Cool kids in a hot city! Summer fun for kids in Stockton and SJ County

Help your kids be cool; Stockton, San Joaquin summer-time destinations for the kids…

As summer heats up, your kids and/or grandkids are likely seeking things to do to break the monotony that often settles in on summer vacation. Here are kid-tested and approved adventures that will keep the young ones cool.

Consider scanning the virtual tours of many Stockton attractions at the visitstockton.org website. A good place to start an actual summertime tour is downtown Stockton, along the Stockton waterfront. Park near the Waterfront Warehouse, 445 W. Weber, where the adjoining Stockton Marina rents kayaks and peddleboards.

The Stockton Marina, looking south from behind the Stockton Ports Ballpark.

Across Weber Avenue is the Stockton Children’s Museum (childrensmuseumstockton.org, where kids can play on a fire engine, prowl in a police car and fly a helicopter). From the Waterfront Warehouse, follow the Joan Darrah Promenade along the waterfront which
skirts the historic Hotel Stockton, downtown Stockton Cineplex and Weber Point, containing a big kids play area on the south side and the outline of Captain Weber’s home on the southwest side of the park (alas, the Point’s Interactive water fountain is out of commission, awaiting repairs).

The Stockton Children’s Museum is a hit for kids 10 and under!

On the north side of the channel the Stockton Arena and Ports Ballpark present fun events and baseball throughout the summer (coming up this Saturday, the second annual Stockton Kidz Fest at the Arena, see information below). For more downtown info, downtownstockton.org.

Additional iconic Stockton kid’s destinations include Pixie Woods (stockton.gov/pixiewoods) in Lewis Park, with their interactive water feature, boat rides on the Pixie Queen paddlewheel steamer, train rides on the Pixie Express Train or join scores of families on the carousel. Don’t overlook the indoor ice arena at Oak Park, where a spin around the rink will cool off anyone on a hot summer day.

Author’s grandson Jack enjoys the Pixie Woods dragon fountain!

Pack a picnic lunch and visit the air-conditioned Haggin Museum, one of the west coast’s prime museums and art collections anchoring lovely Victory Park. Second Saturdays offer up special programming for families with kids.

The museum features the city’s history from Native Americans, the Miwuk and Yokuts peoples, city 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. Its art exhibits are world-famous in their own right, and throughout the month art events allow hands-on learning (see the museum website, hagginmuseum.org).

History of Stockton’s indigenous people are recounted in the Haggin Museum.

North San Joaquin County offers a host of kid’s attractions. Lodi’s downtown features a lively Cineplex surrounded by shops and eateries and the nearby World of Wonders Science Museum (wowsciencemuseum.org), featuring hands-on activities for both kids and adults. Check the museum’s website for a number of scheduled summer time activities and special events.

Micke Grove Park, just south of Lodi, offers the Micke Grove Zoo (mgzoo.com), Japanese Gardens and San Joaquin Historical Museum (sanjoaquinhistory.org). The park is an undiscovered playground, perfect for picnics with stately Valley Oaks providing shade and cooler temperatures while the Zoo and adjacent Fun Land provide attractions for almost any age.

Kayakers head out on the Mokelumne River (Ava Simpson photo)

History comes alive at the San Joaquin Historical Museum, rich in Native American, pioneer, gold rush and agricultural history and including the original Calaveras School building, circa 1866 and Charles Weber cottage dating to 1847. Weekends through end of August, kids can pet farm animals a’plenty at the Critter Corral.

Hiking and biking options can be found throughout the county. The centrally located Calaveras River Bike Trail offers a fun start on the campus of the University of Pacific, pedaling or walking west out to Buckley Cove Park on the Delta, or, walk or pedal south from UOP on Kensington for a snack or treat along Stockton’s Miracle Mile.

Author’s grandkids, Jessica and Jack, get a kick out of old farm truck loaded with vintage fruit crates at the San Joaquin Historical Museum in Micke Grove Park.

For more hiking or water fun, consider Lodi Lake Park for swimming or hiking along the Mokelumne River in Lodi, or the Cosumnes River Preserve (consumnes.org) just north of Thornton, where hiking trails take walkers through riparian wilderness areas and the kayakers can paddle the waters of either the Cosumnes or Mokelumne River estuaries.

Further explore the San Joaquin River Delta on foot or bike, accessing it at the west end of Hammer Lane in Stockton (here, you can tour a four mile loop, or almost nine miles, around Shima Tract, surrounded by the Delta on three sides). Make sure someone packs a plastic bag; blackberries are thick along delta waterways and make for tasty pancakes the following morning!

A hike along the Delta; here, author’s grandkids on Shima Tract, accessible from the west end of Hammer Lane, Stockton

Coming up: the 2nd annual Stockton Kidz Expo, featuring stars from the Disney hit show Raven’s Home, Saturday, July 20, 11 AM – 4 PM, at the Stockton Arena.

Featuring The Smurfs and Spiderman and offering activities such as facepainting, inflatables, puppet show, games, entertainment and costumed characters galore, the Kidz Expo is sure to please young and old. Tickets on sale at Stocktonkidzexpo.com.

While enjoying local entertainment, don’t overlook Wednesday night free concerts in Victory Park through end of August, the monthly free movies at Weber Point and classic films presented monthly at the Bob Hope/Fox CA Theatre. Go to visitstockton.org for a list of community events. Stay cool and enjoy a hot summer in the city!

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

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