Formerly known as Bonfante Gardens, the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park is a garden-themed family amusement park in Gilroy, Northern California. Designed and built by Michael Bonfante on 536 acres of land, Park is the home of Axel Erlandson’s famous Circus Trees and features 22 family-friendly rides and several attractions that promise a fun day out for the whole family.



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History

Founded by Michael and Claudia Bonfante, the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park was built over a period of 25 years with numerous expansions before being opened to the public in 2001 as Bonfante Gardens. Before being an amusement park, the property was a commercial nursery known as Tree Haven and as a recreational facility for employees of the supermarket chain Nob Hill Foods, which was sold to build the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park.

Today, the Park features six gardens, 22 rides, and a variety of attractions for the whole family. The most famous garden in the Park is that of the Circus Trees, which was designed by the late Axel Erlandson and grown in a variety of unique and unusual shapes and patterns. The Park has an annual holiday celebration known as the Gilroy Gardens Holiday Lights.

Attractions

The Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park features six beautifully manicured and maintained gardens that feature a variety of flowers, trees, flowers, rock formations, and water elements. The six gardens include the Camellia Garden, Claudia’s Garden, the Holly Garden, the Monarch Garden, the Rainbow Garden, and the South County Backroads Garden.

Boasting a dense green formal ambiance that only Camellias can, of which there are several varieties, the Camellia Garden also features annual flowerbeds and several varieties of Japanese Maples and hosts an annual educational Musical Market Show.

Claudia's Garden is named after the founder of the Garden, Michael Bonfante's wife and is the oldest garden in the Park. A tranquil piece of paradise, Claudia's Garden showcases a variety of conifers, many of which have been grown to form unique geometric topiaries and colorful blankets of annual flower beds.

The Holly Garden is a pretty pathway garden that is home to a collection of more than 20 different varieties of hollies displayed in topiary, tree and shrub forms. The Monarch Garden is a 60-foot tall, climate controlled, semi-tropical greenhouse with hundreds of tropical and sub-tropical flowers, shrubs, and trees, and hundreds of Monarch butterflies.

Visitors can enjoy the Rainbow Garden on a leisurely boat trip on the Rainbow Garden Round Boat Ride, which meanders through the Garden on a winding stream, highlighting the best views of the Park's collection of topiaries.

The South County Backroads Garden spans nearly two acres and reflects that of a historical South Santa Clara Valley. This Garden enjoyed by taking a South County Backroads car ride in a 1920s or 1950s antique car.

Water features in the Park include the Bonafante Falls and Bonafante’s Splash Garden, Splash and Squirt and Water Oasis, while thrilling rides range from the Garlic Twirl and Mushroom Swing to the Quicksilver Express Mine Coaster and the Timber Twister Coaster. There are also rides for families with younger children such as Apple & Worm, Balloon Flight, Banana Split, and the Rainbow Garden Round Boat Ride, as well as the famous Sky Trail Monorail.

Educational Programs

Gilroy Gardens offer a variety of educational programs for all ages, ranging from park tours and green spots to learn more about butterflies and bees. Designed to reflect an old apple packing shed, four old Green Spots can be found throughout the park where visitors can watch video vignettes about the behind-the-scenes work at the Gardens.

A Monarch Butterfly Exhibit displays the various stages in the life-cycle of the insect from egg to butterfly via an informative presentation and visitors may be able to see them in the greenhouse during the butterfly season from June to November. The Honey Bee Hut near the Lakeside Amphitheater is home to a live bee hive of working bees and their queen where visitors can learn more about these fascinating and very smart insects and the vital role they play in the environment. Other fun things to do are overnight stays in the Gardens for special occasions such as Father’s Day.

Visitor Information

The Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm daily and there is a general and seasonal admission fee, which includes access to all the attractions, rides, gardens and other features within the Park. The Park has a variety of food and drinks vendors throughout the park, and there are picnic areas near the car park for guests who want to bring their own food. There are also several kiosks selling Park-related items, clothing, gifts, and toys.

3050 Hecker Pass Hwy, Gilroy, CA 95020, Phone: 408-840-7100

Back to: Northern California

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