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Gilroy Gardens

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Gilroy Gardens drone shot
Gilroy Gardens drone shot

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WHAT: Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park is California’s only horticultural-themed amusement park, featuring over 40 rides and attractions, majestic gardens, and the world-famous Circus Trees.

WHEN: Gilroy Gardens is generally open on weekends and select weekdays from March through December, and open daily from June through mid-August. Check website calendar for current operating schedule.

WHERE: Gilroy Gardens is located at 3050 Hecker Pass Highway in Gilroy, California—known as the “Garlic Capital of the World.” The park is about 30 miles south of San Jose International Airport and within a one-hour drive of Santa Cruz, Monterey/Carmel, and the San Francisco Bay Area.


PHONE: 408-840-7100

MEDIA CONTACT: Michael Fulcher • • 408-840-7105

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Lakeside Splash


In 2024 we’re celebrating big blooms, big splashes, and bigger benefits for our members than ever before!

New Membership Levels

In 2024 Gilroy Gardens is introducing two new and improved membership options:

  • NEW Value+ Membership: Includes unlimited regular season visits (March 23 – September 22 and November 2-24) plus free parking and 10% discounts on in-park food and merchandise.
  • UPGRADED Premium Membership: Also includes unlimited visits to special events like The Great Big BOO and North Pole Nights, 25% in-park discounts, and other exclusive benefits.

Fantastical Flowers

This spring marks the return of Fantastical Flowers, a limited-time event that celebrates all things spring. Discover larger-than-life flower silk sculptures, colorful beds full of spring flowers, and live entertainment from The Flower Buds percussion-and-comedy crew. March 23 – May 27.

*NEW* Lakeside Splash

The all-new Lakeside Splash water play area overlooks peaceful Coyote Lake with luxury cabanas equipped with comfortable lounge chairs and widescreen TVs. A reimagined smokehouse restaurant will serve up delicious BBQ food, cocktails, and craft beers. Scheduled to open in Summer 2024.

The Great Big BOO!

Our immersive Halloween event, The Great Big BOO, gets bigger and better every year. Join with Vinnie the Vampire, Wolfgang Werewolf, and Princess Priscilla to save Halloween from the curse of Wendella the Witch—and enjoy tricks and treats for all ages.

North Pole Nights

Bundle up for winter fun during the North Pole Nights winter holiday celebration. The entire park is transformed into the North Pole, with a live musical show featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus, and other jolly characters. Guests will also enjoy traditional favorites like ice skating under the stars, incredible light displays, festive food and drinks, plus a New Year’s Eve dance party and fireworks show.

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Gilroy Gardens is a magical wonderland for families with young children. Originally created by park founder Michael Bonfante to share his love of trees, the park includes 28 acres with more than 10,000 trees, six themed gardens, and over 40 rides and attractions inspired by local history and agriculture.

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Gilroy Gardens features 21 different rides, ranging from gentle toddler-friendly rides all the way to thrilling rollercoasters. Some of the park’s most popular rides include:

  • Bulgy the Goldfish
    These grinning goldfish have been the first ride for generations who grew up at Gilroy Gardens.
  • Balloon Flight
    Feel like you’re floating through the clouds on this fun ride for the whole family.
  • Illions Supreme Carousel
    One of the most ornate carousels ever built, this beauty dates back to 1927.
  • Bonfante Railroad Train Ride
    Hop aboard a replica of an 1863 steam locomotive for a relaxing ride through the entire park.
  • Panoramic Wheel
    Unlike a traditional Ferris wheel, the gondolas allow you to sit facing forward or backward.
  • Rainbow Garden Round Boat Ride
    Float through a spectacular annual color garden full of topiary art in this gentle boat ride.
  • Garlic Twirl
    You’ll definitely know you’re in Gilroy as you spin around inside a giant garlic bulb.
  • Duck and Swan Paddle Boats
    Enjoy a peaceful paddle across Coyote Lake in these giant duck and swan boats.
  • South County Backroads
    Cruise through lavishly landscaped grounds in either a 1920s roadster or 1950s Chevy.
  • Quicksilver Express Mine Coaster
    This thrilling coaster was inspired by the quicksilver mines in nearby Almaden Valley.

For a complete list of all rides, see

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Bonfante Falls

Other Attractions

  • Lakeside Splash *NEW FOR 2024*
    The all-new Lakeside Splash water play area (slated to open in Summer 2024) will feature water slides, jets, and interactive play. Luxury cabanas overlook peaceful Coyote Lake, and a new smokehouse restaurant serves up BBQ food as well as cocktails and craft beers.
  • Water Oasis
    The original Water Oasis play area is perfect for younger children, with a shallow lagoon, gentle flower showers, and plenty of places to splash and play. The Water Oasis Expansion features bigger water slides, dozens of water jets, and a giant tipping bucket. Both areas feature comfy cabanas and Adirondack chairs so grownups can relax nearby while the kids splash and play.
  • The Green Barn
    Art and science ignite the imagination in this unique “maker space,” where nature inspires creative works of art as well as scientific discovery and exploration.
  • Bonfante Falls
    At Bonfante Falls, which towers more than three stories high, guests can walk through five distinct types of waterfalls (tumbling, sheeting, cascading, freefall, and split).
  • Oak Park Playground
    Kids can’t climb on the trees at Gilroy Gardens—but this massive play structure provides plenty of places to climb, hang, swing, jump, and slide.
  • Gil and Roy
    Gil (short for Gilbert) and his sister Roy (short for Royelle) are the park’s popular garlic mascots, who enthusiastically greet visitors of all ages to the park.
  • Lakeside Amphitheater
    Nestled along one side of Coyote Lake, this outdoor amphitheater plays host to many types of shows and movie nights throughout the year, including live musical shows during special events like Fantastical Flowers, The Great Big BOO, and North Pole Nights.
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Claudia's Garden

The World-Famous Circus Trees

The incredible Circus Trees at Gilroy Gardens are a collection of sycamores, box elders, ash and Spanish cork trees that were originally shaped and grafted into whimsical shapes starting in the 1920s by Swedish immigrant Axel Erlandson.

Inspired by observing a natural graft between two trees, Erlandson began to shape his woven wonders made from “threads” of living wood. Erlandson claimed divine inspiration and spent over 40 years of his life shaping and grafting the bodies and arms of trees. Straight tree trunks and branches were carefully bent, rather than cut, and became complex and compound designs in shapes like hearts, lightning bolts, basket weaves, and rings. He even learned techniques to control the rate of growth, either slowing it down or speeding it up, to blend his designs to perfection.

In 1946, Erlandson opened the “Tree Circus” in Scotts Valley for locals and tourists to experience the wonder of “The World’s Strangest Trees.” The trees were featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not and gained even more notoriety after a Life Magazine article in 1957. But in the decades following Erlandson’s death in 1964, the trees were mostly forgotten and neglected.

For many years, Santa Cruz architect Mark Primack led a valiant effort to save the trees and keep them alive. His efforts attracted the attention of tree lover Michael Bonfante, who launched the “80-Ton Tree Caper” in 1985 to carefully dig up the surviving trees, transport them over the Santa Cruz Mountains, and transplant them at what is now Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park.

Today, 19 of the trees can be found throughout the park, including the iconic “Basket Tree” (which is actually six Sycamores woven together) as well as the “Four Legged Giant,” “Arch,” and “Emblem.” Ten of these living masterpieces are found at the park entrance in Dixie Cup Plaza. Inspired by Erlandson, Michael Bonfante even created his own Basket Tree, the “Junior Zig Zag” inside Water Oasis.

Visit California, the official state travel and tourism organization, has recognized the Circus Trees at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park as one of California’s “Hidden Gems.” They are truly living masterpieces!

For more information about the Circus Trees, see

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Monarch Garden

Majestic Gardens

In other amusement parks, landscaping generally consists of a few trees and some flowers to fill in the spaces between rides. But at Gilroy Gardens, the rides were planned around the gardens!

  • Claudia’s Garden
    The oldest garden in the park, this “conifers and color” garden was named by founder Michael Bonfante for his wife Claudia. This serene, secluded garden has its own carousel and is host to wedding ceremonies and other special celebrations throughout the year.
  • Holly Garden
    This pathway garden features a collection of over 20 different varieties of holly in shrub, tree, and topiary forms—as well as stunning views of the Lily Pond and waterfalls.
  • Rainbow Garden
    To enjoy this garden, climb on board a round boat to twist and turn through a winding stream bordered by beds of annual color and whimsical topiaries.
  • Monarch Garden
    Hundreds of tropical and sub-tropical trees are displayed inside a 60-foot tall climate-controlled greenhouse. At certain times of year, you can also observe Monarch butterflies at various stages in their life cycle at the Monarch Butterfly Exhibit.
  • Camellia Garden
    Different varieties of Camellias bloom from September through April alongside showy Japanese maples in this shady garden, which is also home to the Musical Market Show.
  • South County Backroads Garden
    Hop into one of the antique cars and take a road trip through two acres of gardens landscaped to represent historical South Santa Clara Valley.

For more information, see


“All of our gardens start with four basics: rock, water, trees and flowers.” - Park founder Michael Bonfante

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Images approved for use in online and print publications. ©Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

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Holiday at Gilroy Gardens


Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park hosts a number of special celebrations throughout the year, including:

  • Fantastical Flowers Spring Celebration
  • Family Camp Nights
  • Easter Egg Hunt
  • Memorial Day Weekend
  • Fourth of July Weekend
  • Labor Day Weekend
  • NEW Carnival Nights (August-September)
  • The Great Big BOO! (Halloween)
  • North Pole Nights (Holiday)
  • New Year’s Eve Dance Party & Fireworks
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Gilroy Gardens construction


Michael Bonfante: The Man Who Loved Trees

Gilroy Gardens was created and built by Michael Bonfante, a man who always loved trees—especially BIG ones. He found them to be both calming and inspiring. In the 1970s, while managing his family’s supermarket business, Michael opened a nursery to grow and sell big trees. About that same time, he began thinking about building a park that would inspire young people to appreciate the beauty of trees.

Over the years, Michael travelled the globe to visit other public gardens. After working through lots of conceptual ideas and running the numbers, he realized that he would need to add rides to his tree-themed park to attract enough visitors and make his vision a reality.

As he continued to refine his plans, Michael learned about the ailing “Circus Trees” in nearby Scotts Valley, which had suffered from years of neglect. So, in 1985, Bonfante engineered a rescue operation. He carefully dug up the trees, hauled them on trucks through the Santa Cruz mountains, and lovingly transplanted them on his park grounds.

Bonfante Gardens opened to the public on June 15, 2001 (Michael’s 60th birthday). Renamed Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park in 2007, the park now features over 40 family rides and attractions and welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Michael’s passion for nature still remains evident in every detail at the park. He required that “anything manmade gives way to nature.” So pathways wind around large boulders, and all the rides were designed to fit around the trees (instead of the other way around). And while the celebrated Circus Trees attract a lot of well-deserved attention, but they are actually just a very small percentage of the more than 10,000 trees found throughout the park’s 26+ acres.

Staying true to Michael Bonfante’s original vision of sharing his love of trees with children, the park includes a number of interactive learning exhibits where children—and their grownups—can learn more about nature and the environment. More than just another amusement park, Gilroy Gardens remains a remarkable testament to one man’s vision and enduring passion for trees.

For more information, see

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Green Barn


Gilroy Gardens is more than just a theme park—it’s a place where kids can learn and grow!

Gilroy Gardens is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational institution whose mission is to educate and inspire families, especially children, to appreciate horticulture and the importance of trees in our lives by providing fun and memories in a beautiful garden setting.

Education programs and exhibits at the park include:

  • The Green Barn
    In this unique learning space, the natural world is the inspiration for creating works of art in the studio and the basis for scientific discovery and exploration through the Nature Exchange.
  • Natural Science Days
    On select dates, Gilroy Gardens Docents lead groups of students (grades K-2 and 3-5) through presentation, investigation, and experimentation models in life and earth sciences.
  • Monarch Butterfly Exhibit
    At various times during the operating season, visitors can observe caterpillars changing into Monarch butterflies at an exhibit inside the semi-tropical Monarch Garden greenhouse.
  • Water Conservation
    Water Oasis was designed as a place for children of all ages to learn about water while playing in it—with interactive features and informative signs that encourage conservation of this precious resource.
  • Tour Brochures
    Visit the Welcome Center to pick up brochures that feature detailed information about the park’s gardens and trees as well as agriculture, water features, and history and culture.
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Gilroy Gardens drone


  • Gilroy Gardens covers over 26 acres in park.
  • There are over 10,000 trees at Gilroy Gardens!
  • The most planted tree in the park is the Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). These trees are the tallest in the world, with some growing to a height of 364 feet.
  • There are over 200 topiaries in the park.
  • The land on which Gilroy Gardens was built was once home to Costanoan Indians and later part of a Spanish land grant called Rancho Solis. It was previously used as a cattle ranch and vineyard (with some original grape vines still located near the corner before the parking toll booths).
  • Park staff spent 8,500 hours and 3 years restoring and reassembling the Illions Supreme Carousel.
  • Gilroy Gardens recycles the water used for watering plants and filling the park’s lake, creeks and waterfalls.