Explore your hometown first, when planning future travels!

Don’t overlook your hometown when planning future travels!

In our first years in California, we lived three years in San Mateo and three more in Sacramento, then moved back to my home state of Ohio. Imagine our chagrin when we realized we had not gotten to Yosemite National Park! We vowed to be better at exploring the marvels around our home city, no matter the location.

I had that distant oversight in mind when I talked to Wes Rhea of Visit Stockton, Stockton’s  visitors bureau. Wes offered, “Sometimes all it takes is a change in perspective to ignite a sense of adventure and experience some much-needed joy in our everyday lives. Take a moment to shift your focus and choose to explore the world just outside your door. Forget what you think you know about the place you call home. Leave your pre-conceived notions behind and recapture the excitement that only comes from being on vacation. On vacation, we are fueled by the energy that comes from expecting the unexpected. What is waiting for me around the corner? Where will my day take me? What characters will I meet along the way?”.

The Fox California/Bob Hope Theatre marquee.

Wes and his staff offered a few “out of the ordinary” attractions. Tucked away in a south Stockton neighborhood is the Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple. Open every day of the year during daylight hours and free to the public, it’s a breathtaking experience. The grounds of the temple are decorated with nearly 90 larger-than-life hand carved, hand painted, and hand jeweled statues of Buddha. The largest of the pieces is a recumbent Buddha over 50 feet long and 12 feet high. Brilliant colors and unique views are abundant in this sacred place. You may meet a monk, dressed in vibrant robes, their genuine smiles transcending language and making you feel at ease.

In Season Market and Nursery is an oasis in mid-town Stockton, filled with lush greenery, unique items for sale, delicious smells, and a serenity seldom found in the middle of a bustling city. Beyond plants, flowers, and produce, locally made items such as soaps and lotions are sold here, as well as honeys, olive oils, and jams. An espresso bar with locally baked goods, housed inside the market, has turned this retail business into a favorite local coffee shop. A variety of classes are offered in locations throughout the property, including a seating area that has been lovingly curated under the canopy of a large shade tree.

Have you been to the Haggin Museum in Victory Park lately? Exhibits change regularly!

Peace is often something that is talked about in abstract. For those looking for a tangible way to express their desire for peace and find connections to those among us who feel the same, a trip to the University Park World Peace Rose Garden is in order. Located within the historic Magnolia District in Stockton, the garden was established in partnership with the International World Peace Rose Gardens organization; one of only 9 across the globe. The garden features over 250 varieties of roses; Messages of peace can be found on plaques within the garden and guests are encouraged to leave their own messages inside the peace box as a way to become part of the narrative.


I’ll add a few more traditional “must-sees”. The stately Haggin Museum in Victory Park is one of the west coast’s prime museums and art collections.  The museum focuses on the city’s history from Native Americans, to 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.  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, hagginmuseum.org.

Grandson Jack beside the huge toy soldiers of the Stockton Children’s Museum.

Kid’s activities include the Children’s Museum, childrensmuseumstockton.org, where kids play on a fire engine, fly a helicopter, prowl in a police car and discover so much about the world they reside in.  With spring comes the opening of Pixie Woods in Lewis  Park, perfect for a kid’s outing.

Explore the downtown waterfront, with Ports Ballpark and Stockton Arena on the north side, Weber Point and Cineplex/Hotel Stockton at the head of the Channel, then west to the Children’s Museum, Waterfront Warehouse and Stockton Marina on south channel. The Gold Rush port to the Mother Lode, it brought miners, merchants and helped build an agricultural empire second to none. Park near the Ports Ballpark on Fremont, and take in the view with a walk or bike ride and grab a bite to eat at nearby restaurants. Take in a Stockton Heat hockey or Stockton Kings basketball game or the historic Bob Hope Theatre.  Info, downtownstockton.org.

Stockton Heat vs. San Diego Gulls hockey action at Stockton Arena.

Don’t overlook resurgent downtown Stockton and the Miracle Mile, stocktonmiraclemile.com, with shops, restaurants and brew pubs.

For performing arts, sports, provocative lectures and adult education, University of Pacific’s beautiful Ivy-League-like campus offers a compact, walkable and bikeable campus (the Calaveras Bike Trail runs along the north edge of the entire UOP campus).  Stop for a snack at the DeRosa University Center and check out the Long Theatre, Faye Spanos Concert Hall, Spanos Center, Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center and other venues, info, pacific.edu.

DeRosa Center at University of Pacific is a fine cycling destination (it’s just off the Calaveras River Bike Trail) and offers snacks and drinks to visitors.

Space precludes a discussion of the city’s rich ethnic dining scene, the proximity and allure of the nearby San Joaquin Delta or the Lodi/Woodbridge wine country and varied wineries. For a variety of Stockton-area destinations and events, contact visitstockton.org.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com, follow him at recordnet.com/travelblogHappy travels in your backyard!

The Stockton Cambodian Temple offers a mind-expanding experience!

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