Drive just 30 minutes south from the heart of San Francisco and watch a vibrant landscape unfold. Filoli is a premier Bay Area tourism attraction in Woodside, California, boasting 654 acres of beauty nestled along the slopes of California’s coastal range with one-of-a-kind experiences in every season. Tiptoe through thousands of tulips in the spring, wander through the historic Gentleman’s Orchard with a glass of fresh-pressed cider in fall, stay up later for “Summer Nights” with live music and food trucks, and experience an immersive and magical light show each winter during “Holidays at Filoli.”
In 2023, Filoli will have its biggest spring display ever, with over 86,000 tulip, daffodil, hyacinth, and native California bulbs in bloom. Additionally, waterfalls of wisteria, seas of cherry and apple blossoms, wildflowers, and more will bloom, making a spectacular spring show.
Originally built as a private residence in 1917, Filoli opened to the public in 1975 as a nonprofit organization and site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The property is considered one of the finest remaining country estates of the 20th century, featuring a 54,000-plus-square-foot Georgian revival-style mansion, 16 acres of exquisite English Renaissance gardens, a 6.8-acre Gentleman’s Orchard, and hundreds of acres of “Natural Lands” with five distinct ecosystems and a 1-mile estate trail. “Filoli is dedicated to connecting our rich history with a vibrant future through beauty, nature, and shared stories, so that one day all people will honor nature, value unique experiences, and appreciate beauty in everyday life,” says Dani Hielscher, marketing manager at Fioli.
Conveniently located between San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, Filoli is an ideal attraction for group tours traveling from either major Northern California gateway.
History buffs will be immersed in stories in the historic house, garden enthusiasts will be overjoyed by the world-class botanical garden, nature lovers can find peace on the estate trail surrounded by over 600 acres of pristine land, shoppers can find luxury gifts, gourmet food items, live plants, and boutique clothing in the Clock Tower Shop. Seasonal experiences throughout the year provide everything from live music to learning experiences. “We want everyone to visit Filoli, and we want to make the experience tailored perfectly to your group,” Hielscher says.
Filoli’s most popular times are during the peak of spring in March and during “Holidays at Filoli,” which runs mid-November through the first week of January. Visually, they are incredibly different—25 miles of glittering lights versus 86,000 blooming bulbs—and groups are stunned by the beauty of both seasons.
Groups also love that Filoli has shopping and dining options right on the site, Hielscher says. The Quail Café is open during Filoli’s open hours and serves a variety of fresh sandwiches, salads, soups, beverages, and sweet treats. Seasonal favorites include the pop-up holiday bar on the Woodland Court where visitors can enjoy a hot cup of mulled wine or whiskey cider. In winter, spring, summer, and fall, Filoli’s Bluebird Bar opens on weekends for specialty cocktails, beer, and wine to sip as you stroll. Filoli can offer groups a packaged lunch from the café. Additional lunch space can also be booked in Filoli’s Visitor Center (indoors) or Cottage Garden Patio (outside), contingent on availability.
The Clock Tower shop carries everything from Filoli-grown and -approved plants to Filoli-exclusive products like its honey, fruit butters, and carefully curated apparel.
On average, visitors spend about an hour and a half at Filoli.
Motorcoach parking is available free of charge in the main parking lot, and there is a load-out zone to drop off group visitors just steps away from check-in.
Hielscher says she hopes groups that visit Filoli take away a feeling of joy, relaxation, and memories that last. “We love that Bay Area tourists often have an experience of discovery and pleasant surprise to find Filoli in such close proximity to San Francisco,” Hielscher says. “From the entry sequence down the beautiful Interstate 280 to walking into the garden and turning every corner in the historic house, we love to see the look of joyful amazement when our visitors see something new and unexpected!”
Hielscher adds that with its group sales staff, an easy check-in, and stress-free on-site activities, Filoli strives to give tour operators an exceptional experience and to give their guests an unforgettable and magical time.
“We are so excited to welcome Bay Area-bound tour operators to Filoli,” Hielscher says. “We always want to hear your thoughts, feedback, and questions, and we welcome you to email email@example.com so we can help.”
For more information and latest news, visit filoli.org.
Kids run in the holiday light tunnel at Filoli.
Credit: Robb Most