In my last column, , a charming acreage of shady trails and wind-swept meadows. Aside from the newly restored Folger Stables, the park has a remote feel, and includes little development beyond the trail system. It’s also one of those rare parks that don’t charge for access or parking.
This week I’m changing gears, offering a possible diversion for outdoor enthusiasts hoping to mix up their summer itinerary with a little culture. Just a few miles up the road in Woodside, you’ll find a spot offering more amenities, but with a higher price tag.
Filoli mansion and estate lies just off the I-280 in Woodside and is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Passing by on the highway, you’d never know there was a 36,000 square-foot mansion tucked away among the trees.
From the Edgewood Road exit, head west, and turn right on Cañada Road. You’ll soon see the sign for Filoli directing you to hang a left on a long driveway, winding its way through the “gentleman’s orchard” of apple trees. (Beyond the driveway, Cañada Road is closed on Sundays for bikes only and is a great car-free spot to bike with the family.)
Famous for being featured in the opening shot of hit TV-show Dynasty, Filoli mansion was built in 1915 by prominent San Franciscan William Bourn. The estate’s unique name was based on combining the key words of his credo: to Fight for a just cause, Love your fellow man, and Live a good life. It was owned by just two families over the years before being donated to the trust in 1975. Now it offers tours, cultural events and educational programs.
Self-led tours of the house and grounds are offered from February through October for $15 per person (closed on Mondays). A variety of special events are held annually, including the upcoming Autumn Festival on Saturday Oct. 1, jazz performances and an annual holiday boutique.
Although the house is stunning, and the history fascinating, the gardens alone are worth the trip. Especially famous for the spring bulb display of tulips and daffodils, it’s a beautiful and well tended place to explore all year round. It has the feel of a European garden, with terraced lawns, fruit and olive groves and charming ivy-covered archways that jump right out of a fairy tale.
Check out a just coming into bloom during the spring.
The 16-acre garden is extensive, with fields of roses and lavender, fountains dotted with lily pads and even cooing doves. You can spend an entire afternoon exploring, and bring a pen and paper if you’re a gardener so you can take notes of the extensive floral varieties.
I wouldn’t be extolling the virtues of this spot if it didn’t also offer some hiking. Starting in September, Filoli will start up its program of docent-led nature walks in the Filoli Nature Preserve located beyond the house and gardens. This requires reservations and same-day admission prices to tour the house and gardens.
Filoli is a beautiful place to visit, with a mix of natural beauty and cultivated gardens. Together with Wunderlich, you get two very different but wonderful opportunities to spend a day outdoors. Just a few miles from each other, they’re great examples of the wide variety of options we enjoy on the Peninsula.