Holidays are upon us: kids and grandkids out of school, visitors arriving — set a few fun travel destinations right in your own town. In a county with marvelous history and serious diversity, your options are plentiful in the coming month. Here are recommendations to delight almost any age.
Festival of Trees
The annual Festival of Trees returns to the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at Micke Grove Park, 11793 Micke Grove Road, Lodi, on Dec. 4-5 (Friday afternoon, Dec. 3 is set aside for senior citizens). Gates open at 10 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. both weekend days. Admission, $15 for adults, $5 for children aged 2-12, children under 2 free. The Senior Preview Day runs from 1-4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3. Pre-purchased tickets include free parking. For tickets or information, contact the Museum at (209) 331-2055 or visit sanjoaquinhistory.org.
This unique San Joaquin County Christmas tradition is celebrated at the museum with more than 60 decorated trees, children’s activities and make-and-take crafts. Santa visits, rides on a tractor-driven wagon, historical exhibits and live entertainment highlight the two-day affair, with food available for purchase.
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Haggin Museum and Victory Park
The stately Haggin is one of the west coast’s prime museums and art collections, anchoring Victory Park for 89 years. Two upcoming shows: Frida Kahlo’s Garden and Our Colorful Past: Dick Belcher Interprets Selections from the Bank of Stockton’s Historical Archives make the Haggin a special holiday destination. Both are on view now through Jan. 9 for insight, hagginmuseum.org.
Lighted Boat Parade
Take in the 38th Annual Lighted Boat Parade on Saturday, Dec. 4. The parade is a gift to the community from Stockton Yacht Club, Roger Hahn and its many registered boaters. The parade will once again by led by the spectacular Port of Stockton fireboat, Sunrise. The parade begins at 5 p.m., up river at Windmill Cove, reaching the downtown Stockton Marina and Weber Point at around 6:30 p.m., returning to Light 39 in the Stockton Deep Water Channel where the parade ends. Bundle up and be a part of this grand family event, taking place, rain or shine.
Bob Hope Theatre
Bring your family and join the Friends of The Fox for “White Christmas," Sunday, Dec. 12, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. Musical duo Bob Wallace and Phil Davis (Crosby and Kaye) team up with the Haynes sisters (Clooney and Vera-Ellen) to save the failing Vermont Inn of their former beloved commanding officer. Doors open at 1 p.m., the movie starts at 2 p.m. Tickets just $8 for adults, $4 for children and students. Complimentary drinks, snacks and a tour of the theatre are available.
Take a driving or, better, a walking tour of Stockton’s Meadow Avenue, just west of Pershing, for the city's most spectacular Christmas lights. Take a thermos of hot chocolate and enjoy the holiday spirit.
Both these special children’s destinations are special over the holidays. The Stockton Children’s Museum (childrensmuseumstockton.org) lets the kids play on a fire engine, fly a helicopter, prowl in a police car and discover so much about the world they reside in. In Lodi, the wonderful World of Wonders Science Museum offers high-tech activities for kids 2 to 19, wowsciencemuseum.org.
Downtown Stockton history and waterfront
Explore from the Ports Ballpark and Stockton Arena on the north side to Weber Point, the 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 historic heart and soul of Stockton. Once the Gold Rush port to the Mother Lode mines, it brought miners, merchants and helped build a financial and agricultural empire second to none.
Park near the Stockton Arena/Ports Ballpark on Fremont, and take in the view with a walk or bike ride along the Joan Darrah Waterfront Promenade (grab a bite to eat at Nena’s in the Waterfront Warehouse, once part of the huge Sperry Flour facilities), or take in a Stockton Heat hockey or Stockton Kings basketball game at Stockton Arena. Info, downtownstockton.org, and visitstockton.org.
Miracle Mile, shops and restaurants
The Miracle Mile, on Pacific from Harding Way north to the University of Pacific campus, was Stockton’s original suburban shopping center. Today it is resurgent with scores of quaint, walkable shops and some of the city’s finest restaurants. Stroll the Mile and stop for food or drink at favorite places like CoCoRo, Mile Wine, Saigon, Valley Brew, Whiskey Barrel Tavern, Manny’s California Fresh and many more. Don’t miss the Stockton Art League’s Goodwin Gallery, 1902 Pacific Avenue, a nonprofit gallery supporting local artists. Insights, stocktonmiraclemile.com.
University of Pacific
For performing arts, sports, provocative lectures, adult education, Pacific’s beautiful Ivy-League-like campus was the site for the filming of dozens of great Hollywood movies (like Raiders of the Lost Ark). It’s a compact, walkable and bikeable campus (the Calaveras Bike Trail runs along the north edge of the entire UOP campus). Stop at Burns Tower for a parking pass and a campus map, tour the shady campus, and stop for a snack at the DeRosa University Center. During your tour, check out the Long Theatre, Faye Spanos Concert Hall, Spanos Center and other venues for future returns for theatre, performing arts, sports and more. Info, pacific.edu.
Lodi/Woodbridge wine country and varied wineries
Start at the Lodi Wine and Visitor’s Center at the corner of Lower Sacramento and Turner Road for wine tasting and maps; fan out to visit some of more than 80 local wineries in this lovely area; visitlodi.com.
Contact Tim at email@example.com. Happy holidays in your hometown.
This article originally appeared on The Record: San Joaquin County holiday events: Christmas lights, Festival of Trees