Visitors can wander the grounds of the opulent Filoli Gardens. Scott Loftesness/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The lavish refuge of Filoli Gardens

Off a country road in Woodside, amid the new wealth of Silicon Valley, is one of the finest remaining country estates of the early 20th century.

Filoli Gardens was built by William Bowers Bourn II, heir to a Gold Rush fortune, and his wife Agnes as a lavish refuge 30 miles south of San Francisco. The estate includes a 43-room mansion and a formal garden of 16 acres — with ponds, ivy-veiled archways, and countless flowers — surrounded by a nature preserve and framed by the eastern slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

If the property looks familiar, you may be recalling its role in the opening credits of the 1980s soap opera “Dynasty.”

Filoli Gardens was donated to a preservation group in 1975 and is now open to the public. It hosts jazz concerts, afternoons teas, and holiday gatherings. 

Filoli Gardens | Smithsonian Magazine

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