence, it’s one of the first rides that you need to hop on to before doing other activities.

Basically, it’s the theme park’s main roller coaster. However, unlike the other theme parks in California or in other major cities, this ride doesn’t have much adrenaline to offer. This is because it’s only 38 ft. in height (equivalent to a four-story building) and it only speeds up to 32 mph. If you’ve already tried extreme roller coaster rides and are looking for some adrenaline at Gilroy Gardens’ Quicksilver Express, be warned though as it won’t get your heart pumping but your kids will.

Even so, it’s still an interesting ride. This is due to the fact that it has the right twists, turns, and dips that lets you get a nice view of the trees around the park. Plus, it has a nice mine train theme and setting that anyone would surely love.

Timber Twister

The Timber Twister is also one of the most popular Gilroy Garden rides in the park that often has a long queue. But don’t expect that it will bring you the adrenaline rush that you’re looking for yet it will excite your kids.

Kids and their parents all wearing smiles as they ride the Timber Twister (Source)

Like the Quicksilver Express, this won’t outgrow the little daredevil in you but your kids’. This is because it doesn’t have huge drops that will keep your heart pumping and it needs a little more speed to give you the adrenaline rush that you want. Even then, this mild roller coaster is also a nice ride to try as it has the right speed and minimal drops that will also allow you and your children to enjoy nature. It also has a nice rattlesnake design that kind of matches the movements of the ride.

Mushroom Swing

A giant mushroom that will spin you around (Source)

As the name suggests, it’s a ride that resembles the swing that we often see at playgrounds. But just because it merely looks like a swing doesn’t mean that it’s just as boring as that. If you haven’t seen it yet, this is the type of ride that will suspend you in a chair hanging from chains and will spin you around, rotating a big “mushroom.” At first, it’s going to be exciting but it might likely make you feel dizzy eventually. Still, it’s one of the must-try Gilroy Garden rides as it takes riding a swing into a whole new level. It’s not just good for the kids but the kids at heart as well.

Garlic Twirl

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The theme park’s signature ride (Source)

This probably the most unique ride that you could find in Gilroy Gardens. In this ride, you’ll get inside a ride will twirl you around like Disneyland’s spinning teacups. But what makes it unique is that instead of teacups, you’ll get inside a ride that resembles a garlic (mainly because Gilroy is famous for its garlic). Plus, you won’t be able to control its speed unlike in Disneyland’s spinning teacups where you have a wheel to control how fast your ride should spin.

Sky Trail Monorail

It might look like a roller coaster but there’s nothing to be afraid of in Gilroy Gardens’ Sky Trail Monorail. It’s just a ride that will give you an aerial view of the park. It has no loops nor it has a speed that will leave your heart beating fast.

Unless you have a fear of heights, you’ll enjoy this ride together with your kids. What’s even better is that it has an audio guide that will help you get to know the park more.

6Bring Swimming Attires and Extra Clothes

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One of Gilroy Gardens’ water attractions (Source)

Another of the important Gilroy Gardens tips to enjoy your trip is to bring extra clothes and swimming attire. Gilroy Gardens isn’t just a theme park that only features rides and other dry outdoor activities. It also has water play areas that are hard to resist. Here, your kids can swim, ride a boat, admire its majestic waterfalls, and so many other water activities. Its Water Oasis, which was recently added in the park is one of the most popular attractions that Gilroy Gardens has. Thus, expect a larger number of visitors during Summer. However, note that not all of its water features are open this season.

Related: The Best Big Cedar Lodge Review: Enjoy Nature, Luxury, and 19 Things to Do

5Don’t Forget to Take a Good Look at the Trees

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One of Gilroy Gardens’ circus trees (Source)

Aside from the rides and water attractions that Gilroy Gardens has, many people also visit this family theme park because of its trees. Yes, you read it right, tree. In case you don’t know yet, Gilroy Gardens homes more than 200 topiaries. Here, you can also see the tallest species of trees in the world, the coastal redwood which can grow up to more than 360 feet. Aside from that, you’ll also be amazed by its circus trees made by Axel Erlandson who is known for his one-of-a-kind elaborate tree sculptures.

4Try Their Healthy Food Options

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One of Gilroy Gardens’ restaurants that offers healthy food options (Source)

In most amusement parks, you’ll often see cotton candies, hot dogs, popcorns, and other junk foods that make it hard to eat healthily during your visit. But Gilroy Gardens is much different. Yes, it may still have options that will satisfy yours and your kids’ sweet tooth, but you also have healthy food options to choose from too. This is because the theme park also focuses on agriculture. Hence, you can find healthy dishes too. If you’re wondering what dish to try out, The Wok’s teriyaki chicken bowl with vegetables is a must-try.

3Eat Early

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A family enjoying their early lunch (Source)

Again, the Gilroy Gardens is one of the well-known family theme parks in California. Because of that, there will be times when you’ll find long ride lines. But aside from that, you should also expect that the food lines can be pretty long at times as well, especially during Summer. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time falling in line to get some food, we advise that you should eat early. Some people advise that it’s also best to eat late lunch but it won’t probably sit well if you have toddlers with you.

Related: Denver Food and Accommodation Guide: Best Places to Eat and Stay in Denver, Colorado

2Check the Height Limit

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Gilroy Gardens’ ride policies with height guidelines (Source)

Amusement parks often have height limits, especially in their extreme rides. But while Gilroy Gardens doesn’t have extreme rides just like other theme parks, it still imposes height restrictions. This is because most rides are just made for toddlers and preschoolers. Hence, your kids might be too tall for the rides, especially if they’re a bit older already.

1Visit During Holidays

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A sneak peek at one of the attractions at Gilroy Gardens during Holiday season (Source)

Gilroy Gardens is surely a destination that kids will love. To make sure that you can get the most out of your trip, don’t forget these Gilroy Garden tips.


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