[Best of the Santa Clara Valley 1997]

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Best of Gilroy

Best Place to Get the Scoop on Gilroy
Gilroy wasn't always the Garlic Capital of the World. In fact, over the past 100 years, it has been dubbed the Tobacco Capital of the United States, the Dairy and Cheese Capital of California, the Prune Capital, the Hay and Grain Capital, and the Horse-Breeding Capital. Few people know this, or at least few people who have never been to the Gilroy Historical Museum know this. In a perhaps more useful vein, the museum also provides guides to walking tours of the downtown and the latest news about the ongoing saga to reopen the Gilroy Hot Springs. Find out just why China sends all of its garlic crop to Gilroy (because they don't have large-scale dehydrators, and Gilroy has the largest in the world) and which Gilroy native made history in 1911 (Bob Fowler, the first man to fly a plane at a speed of more than 100 miles per hour). The museum is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm. It's free, but reservations are required.
195 Fifth St., Gilroy (408/848-0470)

Best Rest Stop
Conveniently ocated just before the long haul over Hecker Pass to Watsonville and points beyond is one of the nicest pit stops in Santa Clara County. Goldsmith Seeds Inc. offers spotless restrooms surrounded by rows of such floral beauties as the "maverick pink geranium" and the "ultra-lilac petunia" (yes, but do they have an "ultra-petunia lilac"?). Once nature's call has been answered, visitors can spend an hour on the free guided nature tour learning about hybrid flower development. There is even a small observation platform above the facilities for a panoramic view of flowers and the surrounding hillside.
2280 Hecker Pass Road, west of Gilroy (408/847-7333)

Best Crop Shop
If garlic is as good as 10 mothers, then Gilroy is the stinking-rose maternity ward. Town residents grow, eat and breathe garlic every time they step outside. More importantly, they sell garlic in every imaginable form. The frenzy peaks in late July with the Gilroy Garlic Festival, but the pungent party continues all year long in roadside produce shacks and specialty stores. Out-of-towners can get their garlic fix all at once at Garlic World, home of the world's largest garlic braid, not to mention garlic pâté, jellies, spreads, cheeses, barbecue marinades, chips, wines, olives, candies and, of course, ice cream (chocolate and vanilla).
4800 Monterey Highway, Gilroy (408/847-2251)

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From the Sept. 18-24, 1997 issue of Metro.

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