Play… Explore… Learn…
Gilroy Gardens… A Family Adventure
Looking for a family adventure this summer? Why not head over to Gilroy and visit Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park?!?! What attracted me to this park was the combination of nature and rides. I knew this would be a fun place for both kids and adults… and I was RIGHT!
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Michael Bonfante’s vision – his love of plants and trees, and his commitment to pass this appreciation on through the generations – continues to inspire everyone who works and volunteers at Gilroy Gardens.
The trustees aspire to make use of the extraordinary beauty of Gilroy Gardens to attract students to the science of horticulture and environmental studies. We aspire to demonstrate and measure our success in becoming the best center in California for attracting and educating students in the critical importance of becoming good stewards of the natural environment. We aspire to be the best promoters of careers in horticulture and environmental studies in the United States.
In this age of burgeoning awareness of environmental crisis, understanding our dependence on flora is necessary for our survival. Educating youth in science and environmental studies is now a national priority. Gilroy Gardens intends to be a leader in that mission.
The teaching of environmental stewardship will be done in affiliation with schools, colleges and universities, and will couple Gilroy Gardens’ ability to provide a highly attractive, enjoyable learning environment with the standards for horticultural and environmental studies curricula of the state. Gilroy Gardens will be recognized as the premier horticultural living lab for schools, colleges, and the community in the United States.
We will continue to support Gilroy Gardens with public entrance fees and through grants from local, regional, state and national governments, and private foundations to expand the quantity and quality of educational projects. Many of these educational projects will be in partnership with schools and colleges. The promotion of careers in horticulture and environmental sciences will be funded by corporations, private foundations and government institutions.
Depending on where you live, you can make this a day trip or a mini vacation! We live about 2.5 hours away from Gilroy, so we took this opportunity to go on a mini vacation. The kids were BEYOND thrilled to visit a new theme park. As we walked across the wooden bridge with trees all around us, we new we were in for a grand family adventure. Kira spotted GIL and ROYelle. Kira loves characters (Logan, not so much). She really just wanted a photo with the girl… but I was able to capture a group photo.
We used the map to plan our day. Our goal was to hit every ride and then visit the water park last. It was so much fun to go on these rides as a family. Many of the rides have height restrictions… with chaperone and ride alone… so make sure you check the map before waiting in line. There were only two rides the kids could not go on: Banana Split and Mushroom Swing (height restriction 48″).
We enjoyed taking a trip on the Coyote & Redwood Railroad. It was the perfect way to view the park. Not to mention Logan LOVES trains! It was nice to sit back and see what Gilroy Gardens had to offer. The view was beautiful. I loved seeing all the trees and rides my kids could enjoy.
Gilroy Gardens has two roller coasters: Timber Twister and Quicksilver Express Mine Coaster. We had the chance to go on both. Kira like the Timber Twister and Logan thought the Quicksilver Express was the BEST ride ever! Logan actually asked my husband to take him on the ride repeatedly. I think they went a minimum of 6 times!
It was nice that there were a few rides (kiddy rides) that they kids could go on by themselves. It made them feel independent. Logan had a blast twisting Kira around in the Tubs-o-Fun! They had smiles glued to their face most of the day!
From one ride to another, we enjoyed our family time.
It was the perfect day for a drive… and nice that the kids could drive us! That’s right! The kids drove mom and dad around in the South Country Backroads!
We spent the last 1.5 hours in the Water Oasis, Bonfante Falls, and Bonfante’s Splash Garden. I didn’t take any photos because I didn’t want to take my phone into the water areas. Please note that this is NOT a water park, but a play area for kids. It is designed with kids in mind (not teenagers or adults…though in the Water Oasis parent’s can purchase alcoholic beverage). Kira LOVED sliding down the mini slides in the Oasis…while Logan preferred the squirt guns in the Splash Garden.
Do your kids ask for souvenirs when you go to theme parks? I’m a parent who HATES buying toys or junk! I like souvenirs that are memory keepers like a pressed penny. Both Logan and Kira were very happy with their souvenirs. They each got to press 2 pennies. Did you know that you can turn your pressed penny into a bracelet? They sell the bands in the gift shop. We didn’t buy one… but I am thinking about having my husband drill a hole in them and turn them into zipper pulls or necklaces.
The lines were short, so we didn’t have to wait long to ride anything! BONUS…many of the lines were shaded by trees! I highly recommend going during a weekday in order to avoid the crowds. I’d love to say that we saw everything, but alas the park was only open from 11 am – 5 pm. I definitely want to take the kids back and explore the areas we missed like the Green Barn, Honey Bee Hut, and Monarch Garden (we went through it briefly while on the train).
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Disclosure: I received tickets complimentary in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own. No other form of compensation was received.