A Santa Cruz mountain town with a very urban feel
It's a fine November evening, and Old Town Los Gatos feels asfestive as ever. At Steamer's Grillhouse (31 University Ave.; 408/395-2722), ayoung crowd sips Hotties (pepper-flavored vodka martinis). Acrossthe street, holiday lights twinkle on handsome stone buildings.
First settled as a farming town in the 1800s, tiny Los Gatos hasweathered Silicon Valley's tech meltdown just fine. "We haven'treally changed Los Gatos," says Mayor Randy Attaway. "We've justpolished the gem."
For a fun overview, take a carriage ride along Main Street andSanta Cruz Avenue from the Town Plaza (call the chamber of commercefor reservations). Or walk along the Los Gatos Creek Trail to Main.Among the cluster of handsome historic and replica buildings is theFrench Cellar (closed Mon; 32 E. Main St.; 408/354-0993), asophisticated shop selling French wines and wine-relatedaccessories and art.
Walking west down Main, cross the creek to reach UniversityAvenue and the town's biggest landmark, the Old Town complex, onUniversity between Main and Elm Street. The stately 1922 missionrevival-style school building, which recently reopened, nowincludes a few chain stores―to many locals' chagrin. Happily,one favorite shop remains: the Indian Store (50 University; 408/354-9988), selling originalworks by Native Americans, including jewelry and pottery.
Other landmarks have changed with the times as well. A 1920sFord showroom and garage now houses the Los Gatos Brewing Company (130 N. Santa Cruz Ave.;408/395-9929), which serves upscale pub grub. Inside an oldfactory, teams are crowded around the reservable bocce courts at Campo di Bocce (565 University; 408/395-7650), an Italianrestaurant created to showcase the ancient bowling sport. Muchnewer to the scene is Manresa (dinner only, closed Mon; 320 Village Lane;408/354-4330), serving Catalonian food with a California flair. Capoff your day with a tribute to Los Gatos's well-aged roots. On ahill overlooking downtown, Mirassou Champagne Cellars (closed Mon-Tue; 300 CollegeAve.; 408/395-3790) has a cool tasting room set inside hand-dugcaves. Enjoy a free holiday concert November 3 as you sip thecrisp, sparkling wines and toast the town.
WHERE: Los Gatos is about 50 miles south of San Francisco.Take U.S. 101 to State 85 south and State 17 south; exit at State 9and turn left onto N. Santa Cruz Ave.
CONTACT: Town of Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce: (408)354-9300 or www.losgatosweb.com.