“Skip the long drive to Napa and follow the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail to more than 35 wineries and tasting rooms right here.”


Photo by Robert Airoldi
Tim Slater in one of the vineyards at Sarah’s Vineyard in Gilroy.

By Jane Howard & Krista Rupp

Jane Howard

Award-winning wineries? Check. Michelin Star-awarded chef? Check. Boutique shopping, designer outlets, a fun family theme park, and world-class outdoor recreation? Check, check, check and check.

Sounds like a far-off destination, right? Wrong. All of this and much more can be found right here in the heart of South Valley. So, no need to deal with the hassles of airplane travel or long road trips. Whether you’re a resident looking for a fun family stay-cation or a nearby visitor looking for a relaxing getaway, Morgan Hill and Gilroy offer it all.

Morgan Hill is a dynamic yet casual getaway spot, rich with a quaint downtown, bustling restaurants, amazing winery, farm and orchard experiences, a world-class aquatics facility, and miles of scenic parks and trails to pedal or pack through — all tucked into the picturesque landscape of Santa Clara Valley.

In fact, Morgan Hill is such a great getaway spot, Visit Morgan Hill playfully calls it “Morgan cHill,” emphasizing the laid-back yet lively atmosphere only a true hidden gem can offer.

Gilroy has gained global fame as the “Garlic Capital of the World” and takes pride in offering its signature spice in everything from burgers and pasta to ice cream and even beer.

The community also has wide-open spaces to explore, designer outlet stores and charming antique shops, award-winning golf courses, miles of hiking and biking trails, and California’s only tree-themed amusement park.

Skip the long drive to Napa and follow the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail to more than 35 wineries and tasting rooms right here. Explore award-winning wineries like Guglielmo, Lightpost, Morgan Hill Cellars and EmmaLily Vineyard in Morgan Hill and enjoy a wine tasting experience to rival Sonoma County.

In Gilroy, you can discover even more outstanding wines — as well as scenic vineyard views — at family-owned wineries like Fortino, Dorcich Family Vineyards, Kirigin Cellars, Solis, and Sarah’s Vineyard, just to name a few. Many offer live music, holiday boutiques, and other special events. They are great for a casual day trip or a wine-tasting weekend — and many are also gorgeous wedding venues.

Not a wine fan? Not a problem. Fantastic breweries offer another great way to chill. Try a pint of local craft brew or sample from an impressive, curated selection from Kelly Brewing Company in Morgan Hill, and don’t miss out on having a pint at Promised Land Brewing Company in Gilroy.

After all those sips, you’re sure to need snacks. Morgan Hill and Gilroy are home to nearly 200 restaurants — so you have a lot to choose from.

In Morgan Hill, you’ll find Odeum, led by Michelin Star-awarded chef Salvatore Calisi, as well as other popular spots in downtown, including Ladera Grill, Rosy’s at the Beach, Craft Roots Vegan Bar & Grill, and many more.

Gilroy’s downtown also features some outstanding historic restaurants like Old City Hall and The Milias — and you can be sure garlic is always on the menu. You can also explore the Gilroy Taco Trail for truly authentic and affordable Mexican food.

Of course, there’s a lot more to do here than just wining and dining. With more than a dozen local outdoor escapes like Henry W. Coe State Park (which stretches through Morgan Hill and Gilroy), Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, Uvas Canyon, and Mt. Madonna. There are many places to relax and recharge while experiencing nature.

For those looking for water-based activities like fishing or boating, check out Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear County Park. For an outdoor experience that’s more leisurely, visit a local farm for you-pick produce you can enjoy straight off the tree.

Nature lovers and amusement seekers unite at Gilroy Gardens, the beloved non-profit theme park that features more than 40 fun rides set amongst majestic gardens and more than 10,000 trees — including the world-famous Circus Trees. This year the park is celebrating its 20th season with a big birthday party that lasts all summer long. If it’s been a while since you visited, you should go and see how things have grown.

Another thing to celebrate this year is the return of free outdoor concerts. Bring your dancing shoes to Downtown Live! in Gilroy Thursday nights, July 22 and Aug. 5. And starting Aug. 6, the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce hosted Friday Night Music Series returns with live bands at the Downtown Amphitheater stage — providing entertainment and fun for the whole family.

There’s tons of summer fun for everyone to enjoy in Morgan Hill and Gilroy. Check out www.visitmorganhill.org and www.visitgilroy.com and get out to explore your own backyard!

Jane Howard is the executive director of Visit Gilroy. Krista Rupp is the executive director of Visit Morgan Hill.