Home for the holidays – take visiting guests on a tour de grace!

Guests in town for the holidays? Take them on an exploration of our city and county’s special places.

Lighted Boat Parade, returns to Weber Point in Stockton on Saturday, December 3!

Christmas lights: Take a driving or, better, a walking tour of Meadow Avenue, just west of Pershing, for the city’s most spectacular Christmas lights.  Take a thermos of hot chocolate and enjoy the holiday spirit! And, if you have guests in town this weekend, take in the grand Lighted Boat Parade, coming to Weber Point shortly after dark on Saturday, December 3.

The Haggin Museum in Victory Park; "can't miss" attraction!

Haggin Museum and Victory Park: The stately Haggin is one of the west coast’s prime museums and art collections, anchoring Victory Park for 84 years.  First Saturdays offer free admission, and Second Saturdays offer up special programming targeting families with kids.  Deemed one of “California’s undersung gems” by Sunset Magazine; the museum focuses on the city’s history from 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 art shows make the Haggin experience one that varies by the month; for insight and special holiday activities, hagginmuseum.org.

Jack Taylor pilots a big bus at the Stockton Children's Museum; fun for kids of all ages!

Kid’s activities: The Children’s Museum (childrensmuseumstockton.org) 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.  In Lodi, the wonderful World of Wonders Science Museum offers high-tech activities for kids 2 to 19, wowsciencemuseum.org.

Downtown Stockton history and waterfront: Explore from the Ports Ballpark and Stockton Arena on the north side to  Weber Point, the Cineplex/Hotel Stockton at the head of the Channel, then west to the Children’s Museum, Waterfront Warehouse and Stockton Marina on south channel, this is 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 none.

Historic Fox California/Bob Hope Theatre in downtown Stockton is a gem dating to 1930!

Park near the Ports Ballpark on Fremont, and take in the view with a walk or bike ride along the waterfront promenade (grab a bite to eat at Nena’s in the Waterfront Warehouse, once part of the huge Sperry Flour facilities), take in a Stockton Heat hockey game or events at Stockton Arena or the historic Bob Hope Theatre.  More info, downtownstockton.org.

Miracle Mile, shops and restaurants: The Miracle Mile, on Pacific from Harding Way north to the University of Pacific campus, was Stockton’s original suburban shopping center. Today it is resurgent with scores of quaint, walkable shops and some of the city’s finest restaurants.  Stroll the Mile and stop for food or drink at favorite places like The Ave, Centrale, CoCoRo, Mile Wine Company, Valley Brew, Whiskey Barrel Tavern 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, stocktonmiraclemile.com.

University of Pacific campus: For performing arts, sports, provocative lectures, adult education, UOP’s beautiful Ivy-League-like campus was the site for the filming of dozens of 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 snack at the DeRosa University Center.  During your tour, check out the Long Theatre, Faye Spanos Concert Hall, Spanos Center, new Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center and other venues for future returns for theatre, performing arts, sports and more.  Info, pacific.edu.

The DeRosa University Center on UOP's shady campus is a fine stop on a walking or biking tour.

Ethnic dining: Stockton offers dining diversity like no city other 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, On Lock Sam, Yasoo Yani, see downtownstockton.org), as well as the Miracle Mile (Suzy’s Mexican, Saigon, CoCoRo, New Wok Inn, Siamese Street, see stocktonmiraclemile.com) and many more throughout the city.  With such culinary and ethnic dining diversity, skip the national chains and eat local!

San Joaquin Delta: Start a tour of the some of the 1000 mile waterways of our vast  Delta with lunch at Bob’s at the Marina or dinner next door at Garlic Bros. Restaurant (from their decks you can see Village West Marina and several miles of Delta waters, and spectacular sunsets highlighting distant Mt. Diablo).  The San Joaquin Delta stretches all along the west side of the city (many waterways stretch well into our city).  Gather more inspiration along Highway 12 west out of Lodi, and tour the Delta Loop (Moore’s Riverboat II Restaurant a fine stop), just past Bouldin Island, or Hwy. 4 west (the extension of Martin Luther King Blvd. in south Stockton).  Explore Delta back roads, count how many historic draw bridges you cross and watch for huge cargo freighters along the way.

Sun sets over Mt. Diablo, looking west over the San Joaquin Delta from the deck of Garlic Bros. Restaurant.

Lodi/Woodbridge wine country and varied wineries: Start at the Lodi Wine and Visitor’s Center at the corner of Lower Sacramento and Turner Road for wine tasting and maps.  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!  During your tour, stop for breakfast at Richmaid on Cherokee Lane, or lunch in downtown Lodi (one of the Valley’s gems of historic downtowns).  Reliable choices include Lodi Beer Company, Rosewood Grill and School Street Bistro on School Street and the new Fenix in the theater complex.  For info: lodiwine.com, or visitlodi.com.

For a variety of other special destinations and events, contact visitstockton.org.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com, follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in the west!

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