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 Located beneath the slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the town of Los Gatos is a perfect place to shop, dine and gather with friends. This foothill town boasts an abundance of picturesque charm along with a kind of genteel elegance often found where old money blends with a sense of history. Both qualities, combined with their alluring shopping and dining offerings, long ago established this town as popular destinations for residents of nearby cities seeking an escape from Silicon Valley’s bustle.

Los Gatos has the liveliest and most appealing shopping and dining mix of any Silicon Valley city, packaged in a relaxing setting that exudes small-town charm despite the national-brand emporia and Zagat-rated dining spots that blend into the older mix of small, owner-operated boutiques and more casual eateries. The city’s downtown area is made for leisurely strolling; it measures just five tree-shaded blocks along North Santa Cruz and University Avenues, bounded by, and including, Main Street to the west, and by Los Gatos/Saratoga Road to the east. You can easily spend an entire day browsing the stores, from boutiques displaying the latest in high couture, casuals, sportswear and lingerie, to specialty shops whose offerings run the gamut from art, jewelry, sunglasses and toys to fabrics, antiques, pet paraphernalia and Native American crafts.

If a morning or afternoon of shopping leads to hunger pangs, local dining options include a wide variety of cuisines, ambiances and price ranges running the gamut from a quick snack to an unforgettable gourmet meal. Weekend visitors might opt to sample local produce at the farmers’ market, open Sunday mornings year-round at Town Plaza Park, at the intersection of Main and Santa Cruz. When evening falls, taverns and wine bars offer a lively nightlife.

The town sights include beautifully maintained pastel-colored Victorian homes surrounded by luxuriant gardens. Higher in the hills, you’ll transition into a realm of imposing mansions belonging to celebrities and high-tech company elites, along with spectacular bird’s eye views of Silicon Valley.

Wine tasting is also an option at several excellent local wineries dotting the Los Gatos hills.