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Stockton in December, what can we drive to for a visit?

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seattle
posts: 202
reviews: 1
Stockton in December, what can we drive to for a visit?

We're flying down to Stockton in December for a friend's wedding and we're looking at extending our trip into the weekend if we can think of something fun to do with our extra time.

What is in reasonable driving distance from Stockton? We're married, no kids, in our 30s.

We've done San Francisco a few times but might do that again if we don't think of anything else.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,440
reviews: 41
1. Re: Stockton in December, what can we drive to for a visit?

Are you staying in Stockton?

Have you been to Yosemite in winter? Stockton is less than two hours away. There's already snow up there, and in the middle of winter it will be gorgeous. It's also less busy, unless it's close to Christmas week.

If you don't want to go that far, there is the Mother Lode gold rush country, 60+ miles, depending on exactly where you go. The nearest Gold Rush towns are Chinese Camp, Jamestown, Sonora, and Columbia. The last three all have hotels, restaurants, and other visitor services, while Chinese Camp is as close to a ghost town as a populated community could be. Columbia is my fav; I go there a time or two each year just to get away.

Not far from Sonora and Columbia are several caves and caverns that give tours; you can enjoy a standard tour (lots of climbing) or get adventurous and rappel, spelunk, or take a zipline ride. There are also some mine tours. I'll have to look up specific ones and come back with links.

Another idea is to explore the Delta, which is the area where the San Joaquin and Sacramento river valleys merge toward each other before flowing into S.F. Bay. CA Hwy. 12 is the main Delta road, but a series of rural roads goes all around the Delta, along sloughs (in Louisiana they call those bayous) and among little islands, farming communities, and fishing/boating marinas. The most charming parts are along the lower Sacramento River--Isleton, Rio Vista, Locke, etc.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,440
reviews: 41
2. Re: Stockton in December, what can we drive to for a visit?

P.S. If you drive to Yosemite, you'll need chains. At times, the park will require them, and maybe even check as you enter to see if you have them. This can include 4WD vehicles.

To go to the Delta and the most of the Gold Country, you will not need chains. The Gold Country is the Sierra foothills, with elevations mostly around 3000'. Unless you go to Calaveras Big Trees State Park or farther east (higher in elevation), a regular car will be fine.

seattle
posts: 202
reviews: 1
3. Re: Stockton in December, what can we drive to for a visit?

Awesome! Thanks. We're staying in Stockton for the wedding but could do a couple nights somewhere else depending on what we decide to do.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,440
reviews: 41
4. Re: Stockton in December, what can we drive to for a visit?

Hi, feat--

Here are a few websites for you to look at. If you google California Mother Lode, Gold Rush, etc., you can find more.

Several of the mine and cave tours are in Calaveras County. Mark Twain's famous jumping frog story is set in tbhis county, in the historic mining town of Angel's Camp. Here is their visitor bureau.

www.gocalaveras.com/htdocs/todo/caves.htm

Columbia was a major Gold Rush town. The main downtown is a state historic park, with preserved buildings that contain businesses or residences. Many shops are living history exhibits, where merchants dress in historic attire and show some of the old ways of doing business. There's a candlemaker, old-fashioned taverns, the Wells Fargo stage office with a stagecoach you can ride, and a blacksmith shop with a working forge. The historic main street is reserved for walkers, and stagecoaches, but there is ample parking just outside.

Two historic hotels are available in the historic area, the City Hotel and Fallon House. The City Hotel has a nice restaurant, while the Fallon has a theatre with live stage shows. At night you can walk out on the wooden sidewalks and imagine being in an old Western movie. You might meet the stagecoach driver or the town madam out on "business." A less quaint but more economical motel, the Columbia Gem, is right across the road from the historic town; it's where I usually stay, and I can still walk back and forth at night. It's perfectly safe except for a few uneven sidewalk or street surfaces (hey, this is a rural area).

There is a website for the state park and one for the town and its businsses.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=552

http://www.columbiacalifornia.com/

Here is an old thread where I gave some suggestions for a family going to the Mother Lode. They took my suggestions and had a wonderful time. :^)

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60713-i30-k138033…

All the Mother Lode towns are in forest settings and are very pretty. Hwy 49, which was named for the Gold Rush of 1849, connects the major towns. December will be especially nice, when most of the towns are spiffed up and have special holiday bazaars and entertainment. There will be little if any snow, maybe some rain; bring warm clothes because it will be brisk.

Stockton, CA
posts: 229
reviews: 43
5. Re: Stockton in December, what can we drive to for a visit?

You don't mention what your interests are, so I'll list a few ideas for you. There is plenty to do in and around Stockton for a few days to keep you busy.

If you are into hockey, Stockton has a professional hockey team called the Stockton Thunder. They play in the downtown arena and draw a great crowd.

If you enjoy wine, I would suggest a trip to Lodi, just 20 minutes north of Stockton. I consider Lodi to be what Napa used to be like 30 years ago. The wineries are still vastly accessible with quite a variety to choose from.

If nature viewing is your thing, you must take a drive to one of the several wildlife refuges outside of town (Consumnes is one). Being the southern end of the Pacific flyway, you'll get a chance to see about a zillion birds (okay, that's an exaggeration). But it is quite amazing. Ordinarily, I would suggest a boat trip on the Delta, but December can be a bit cold and foggy. If you bundle up on a clear day, the best way to enjoy Stockton is via the water.

I agree with the previous posters about things to do in the foothills and around Gold Country. Columbia State Park is very nice. Jamestown, Angels Camp, and Sonora are all quite historic. Again, if you like wine, there are many foothill wineries to choose from.

For the arts, depending on when you're planning your December trip, Stockton Civic Theatre will be staging Cinderella. Stockton is also fortunate to host not one, but two productions of the Nutcracker, one by the Stockton Ballet Company and the other by the Capitol Ballet.

It's only 75 minutes to Walnut Creek and the outer Bay Area. Outside Walnut Creek is Mt. Diablo State Park, the highest mountain in the Coast Range. They say that from the top of Mt. Diablo on a very clear day you can see up to 200 miles. I've hiked up to the top, though you can also drive to the summit.

In Stockton, there are some very good restaurants to choose from.

Enjoy your trip to Stockton!

6. Re: Stockton in December, what can we drive to for a visit?

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