WOODSIDE -- Midway on the San Francisco Peninsula, at the eastern base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Filoli Gardens is year-round garden party. Visitors delight in 16 acres of precisely manicured gardens, revel in the magnificence of the Georgian mansion -- 43 rooms, 17 fireplaces -- and spend hours traversing seven miles of flower bedecked trails.
Spring at Filoli means an overwhelmingly fragrant stop at the Rose and the Chartres Gardens. Several paths guide visitors to the Walled Garden and the Sunken Garden (with its reflecting pool and large bowling lawn). Venture into the herb-filled English-style Knot Garden. The pathways themselves are colorful journeys through lavender, sweet peas, delphiniums, queen anne's lace, violas and chinese forget-me-nots.
Choose a self-guided tour (the map is provided) or a two-hour docent led guided tour of the gardens and historic mansion.
There are many benches for pausing and contemplating, but there is no better stop than High Place at the southern tip of the grounds. Take the long walk through Irish Yews to see a spectacular vista of the estate. It is a canvas of color.
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Worked up a hunger? Enjoy the Café at Filoli.
Filoli was built by William Bowers Bourn II, whose wealth came from his Grass Valley gold mine. Filoli? It is short for FIght LOve LIve. Bourn's motto was "Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life" -- a bask in Filoli's splendor.
WHERE: 86 Cañada Road, Woodside, about 30 miles south of San Francisco in Woodside, just south of the junction of highways 92 and 280.
WHEN: Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Last admission is at 2:30 p.m. all days.
COST: Adults $12, students $5, free for children under 5.
GETTING THERE: From the Central Valley, cross Altamont Pass (Interstate 580) and continue to Castro Valley. Take the Interstate 238 connector to Interstate 880 and go south toward San Jose. Take Jackson Street (Highway 92) and cross the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge. Continue to Interstate 280 and turn south toward San Jose. In Redwood City, take the Edgewood Road exit and turn right. Follow Edgewood until it dead ends at Cañada Road, turn right and continue for 1.25 miles. There is a security station, where a guard will direct you into Filoli.
DRIVE TIME: 1 hour, 40 minutes from Modesto (Mapquest)
MORE INFORMATION: 650-364-8300 or online at www.filoli.org
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