Sunday, June 10, 2012


View Filoli Gardens in a larger map

  • ~700 acres estate built by Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn II in early 1900s
  • Gardens

More Info
  • $15/person admission fee
  • Free parking
  • Free map at Visitor Center
  • Restrooms inside Visitor Center
  • Café and Gift shop next to the Visitor Center
  • Self-guided and docent led tours available
  • No food or water allowed inside
  • Plan to spend at least two and a half hours
  • Gardens are not well-shaded

One of my colleagues recommended visiting the Filoli and we grabbed the opportunity to go here on a warm Sunday afternoon. After a 45minutes drive from San Jose, the GPS did not take us to the exact spot, but the sign posts on the Canada Road came to our rescue. We drove a couple of miles past the spot where the GPS pointed to and soon we reached the huge parking lot of Filoli.

When we purchased the tickets at the Visitor Center, the ticket attendant shared a map with us and briefly explained the things to see. We started with a 10-15 movie clip inside a small room at the Visitor Center that enlightened us about the history of Filoli. The automated video repeats itself and one has the flexibility to walk in and walk out any time.

In 1906, after the San Francisco earthquake, among the several affluent families that moved to the countryside were Mr. and Mrs. William Bower Bourn II. They constructed this ~700 acres estate and lived here between 1917 and 1936. It was then sold to Mr. and Mrs. William Roth in 1937 who lived here for almost 4 decades before donating it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Apparently, Fi-lo-li means Fight, Love and Live!

The House Entrance

With the map in our hands, we went to the opulent House where the families lived. All the rooms in the first floor are open to the visitors and the map has a lot of information about the interior architecture in each room. 

Dining Room inside the house

As we went to the Foyer and Cloak Room, Ship Room, Kitchen, Pantry, Dining Room, Drawing Room, Reception Room, Library, Holding Room, Study Room, Trophy Room and the grandiose Ballroom, the intricacy of the designs and expensive furniture threw me in awe. A docent is seated in every room to answer any questions that visitors might have. The second floor is not open to public. The House looked like a mini version of the Hearst Castle in San Simeon.
Grandiose Ball Room

Living Room

We exited the House and walked on the well-maintained path in the gardens to see different kinds of flowers. The huge garden also features a swimming pool, which was shimmering in the sunlight. As we were walking through the Cutting Garden, we heard a high-pitched, piercing scream and peeked through the gardens to see the magnificent National Bird of India. Only among the animals can males be more beautiful than females!

National Bird of India

Swimming Pool

After exploring the gardens, we spent some time in the cute gift shop that sold a variety of goods before returning to the car. The Filoli is open only during limited hours and plan to spend at least two and a half hours here. The garden is not well-shaded and it gets scorching during summer; be prepared for it. Apart from that, it is definitely a nice place to leisurely spend a couple of hours.

Flowers in the garden

Roses in the garden

More Pictures

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