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!

Lumination Lights Up Gilroy Gardens

We can’t wait until July 16! That’s opening night for Lumination at Gilroy Gardens, the spectacular night-time festival that celebrates Chinese history and culture in a whole new light. This evening-only event features colossal light displays, an artisan marketplace, authentic Chinese food, and live performers from China. 

The festival will be open nightly (6-10pm) through August 14 and then on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through November 27. Separate tickets are required for Lumination, and rides will not be running during the evening hours.

As guests stroll through the 26 acres of Gilroy Gardens at night, they will discover dozens of light displays that illuminate over 2,000 years of Chinese history, mythology, and tradition. One of the largest and most unique displays is the Porcelain Dragon, an enormous serpentine sculpture that’s over 180 feet long (longer than a Boeing 757!) and constructed from more than 60,000 porcelain plates, cups, and bowls, all painstakingly wired together by hand. This is a remarkable work of art and engineering that you really have to see up close for yourself.

Another highlight is the Bejeweled Qilin (mythical creatures with the head of a lion, the eyes of a tiger, the antlers of a deer, the body of an ox, and the scales of a dragon), which are composed of thousands of tiny bottles of colored water that sparkle brilliantly when illuminated at night. 

Several of the light displays feature historic Chinese landmarks, including the Great Wall of China and Terracotta Warriors. Standing near the park entrance will be the towering Nine-Heaven Pagoda. And a recreation of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven will soar high above Coyote Lake. Signs next to each light display provide interesting information about each subject.

An animated display in Coyote Lake brings to life the inspirational Chinese legend of Carp Jumping Over the Dragon Gate. Larger-than-life Imperial Peacocks will hold court under Gilroy Gardens’ signature Basket Tree. The Monarch Greenhouse will be transformed into a Panda Sanctuary filled with the lovable black-and-white bears in a serene bamboo forest. 

In addition to the light displays, Lumination also includes an Artisan Marketplace, where Chinese artists and craftspeople showcase their unique handmade wares, and visitors can  enjoy authentic Chinese food. Nightly performances at the Lakeside Amphitheater include acrobatics, the ancient art of “face-changing,” and traditional Chinese juggling acts.

Lumination’s massive light displays were designed and constructed by master artisans from Zigong, China, home to the original Chinese Lantern Festival. Since June, a team of 50 experienced designers, carpenters, welders, and electricians from Zigong have lived and worked in Gilroy to construct the exhibits on-site. Additional artists and performers from China will stay in Gilroy for the duration of Lumination, which runs through November 27.

This night-time event is suitable for all ages—and makes for a fun outing for singles and couples as well as families with kids. If you’re coming in from out of town, book a budget-friendly hotel room so you can stay and go wine tasting, shopping, golfing, hiking…or just exploring all that Gilroy has to offer!

Don’t miss out on this spectacular once-in-a-lifetime experience!

See the Lumination page at for more details.

10 Hours in Seaside, CA

By: Allyson Ryan
Blog Monterey

Seaside, CA is not to be overlooked by its larger neighbor. Just to the north of Monterey, this area boasts some of the county’s most sought after gems including the former Fort Ord military base which is now home to Fort Ord National Monument, CSU Monterey Bay and the scenic Bayonet & Black Horse golf courses. On your next visit to the area be sure to carve out some time to explore this cultural adventure destination.


Kick off your day with a healthy breakfast at one of Monterey County’s newest, not to mention hippest, juice and coffee joints. The modish Press Café offer all sorts of light bites like breakfast sandwiches, pastries and perfectly pressed juices. The perfectly pressed juice bar offers a variety of organic cold-pressed drinks that are healthy and above all else, tasty! The “Allure” concoction is a personal favorite with watercress, grapefruit, coconut, turmeric and apple. Known as the “beauty juice” this packs a punch full of rehydrating and anti-oxidant rich properties.

Press Club Juice Bar & Cafe

Press Club Juice Bar & Cafe


Now that your fully revved up its time to hit the trails. Fort Ord National Monument is accessible at Watkins Gate in Seaside and with 83 miles of trails there’s a variety of terrain ranging, from grassy hills to coastal shrubland. The secluded area is also a mecca amongst mountain bikers and plays host to several races during the Sea Otter Classic biking festival.

Fort Ord view to Salinas



Time for lunch! Googie Grill, just down from Embassy Suites is a staple when it comes to comfort food. The diner is a true flashback in time with typical Googie architecture, retro décor and killer menu items like crispy fried chicken, mushroom gravy meatloaf and black bean chipotle burger. Be sure to start off with their addicting fried zucchini sticks!

Googie Grill Kitchen


Now you have a decision to make, to golf or to relax. For those looking to hit the links, book a tee time at Bayonet & Black Horse. The two golf courses sit on the former Fort Ord military base and offer epic views of the Monterey Bay as well as great game.

Bayonet & Blackhorse Golf Courses

If relaxation in more on your mid, head to the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. Take a leisurely stroll before finding the perfect spot to post up along the beach. There’s no better place to unwind with the cool coastal breeze, crashing waves and bobbing boats in the distance. You might even spot a whale or two in the distance!



Take a little trip to northern Italy without leaving Seaside! Head to Gusto this evening for a truly authentic Italian meal complete with handcrafted pastas, wood fired pizzas and a full bar. Make it a four-course meal starting off with one of their many antipasto dishes. The mozzarella tasting is a must with three varieties of mozzarella and burrata samplings. Next, choose a pizza from their extensive menu, the margherita is always a classic crowd-pleaser. No Italian meal is compete without pasta and their mushroom ravioli slathered in gorgonzola cream sauce is to die for. Be sure to save room save room for cannoli and espresso before calling it a night!

GustoCrispi Cannoli at Gusto



Check in for a good night sleep at one of the many hotels in the area. Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn all offer cozy beds, complimentary breakfast and easy access to the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail.

Embassy Suites in Seaside, CA

Tee Time! U.S. Women’s Open Coming to CordeValle

CordeValle, nestled in the rolling foothills just north of Gilroy, is set to host the 71st U.S. Women’s Open Championship. The property will host tens of thousands of golf devotees during the championship, which will be conducted July 4-10, 2016.

This will be the third time the U.S. Women’s Open has been conducted in California and the first ever in the Bay Area. CordeValle has hosted other top-tier championships, including the PGA Tour’s Open from 2010-2013, as well as the 2011 and 2015 PGA Cups, and the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship in 2013.

“The USGA is looking forward to our return to CordeValle for the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open,” said Diana Murphy, USGA vice president and chairman of the Championship Committee. “This course, which beautifully incorporates the iconic Northern California landscape, will surely provide a true test of the competitors’ skill and mental fortitude, as well as a truly extraordinary experience for spectators.”

If you’re coming to the U.S. Women’s Open, be sure to stay at one of Gilroy’s budget-friendly hotels so you can discover everything else the area has to offer—including award-winning wineries along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail, over 145 brand-name stores at Gilroy Premium Outlets, family fun at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, and outstanding restaurants in Gilroy’s historic downtown district. To plan your Gilroy golf getaway, go to

U.S. Women’s Open tickets range in price from $75 for a 2-Entry Flex Package, which includes two individual admissions to use on two separate days or on a single day, to a $125 7-Entry Flex Package, which includes seven individual admissions in any combination on any day or all on a single day. For those looking for an exclusive weeklong experience, the $225 CordeValle Reserve Package will provide an upgraded, elevated experience, including access to the lofty vistas at the on-site winery with an artisanal menu and choice beverages. Corporate discounts are available. Volunteer opportunities are also available for members of the local community.

Get U.S. Women’s Open tickets and find out more about volunteer opportunities at

>> Explore more: Gilroy has several excellent golf courses for golfers at all levels—reserve your tee time today!

Vote Travel in 2016!

As the 2016 presidential election season progresses, heated debates will ensue from cable news to the kitchen table. While partisan politics may get divisive, there’s one thing that anyone—blue, red or purple—can get behind this year:  the power of travel in America.

That’s why, as part of National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) 2016, May 1-7, our industry is campaigning for travel, and encouraging everyone to join us in supporting “Travel ’16.”

Figuratively speaking, travel is the perfect presidential candidate:  it’s a job creator, it’s pro-family and it’s good for our health. Here’s why: the $2.1 trillion travel industry supports one in nine American jobs—research even demonstrates that 2016 election-related travel is already a boon for local economies, especially in states with presidential primaries. The travel industry provides good jobs in every single Congressional district in the country, and is in fact one of the top 10 employers in almost all 50 states. Americans save an average of $1,147 amount in taxes each year because of travel-related tax revenue in their communities.

The economic impact is just as strong at the state and local levels. In California, total travel-related spending in the last year increased 3 percent to $121 billion. And while low gas prices brought down overall state taxes generated by visitors, state and local tax revenue still grew to $9.7 billion. In the Central Coast region (which includes Gilroy and South County), visitors spend a total of $7.7 billion each year, generating over $277 million in local tax revenue and impacting over 76,000 jobs.

Travel also greatly benefits our relationships, families, and children. Kids who travel with their families are more likely to attend college, and earn more as adults. And it’s good for our well-being—numerous research studies have confirmed the positive health effects of travel and time off, from reducing the risk of heart disease to decreasing depression. That’s a platform anyone can support! 

So get out there and travel! It’s good for you, good for the country, and good for the local community too.

Gilroy makes a perfect “home base” for a sunny California getaway. Plan your trip at