Ask A Local About Los Gatos
What brought you to the neighborhood? My family moved to Los Gatos right before I started middle school. The public school’s near us weren’t too great at the time but Los Gatos had and still has highly ranked K-12 schools. Plus, my folks always used to take us to the Sunday Farmers’ Market and I think our weekly trips really solidified our moving there, as we were able to discover the town more and more each time.
What do you like best about Los Gatos? Where to begin? For one, you’re only a thirty minute drive from a relaxing weekend in Santa Cruz and an hour from the City. There’s also a great variety of restaurants downtown. Ranging from the family friendly to our three Michelin star, Manresa. You can also walk anywhere downtown. And on top of all that, you’re nestled amongst the hills in a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone. The town’s super supportive of its schools, businesses, athletic programs, and occupants. Living in Los Gatos, is like living in paradise, it’s a dream!
What do you like least about Los Gatos? When anyone asks me where I’m from and I tell them, immediately I’m hit with the, “Oh really? Did you know that means the cats.” Why no, really? That explains why the towns’ littered with statues of wild cats.
How has it changed since you moved there? We used to have this small crummy little library across the street from the high school. It was in an incredibly small brick building that had a first floor and basement. It didn’t have a very large selection of books but it’s recently been remodeled. It’s very modern now and has three floors, fully stocked! Other than that really, it’s the changing of the guards in downtown; from boutique clothing stores to juiceries and whatever the latest trendy new workout gym is.
Do you need a car to get around? If you’re going out for a night on the town, a lyft or uber will probably only cost you four bucks and once you’re there you can pretty much walk to anything. But you’ll probably want to hop in your car to hit up your nearest grocery store. Everything you need is only about a ten minute drive away.
What's the neighborhood housing stock like? Depends on your tax bracket. Los Gatos is definitely a town of the relatively affluent; where the average home price is about $2.89 million.
Better for buyers or renters? If you’re a young working professional, like myself, the apartments, townhomes, and condos are much more affordable than the single family homes. They’re pretty standard Silicon Valley pricing. But if you’re a young family and the price tag scares you a bit, a lot of the neighbors rent homes to test the water and make sure the neighborhood is right for them. And more often than not, they end up buying a home nearby by the next year!
Tell us something we don't know about the neighborhood: One fun Hollywood fact is that Los Gatos High is the facade of the school shown on the Amanda Bynes’ show, The Amanda Show. Our town also hosts the ‘Fantasy of Lights’ during the holidays, which is a huge production of holiday lighting decor. Back in the day it used to be a free drive through Vasona. But it’s gotten so many local sponsors, that the county charges twenty bucks a car now. It’s totally worth it though. No matter the age, nothing brings about holiday cheer quite like driving through an extravaganza of gigantic holiday light displays with seasonal music playing through your radio. My friends and I have attended every year since I’ve lived here.
Any hidden gems? Well it’s not quite so hidden if you’re a local here, but if you’re from out of town the Jones trail leads up to a lookout spot. There’s a bench up there and on a nice day you can see all the way across the bay to San Francisco. It’s breathtaking. There’s also this wonderful crepe stand at the Sunday Farmer’s Market.
Nearest grocery store (and why you like it)? Besides Safeway, which is on the other side of town, we’ve got four grocery stores all in a line down Los Gatos Boulevard. The farthest is Trader Joes, but that’s only two miles from me. My favorite though is Lunardi’s. They recently expanded their store so the produce and wine selection are much bigger now. You can always find what you’re looking for, even if it’s 1.5 quarts of ice cream, and the customer service is unbelievable! You’re not a customer there, you’re family.
Good for kids? Absolutely! It’s an incredibly safe and friendly town. There are a ton of outdoor activities! The elementary schools host an annual chorus and musical performance that’s just divine. The middle school has quarterly honor roll breakfasts to celebrate their students academic accomplishments and goes all out for their end of the year open house, in which all families are invited to visit classrooms, dine, and dance along to local artists. And the high school holds yearly orientations for all of its’ students to meet one another before the year begins and every week you can find hordes of parents, faculty, and residents out supporting all of the athletic programs.
Notable Residents: Oh goodness, there’s a quite few that have come through. John Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath while he was living here. Then there’s Jared Allen and Alex Smith (of the NFL), Neal Cassady (a beat generation literacy legend), Olivia de Havilland (from Gone with the Wind), and Peggy Fleming (Olympic figure skating gold medalist). From the Shark’s there’s been Patrick Marleau, Alexander Hult and Brad Stuart. The ever famous Steve Wozniak lives up in the hills near my family’s home. And last but certainly not least, Los Gatos is home to Netflix’s headquarters.
Best place to get a coffee? Depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re a serious biker and wanna hang out with others who share your passion, the Los Gatos Roasting Co. is for you. If you wanna try the world famous CCC (basically a milkshake of Chocolate, Coffee and Cream) it’s the Great Bear. A Verve and greek yogurt lover? Try Cafe Dio. But if you’re out meeting some friends or family, the Purple Onion Cafe has a wonderful atmosphere!
Best park? Probably our biggest one, Vasona. There’s so many things you can do! You can BBQ, take the kids to the airplane park, ride around the carousel, fish, paddle boat, follow a running trail to Campbell, or even ride around in a small train!
Beloved neighborhood joints? The Cats is a great BBQ joint and bar a couple minute drive up 17. On the weekends they have live music there and you can bet that everyone’s out on the dance floor! Then, over the summer there’s a slew of artists to enjoy, while sitting on the patio of the lovely Testarossa Winery. And if you’re looking for a place that has hosted pretty much every family in town, I’d have to go with Willow Street. That place is always packed!
Where are the best places to experience the outdoors? St. Joseph’s and the Jones trails are great for mountain biking, running, or even a nice walk. Vasona for the family. And Castle Rock is just a quick drive up 17 for scenic views of the Santa Cruz mountains.
Stereotypical residents? Realtors, dad’s in business suits, kids in athletic gear, and suburban moms decked out in their Lulu’s driving their Range Rovers around town.
Are the stereotypes true? Like any small town, it is a bit of a bubble. Yes you can run into pretty much everyone you know at the friday night high school game. And when you go off to college you’re automatically best friends with everyone you went to high school with. But what’s so wrong with that?
Final words? As my high school field hockey coach once said, “I bleed orange and black” (the high school’s colors). And when you’re a resident here you really believe that. We’re not a town, we’re a family.