Stockton/San Joaquin County, CA “hidden gems” list, Part II


The Stockton Empire Theatre anchors the southern end of the Miracle Mile in Stockton, and is home to a long stretch of quaint shops and gourmet restaurants.

Richmaid is a vintage diner on Cherokee in Lodi, the perfect place for breakfast or a lunch stop on your tour of the Lodi/Woodbridge Wine Grape Appellation!
This demonstration/teaching vineyard is part of the Lodi Wine and Visitor’s Center in Lodi!
UOP’s campus is a great place for quiet cycling, and, the location of the San Joaquin Bike Fest, coming on Saturday, Sept. 27 (detail at
DeRosa University Center on the University of Pacific campus is the center of student activity, and a great place to bike or walk for a cool drink or snack!

In our working careers, my spouse and I have lived in five interesting cities (Spokane, WA, my wife’s hometown, San Mateo, Sacramento, Toledo, OH, and Stockton).  We lived in each of those cities for 2.5 years or longer, and upon departure from the first four, realized that, of their great sights and scene-stealers, we had probably only seen 50 to 75%.  What a shame, we now reflect – and have vowed not to let that happen again. 

Hence, we resolved not to miss those stellar attractions in Stockton and San Joaquin County – those places you would take guests to show off your hometown.  Why not start your own list, and check them off as you visit them?  Along the way, you’ll come to appreciate and understand our fine community all the better!  This continues our “must-sees” of Stockton and San Joaquin County, an article that ran last Sunday in the Record and can be found on my blog.

Last week we shared highlights of the Haggin Museum and Victory Park, the Downtown Stockton waterfront, the San Joaquin Delta and the Micke Grove Park/Zoo/San Joaquin Historical Society and Museum. For kid’s activities we suggested the Stockton Children’s Museum and Pixie Woods at Lewis Park,

Here is the second half of our list of “Stockton/San Joaquin County’s hidden gems”:

Miracle Mile, shops and restaurants: The Miracle Mile, on Pacific from Harding Way north to the University of Pacific campus and Calaveras River, was Stockton’s original suburban shopping center. Today it is resurgent as home to scores of quaint, walkable shops and some of the city’s finest restaurants.  Stroll the Mile on a Saturday and stop for food or drink at favorite places like Centrale, Whiskey Barrel Tavern, CoCoRo, Mile Wine Company, The Ave, Valley Brew and many more.  Not to be missed on the Mile is the Stockton Art League’s Goodwin Gallery, located at 1902 Pacific Avenue, a non-profit gallery supporting local artists at this location for 13 years.  For insights, 

Lodi/Woodbridge wine country and varied wineries: Start in west Lodi at the Lodi Wine and Visitor’s Center at the corner of Lower Sacramento and Turner Road.  From there, fan out to visit some of more than 80 local wineries that have put wine tourism on the map over the last 25 years.  Throughout the season, a variety of festivals of wine, chocolate, music, good food and more offer many opportunities to tickle your palette!  Check the summer music festivals at Jessie’s Grove Winery or fun reviews at McConnell Estates Winery.

During your tour, stop for breakfast at Richmaid on Cherokee Lane, or lunch in downtown Lodi (one of the Valley’s gems of reborn downtowns).  You’ll find reliable choices such as Lodi Beer Company, Rosewood Grill and School Street Bistro all on School Street.  For more info on Lodi’s wines,, or

University of Pacific campus: For theater, performing arts, sports, provocative lectures, adult education, bike trail convergence, UOP’s beautiful Ivy-League-like campus was the site for the filming of a dozen or more great Hollywood movies (like Raiders of the Lost Ark).  It’s a compact, walkable and bikeable campus (the Calaveras Bike Trail runs along the north edge of the entire UOP campus).  Stop at Burns Tower for a parking pass and a campus map, tour the shady campus, and stop for a drink or snack at the DeRosa University Center. 

During your tour, stake out the locations of the Long Theatre, Faye Spanos Concert Hall, Spanos Center and other key venues for future returns for theatre, performing arts, sports and more.  Info,

Ethnic dining: Stockton is blessed with dining diversity like no city closer than Los Angeles, so get creative in your culinary tastes!  My list could offer scores of good choices, but downtown is rich in diversity (Cancun, Casa Flores, King’s House, On Lock Sam, Yasoo Yani, Bottley’s Barbecue, more, see, as well as the Miracle Mile (Suzy’s Mexican, Saigon, CoCoRo, New Wok Inn, Siamese Street, see and many more throughout the city.  With such culinary and ethnic dining diversity, why not skip past the national chains and eat local?

Cultural celebrations: Throughout the year, our city and county offers up scores of celebrations of our cultures and many ethnicities.  The Stockton Obon Festival is one not to miss, on Saturday, August 2 at the Stockton Buddhist Temple,  Soon to come are the Fiipino Barrio Festival, Aug. 9/10, Reggae Fest on the Delta at the Breadfruit Tree, August 23, the Greek Festival at St. Basil’s Church, Sept. 5, the Lodi Grape Festival, Sept. 11, the Record’s Family Day at University Park, Sept 20, San Joaquin Bike Festival, Sept. 27 and many more. 

While you are enjoying local entertainment, don’t overlook Wednesday night free concerts in Victory Park through end of August, the monthly free movies at Weber Point, classic films presented monthly at the Bob Hope/Fox CA Theatre, wonderful theater staged at Stockton Civic Theater and more. Immerse yourself in our many community celebrations and learn more about your neighbors!  Go to for a comprehensive list of community events and cultural celebrations.

Please offer up your own “don’t miss short list” and send them on to me (; I’ll  visit many of those “musts” and include some in a future article or blog.  For additional travel destination inspiration, see my blog: 

Happy travels in the west!

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