San Joaquin Historic Museum, Haggin Museum are cool summertime destinations!

The Holt Side-hill Harvester M30 sold for $3000 in 1928!

Cool destinations to beat summer heat and learn about our past…
San Joaquin Historic Museum, Haggin Museum

Author's grandkids Jessica and Jack admire olf farming truck loaded with local fruit crates.

With the balance of summer flying by, let’s go for a couple local “cool destinations”, which each offer cool temperature-controlled environments and places that most kids or grandkids rate as “cool”, once they get involved.

Our family favorites include the Haggin Museum and San Joaquin County Historical Museums, each packed full of insight into the history and economic underpinnings of both Stockton and San Joaquin County. Exhibits at each museum offer hands-on activities, and our grandkids take to the sense of history almost immediately!

Let’s start on the county’s north end, with the San Joaquin Historical Museum (along with Micke Grove Zoo) the major attractions in Micke Grove Park. Just south of Lodi, the park and museum 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.

The Innovators in Agriculure exhibit is fairly recent and brings today's San Joaquin agriculture heritage to life!

To start your day right, begin with breakfast at Richmaid, a classic family-style restaurant at 100 S. Cherokee Lane, Lodi.

A recent addition to the museum is the impressive Cortopassi-Avansino Building, featuring the “Innovators in Agriculture” exhibition. It illustrates the development of irrigated, intensive agriculture in San Joaquin County in the 20th century, focusing on six crops historically identified with the county: truck farming (small, diversified growing of vegetables and fruits), dry beans, asparagus, cherries, walnuts and canning tomatoes.

Jennifer Lind plays American favorites at the San Joaquin Historical Museum's annual dinner and concert on August 26.

In addition to large historic equipment and small historic artifacts, the exhibits feature large-screen videos, photo murals, and touch-screen videos. The simulated walnut shaker will make you feel like you are working this awesome machine deep in the county’s walnut orchards!

Jack and Jessica get up close and personal with donkey in the Critter Corral.

The Critter Corral is a special attraction through the end of August, on Saturday and Sunday, 10 AM to 3 PM, featuring live, cute farm animals to pet and visit, free with regular museum admission. Museum admission fees are adults (18-64), $5.00; seniors (65+) and teens (13-17), $4.00; children (6-12), $2.00. A per vehicle parking fee is due upon entering the park.

The Zoo is just blocks away, if you and kids have energy to spare.

The museum’s annual dinner and concert features Jennifer Lind and “a Journey through American Music”, on Saturday, August 26, with doors open at 6, dinner at 7 PM and concert following. A lovely evening on the museum grounds includes dinner of New York steak, beans, salad, rolls, dessert and beverage, $60 per person.

The Haggin's Yokut's Village is part of the Native American Exhibit.

Stockton’s Haggin Museum has been declared by Sunset Magazine “one of the unsung gems of California”. Notes Museum Director Tod Ruhstaller: “The Haggin is cool during summer, though the art galleries are being renovated. However our unique history galleries are open and packed with insight on our city’s history”.

Second Saturdays are for families, featuring special hands-on activities for kids age 5-12. The museum also offers insight into our Native American and the city’s founding history, as well as world-class art.

The Native American Gallery offers insights into the Spanish missionaries who entered California in 1769, finding an estimated Native American population of over 300,000, the densest population of Native people in the entire North American continent, north of central Mexico, with 100 indigenous tribes speaking 125 languages or dialects.

The Haggin's Haines-Houser Harvester is not only huge, it's mostly made of wood with iron fittings!

The Yokuts tribes settled the San Joaquin Valley and adjoining foothills. In the Stockton area, the Yachicumne Yokuts established villages along Mormon Slough, the Stockton Deepwater Channel and Bear Creek, prospering on fish and game”. Museum exhibits bring to life the culture of the native people.

Ruhstaller continues, “Our big ticket items remain accessible during construction, including the oldest harvester remaining, built by Holt, the old Stevens classic wooden boat and Willy the Jeep, commemorating Stockton High School students who held war bonds fund drives and raised money to supply 245 Jeeps for the World War II effort”. Tying in is a special exhibition, Call to Duty, featuring 70 historical World War I and II posters, through August 27.

While the Haggin’s art galleries are going through a Renaissance, the museum offers special pricing through fall; adults are just $5, students/17 or younger, free. If you’re looking for a hearty breakfast to start your day, consider Bob’s at the Marina, 6639 Embarcadero Drive.

Stevens classic wooden run-about is part of an exhibit that explains Stockton's long history of boat-building.

Stay cool and immerse your family in our city and county’s storied history with these two compelling destinations!

For more information: Haggin Museum, 1201 N. Pershing, Stockton,, (209) 940-6300, open Saturday and Sunday, Noon-5 PM and Wednesday-Friday, 1:30-5:00 PM (open to 9 PM, 1st and 3rd Thursdays); San Joaquin Historical Museum, 11793 N. Micke Grove Road, Lodi,, (209) 953-3460, open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 AM to 4 PM.

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

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