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“Better Than Legoland”

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park
Ranked #1 of 26 things to do in Gilroy
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: An extraordinary combination of nature preserve and theme park that comprises more than 75 acres of trees, plants, water and rocks combined with rides, picnic grounds, miniature golf and spectacular gardens.
Reviewed 24 January 2008

The kids get off whenever the teachers have training, so I took some Fridays off from work (last July and November) so we could visit Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy. Bonfante Gardens bills itself as the world only horticulturally-based theme park for children, attracting a completely different crowd than Legoland or even Disneyland. It did not disappoint us.

The rides are geared for children under 10 years of age, with a good selection for the pre-school crowd. There are boat rides, flying car rides, merry-go-rounds, ferris wheels, choo-choo trains and scrambler-type rides. The kids were thrilled. And the lines were non-existent.

There are also many finely manicured gardens throughout the park, which was pleasing to my eyes. My only complaints were the stifling heat of a summer day in Gilroy (the Garlic Captial of the World), and the high prices on food and drink in the park. Otherwise, I was very impressed by the cleanliness and quick lines at the rides. We could have stayed longer than the 4 hours we were here, but my wife and the kids were wilting in the heat. We'll definitely come back here, but only when the weather gets cooler down in Gilroy.

P.S. - The price of a daily ticket is the same as an annual pass. If you plan on comng back in the same year, it makes sense to get your daily ticket "converted" to an annual pass at no fee when you leave the park.

1  Thank jimboc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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356 - 360 of 381 reviews

Reviewed 12 November 2007

We recently got to get back to our favorite amusement park in the Central and Northern California regions. Bonfante Gardens, now known as Gilroy Gardens had been a favorite of my entire family since we discovered it in 2003. we had been season pass members for 2004 and 2005. we went continuously until we moved out of state in late 2005.

One of the main reasons that we love it so much is because it's still a little known place and the crowds aren't that bad. It's a shame for the survivial of the park, a plus for us. One of the main features for us is that the park is so lovely with all the gardens and so many shade trees. Our pictures of the park amaze people by how green and lush everything is.

The rides range from little kiddy rides to moderately scarey rides that appeal to about the 7-11 age range. There's two roller coasters for that age range, but the ride that my 7 year old liked was the "Banana Split". You can see part of it in the first picture of all the trees. He loved that ride so much he rode it 13 times in two days. It not only thrilled the young crowd, but it scared this roller coaster veteran, too. The rides may seem a bit sedate for thrill seekers. If you want thrill rides, go bake yourself in the sun at Marine World or Great America and brave those crowds as well.

If you want a park that has friendly employees, a small town feel and the way that Disney used to be at its park before the $$ money aspect ruined the show, then you want to visit Gilroy Gardens. Other people who've been here have said the same thing to me.

Anyone who's in the San Francisco bay area or in Central California should take 1-2 days and enjoy themselves down at Bonfante now Gilroy Gardens. We most certainly did.

1  Thank ScottNfamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 September 2007

This is our third visit in the last 6 years and it just gets better and better. Rides are geared for kids younger than 12; relaxing, beautiful grounds. Lines are short (or non existent in September). Food is ok; staff are friendly. It is so much more enjoyable than Disneyland (kids aren't over stimulated; lots of places to sit down and take a break; beautiful gardens)

1  Thank Pedro_SF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 July 2007

This is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with very young kids who love rides. My 3yo bounced from attraction to attraction all day. Her favorites were the water park, the old-time cars (which were a hot with the adults too) and the waterfall you can pass under as much as you want. My only complaint would have to be the food, and not simply because the prices are astronomical. I really expected more from the qulaity of the salad I bought ($8). The owner of the park used to own grocery stores, and the theme of Gilroy Gardens is trees, produce, etc. Several of the lettuce leaves were red and old, and the caesar dressing tasted like ranch to me. When I attempted to exchange it for something else, I was told by a teenage worker that no one knew how to do an exchange... oooook. The kids will love this place, it's beautiful and really has a small-town, unrushed feel.

2  Thank rsvaldivia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 June 2007

My husband and I, along with our two children ages 10 and 8, and my inlaws, just spent a wonderful day at Gilroy Gardens. We arrived right at opening time, and with our preprinted admission tickets from the computer, were able to proceed quickly through the entrance gates. One day passes purchased on the computer are about $28 a piece. We planned our trip in June, on a Thursday, when the weather was forecasted to be in the mid 80's. We had visited this park once before, four years ago, and were excited to be going back. We were not disappointed.

Gilroy Gardens is a very peaceful, family oriented park, something for everyone in the family, although teenagers would probably not enjoy a day here. They have several rides, nothing too scary. My children's favorite things were the rock maze complete with misters, and the waterfalls that you walked through, along with the timber cove rollercoaster. We waited no more than 20 minutes for any ride, and most rides we just got right on. Several of the rides are also made to fit 4 passengers in each car, a nice touch for the family of 4 not to have to spilt apart. All of the beautiful plants, flowers and circus trees made the park gorgeous. Walking around the park was a pleasure. All staff were helpful and courteous. We stayed until closing time, and probably would have stayed longer if they were opened later. We only ventured into a few shops because we ran out of time.

Even though the temperature was never over 85 degrees, it still felt very hot. Luckily they have lots of cool snack food and water available for purchase, although these items are pricey. There is also quite a lot of shade throughout the park, although in the hot afternoon, most spots are already taken.

There is a variety of food and snacks available for purchase throughout the park. We ate at the Mexican Villa and found our food to be very tasty, although a bit expensive.

Unlike some other reviews, we found the park to be clean, and litter and garbage free. The bathrooms were also clean.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Gilroy Gardens and would recommend it to families with children 12 and under. We look forward to visiting Gilroy Gardens again real soon.

5  Thank jmjh02
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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