Wings of History Air Museum - San Martin CA
We discovered this little gem almost by accident. Almost.
We bought a new GPS and one of the kids discovered a choice for "attractions." We took a look and were passing near the Air Museum, so we decided to stop.
From the outside it doesn't look like much. A smallish parking lot, small sign, and fairly plain buildings. We figured to go on in, since we were there. But passing by, I wouldn't have thought it was worth the time.
What a surprise. Inside the first door is a "gift shop." A few items can be bought, mostly to raise money for their endeavors. Through that same building were several "old pros" working on restoring aircraft. Former (and possibly current) aerospace employees, pilots, and general enthusiasts donate their time and skills here. There is a working propeller shop, making wooden propellers. One of these persons will "guide" your tour.
See a full sized replica of the Wright flyer, 1928 American Eagle A-101, 1928 Bowlus Albatross (glider), 1930 Peel Glider Boat, 1932 Penguin, 1946 Volmer Jensen VJ-21, Pitts Special, 1940 Stinson 10 with Franklin 90 engine, Allison, V-1710E-19, 12-cyl vee with gearbox, and MUCH more.
This museum is small, but they have it packed full of beauties. There is an aviation library with over 4,000 hardcover books. The kids were able to play and pose for photos in a cockpit, and there was a flight simulator... in which I crashed and burned.
The entry price was great, this museum is FREE!!! But do make a donation, they do great things here. The kids loved it, and had lots of fun exploring... especially when it came to the hands on items. There was only a couple other people there when we went, the parking lot is small but I doubt that's a problem. We found abundant street parking for our motor home, and the wheel chair was able to access most of the property. You could do this in as little as an hour, or as much as three... which is about what we spent.
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Beverages and More is the name of one of California's best stores selling beer, wine, and hard liquor along with all the associated snacks such as chips, sodas, and fine cheeses. The store is dominated by wines from all over the world, and the hard liquor section takes up more than a quarter of the establishment, but I was most interested in the relatively small, two-aisle beer section. Here the wide variety of about 150 types of beer was separated by nation including America's cheapest beers (Bud, Miller, etc) alongside good small and microbrews such as New Belgium, Lost Coast, Shiner, and numerous others. The European section included French (Kronenbourg 1664), Belgian (Leffe Blonde), and a number of German beers (Bitburger, Hofbrauhouse, etc). They even had a good Asian beer section with Tiger, Tsingtao, and more.
I ended up buying four six packs from all over the world, plus a bottle of Sonoma wine. Prices for six packs range from about $6 to $10 depending on availability. On my last trip I bought German Bitburger ($9 a six pack), Texas' Shiner Bock ($7), Belgian Leffe Blonde ($10), Singapore's Tiger Lager ($7), and a bottle of Sonoma Zinfandel called Blue Monkey ($7). Final prices add sales tax and CRV of course.
BEVMO has some 50 stores located throughout California and they can ship to your home. They have also been named Wine Enthusiast's "Retailer of the Year."
Gilroy -- Garlic Capital of the World (or county?)
While there were some 400 acres of garlic in Santa Clara County in the 1990s, today the garlic industry has shrunk to three growers who farm just 87 acres according to the San Jose Mercury News. Cheaper labor and fewer restriction in China has caused about 75 percent of the industry to relocate there. The main producers in the county are LJB Farms, Chiala Farms, and Christopher Ranch.
A recent Washington Post article showed that California Garlic is priced around $5 a bulb while Chinese garlic can be purchased for as little as 79 cents each. The same article shows the entire state of California grows 18,000 acres of garlic each year, far overshadowing Gilroy's tiny 87 acre harvest.
Side trip to San Jaun Bautista
Begun 1797, the Mission at San Juan Bautista was the 15th of the 21 Spanish missions in California. The current church building was built from 1803 to 1812, and today it hosts a small museum, gift shop, and an active church. You will also find a neat little garden with an amazing variety of plants and a cemetery out back, laid right beside the El Camino Real and almost on top of the San Andreas Fault.
SJB is just a tiny little town with a population of about 1,500 people. The entire downtown area is just about 1/4 mile wide by 1/2 mile long with most of the businesses centered on 3rd Street, just one block from the mission, the historic plaza, and the state park. The entire area along 3rd Street has a very old-fashioned wild west feel making for a very unique small town experience in a historic setting.
This little community has a wide variety of restaurants of all styles including Basque, German, Mexican, Italian, Steak, and even Chinese...very impressive for such a small town. There also numerous stores with arts and crafts, antiques, and other specialty stores.
In San Juan Bautista, sections of the original El Camino Real exist in their original location with a packed earth surface. Just below the mission is a small stretch of the road.
From Monterey, take Hwy 1 North to Hwy 156. Follow 156 east until you get to SJB (there is a 5-10 mile stretch where 156 follows Hwy 101).
Gilroy's annual Garlic Festival
Each year at the end of July, the central California farming town of Gilroy attracts people from across the country for its annual Garlic Festival. From its visionary start in 1979 to today the festival has grown from an impressive 15,000 attendees to around 130,000 in this town of 40,000 permanent residents. The festival has tons of entertainment, children's events, cooking contests, Garlic Idol, and of course food laced with tons of garlic. Live entertainment is distributed among three stages, with 57 concerts over the three days, including rock, country, blues & jazz. The festival also has hundreds of vendors that drive from as far as Washington to sell their wares.
Parking is spread around the park in various farmers' fields. Bring good walking shoes to avoid falling in holes, or ride the free shuttle bus from the parking lot to the gate.
Admission is $12 for general public, $6 for seniors and kids (under 5 get in free). The festival runs 10am to 7pm each day.
Pinnacles National Monument
This is a spectacular scenic attraction and great place to hike. Millions of years ago, volcanic forces pushed up these huge rocks, in a process similar to what occurred at the Black Hills, in South Dakota.
The park has many miles of hiking trails, ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous. The view from the higher points is great.
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
The Gilroy Garlic Festival
This is one of the best agricultural festivals around. It has live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, garlic products of all kinds, and of course a lot of garlic dishes at food booths. Beer and wine are also served.
- Arts and Culture
- Food and Dining
Fight your way through traffic as 250,000+ people visit this town (a day) of 50,000 residents. Get your garlic on!
That's right, the best garlic bread, garlic pasta, garlic art, garlic toys, garlic ice cream (a little nasty), hot weather and beer!
A great festival I enjoyed every year.
Best times were when we would volunteer to pour beer. Fun locals and cheesey women (and men) who were always trying to get one free. (I never did, unless she was hot).
Spend the day (with sunscreen) with a beer, listening to music and eating some great food.
Fun for the whole family.
When in Gilroy, you absolutely...
When in Gilroy, you absolutely have to try their Garlic Ice Cream. Yes, you heard me right. Garlic Ice Cream. You have to be a bit of a brave soul to try it but once you get over the first taste, it's not so bad. I suggest chocolate garlic ice cream; it tastes like Reese's pieces with a weird aftertase. Make sure you have lots of gum or breath mints afterwards!
That's me having garlic ice cream after a shopping spree.
Be sure to see Goldsmith Seeds during the blooming season - it is right across the golf course a 9/11 hole course
Bonfante Gardens Theme Park
Bonfante Gardens Theme Park is a one-of-a-kind experience combining five unique gardens and amusement rides with the mid-20th century history and agricultural roots of Silicon Valley.
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