Exploring Stockton and San Joaquin County with out-of-town guests!


Sunset, with Mt. Diablo in distance, graces the outdoor dining deck at Garlic Brothers Restaurant in north Stockton.

Giant wind-art adorns the Joan Darrah Promenade behind the Stockton Ports Ballpark on the Stockton Deepwater Channel.
A tour group admires the Fox California/Bob Hope Theatre, circa 1930, in downtown Stockton.
The Haggin Museum graces Victory Park and features huge art collection as well as Native American and pioneer Stockton history exhibits.

Kids admire vintage farm truck loaded with historic fruit crates at the San Joaquin Hisstorical Museum near Lodi.Exploring Stockton and San Joaquin County with out-of-town guests,

A 48 whirl-wind tour of Stockton:

With a thriving cultural scene, gold rush history, stunning architecture, an active waterfront and San Joaquin River Delta location, Stockton is a perfect town to share with family and friends visiting during summer months. If you have two days to share with out-of-town guests, here are suggestions how to maximize their experience.

Start with a sunset dinner on the deck at Garlic Brothers Restaurant, west end of Ben Holt Drive (Holt revolutionized Delta agriculture with the invention of the Caterpillar tractor, more on Holt, below). Garlic Brothers overlooks a thriving marina and you’ll revel in a sunset over Mount Diablo, 40 miles across the Delta.

Next day, explore downtown Stockton’s waterfront by taking a walk on the Joan Darrah Promenade along the Deepwater Channel. Gazing west, you’ll see portions of the Port of Stockton, the eastern-most inland port in California, and a huge economic driver for the region (big ocean-going ships give it away). Just east of the Deepwater Channel, the historic Hotel Stockton, the Fox/Bob Hope Theatre, Bank of Stockton, California Building and others dating to the late 1800s beckon for a walking tour (the Downtown Stockton Alliance provides historical walking tour maps).

If your tour group includes youngsters, consider a stop at the Stockton Children’s Museum on West Weber Avenue, or Pixie Woods Amusement Park in Louis Park, with rides and fun for all ages.  If you are seeking a bite or libation, consider Cast Iron Trading Company and Channel Brewing in the old Belding Building, or old favorites like CanCun or Casa Flores, all within 1.5 blocks of the Hotel Stockton.

Following your tour of downtown and the waterfront, plan an afternoon stop at the Haggin Museum. Anchoring stately Victory Park, the museum features extensive art collections as well as Native American and pioneer history. The museum graphically tells the story of Ben Holt’s agricultural and manufacturing innovations, as well as the city’s storied boat-building history with Stevens and Colburg Yachts, among other shipbuilders.

Later that evening, consider dinner at one of the fine restaurants along the Miracle mile, the city’s first suburban shopping center that blossomed in the 1950s and 1960s. Cocoro, Mile Wine, La Palma and Valley Brew are all inviting options along the Mile.

For evening entertainment, check the Visit Stockton website for shows/performers which may be playing at the Fox/Bob Hope Theatre, the Downtown Arena, the Stockton Civic Theater and several other local theater producers.  Or, take in a Stockton Ports baseball game at the downtown waterfront Ports Ballpark.

The next morning, consider a quick tour to the Lodi/Woodbridge winegrape appellation, centered around Lodi, just 15 miles north. Start with an early breakfast at the 50s-retro Richmaid Café, on Cherokee Lane in Lodi, then tour northwest to the Cosumnes River Preserve to see what the Delta looked like before pioneers settled the area. You’ll find native plants in their glory, and a variety of waterfowl in their native surroundings.

Backtracking, stop at Cosumnes River Farms for both olive oil sampling and wine tasting. You also have a choice of some 70 other wineries spread throughout this highly-regarded wine-growing region; see Visit Lodi for a map of wineries and other attractions. If you’re looking for a late lunch, stop at Phillips Farms on Highway 12, just west of Lodi, for a delicious farm-focused lunch, along with adjoining farmstand full of local produce, wine and gift options.

If you still have energy and want to further explore agricultural and pioneer history, take in the San Joaquin Historical Museum in Micke Grove Park, on the south edge of Lodi.  Learn more about Native American history, our earliest pioneers and 160 years of local agricultural innovation. During summer months, the ever-popular petting zoo lets kids get up close, and pet, a wide variety of farm animals on Saturdays and Sundays.

You’ve now completed a 48 hour whirlwind tour, and shown off many of the city’s highlights.  What have we missed? Add your own favorites…and, we’re off!

For more information: Children’s Museum of Stockton, childrensmuseumstockton.org; Downtown Stockton Alliance, downtownstockton.org; Haggin Museum, hagginmuseum.org; Pixie Woods, stocktongov.com/pixiewoods; San Joaquin Historical Museum, sanjoaquinhistory.org; Visit Lodi, visitlodi.com; Visit Stockton, visitstockton.org.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com; follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Enjoy showing off your town!

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