Play: It’s fun to museum-hop. Choose from the Art Museum (rotating exhibits of international artists), the Museum Gallery (works by local artists for purchase) and the History Museum (site of historic Forbes Mill Annex built in 1855).
Los Gatos is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. We began our wine tastings on the east side at Cooper-Garrod. This family owned winery has 120 acres of which 28 are organically farmed grapes. The tasting room is in the former Fruit House (built in 1922 to store dried prunes and apricots). Try the 2008 Test Pilot, F7U-3, a rich blend of Syrah and Cabernet Franc in honor of George Cooper, a WWII pilot. Other favorites include the 2009 Cabernet Franc and the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lone Oak Vineyard. They even offer horseback riding on trails with knock-out views and picnics to order. (The Toll House offers a special package.)
Close to downtown, Testarossa Winery is the site of the historic (and stunning) Novitiate Winery dating from the late 1800s. Still owned by the Jesuits, today the old stone cellars house a modern tasting room and winery run by the Jensen family. They focus on limited production Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from estates in the Santa Rita AVA to the Russian River AVA. Don’t miss these two 2011 Pinot Noirs: the Santa Lucia Highlands and the Sierra Madre Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley.
Get into nature steps from downtown on the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Whether you walk, run, skate or bike, the setting is beautiful. The Lexington Reservoir County Park is a picturesque 914-acre destination south of town. Picnic areas and trails abound including access to the 270-acre St. Joseph’s Hill Open Space Preserve . The Vasona Lake County Park, to the north, has options for relaxation and exercise, including the rental of paddle boats and rowboats.
When it’s time for pampering, The Spa Los Gatos offers an array of services. Choose a massage oil and lay back and decompress. A steam shower infused with aromatherapy oil is a beautiful finish to a revitalizing massage. (877-772-9500, ).
On Thursday and Friday nights, the Toll House has live music.
Shop: Strolling through downtown, we made our way among stylish boutiques, sidewalk cafes, galleries and bakeries. Visit on Sunday and enjoy the bountiful Los Gatos Farmers Market held rain or shine in Town Park Plaza.
The French Cellar is an exclusively French haven, filled with wines from every region in France, handmade glasses, other wine accessories, as well as antiques and decorative art pieces.
Wineries hope you’ll buy their products and other goodies when you visit, so don’t disappoint.
PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb