We suggest ordering a to-go picnic meal from the good folks at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Morgan Hill Life file photo
Volunteers prepare garlic bread during a past Gilroy Garlic Festival. A scaled-down version of Gourmet Alley will take place for six days over two weekends at Gilroy Presbyterian Church.

Editorial is the opinion of Morgan Hill Life

July is National Picnic Month. Here in South Valley where we’re blessed with an abundance of tasty food and delicious wines, we can enjoy dining outdoors in nature at the many wonderful parks throughout our region.

First the food. You can prepare a picnic lunch yourself, but it might be fun to include your kids in the prep work such as deciding what to bring. Pack up the picnic basket with juice, fruit, cheese and crackers, sandwiches, fried chicken or whatever your family might fancy. Or if you want to support our local restaurants, order your picnic meal “to go” from off the menu. There are plenty of options from Gilroy’s many eateries including burgers, burritos, and other portable items to eat.

Homemade Rainbow Ice Cream - Bitz & GigglesJuly is National Ice Cream Month, so you might want to include this tasty frozen treat in your picnic basket. Whether it’s plain vanilla or something more exotic, ice cream adds to the fun of a picnic party. And when you pack them right, picnics are a simple pleasure of life. Make the clean-up simple so you can spend more time visiting with friends and family while enjoying the sunshine.

We especially suggest ordering a to-go picnic meal from the good folks at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. It’s a wonderful way to support the South Valley community. Because of the pandemic, organizers were unable to put on the usual garlic gala at Christmas Hill Park. Instead, they have “creatively re-imagined” this year’s fundraiser to support our many local nonprofits and schools by holding a drive-thru Gourmet Alley where South Valley residents can pick up their favorite garlicky meals. Menu items include pepper steak sandwich, shrimp scampi, sausage sandwich, garlic fries and garlic bread.

The drive-thru Gourmet Alley will be held on the weekends of July 23, 24, 25, 30 and 31, and Aug. 1 at Gilroy Presbyterian Church, 6000 Miller Ave. To order your tickets in advance, visit www.gilroygarlicfestivalassociation.com.

As for ideas where to go for an afternoon picnic outing, we’re blessed with plenty of options. If you don’t want to travel too far, Morgan Hill has plenty of public park picks — including some close to your neighborhood. These provide places for your family and friends to eat outdoors and spend some time playing together. We recommend Community Park, the largest park in the city, which has plenty of room for outdoor activities including tennis, softball and a dog park for your canine family members. Nearby at the Centenniel Recreation Center is a popular skate park if you and your children enjoy that kind of activity together.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous in your picnic pursuits, the South Valley provides a good selection of Santa Clara County Parks. For a stroll in the coastal redwood trees to burn off your picnic lunch calories, take a trip to Mt. Madonna County Park along Hecker Pass. For an excellent place for your children to learn about local Native Americans who once lived in villages in the South Valley, visit Chitactac-Adams Heritage County Park. This beautiful and culturally significant 4.5 acre park site is located along Watsonville Road along Uvas Creek and has a wealth of cultural artifacts including bedrock mortars and petroglyphs left by the native people who occupied the area for thousands of years.

If your family is into a biking adventure, we highly recommend the Coyote Creek Parkway, which is a paved and easy-to-ride trail that meanders for 15 miles along Coyote Creek starting near Morgan Hill’s Anderson Reservoir. You’ll find spots along the parkway where picnic tables are set up for a nice outdoor lunch or early dinner. Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park nestled in the hills east of San Martin is a 6,695-acre regional recreation area contains a 449-acre lake. (It’s currently closed to fishing and boating.)

If you fancy getting deeper into the wilderness, you can enjoy your picnic lunch at Henry W. Coe State Park located in the Diablo Mountains. There are two main entrances. The headquarters entrance is at the far end of East Dunne Avenue, about a 12-mile drive through the hills from U.S. 101. For an easy hike along the three-mile trail starting at the Hunting Hollow entrance, take Roop Road to Gilroy Hot Springs Road.

Picnics are a simple and relaxing way to enjoy our South Valley with friends and family. As you’re enjoying your meal together in the great outdoors, think about how blessed we are to have some of the best food and best natural environment to enjoy right in our backyard.

Morgan Hill Life Editorial
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