GILROY IS KNOWN for its garlic, but the festivities associated with those tasty bulbs, will cost you some money, unfortunately. No matter, though. Other, free alternatives exist in this community just outside the South Bay. From walking through flower gardens to peeping out quality motorbikes, Gilroy offers not only a haven for those thin in the wallet but also a surprising diversity.
1. Smell the Flowers
Goldsmith Seeds is family owned and operated, and it's free. Wander through flower fields that will take your breath away. Goldsmith Seeds is a wholesale flower-breeding company that develops new varieties of annual flower seeds. It is open all year, but the best times to visit are the months of March, April, May, June, July and August. Goldsmith Seeds offer free, self-guided tours that allow you to walk the different gardens in the facility. Walkers can not only gardens of flowers they recognize but also peek at Goldsmith Seeds' trial fields, or fields of experimental flowers, to see what's up and coming. The gates to the facility are open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. Call 408.847.7333 for more information.
2. Get Historical
195 Fifth St., Gilroy; 408.848.0470; Mon-Tue, Thu-Fri 10am-5pm
3. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
200 E. 10th St., Gilroy; 408.846.7216
4. A Bright Idea
The Bright Ranch is a working horse ranch where customers can take riding lessons, learn about horse care and even round up Texan longhorn cattle. Admittedly, none of this is free. What is free, however, is the permission to go look at some horses. If you like horses, and you would like a look-see, the people at Bright Ranch would be happy to take you around--just call 408.683.2041.
5. A Healthy Outlet
What Gilroy has more than enough of are antique stores and outlet stores. Keep your pocketbook at home and just window shop. If you're in an old-fashioned mood, check out Gilroy's antique district in the city; if you're new school, take a ride to the outlet stores in the strip malls and look to your heart's content. Just remember not to spend any money.
6. Ohlone at Last
If you can either get dropped off or get there on your bike to avoid the $4 vehicle parking fee, the Chitactac Adams Park is another free attraction near Gilroy. The park is open from 8am until sunset and encompasses four acres. The main attraction is the remnants of an ancient Ohlone village site, which you can check out. The area had been home to the Ohlone for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Spanish missionaries. The park site contains a number of petroglyphs (markings on a rock surface) and more than 75 bedrock mortars. Two types of petroglyphs at the site are cupules and cup-and-ring (concentric circles with center depression.
7. Wings of Desire
Technically, this place is free, if you're cheap and skip out on the voluntary donation. We actually prefer that you drop some coins, which makes this very, very close to free by today's standards, hence its placement n this list. If you like old planes, the Wings of History Air Museum is the place for you. The museum includes three display hangars, a propeller shop, a clubhouse, a gift shop and an aeronautical library. The propeller shop is still functioning and is named after Swedish craftsman Ole Fahlin, who taught the current craftsman his trade. Inside the hangars, antique airplanes of all sorts and sizes are displayed. You can find everything from an exact replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer to a flyable replica of a French WW1 Nieuport XI to the 1928 American Eagle biplane with its famous OXX-6 engine. Just down the highway from Gilroy, the museum can be contacted at: 408.683.2290.
8. Hark, Free Parks
If you're into parks, then Gilroy has more than enough city parks, and all are well maintained, assure city officials. Christmas Hill and Las Animas are perhaps the city's most well-known parks. The famed Garlic Festival is held at Christmas Hill Park. Each park has plenty of barbecue pits as well as softball fields and tennis courts. Las Animas Park is also a destination for hoopers because of its basketball courts. Las Animas is located at 400 Mantelli Dr., while Christmas Hill is located at 7050 Miller Ave.
9. Embrace Your Inner Bookworm
Sixth and Hannah streets, Gilroy; 408.842.8208
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