Life in the Bay Area means exploring hundreds of interesting places, and still finding more! If you haven’t heard of Filoli, you have got to add this spectacular historical estate and its surrounding gardens to your list.
Filoli is currently putting on a special Summer Nights series, happening every Thursday evening from 5-8pm through September 22. The estate typically closes at 5pm so these after-hours events are great for exploring the gardens just before dusk with a cocktail in hand. Sip on a margarita or a refreshing mint limeade while listening to lively Irish session music at the Pool Pavilion. You can also indulge in flavorful tacos, burritos, and fried plantains from the Cochinita food truck. Keep an eye out for summer flowers including dahlias, roses, water lilies, fuchsia, salvia, hydrangeas, lavender, and rhododendrons.
Estate and Gardens
The Filoli property covers 654 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The house and garden themselves cover 16 immaculate acres, having been beautifully maintained for over a century.
Filoli’s gardens are unique in that they bloom all year round, thanks to seasonal planting and carefully planned maintenance by the estate’s 14 full-time horticulturalists. Over 75,000 spring bulbs are planted each year.
Visitors may enjoy daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and blue violas in the spring, and zinnias, roses and salvias in the summer. There are also over 250 fruit trees, among dozens of other gorgeous treasures.
The house itself is an enormous mansion with 56 rooms across 54,256 square feet. Visitors can tour both the mansion and the estate’s surrounding land, which has a beautiful trail to view Filoli’s forests, redwoods groves, and chaparral.
The trail takes you right over the San Andreas Fault, so you can actually cross from the North American Plate to the Pacific Plate. You will also see the fields where livestock once grazed, which is now used for haying. Filoli continues to produce fruit butters, hard cider, honey, dried lavender, and culinary herbs.
History of the Estate
This land originally belonged to the indigenous Ohlone people, of which there were over 50 tribes all around the Bay Area.
After the Spanish occupation and mission system seized their land and decimated their populations, much of California was parceled out as a Mexican land grant in 1856, which was later divided up following the United States’ annexation of the state.
After the 1906 earthquake, many wealthy San Francisco residents headed south to escape the city. The stunning Filoli estate was built in 1917 by socialite and entrepreneur William Bowers Bourn II and his wife, Agnes Moody.
They endeavored to create a self-sustaining country estate, developing the land with a hard-working crew until their deaths in 1936.
At that point the property was purchased by heiress and philanthropist Lurline Matson Roth with her husband William “Bill” Roth. Lurline Matson worked closely with Bourn’s original gardener to continue beautifying the gardens.
Upon Bill’s death, Lurline Matson moved to a smaller home and donated the Filoli estate to the National Trust for Preservation. She was quoted as saying, “Filoli is too beautiful to be private.” The stunning property was opened to the public in 1977.
How to Visit
You may visit Filoli at 86 Cañada Road in Woodside, CA with prior reservation from 10am-5pm daily. General admission costs $25 and there are reduced prices available for children, seniors and students.
Be sure to experience this spectacular piece of California history, maintained for over a century in the Santa Cruz Mountains!
Featured image: Courtesy of Filoli