The large domed Greek Orthodox Church in Stockton hosts annually in September a huge Greek festival, featuring music, dance, food, and even Greek shopping. It's one of the most popular events in Stockton, and yet it's not held downtown. Check Stockton's Event Calendar for more details.
Today, Stockton is not considered a priority tourist destination, but in the past it was. The earliest period, Stockton was the port and departure point for land travel to the southern Mother Lode. During the late 19th century, Stockton was one of the most industrialized cities in California, largely famed for ship building and food processing. In from 1903 until World War II, many movies were produced in the city and within the rural area around it, thus the Hotel Stockton became an important gathering place for businessmen and movie stars. The building itself is perhaps the most outstanding architecturally of any in town. The link below provides more details, but the hotel lobby is exquisite, and the terrace roof top has an great view of the water. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the building is currently undergoing redevelopment, along with many other buildings downtown.
I like to walk to either the American Legion Park, at the head of Smith Canal, the center of which is known as Yosemite Lake. Other times, I walk across the Pershing street bridge toward Victory Park, which is considerably larger and more active with walkers than American Legion Park. At night, I also like to take Marine and cross Country Club Blvd toward the Little League park where I can let the dog run free off leash. My miniature schnauzer has all the energy I need to complete any of these walks within an hour or so.
Actually, this is also true for every other community in California, but Stockton does have a well developed Adult education program. The local population includes a large number of recent immigrants who don't know English, and so the ESL courses are a particular value. There aren't any famous professors, but the teachers are better than the world average, the cost is zero, and students can come and go anytime they want. Also, California education code doesn't require any identification or residency status in order to attend, so don't worry about your immigration or visa status. A traveler from outside the US can easily stay awhile in Stockton, blend in where the rents are half the cost of the San Francisco Bay Area, and take English classes. If you are a college graduate though, don't expect your fellow students to be so capable at learning. Have fun, learn about other students and the teacher, and improve your English. Assessment days are Tuesday, the only prerequisite to proper placement. If your level is high enough, you can take remedial level English reading and writing classes there, but the school services all levels of ability from non-speaking to accent reduction.
I previously called this "a Perfect Set for Omega Man" and wrote:
As I mentioned in the page for Stockton, there is nothing whatsoever in Stockton unless one wants to see a truly dead, abandoned downtown. It is large, but the buldings are abandoned and crumbling, and even the homeless avoid this area, as there is simply no point for them to visit it. Turning downtown into a large Bodie-like ghost town tourist site is probably the only thing anyone can do with it. The buildings are so big and dilapidated, and the decay is so constant block after block, that it would probably be too expensive to try to revive it the way people have done in Sacramento or San Rafael, which were brought back from the dead before it was too late. Stockton should be seen so people know what modern-style development does.
Thankfully, this is no longer quite true. The basic problems are are still there and the downtown is still pretty dead, with a lot of improvement to do. However, as I mentioned in my update to the main page, it is improving and hopefully in time will once again be the bustling urban downtown it once was, and should be.
Things to see here inlclude the Bob Hope Theatre, the memorial auditorium, and some great old buildings like the Hotel Stockton, thankfully now renovated after rotting away for some time.
Juneteenth celebrates the ending of slavery in the USA, and so is a very popular African-American festivity. Folks of all races and ethnic backgrounds will enjoy the festivities at the Stockton version of Juneteenth though. Live music, dance productions, ethnic food, and craft vendors are all part of the activities celebrated at this Stockton's Webber Point festival.
Since we have a waterfront home with a large garden, visitors to our house find a surprising meditation close to downtown and freeways. Contact me and tell me your plans. We have room to spare for those planning a short stay. I do work on my house a lot, and longer term visitors are expected to contribute to the upkeep of the garden and house, chores which are generally very relaxing. We don't have noisey children or pets, so adults and students are welcome to contact me for more information.
Others have written about the lack of things to do downtown, and at the moment at least, this is sadly true. However, if you are booked to stay overnight downtown, a walk/jog tour around downtown is worth it. Unlike many larger and younger cities in California, Stockton does have an old, partly restored downtown with many classic brick highrise buildings with ornate cornices. The restoration process has a long way to go, so expect to see some construction fences and plywood closing off first floor entrances, but the streets and sidewalks are generally in good shape. If you are a realestate investor for downtown property, this is a buyers market of some architectural treasures in need of TLC and modernization. Start around the area of the waterfront, on El Dorado Street near the new Cinema complex and the old architectural gem, Stockton Hotel. Walk east to San Joaquin Street and turn left to find the old Fox Theatre near the corner of Main. Proceed east down Main until you reach the relatively new and massive Washington Mutual building and then circle north to return to the waterfront. This is a short jog for those who are fit. If you want to jog further, try either heading west along the waterfront areas (both sides of McCloud lake, or head north into the uptown and Magnolia district.
Since we have a dock on the Smith Canal, anyone living in the Bay Area and beyond are welcome to navigate their way to our home. We have room for overnight visitors, and the dock space is ample for even the largest private vessels. Some sailboats with tall masts might not be able to pass under the I-5 bridge, but all others, short of commercial freighters can easily come up the Smith Canal. The speed limit is 5mph along the Smith Canal. Please don't create a wake that rocks the neighborhood docks. We occasionally take friends or family out for a ride in the pedalling kayak.
Since my wife is a Spanish teacher and native from Venezuela, we often host parties with those who speak Spanish. Stockton is a very multi-ethnic city, and we like to eat Latin foods and listen to Latin music, while we drink California wine. Sometimes a bottle of Spanish or Chilean wine gets mixed into the table of bottles. Our back patio is a pleasant place to party. During a recent retirement party for our friend of ours, I asked six year old Christina, the daughter of our friends Dave and Roxanne, to shoot pictures of what she thought was important. My camera is a sophisticated camera (see my equipment album at my homepage) and so she stills struggles a bit to get things in focus, but I love the compositions that she comes up with.
I recently tried out the sail attachment to my pedaling Hobi kayak, and decided that the pooch could fill the space left open by my wife. Dali, our miniature schnauzer fell in the water on the first day, an understandable situation given his toe nail attempts to stabilize on a slippery plastic ride atop style kayak. I pulled the leash that was attached to his harness, and yanked him back aboard. Then, I pushed him toward the front of the boat so that when he shook, I didn't get sprayed with dirty canal water. He was terrified but Dali became a nautical dog nevertheless. The opportunity to scare off ducks and other waterfowl of the canal is too much fun. Also, neighborhood dogs barking and urgently running down the gangway to show dock ownership is great fun for Dali to watch. On the second day, I took the kayak and sailing attachment out into the open water of the San Joaquin River. Dali was ready and maintained a firm toe nail on the kayak. The winds are a little stronger in the open water, and the sailboat angled. Dali wasn't much help as a counter balance, but it was well worth having his company. The photos were taken by my wife at the close of the second day.
Just off I-5 between Tracy and Stockton, outside the small town of Lathrop, is a large pumpkin concession. The farmer there has provided a wide variety of family oriented activities, including a petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides, pumpkin air canons, and face painting. The corn maze this year is about a 20 minute walk that includes solving a series of anagrams to make it interesting for children. The price of pumpkins, indian corn and gourds are cheaper here than at the grocery store. This farm sells to grocery stores, but here you can get your pick of a variety of types of pumpkins, some of which are great for making a fresh pumpkin pie. Parking is easy, and access to I-5 excellent.
The beautiful 1930's era Fox Theatre has been completely restored and renamed the Bob Hope Theatre, due in part to the friendship of million sponsor and local resident, Art Spanos (owns San Diego Chargers football team, among other things). Although not fully booked around the year yet, the venerable old theatre is a good venue to see live popular musicial and theatre entertainment. Due to its smaller size, it typically books the second level acts, often former great talent of one or another sort. The downtown location is idea, not for parking, but for it's atmosphere. Check out the website below for more information about this old building and its restoration. It's worthwhile just seeing on a walking tour of downtown.
It's worth simply walking around the end of the waterway knowledgeable locals know as McCloud lake. It's actually a part of the San Joaquin River. Weber Point has a tent like structure used as a band stand, which is surrounded by parklike grass and trees with a walkway along the water. Fourth of July is well worth spending here, as are the Asparagas Festival, Juneteenth, and numerous other festivals throughout the year.
The largest annual festival in Stockton that I know of is the Asparagas Festival which is held in late April every year. Tons of asparagas, one of my favorite greens, are deep fried, stir fried, turned into ice cream, and so on. Live music, celebrity chef competitons, handicraft vendors, and other entertainment are all part of this huge event now held at Webber Point. The proceeds of the event go to charity.