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If at first Gilroy sounds unfamiliar, you may want to inspect the garlic in your kitchen. If it’s American-grown, chances are, it’s from the world’s savoury garlic epicentre: Gilroy, California. What a surprise to discover you're already quite acquainted with the city's premier provision!
To say that Gilroy is garlic-obsessed would be an understatement. (Is that garlic we smell in the air? Must be July!) Connoisseurs from all backgrounds, from ice cream makers to hobby chefs to gourmet artisans, invite foodies to imbibe the flavourful bulbs in imaginative ways. Peanut butter cups? Cakes? Ice cream? There's a garlic for that - and you'll find it in Gilroy.
Foodies making a garlicky pilgrimage will want to try it all. But where to start? Enter the "Road to Garlic" for hungry travellers who want to eat their way through Gilroy. Participating business are identified by a decal and free maps can be obtained at the Gilroy Welcome Center.
Garlic ice cream: get your licks
If you leave Gilroy without sampling garlic ice cream, prepare to suffer FOMO. The obvious question is, "What does garlic ice cream taste like?" We won't spoil the surprise but it falls somewhere between novel and hey-that's-not-bad. You'll find the curious cream confection at six "Road to Garlic" stops.
5 garlic attractions to eat up
Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park
A horticulture-focused theme park that will appeal to the whole family. Glorious gardens and park rides - like the Garlic Twirl, Banana Split and the Quicksilver Express Mine Coaster - are crowd pleasers. Don't miss the Circus Trees, a collection of artistically manipulated trees that are an intersection of art and nature. gilroygardens.org
Gilroy Garlic Festival
Three intense July days of creative dining, sizzling competition and every combination of garlic infusion that you never knew you wanted to eat. Garlic peanut butter cups, garlic butter, garlic kettle corn and more are all up for sampling. The Festival attracts thousands of visitors, boasts live music, a large outdoor kitchen known as "Gourmet Alley" and is a family-friendly affair. Read more about Canadian Traveller's visit Gilroy Garlic Festival visit here. Official event website: gilroygarlicfestival.com
Take a deep dive into Gilroy's origin story and the farmers and pioneer tastemakers who cultivated the city's garlicky reputation. Travellers visiting on the first Saturday of each month can join a free walking tour from 10 a.m. to noon, led by members of the Gilroy Historical Society. cityofgilroy.org/museum
Gilroy Historic Paseo
The establishment of a paseo, or walkway, has been central to the revitalization of Gilroy's historic downtown corridor. Visitors will find interpretive signage and artwork along this pedestrian-friendly walk. gilroyfoundation.org/paseo
Garlic Capital of the World mural
A must-snap for the Instagram crowd. Find it at 5th and Monterey.
Gifts & goodies: 11 garlic shops
Pickled, jarred, roasted, dried; whole, minced, sliced, crushed, powdered; there are many ways to bring a taste of Gilroy back home. Go all-in at Garlic World and Garlic Shoppe (keep eyes peeled for Garlic Dude Dust) or shop lifestyle goods and products at Garlic City Merantile and Ashford's Heirlooms.
Garlic bites: 18 places to tease your palate
Visitors won't likely hit all of Gilroy's 18 restaurants but they will want to be made aware of some garlickly highlights. Mouthwatering garlic fries are served hot at Cafe 152 Burger Co. (while you're there, sample the Big Roy Burger) and Black Bear Diner. You'll find garlic soup at Garlic City Cafe while Mama Mia's Ristorante Italiano dishes Gilroy Garlic Festival favourites in case you aren't able to attend the annual July event. Our round-up would incomplete without recommending beloved local favourites Milias Restaurant and Old City Hall where diners will leave with contented bellies and garlic breath.
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