Stockton and San Joaquin County “must sees” for visitors and residents…

Updating your local travel “bucket list”!

A few weeks ago, I postulated on “must visits” in Stockton and San Joaquin County for kids out on summer break.

Since that article appeared, a number of folks have asked what would be on an “adult bucket list” for our city and county? In other words, the places you’d take guests to, while visiting, or, the places you shouldn’t miss if you really want to discover the heart and soul of our community.

The stately Haggin Museum, with regional and city history and world-class art collection, anchors Victory Park.

I put out the call, via email and phone, to about 30 friends, city leaders and tourism experts. In most cases, their suggestions matched up to mine. And, a couple gems make the list I hadn’t thought of. So, here we go, suggestions from my wife and me, and additions from local friends in the know:

Stockton's Children's Museum is guarded by huge toy soldiers.

The most frequently mentioned places were the Haggin Museum, historic downtown Stockton and its waterfront and (for kids), the Children’s Museum and Pixie Woods. Notes veteran Stocktonian and author Sharon Nordstrom, “The Haggin Museum is a precious gem with educational and delightful exhibits.  Pixie Woods has to be one of the most charming play lands in all of California”. I would add the Haggin is a great place to start for local Native American history, Stockton’s early pioneer and agricultural history and additionally features a world-class art museum.

Downtown Stockton historic walking tours, including the interior of the 1910 Hotel Stockton, are organized by the Downtown Stockton Alliance.

Several suggested touring downtown Stockton, for learning downtown history, attending events and shows and dining at local eateries. Ben Saffold, Stockton marketing manager, and Marilyn Togninali, head of Friends of the Fox Theater, both made that suggestion. The Downtown Stockton Alliance hosts regular historic walking tours, and they can be made by reservation.

Marilyn adds, “classic movies at the Fox California/Bob Hope Theatre include a tour of the venerable movie palace – one of the last great theaters remaining in the San Joaquin Valley”. And both suggest dining out before or after your downtown visit, at locale institutions like Cancun, Casa Flores, On Lock Sam or Angelinas.

University of Pacific's campus is anchored by the DeRosa University Center; it's just 100' off the Calaveras Bike Trail, for mixing a campus bike tour and river bike ride!

Mike Klocke, Record editor, suggests exploration of the University of Pacific campus. Mike notes, “I’ve visited college campuses all over the country, and Pacific has what I would call ‘compact beauty’. Lovely to walk and small enough you can see a lot in a short time”. The Ivy League-like campus has been the location of some 70 movies and TV shows.

UOP is also bordered by the Calaveras River Bike Trail, for a walking or bicycle tour of both the campus and the Delta, with the trail heading west out to Buckley Cove on the San Joaquin River.

Stockton is rich in the arts (Stockton Civic Theater, Stockton Symphony, UOP and San Joaquin Delta College theater, events and shows at the Bob Hope Theatre and Stockton Arena), deep in ethnic, local food at special places like Casa Flores or Cancun for Mexican, On Lock Sam and Dave Wong’s (Chinese), Siamese Street (Thai), Saigon (Vietnamese), CoCoRo (Japanese) and hundreds more. And don’t miss the growing vibe on Miracle Mile, with Mile Wine, the Ave, Centrale, the Abbey, Valley Brew and more.

The Stockton Ports baseball team plays on the water at the modern Stockton Ball Park on the historic Banner Island site.

Sports on the waterfront includes Stockton Ports baseball or Stockton Heat hockey, while UOP and San Joaquin Delta College offer a host of sporting events in the college game; local festivals at Weber Point Event Center, San Joaquin Fairgrounds and other venues offer lasting memories ( has a full calendar).

Many friends recommend the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta, with our city and county bordered by many of the thousand miles of waterways of this spectacular natural attraction. Nearby access to the Delta includes the Downtown Deepwater Channel and the Joan Darrah Waterfront Promenade and, just west, the Port of Stockton.

Include Delta dining for a fun outing, with scenic meals served at Nena’s in the downtown Waterfront Warehouse (formerly the historic Sperry Flour Mill), Garlic Brothers or Bob’s at the Marina (the latter two nestled beside Village West Marina at west end of Ben Holt Drive).

The historic Ryde Hotel, a former speak-easy, hugs the banks of the Sacramento River and can be part of a Delta auto tour!

The Delta offers boating, fishing and auto touring to destinations like the lovely Delta Loop (go west on Hwy. 12), and unique nearby Delta towns like Walnut Grove, Locke and Rio Vista. On your tour, seek out a score of historic draw-bridges, the historic Ryde Hotel and the route that offers two free auto ferries across bucolic waterways bordered by Valley Oaks and Delta vineyards.

Nearby communities have to make our list. The Lodi – Woodbridge wine grape appellation, with 80+ wineries; downtown Lodi, with the World of Wonders Science Museum, almost a score of wine-tasting rooms and charming restaurants makes for a marvelous small town ambiance. Nearby Micke Grove Park may be the county’s most underrated gem, with the San Joaquin Historical Society and Museum, Micke Grove Zoo, Japanese Gardens and more. In south county, don’t discount the Tracy Grand Theater, Manteca murals and Dos Reis Regional Park as reasons to look southward.

The Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple is most intriguing (photo courtesy of Visit Stockton).

And for arguabley the “most unique attraction”, the Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple has to be one of the most unique cultural places to visit in all of California!

For more information: Haggin Museum,; Children’s Museum,; Pixie Woods,; Downtown Stockton Alliance,; Fox California/Bob Hope Theatre,;
University of Pacific,; Calaveras River Bike Trail,; Stockton Civic Theater,; Stockton Symphony,; San Joaquin Delta College,; Bob Hope Theatre and Stockton Arena shows,; Miracle Mile,; Stockton Ports baseball,; Stockton Heat hockey,; Visit Stockton,; San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta,; Delta Loop,; Lodi – Woodbridge Winegrape Commission,; Visit Lodi,; World of Wonders Science Museum,; San Joaquin Historical Society and Museum,; Micke Grove Zoo,; Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple,

A Delta sunset dinner is just the way to end a day of touring Stockton; photo taken from Garlic Brothers Restaurant outdoor deck on the Delta.

What special places did I miss? Email me and I’ll mention in my Record blog; contact me at; read more from Tim Viall’s travel blog, follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Happy travels in the west!



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