Weekend in Los Gatos

Updated: 03/11/2024 – The Palms closed when I visited in Dec 2023

We had a little celebration to do and decided to enjoy a local vacation for it. There are lots of things to do all over the Bay Area and Los Gatos has plenty, especially when it comes to relaxing, enjoying nice food, quaint shops and nature walks.

Though Los Gatos is only a 20 min drive away from home for us, I felt that in order to really relax that meant getting a hotel room. With the pandemic going on, public bathrooms are in short supply, and with kids I wouldn’t want to go to Los Gatos to eat and drink without a ready restroom nearby. Fortunately, January/February is off-season in Los Gatos, and nice accommodations can be had relatively affordably.

For our vacation, we are staying in the Hotel Los Gatos, one of the oldest and most well known there. It is situated in the Downtown area of Los Gatos, which is a very walkable and bike-able area. The hotel features tasteful decor and architecture. It also houses the upscale and famous Dio Deka Greek Restaurant. Many of the rooms have a balcony, some face the interior courtyard and pool, while others face the parking area or the backstreet that leads to the Los Gatos Library. We are staying in the Junior Suite with 2 Double Beds, just large enough for our small family of 4. The interior of the room has a comfortable couch and coffee table, two lounge chairs, a desk with a chair, as well a large shower stall and a very nice separate tub area where you can watch TV from, while soaking. The balcony of our room faces the back street with a parking lot with the Los Gatos library off to the side, and a hillside of green.

For our first night, we enjoyed a take-out dinner from Dio Deka in our suite, as we were too lazy to dress up, as Dio Deka is definitely a restaurant where everyone is very dressy. Normally dressing up would be a fun thing to enjoy, but since we have little kids, it’s ultimately more relaxing to enjoy fine foods in our suite, while watching the Winter Olympics on tv.

The next morning, we moseyed down the quaint streets towards our brunch location. There’s no shortage of shops, restaurants and cafe’s within walking distance of the hotel. As we strolled, we observed about half the people on the streets wearing masks and nearly all the shops we encountered required masking when entering. Also, most of the restaurants offered outdoor seating or had some seating by the window. It was also heartening to see many Los Gatos businesses posting ”No Hate” signage by their entrances, especially considering the negative news coming out of Los Gatos recently.

We arrived at Sara’s Southern Kitchen for brunch, just a short 8 min walk down the street from our hotel, and what a lovely walk that was. Sara’s Southern Kitchen had ample outdoor seating with heat lamps. Having stayed here the night before allowed us to get to Sara’s Kitchen before 11a, which helped us to get seated sooner before the crowd arrived. Indoor tables were available sooner, but we preferred an outdoor table, which was about a 30 min wait. Waiting around wasn’t an issue because of the many nice streets and paths to walk around to pass time. After a short wait, we were seated and ordered the crab benedict, rose benedict, hot chocolate for the kids, chocolate chip pancakes and bacon with eggs. We had a very nice brunch here, the food was tasty, the service was friendly and it was just so relaxing sitting outside with the beautiful weather.

After brunch we went for a walk and were delighted to bump into friends who had brought their bikes to ride around in Los Gatos. We had a fun chat and learned more about local trails and paths to ride on from our friends. There is a nice trail that leads behind the Los Gatos High School with many fruit trees and wild berries. There is another walking trail that leads to a mural. We’ve also hiked on a trail during previous trips that led to a dam, but never quite made it all the way due to time constraints. More things for us to check out on our next visit her, with our bikes perhaps. We also noticed there were numerous bike shops in this little downtown area, we counted at least 3 bike shops within just a 10-20 min walk between them.

After the pleasant chat, our friends took off riding and our children needed to use the potty. Good thing we have a hotel room nearby, so we took a leisurely walk back. Back in the room, we enjoyed lounging on our balcony, listening to the birds chirping from the green hill beyond. After a short while, we ventured out again to enjoy more of the local neighborhood.

The Los Gatos library was next to the hotel (beyond the Adult Recreation Center nextdoor) and we went inside for a visit, being library fans as we were. What we found was a library with a very large Children’s Area, with large glass windows that look outside, numerous light circular cubby holes for kids to sit and nestle in. The lobby was beautifully built with a curving staircase that leads upstairs to the Adult and Teen areas. Upstairs in the top floor were floor to ceiling glass walls that reveals a gorgeous view of the City of Los Gatos. It somewhat reminded me of the Geisel Library of my alma mater. The children really enjoyed their time here and were sad when it was closing time.

Next, we visited the New Museum of Los Gatos, dubbed NUMU. Tickets were $10 for the general public and free to Los Gatos residents. We enjoyed some very impressive works of art on the first floor and I was tickled to see that Los Gatos, in partnerships with some other organizations, are putting on art contests and fostering more support and showcasing the works of local artists of the Bay Area. What a wonderful endeavor they are pursuing. There was also a special exhibit of Jane Olin – In the Company of Trees. That was a very interesting exhibit, since we both are very much nature and tree lovers. Jane Olin’s work was at first a little odd and some pieces, jarring, to me, as I was more expecting an Ansel Adams type photography. However, as I went through each piece, then took a step back to give more distance and to take the whole piece in better, I started to appreciate her perspective. Of course, reading the description helped me to understand where some of the strokes came from that confused me at first. There were two pieces in particular that I really appreciated and it felt really good to have such a mini-transformative art experience in this little gallery. Downstairs, they showcase the history of Los Gatos, the Los Gatos museum, as well as pay homage to the Ohlone Indians that stewarded this land before Western settlers arrived. We very much enjoyed this little museum visit and seeing how Los Gatos used to be, brought back memories of my childhood day raised in the Bay Area, when it was mostly orchards and blossoms.

Afterwards, we continued to walk around downtown searching for a nice place to enjoy dinner. We had a lovely walk through the quaint downtown and tried a few restaurants that we should’ve made reservations with. Sadly, without reservations, those restaurants had at least a 1-hour wait for outdoor seating or would not accommodate take-out orders.

We did however stop at a confectionary shop, Fleur de Cocoa, and I was very impressed with their offerings. I was at first expecting it to be an average chocolate shop, but soon realized they were definitely not run-of-the-mill. (Ever since Teuscher Chocolates, from Switzerland, closed in Stanford Shopping Center, I had never found another chocolate shop that I reliably enjoyed.) I purchased one of their homemade marshmallows because homemade is just worlds better than what you find on supermarket shelves. I once took a confectionary class at Whole Foods in Cupertino when they were offering cooking/baking classes. One of the items we made in that class were fresh marshmallows and it was then, that I realized, how much of a difference it truly was. I was also surprised to see that they had bonbons and had to purchase a few of those too, along with a meringue. After dinner, when we returned to the hotel room, we enjoyed the bonbons and the marshmallow. The marshmallow was so soft and fluffy, so much moreso than storebought ones, though a tad too sweet for my preferences. The bonbons were exquisite, besides one flavor that we weren’t too keen on. The Citrus bonbons were very delicate and gave off that hint of citrus with a lush chocolate richness. I also had the Chloe bonbon which had a bit of raspberry, black and white chocolate. My husband tried the blue bonbon, which was vanilla flavored, but he didn’t like the aftertaste. Sadly, we didn’t enjoy every item, but I am pleasantly surprised to find a confection shop that’s worth coming back and trying again, and most definitely picking up more citrus bonbons.

For dinner, we chose The Palms (stopped by in Dec 2023 and saw that it’s closed), just a few minutes walk down the street. A large Victorian with an expansive front yard, with a lot of outdoor seating. We were able to be seated quickly and enjoyed very accommodating service, as it had started to get chilly and they kindly brought over a heat lamp for our table, which allowed us to really enjoy the outside ambiance and a lovely dinner. I ordered the Chicken Linguine which I really enjoyed. Hubby had the fish tacos, while the kids each had well-done steak and fries dinner. We were impressed that the children’s steaks were nicely done and of good quality, good enough that adults would enjoy, and we did end up enjoying a piece of their steaks. Since, we didn’t have to worry about driving home, we indulged with a nice Old Fashioned as well. After an enjoyable dinner, we took a nice walk back to our hotel.

We arrived back at our hotel after a nice neighborhood walk and there was a wedding reception happening at the time. In addition, Dio Deka was filled to the brim with guests, indoor and outdoor both. It was a festive feel at Hotel Los Gatos, and we made our way through the side entrance back to our suite. Thank you Los Gatos for a lovely weekend. We head home tomorrow, but since we are only 20 minutes away, it’s easy for us to pop on by for another little trip soon enough.

As we made our way out, we stopped by Cafe Dio across the street and enjoyed some very nice, fine brews. My citrus cappuccino was particularly enjoyable. And off we drove to home… the first time we touched the car since we checked-in to the hotel. It was very liberating being able to walk everywhere and enjoy both nature, shopping, dining, the library, local museum and open-space, without having to drive at all.

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