Though wine tasting and wine making are the top attractions in Lodi today, in 1919 the first frosty mug of a tasty root beer was served on a hot June day by resident Roy Allen. He sold his root beer during a parade for returning war veterans and launched the A&W Root Beer empire that is bigger than ever over 90 years later. Lodi actually held a 90 year celebration as the birthplace of A&W and each summer, owners of classic cars not quite 90 years old meet up at the A&W on Lodi Ave. and order a tall one. The cost of the first mug of beverage was only $0.05--today its costs around $1.50.
Located in the heart of the city, downtown Lodi is known for its beautiful tree lined streets, life-size murals and historic charm. This picturesque backdrop for downtown's many events makes a visit to the Farmers Market, Parade of Lights, Taste of Lodi, Lodi Grape Festival & Fair, The Grape Stomp, Oktoberfest, Car Shows, Holiday Winterfest, and year-round shopping, dining and strolling one of the highlights to a trip to Sacramento and its nearby environs.
If you don't head straight for the A&W, a good launch point for your journey is Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, where you can learn about how wines are produced. A gift shop and wine tasting room allows guests to sample the wines of numerous vintners in one location, then purchase your favorites. The center boasts interactive exhibits that walk you through the winemaking process from vines to wines, you can taste award-winning handcrafted wines from a selection of over 150 Lodi labels, many of which are only available at the Visitor Center.
With ammunition such as maps & coupons in hand, you can head out on the wine trails and explore. It's a great way to get to know the locals and learn about their endeavors. Take what you learned about winemaking and see the process in action at places such as Woodbridge Winery by Robert Mondavi, Lodi's largest and most extensive winery, producing 7 million cases a year. Tours include the vineyard, grape receiving test stand, red wine barrel aging room, redwood cellar, and stemmer crusher station. Complete your tour with a complimentary wine tasting in Woodbridge's own tasting room and gift shop.
For the family vacation, be sure to
take the kids to the zoo. Micke Grove Zoo
is home to 180 birds, mammals
and reptiles from all over
the world, including the endangered Chinese Alligator,
snow leopard and cotton top tamarin.
Exhibits include a Tropic Forest Canopy
where Rodrigues fruit bats hang
effortlessly. The zoo is one
activity in the city's showcase park,
Micke Grove Park, that contains a
history museum, theater and other
attractions, as well.
Micke Grove Park, 11793 N. Micke Grove Rd., Lodi, CA 95240. Phone: (209) 953-8800 / mgzoo.com
William G. Micke was a farmer & philanthropist who presented a gift to the community of 258 acres of land. The park has transformed through time into a popular attraction with Micke Grove Zoo, Wortley Lake, The Japanese Garden that includes cherry blossom trees, Tea House and Koi pond, The San Joaquin County Historical Museum, Fun Town at Micke Grove with amusement rides, softball fields, water play features, horseshoe pits and children's playgrounds.
Another wild adventure is one of the
city's hidden gems,
Lodi Serpentarium. It is a museum
where visitors can pay a small fee and
see several hundred living specimens of
snakes, reptiles and invertebrates. The Serpentarium has
exotic reptiles such as bearded dragons,
geckos, chameleons, mantella, horned
frogs, emperor scorpions, tarantulas and
many more creepy, fascinating creatures galore.
History buffs can enjoy something older than even the A&W root beer legacy in Lodi. San Joaquin County Historical Museum includes a San Joaquin County schoolhouse and an authentic blacksmith shop from the early 1900's. There is also a fantastic collection of antique farm implements. Visitors can also tour Hill House Museum, a turn-of-the-century Victorian built in 1902.
Downtown Lodi is known for its lovely elm trees and brick-cobbled streets. It is the hub of events, arts & entertainment. Grab a meal, shop, and participate in the festivals held annually in downtown.
Lodi Lake Discovery Center hosts a mounted collection of the animals and birds that are found along the Mokelumne River. A docent guided walk along the 1.5 miles of nature trails lined with mature oaks, cottonwoods and willow stands overlooking the river. This 58-acre riparian wilderness area is home to over 200 species of birds according to the San Joaquin County Audobon Society. Paddleboats and canoes can be rented and a beach area available for those who wish to swim.
Isenberg Crane Reserve - In the fall and winter months, witness awe-inspiring flights of sandhill cranes along Woodbridge Rd. Other birds include barn owls, herons, pelicans, vultures, hawks, ibis, shrikes, swans, stilts and ducks. Take I-5 from Stockton, exit Turner Rd., turn left on Thornton Rd (heading north still). Drive about one mile on Thornton Rd and turn left on Woodbridge Rd (west). The crane site is about two and a half miles down Woodbridge Rd. Location: W. Woodbridge Rd., Lodi, CA. Phone: (916) 358-2353 dfg.ca.gov
As the northern-most city in San Joaquin County, Lodi bridges the areas of Northern and Central California. Located 90 miles east of San Francisco, 35 miles south of Sacramento, Lodi is served by major highways and Amtrak trains that have daily runs between Lodi and San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento.