A fishing jetty on Lodi Lake in Lodi, Calif., testifies to the many waterside lures of the Sacramento Delta.
After you've foraged through the little boomtowns of the Delta, you may think Lodi (population 62,000) feels like midtown Manhattan. As a rail station in the late 1800s, Lodi grew bigger once vintners discovered that the warm, Mediterranean climate and rich soil were perfect for growing grapes. In the past few decades, Lodi has become, by its own proclamation, “the Zinfandel capital of the world,” and today is home to more than 85 wineries. Visit Lodi Conference and Visitors Bureau: 115 S. School St., Ste. 9, (209) 365-1195, visitlodi.com.
Area code is 209 except as noted.
to do and see
History buffs should head to Micke Grove Regional Park, home of the San Joaquin County Historical Museum, to watch an old blacksmith shop in action. While there, check out the Micke Grove Park & Zoo, which has more than 150 birds, mammals, and reptiles. The park also includes a Japanese garden and amusement park–style rides. 11793 N. Micke Grove Rd., mgzoo.com/parks/micke-grove-park.htm. But the strangest attraction in Lodi isn’t found among the vines; it’s in an industrial park south of town at the Serpentarium, a reptile retailer and museum that hosts hundreds of creepy crawlies—candy-colored boa constrictors, jewel-toned frogs, and tarantulas as big as pancakes. 2379 Maggio Circle, Unit C, 369-7737, snakemuseum.com.
On the old downtown strip, Jeremy Wine Company is a boutique vintner specializing in zinfandel and unconventional (but stunning) varietals like tempranillo and albariño. Tastings are $4. 6 W. Pine St., 367-3773, jeremywineco.com. A more familiar brand, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, offers complimentary tastings at its decorous winery in a tiny town five miles north. 5950 E. Woodbridge Rd., Acampo, 365-8139, woodbridgewines.com. Borra Vineyards offers some green-certified, sustainable wines in its tasting room. 1301 E. Armstrong Rd., 368- 2446, borravineyards.com.
Craving a root beer float? Lodi is home to the first-ever A&W restaurant. 216 E. Lodi Ave., 368-8548, awrootbeer.com. For the best burrito this side of San Francisco’s Mission District, head to the local favorite, La Campana, which makes its tortillas and chips on the premises. 2346 Maggio Circle, 369-2877. Rosewood Bar & Grill has an inviting, dark-wood interior and a sophisticated menu that includes Fuji apple salads and salmon accompanied by mango coulis. 28 S. School St., 369-0470, rosewoodbarandgrill.com.
Some of the swankest, most romantic lodgings you’ll see in the area can be found at Wine & Roses: 79 rooms, a pool, and a spa in a spectacular setting. 2505 W. Turner Rd., 334-6988, winerose.com. The bed-and-breakfast Inn at Locke House is a neo-Georgian-style white brick farmhouse in Lockeford, less than 10 miles east of Lodi. 19960 Elliott Rd., Lockeford, 727-5715, theinnatlockehouse.com. For a less frilly but equally comfortable option try the Hampton Inn & Suites Lodi, two miles from downtown. 1337 S. Beckman Rd., 369-2700, lodisuites.hamptoninn.com. To find these and other Three-Diamond AAA-rated properties, visit AAA.com/hotels.
Photograph courtesy Visit Lodi Conference & Visitors Bureau
This article was first published in March 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
Check out the rest of our Delta package:
Clarksburg: Winetasting and bike riding
Isleton: Crawdads and a historic Old Town
Locke: The Chinese immigrant past
Rio Vista: Bird-watching and riverfront dining
Walnut Grove: Man-made beauty and natural splendor