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Explore the many culinary and cultural offerings of the Central Valley’s port city, on the California Delta

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The ocean-bound freighters dotting Stockton’s waterways seem a bit out of place in this middle-of-California town. Even though it’s 70 miles from the coast, Stockton lies on a winding channel that carves its way inland from San Francisco Bay. At California’s largest inland deep-water port, massive ships carry the region’s agricultural crops out to the Pacific and around the globe.

First time in Stockton? Wander the downtown waterfront near Stockton Marina, and watch boats out on the water. You can also catch live music, baseball, or ice hockey at the side-by-side Stockton Arena and Banner Island Ballpark, then spend the night at the stylish University Plaza Waterfront Hotel.

Landlubbers can stroll among the colorful grandeur of the Cambodian Buddhist Temple, also known as the Wat Dhammararam. The grounds of this working Buddhist temple are adorned with more than 90 vividly painted Buddha statues made of chicken wire and concrete. The temple hosts a three-day Cambodian New Year celebration every April.

More artistry can be found at the Haggin Museum in Victory Park. The 1930s red-brick building houses an intriguing mix of 19th-century European paintings, including a Renoir, and agricultural marvels like the first mud-worthy tractor treads. Don’t miss the collection of Albert Bierstadt’s Yosemite landscapes.

Traveling with kids? For year-round entertainment, the Children’s Museum of Stockton mixes fun and exploration throughout more than 40 play-based, hands-on exhibits. During the warmer seasons, experience Stockton’s very own fairyland, Pixie Woods Amusement Park. For generations, this shady park has been a go-to in Stockton for families with small children, who love the merry-go-round, water play area, Pixie Express Train and other fanciful attractions. Funded primarily by the city and private donors, this sprawling—and very affordable—getaway will offer hours of fun for everyone.

Stockton is prime salad-bowl country. On Saturday mornings, browse the Downtown Farmers Market, where more than 80 vendors peddle an array of Chinese, Indian, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Korean groceries—seafood and soy products, plus mountains of vegetables. Stop at The Fruit Bowl on Waterloo Road for a bucket of peaches, nectarines, or apricots, or sit down for a slice of fresh peach pie.

When it comes to dining out, the options here are head-spinning. Stockton was named the most diverse city by U.S. News & World Report in 2020, and this is reflected in the wide variety of cuisine from around the globe you can find. Head to the neighborhood eateries along Pacific Avenue’s Miracle Mile for everything from Korean to BBQ, Middle Eastern, and Greek, or try the classy small plates at AVE on the Mile, sushi at Cocoro, or crepes at Midtown Creperie. The city’s Stockton Taco Trail is a great way to discover more than 50 local restaurants, taco trucks, and food markets that have earned the city a reputation as a mecca for Mexican cuisine. With the trail’s free app, hungry participants can rack up points with every eatery visited and cash them in for prizes.

After dining on Stockton’s bountiful restaurant offerings, nighttime cultural attractions beckon. Catch a concert or a classic film at the 1930s Bob Hope Fox Theatre; cross the lobby’s Italian marble floor, then take your seat in one of 2,042 refurbished red velvet chairs. Or take in a performance by the Stockton Symphony at its concert hall on the campus of San Joaquin Delta College

Insider tip: If you’re a comics fan, you may know Stockton as the hometown of the Fantastic Four, but do you know how that came to pass? Until 1986, the comic world’s most famous quartet were known as hailing from the fictional “Central City, California.” It was only after Marvel Comics was lobbied that year by Stocktonians to adopt their city as their official home that it became “fact.” Fast forward to 2023: with an upcoming Fantastic Four film in the works, there’s a petition to bring the Marvel Studios production to Stockton. (Sign it here.)

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