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 beautiful during every season, but autumn offers a unique opportunity to explore the orchard in its prime. Filoli hosts lovely tours of the beehives and heritage trees guided by a resident beekeeper and Horticulturist. Then, guests can enjoy the view while sampling fruits and honey from the estate. The Taste of Fall event starts on September 23, and runs until October 28.
You can also visit the historic estate during Orchard Days, which occur every Saturday and Sunday starting September 23 through October 29. Guests can explore the orchard, listen to live music in the afternoon, explore a hay maze, and much more during the festive weekend event.
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.
The Gentleman’s Orchard is over 100 years old and currently boasts over 600 apple, pear, plum, apricot, walnut, fig, and quince trees. 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.
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, redwood 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 10 am-5 pm 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!
Written by Jamie Ferrell and Dana Flynn