The emerald-hued pastures bordering its extensive driveway offer only a hint of the splendor of Filoli. Situated on the outskirts of Woodside, this 654-acre, early 20th century country estate features a grand Georgian home and magnificent, English Renaissance-style gardens. The former residence of William Bowers Bourn II and Agnes Moody Bourn, today it’s a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Operated by the nonprofit Filoli Center, it's an enchanting place to discover.
Stephanie Wright Hession
Visitor and Education Center
Pay admission fees, pick up a visitor map, a self-guided tour brochure and watch a video about the history, architecture and families at Filoli, including its final owners William P. Roth and Lurline Matson Roth. The Quail’s Nest cafe offers soups, paninis, salads and sweet treats, along with views of the wooded Friends' Native Plant Garden.
The Bourns hired Willis Polk to design this 36,000-square-foot modified Georgian manor, which incorporates other architectural styles. After the Bourns' deaths in 1936, the Roths purchased Filoli and, in 1975, Lurline Matson Roth donated her estate to preserve it for all to enjoy. Don't miss the gorgeous ballroom with Ernest Peixotto's murals.
Bruce Porter helped the Bourns plan Filoli's exquisite outdoor spaces and Isabella Worn supervised its plantings. The 16-acre formal English Renaissance garden contains beautiful terraces, parterres, pools and lawns. In the Sunken Garden, pink tulips accent twin oblong pools and a larger pool, which reflects the clouds and sky.
Fanciful, ebony gates; walls fashioned from red brick; flower beds of pale pink, fuchsia, blue and white hyacinths; large camellia trees with a profusion of pink and garnet blooms; the Wedding Place, with its 15th century Venetian fountain; and a sun dial with the inscription "Time Began in a Garden," create a magical setting here.
Rows of French doors and comfortable chairs with ottomans make this airy conservatory an ideal spot to take a break. Designed by Arthur Brown Jr., architect of iconic structures such as San Francisco City Hall, it's located in the Walled Garden. Stop to view the mythical faces created by Gaston Rognier that adorn its exterior cornices.
Filoli, 86 Canada Road, Woodside. Check in at the Visitor Center before visiting Filoli’s house and gardens. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday; last admission is 4:30 p.m.
Admission: $20 Adults; $17 Seniors (65 and older); $10 Students 17 years and younger with valid student ID; Free children four years and younger; $10 Members of the Trust for Historic Preservation, Free for Filoli members, $10 K-12 educators with employee ID from San Francisco, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda Counties. 650-364-8300, www.filoli.org