Rainy day respites for kids and young adults in Stockton/San Joaquin County

“Indoor fun in San Joaquin County”, in a wet winter!

Grandson Jack builds water maze at Stockton Children's Museum.

We’re six weeks into winter, with massive amounts of rain in Stockton while the Sierra has recorded epic snowfalls.  If you and kids or grandkids are getting cabin fever and desire to get out of the house and do something, consider a few outings right in your backyard.

We polled our three grandkids, as well as friends with their own kids or grandkids, and asked “what’s to do in Stockton and San Joaquin County”.  Here’s a pretty fair list to get you started.

Our family favorites include the Haggin and San Joaquin County Historical museums, Stockton’s Children’s Museum, the World of Wonders Science Museum in Lodi, the new Sky Zone trampoline palace at Sherwood Mall, movies (including the Fox theater classics) and Stockton Heat hockey games.

At the Haggin Museum in Victory Park, Stockton, 2nd Saturdays are for families, with special hands-on activities for kids age 5-12; from now through April 2, it’s also the annual McKee Student Art Exhibition (hagginmuseum.org). The museum also offers insight into our Native American and the city’s founding history, as well as world-class art.

The San Joaquin Historical Museum (along with Micke Grove Zoo) in Micke Grove Park, just south of Lodi, can make for a full day’s activities. The museum offers marvelous exhibits on our Native American forebears and the early days of our current agricultural empire, including the tractor barn with 40 historic and huge tractors for up-close and personal inspection (sanjoaquinhistory.org). The zoo is just blocks away, if you and kids have energy to spare.

Kids get a kick out of historical exhibits at the San Joaquin Historical Museum.

The Stockton Children’s Museum, 402 W. Weber, Stockton has long been a popular choice of both kids and parents. Currently it’s hosting the “Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl” exhibit, sure to delight youngsters (childrensmuseumstockton.org).

Oak Park Ice Arena, 3545 Alvarado Ave. in Oak Park is a fine place to rent skates and take to the ice, or, take in a professional Stockton Heat hockey game at the Stockton Arena (stocktonlive.com for both options). Stockton Ports professional baseball, 404 W. Fremont, Stockton, offers low-priced family fun starting in early April (milb.com)

Movies are popular options; don’t discount the Fox California/Bob Hope Theater, 242 E. Main, Stockton, for classic movies followed by a tour of the historic, huge old vaudeville and movie palace. Mark your calendars for the March 26 showing of the Wizard of Oz (foxfriends.org).

Lodi is a favorite not just for the San Joaquin Historical Museum, but for several other special places. The World of Wonders Science Museum, 2 N. Sacramento Street, Lodi offers a wealth of hands-on exhibits to delight kids age 3 to 19 (wowsciencemuseum.org). Its downtown location also offers a host of nearby restaurants for a meal break.

Kids enjoy vertical windtunnel at World of Wonders in Lodi.

For older kids, inspect 40+ classic cars/motorcycles for sale at the Vintage Reserve Garage on 121 S. Cherokee Ln., Lodi; start with breakfast at Richmaid, a classic family-style restaurant across the street (vintagereservegarage.com). The garage is modeled on a ‘gasoline alley-era’ old garage from the 40s, truly worth the tour.

Stockton offers a number of additional options for kids, including exhibits at the Mexican Heritage Center, Art Classes at Millie’s Art Korner and the stately University of Pacific campus for basketball games at Spanos Center, spring-time sports like baseball and movies at Janet Leigh Campus Theatre (uop.edu).

For live theater, a number of choices abound, including the Stockton Civic Theatre, Showbiz Theatre and Kudos Children’s Theatre.

Kids will love the Sky Zone trampoline park at Sherwood Mall Shopping Center (skyzone.com), roller skating and roller hockey at the Stockton Indoor Sports Complex, 3251 Ad Art Rd., Stockton (siscsports.com) and the Zap Zone, 1578 Hammertown Dr., Stockton offering kids and families an exciting laser tag outing (zapszone.com).

Don’t overlook bowling as a wet weather respite, with nearby Pacific Avenue Bowl and West Lane Bowl. The Serpentarium, 1117 W. March Lane offers a variety of snakes and snake-care supplies, for an other-worldly tour (snakemuseum.com).

Grandkids Hunter, Jessica and Jack enjoyed a three mile hike around Shima Tract.

Weather improving? Go hiking or biking in Stockton; favorite places are the Calaveras River Bike trail between University of Pacific and Brookside (suggest parking on the UOP campus, walk past the DeRosa University Center, a great place for snacks and drinks), walk across the pedestrian bridge and head west on the Calaveras Trail out to Brookside and back. Other destinations include the downtown waterfront promenade, starting at Stockton Ballpark, heading east to Weber Point, then west out to the Waterfront Warehouse; or the Shima Tract hike or mountain bike option at west-end of Hammer Lane; or Bear Creek hike and bike trail (access from Trinity Parkway or Thornton).

Take your binoculars and go birding, at Cosumnes River Preserve two miles north of Thornton, or the Eisenberg Preserve on Woodbridge Road, 2 miles west of Interstate 5; where sandhill cranes and a huge variety of migratory birds visiting the Pacific Flyway can be found in February and March.

For more offerings on kid-friendly options, also see Visit Stockton’s calendar, visitstockton.org.

Read more from Tim Viall’s travel blog, follow him on Facebook or Twitter; or, email him at tviall@msn.com. Happy travels in your world!

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