Stockton, San Joaquin summer-time destinations for the kids

Get the kids out of the house and into summer adventure!

OK, your kids are just weeks into summer vacation, and, they are B-O-R-E-D! What to do…? Let them scan this list of kid’s favorites, polish their own list and get them out of the house and into the community’s wonderful attractions!

Here’s a running start, based on experience of three grandkids and tips from other kids and parents:

The Water Fountain at Weber Point always draws big crowd of kids to its cooling waters!

Downtown Stockton: the downtown Stockton waterfront from the Ports Ballpark and Stockton Arena on the north channel-side to Weber Point, the Cineplex/Hotel Stockton at the head of the Channel out to the Children’s Museum and Morelli Park on south channel, it’s the heart and soul of Stockton.  Once the Gold Rush port to the Mother Lode, it brought miners, merchants and helped build an agricultural empire second to no other in the US.

Start your tour near Weber Point, where the outline of Captain Weber’s home rests on the southwest side of the park (and, dip a toe in the Weber Point Interactive Water Fountain). Walk the Joan Darrah Promenade, rent a kayak at the Stockton Marina, and take in a Stockton Ports baseball game or an event at Stockton Arena.  For more info,

Stockton’s Children’s Museum, Pixie Woods, Haggin Museum: Mark both the Children’s Museum in downtown Stockton and Pixie Woods at Lewis Park as places for fun for kids of all ages.

Author's grandson Jack enjoys driving a Regional Transit bus at the Children's Museum.

The Children’s Museum ( lets the kids play on a fire engine, fly a helicopter, prowl in a police car and discover so much about the world they reside in.  At Pixie Woods (, take a boat ride on the Pixie Queen Paddle wheel steamer, ride the rails on the Pixie Express Train or join scores of families on the carousel.

Pack a picnic for Victory Park and take in the stately Haggin Museum (, one of the west coast’s prime museums and art collections and has anchored Victory Park for 83 years.  Second Saturdays offer up special programming for families with kids.  The museum focuses on the city’s history from Native Americans, the Miwuk and Yokuts, city founder Captain Weber, to more modern leaders like Benjamin Holt (inventor of the Caterpiller-type tractor), Tillie Lewis (the “Tomato Queen”), and Stephens Brothers wood boat builders.

Among its art collections are scores of paintings by 19th and 20th century American and European artists, and breathtaking panoramas of the Yosemite Valley.  Ongoing special showings of art make the Haggin experience one that varies by the month.

Jack builds a miniture city at World of Wonders Science Museum in downtown Lodi.

Lodi’s downtown: Movies at the new Cineplex, nearby World of Wonders Science Museum and a quintessential small-town vibe make Lodi a place to stroll and enjoy a summer’s day. The World of Wonders Science Museum ( is a hands-on activities center for kids and adults. Located in historic downtown Lodi, the museum offers hands on, creative science exhibits to energize and amaze the minds of all ages.

Check the special events option on the museum’s website, including the Maker Fest, July 30, with toy dissections, Artwork Alley, Crafting Corner, Kid’s Construction Zone and more fun. Other specials include Free Fridays (bring a friend on the last Friday each month, and your friend gets in free). The museum is located near the Cineplex, at 2 N. Sacramento Street.

Micke Grove Park with the Zoo, San Joaquin Historical Museum and Japanese Gardens: This is one of our county’s undiscovered gems, a huge park set amidst towering Valley Oaks that contains the Zoo, Japanese Gardens and the San Joaquin Historical Society and Museum.  History comes alive at the San Joaquin Historical Museum( With nine large exhibit buildings packed with Native American, pioneer, Gold Rush and agricultural history, and four historic buildings including the Charles Weber Cottage dating to 1847 and the Calaveras School, 1866, it’s one of the state’s best historical museums. And, weekends through end of August, kids can pet farm animals a’plenty at the Critter Corral!

Kids get a kick out of antique farm truck loaded with produce packing crates at the San Joaquin Historical Museum.

Within the large park you’ll also find the stunning Japanese Gardens, the Fun Town Amusement Park and the Micke Grove Zoo (, surrounded by lots of picnic areas placed amongst the oaks. Special Zoo events include Zoomaginations, July 11-15 and Wild Water Play Days, July 18-22. Pack a picnic lunch; the park offers so many options in addition to the zoo and museum, you’ll spend a long day.

Hiking, Biking: Pull out those walking shoes or dust off the bikes and head for places like the Calaveras River Bike Trail, with neighboring University of Pacific campus, makes for a great place to start either a walk or ride.  From UOP, one can walk or pedal to the Miracle Mile or the Haggin Museum through wide, shady residential streets.  Explore the Delta, accessing it at the west end of Hammer Lane or the Cosumnes River Preserve ( north of Thornton. Make sure someone packs a plastic bag; blackberries are thick along delta waterways and make for tasty pancakes the following morning!

Author's grandkids Hunter, Jessica and Jack, hiking on the Delta's Shima Tract.

Explore the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta: Take Highway 12 west out of Lodi, and tour the Delta Loop, just past Bouldin Island, or Eight Mile Road west to tour Delta waterways and several busy marinas. Or, follow Hwy. 4 west (extension of Charter Way in south Stockton).  Explore Delta back roads, count how many historic draw bridges you cross, and watch the varied agricultural bounty, as well as boats or big ships all along the way.

Cultural celebrations: Throughout the summer, our city and county offers up scores of fun celebrations of our cultures and many ethnicities, including Lincoln Center Live, July 15 and August 19, Taste of the Delta at varied Delta locations, July 30, the Stockton Obon Festival, August 6, 7 at the Stockton Buddhist Temple, Stockton Con, August 20, 21, Reggae on the Delta, August 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 and classic films presented monthly at the Bob Hope/Fox CA Theatre. Go to for a list of community events.

Stockton's downtown waterfront is a great place to walk or bike! Take in a movie, see a Stockton Ports game, too!



Read more from Tim Viall’s travel blog, follow him on Facebook or Twitter; or, email him at Happy travels in the west!

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