Get Ready for the 2016 Gilroy Garlic Festival!

The 38th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival is coming up on July 29, 30 and 31, 2016! We hope you can join us for “summer’s ultimate food fair,” a three-day celebration that draws visitors from around the globe to enjoy great garlicky food, dramatic Gourmet Alley flame-ups, live entertainment, cooking competitions, and unique arts and crafts. And don’t forget the FREE only-in-Gilroy garlic ice cream!

The toughest part of the day is deciding which garlic-laced dishes you want to eat first. Gourmet Alley is the best place to start. This is where the world-famous “Pyro Chefs” put on their spectacular flame-up show while cooking up garlic-laced calamari in huge iron skillets. Other Gourmet Alley favorites include pepper steak sandwiches, scampi, pasta con pesto, stuffed mushrooms, zesty garlic fried calamari, and sausage sandwiches, as well as garlic fries and garlic bread. Fortunately, two different Gourmet Alley combo plates are available, so you can sample all the dishes and decide which ones you like best. And more than 60 other booths spread across the Festival grounds offer a wide variety of other food and beverages, from crawfish and kettle corn to frozen lemonade and mimosas. 

If you enjoy watching cooking shows on TV, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Gourmet Alley Test Kitchen and the Garlic Cook-Off Stage. There will also be cooking demonstrations and competitions going on all weekend long. Local firefighters and EMTs will compete in the new “Champions for Charity” cooking contest on Friday. Amateur cooks from around the country will compete for the coveted garlic crown (and $5,000!) in the Great Garlic Cook-Off on Saturday. And at high noon on Sunday, local pro chefs will do battle in the iron chef-style Garlic Showdown.

This year, for the first time ever, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is also hosting the “Gilroy Garli-Que BBQ Challenge,” which combines an officially sanctioned Kansas City Barbeque Society contest on Saturday with a Backyard BBQ Ribs Challenge for amateurs on Sunday.

There’s also live music going on at three stages throughout the weekend. There really is a little something for everyone, including rock ‘n roll, country, jazz, blues, reggae, and swing. KRTY 95.3 will present hot country music stars Brooke Eden, Drew Baldridge, and The Last Bandoleros, all appearing on Saturday on the Amphitheater Stage. And kids have their own entertainment stage, featuring singers, magicians, puppeteers and more. 

The Garlic Festival Arts and Crafts areas showcase unique, high-quality creations from over 100 artists, while the Garlic Mercantile stores offer shirts, gourmet products, cookbooks, wine glasses, and many other Festival souvenirs. Younger guests will find live entertainment, rides, and hands-on arts and crafts activities in the Children’s Area. Visitors can even learn how to make their own garlic braid and take it home as a unique souvenir!

This year visitors can take Caltrain to the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Saturday, July 30, or Sunday, July 31. Round-trip tickets must be purchased online in advance for the special event “Garlic Train,” which departs from the San Jose Diridon Station at 10:00 am and includes shuttle bus service from the downtown Gilroy station to the Festival entrance.

Hope to see you July 29, 30 and 31 at the 2016 Gilroy Garlic Festival!

EXPLORE MORE>>  Go to and book a hotel room today so you can stay and explore Gilroy Gardens, Lumination, award-winning wineries, Gilroy Premium Outlets, and more!

San Luis Obispo old buildings share city’s unique past

The top of the Anderson Hotel

If you peer through the window at the Anderson Barbershop in San Luis Obispo, you’ll glimpse into an era that existed long before apps, drones and smartphones. But while the faded barber pole, wooden chairs and antiquated radiator seem fixed in another time, the expression “if these walls could talk” applies to the shop’s unique history.

Old buildings in San Luis Obispo aren’t just interesting to look at — they also house memories that play a vital part in the evolution of the community.

While the 160-year-old city has many historically significant buildings and monuments, here’s a quick look at some of the more interesting, easy-to-find ones:

ANDERSON BARBERSHOP, 954 Monterey Street

In the 1930s, the road to San Simeon wasn’t so easy to navigate. So celebrities invited to visit William Randolph Hearst’s estate would often stop over at the Anderson Hotel, which had a large lobby and the convenience of a Prohibition-era speakeasy. The Anderson Barbershop, owned by Levi Bond, was located at the bottom of the hotel. There Bond’s son, Courtney,carried an autograph book, in which he collected signatures of some of the famous guests who stopped by for haircuts.

Today Courtney Bond’s autograph book (owned by his son, Alan) reads like a guest book of former A-list celebs that rolled through town, including Clark Gable; Marlene Dietrich; H.G. Wells; Jack Dempsey; Walt Disney, Harpo Marx; the Three Stooges and Joan Crawford.

While the hotel, built by Jeff Anderson in 1922, now houses apartments, the barbershop remains, quietly adding to its history.  

AH LOUIS STORE, 800 Palm Street

In 1861, a Chinese immigrant named Wong Ong arrived in San Francisco, en route to his permanent home in San Luis Obispo. There, Capt. John Hartford dubbed him Ah Louis and enlisted Louis’s help in recruiting laborers to build a railroad route over the rugged Cuesta Grade.

The store Louis opened catered to many of those Chinese laborers, offering items like salted duck eggs, sea cucumbers and dried abalone. The building also served as a bank, a supply center and employment office in the thriving Chinatown area.

Ah Louis died in 1936 at the age of 94, but his store is a reminder of the Chinese workers who helped connect the north and south ends of the county.

CARNEGIE CITY LIBRARY, 696 Monterey Street

In the final 18 years of his life, Andrew Carnegie, a Scotsman who became a wealthy American industrialist, gave 90 percent of his fortune to charities — more than $350 million. (That’s close to $8 billion by today’s standards.) In the early 1900s, those gifts included 1,681 libraries he commissioned throughout the United States.

In 1905, a Carnegie-gifted library was built in San Luis Obispo. For 55 years, the Carnegie served as the city’s library. In 1956, after the library outgrew the building, the historical society moved in. The building was damaged by heavy rains in 1995, but it was retrofitted between 1998 and 2001.

Today it houses the History Center of San Luis Obispo County, which features a research room, collections and publications.

RAILROAD DISTRICT, 1011 Railroad Avenue

Those celebrities that visited Hearst often arrived at the Southern Pacific Railroad Train Depot, where Hearst guests would be escorted in a cab driven by Steve Zegar. Decades later, it’s likely that the railroad district looks even better than it did then, with many restored buildings.

Some of the highlights include the Spanish Colonial-style depot, completed in 1942 and restored in 1988. The Southern Pacific Freight Warehouse, built in 1894, has since been restored and made into the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum. And the water tower, built to service trains during World War II, still stands among palm trees, not far from the tracks.

DEL MONTE CAFE, 1901 Santa Barbara Avenue

Looking like a building you might find with a train set, the Del Monte was built for $600 around 1920 (dates vary) as a barbershop. After that, it became the Del Monte Grocery, which it remained for many years. But eventually, time caught up to the building, which was later condemned.

Luckily, it was rebuilt, with a vintage exterior that fits perfectly with the railroad district. Since 1981 it has operated as a cafe featuring historical photos, rounded booths and bar stools that channel its soda fountain era.


In 1769 — years before the United States declared independence — a Spanish expedition led by Gasper de Portola became the first Europeans to see the San Luis Obispo area. In 1772, as settlers began to suffer from starvation, missionary president Junipero Serra decided to have a mission built in San Luis Obispo, partly because of the ample food supply — namely, in the form of grizzly bears.

Today, the mission, restored during the 1940s, marks the center of town. Still a working parish, it features artwork that pre-dates the building, having survived fires, floods and earthquakes.

While the grizzlies are long gone, bronze bear statues outside the mission serve to remind visitors what drew Europeans to San Luis Obispo.






#ShareSLO Photo of the Week: Sunset Drive-In

At the peak of the drive-in theater’s popularity, between the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were roughly 4,000 drive-in theaters across the United States. Today there are fewer than 400. Luckily, we have the Sunset Drive-in in San Luis Obispo, which TripAdvisor named the 10th best drive-in theater in the country.

Some advantages of the drive-in:

* Your crying baby or toddler won’t cause others to miss that key line

* You can talk freely in your car about plot twists without giving it away to everyone else

* You can crank up the volume to make it sound like explosions are in your car

* More privacy for date night

* You don’t have to sit next to potentially weird strangers

Thanks to @darenstottrup for sharing his photo of his first trip to the Sunset. If you’re out and about, remember to share your photos with the hashtag ShareSLO.

Weekend of music at the Mission offers a taste of the SLO Life


Tropo, a 3-piece electronic group, performs at the Concerts in the Plaza this week.

The Concerts in the Plaza in San Luis Obispo is gonna get a little trippy Friday. 

The featured band, Tropo, is a 3-piece electronic group with music that ranges from ethnic and house to experimental and improvisational dance. Another words — probably not your typical Concerts in the Plaza concert.

But in its 21st year, the summertime jam series, featured every Friday evening in front of the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, offers a great variety of music, spotlighting some of the county’s best musicians.

Helping locals unwind after work and tourists get a real taste of the SLO Life, the outdoor party begins at 5 p.m. and features vendors selling food, wine and beer. A staple of SLO summers, it’s normally packed with people of all ages, and the vibe is friendly and festive.

Did we mention it’s FREE?

Now that’s an even better way to start the weekend.

The concert series, which began in June, lasts through September 9. Popular local bands coming up include bluegrass band Cuesta Ridge, the Tipsy Gypsies (vintage blues, jazz and pop), reggae band Resination and rock/soul group the Damon Castillo Band.

This week the music at the mission won’t stop on Friday. Sunday, a slate of bands will perform for the annual Pride in the Plaza — part of the Central Coast Pride 2016 festivities. Acts will include Maia Sharp, WASI and Elton & the Early Years.




Solvang Hosts FREE Concerts in the Park Every Wednesday Thru 8/17/16


Enjoy FREE concerts in Solvang Park every Wednesday from 5-8pm thru 8/17/16

You know you love hearing live music, especially outdoors in the summertime—and especially when it’s FREE! Make plans now to spend each Wednesday from 5:00-8:00  enjoying free concerts in Solvang Park (Mission Drive & First Street) with these fun musicians!


•July 6, Livewire (Rock)
• July 13, Rock Cats Rock (Rockabilly/Rock)
• July 20, Burning James and the Funky Flames (Funk/Soul); plus Solvang Third Wednesday with even more fun & specials around town.
• July 27, Grass Mountain (Folk/Bluegrass)
• August 3, T-Bone Ramblers (Classic Rock)
• August 10, Soul Cats (60’s Rock/Soul/Pop & Big Band)
• August 17, The Mother Corn Shuckers (Bluegrass/Americana/Country) –plus Solvang Third Wednesday with even more fun & specials around town.


 Sponsored by Solvang Third Wednesday and Waste Management, you can pick up picnic ingredients at the adjacent weekly Solvang Farmers Market, or purchase bites at the likes of Big Joe’s Brats and Ranch Guys Catering , or nearby Cecco Ristorante and Cafe Dolce. So bring your blankets, lawn chairs and beverages and say cheers to summer time fun!