Lodi, California, sits in the heart of San Joaquin County and right at the center of the Central Valley.
Because of this location, the city has been blessed with beautiful sunny days, fertile lands, and an arid climate that’s perfect for winemaking.
There’s an emerging wine industry in the area, which, in the past, was deemed less prestigious than the ones in Napa and Sonoma Valleys.
But today, the Lodi Appellation is now respected for its Zinfandel grapes and other fine varieties, bringing many wine connoisseurs to sample the premium bottles.
Aside from the famous drinks, the city has other attractions in store for curious and adventurous travelers.
There’s something for everyone in this charming city, so make it your top choice for an upcoming weekend getaway.
Here are the 15 best things to do in Lodi, CA:
Go Swimming at Lodi Lake
At the northern borders of Lodi, the Mokelumne River widens to create the panoramic Lodi Lake.
It’s an artificial body of water created as a seasonal attraction for the city's residents, eventually growing into the expansive destination that it is today.
And even though you’re not a Lodi local, you’re still welcome to visit the place and go swimming, kayaking, and picnicking beside the banks.
There are also many charters that let you explore the farthest ends of the lake and into the river itself.
Towards the eastern sections, the woods remain undisturbed by human development.
So when you explore the trails, you might spot some of the local wildlife like turtles, deer, a variety of waterfowl, and small mammals.
The whole lake is closed during winter, but you can visit, hold events, and join festivals during the rest of the year.
Explore the Wonders of Micke Grove Regional Park
Micke Grove Regional Park is a 132-acre attraction that once served as farmland before William G. Micke, a Lodi farmer and the previous owner, gave it as a gift to the town.
Today, this destination is considered one of the most visited and famous spots in the whole of San Joaquin Valley.
And it’s no surprise since the park has many iconic attractions that will have you wanting to stay all day.
One of these is the Japanese Garden, with koi ponds, bonsais, scenic bridges, and a tea house.
When the cherry blossom trees bloom with delicate pink flowers during spring, this section of the park becomes a favorite photoshoot and wedding spot.
There’s also a waterpark with a fun splash pad, a well-equipped disc golf course, and Wortley Lake, a three-acre attraction with its own fountain.
And lastly, these last three places deserve their own items in the list, as they have taken an identity of their own distinct from the park itself: Micke Grove Golf Course, Micke Grove Zoo, and the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum.
Play a Few Rounds at Micke Grove Golf Links
Almost half of Micke Grove Regional Park is occupied by the Micke Grove Golf Course, a scenic sports facility that welcomes players of all skill levels.
So whether you’re an amateur or a professional, you’re guaranteed a fun and memorable game here.
It’s often called the best-kept secret of the San Joaquin Valley, owing to the sweeping views, magnificent woods, and verdant grounds that cover most of the park.
And with the skill of architects Garrett Gill and George B. Williams, the facility blends seamlessly with these natural features.
There are 18 holes in the course, and the layout is fairly mild except for a few tough spots.
Since the gameplay is easy for the most part, the whole family can join in and practice their putting and shooting skills.
Buy Local Produce at Lodi Farmers' Market
Every summer, residents and local businesses gather in downtown Lodi to showcase their farm-fresh products.
The Lodi Farmers Market is a seasonal event open only from May to September.
So if you want to partake in the bountiful harvests from the city’s farms and gardens, then make sure to visit in between these months.
You’ll find many stalls offering fresh vegetables, various fruit cultivars, and premium root crops.
In addition, there are vendors offering preserved goods, artisanal furniture, cured meats, baked goods, and many other products.
And with a laid-back atmosphere and friendly stall owners, the market offers a relaxing shopping experience.
Don’t forget to mingle with the locals to make new friends or get new recipes during your visit.
See Rare Animals at Micke Grove Zoo
While it might be small, Micke Grove Zoo has earned a reputation as a beloved attraction that kids and the kids at heart shouldn’t miss!
That’s because the facility focuses on having unique animals instead of having many.
This way, visitors will find something rare during their visit, and the caretakers can focus more on each animal’s individual needs.
While visiting, you can get up close and personal with golden lion tamarins, Southern pudus, spotted thick-knee, and marbled teals.
You might have never heard of these threatened or endangered animals, but the biologists of the zoo are so attuned to these species that they’ve managed to breed them in captivity.
There are still other birds, reptiles, insects, and mammals thriving here, so get ready to see something truly unique when you visit this zoo.
Learn the Past at San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum
The county of San Joaquin is steeped in history, and the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum aims to preserve and showcase this colorful past.
Set in an 18-acre section of Micke Grove Regional Park, the complex is home to museums, several historical structures, beautiful trails, and lots of natural attractions.
Within the buildings are exhibitions and collections that showcase various eras and industries of the county.
These include the life of the first settlers, agricultural practices, the emergence of viticulture, and early earthmoving equipment.
Outside, you’ll see historical buildings relocated to the site, including an old schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, and a picturesque cottage.
You'll need more than a few hours to explore all these curious attractions, so make sure to schedule your time properly.
Learn About the City’s Wine Scene at Lodi Wine Visitor Center
Being an emerging wine hotspot in California, Lodi and the rural areas surrounding it is teeming with vineyards and wineries that produce premium bottles.
Lodi Wine Visitor Center is the place to be if you want a guide of the nearby facilities or try samples of the drinks they offer.
This destination was established in 2000 by the city’s winegrowers to bring their products together and expose them to travelers.
That’s not the only thing to see here, as the facility has an on-site demonstration vineyard where you can see the growing and harvesting process.
If you want to have a taste of the latest bottles, you can join a sampling tour and try the fruity, aromatic, and robust drinks made by local wineries.
It’s a rotating selection, so there are new ones every week!
Stay Awhile at A&W Root Beer of Lodi
A&W Root Beer is a well-known brand throughout the country, and you’d usually see their cans on grocery store shelves and convenience store fridges.
While most people have had a can or two for parties or lazy weekends, few would have wondered about the brand’s history.
Well, it all began here in Lodi.
A&W Root Beer of Lodi is where you’d find the colorful history of the business, from its humble beginnings to nationwide recognition.
While there are no traces left of the original establishment, a new one stands downtown to welcome those curious about the brand’s past.
Here, you’ll find memorabilia and artifacts from the company’s first days, such as vintage mugs, bottles, news clippings, and even their mascot.
The attraction also doubles as a restaurant, so you can chug a mug of their beer and eat fries while browsing their displays.
Sample Wines During RowXRow
Originally called ZinFest, RowXRow is a vibrant and highly anticipated community event in Lodi.
The festival happens on a three-day weekend in May, bringing together townsfolk, local businesses, and visitors from all over.
It’s where you can enjoy the best of the city’s wines as well as dishes made with freshly harvested ingredients.
One of the festival's highlights is the Vintner's Grille, a dinner that invites renowned chefs to cook and serve signature meals that will tickle your tastebuds.
There are, of course, wine sampling events where you can sip and enjoy fine drinks made by Lodi’s wineries.
It’s an iconic experience that you definitely shouldn’t miss during your trip!
Play Sports at Thomas A. Peterson Park
Thomas A. Peterson Park is another family-friendly outdoor destination with sprawling grounds and many modern amenities.
It’s often visited because of the sports facilities where residents and visitors can work up a sweat.
These include well-equipped basketball and tennis courts, soccer fields, and baseball and softball diamonds.
For kids who simply cannot join organized games yet, let them have fun on the playground with other children!
But if sporty activities are not what you’re looking for, the park has many shady spots, picnic shelters, and grilling areas where you can hang out with the whole family.
You can even join the various events held in the park if you happen to be there when they’re conducted.
Cruise the Gentle Currents of Mokelumne River
Starting from the pristine Sierra Nevada mountains, the waters of the Mokelumne River travel for more than 95 miles before finally emptying into the San Joaquin River.
Along the way, it passes the northern borders of Lodi, creating a meandering path that’s perfect for nature-related activities.
From Lake Lodi, you can board a boat, kayak, or canoe and paddle toward the forested segments of the river.
It’s an exhilarating activity with plenty of opportunities to see the wildlife thriving in Lodi.
And you can also go fishing.
Under the careful guidance of a local angler, you can visit the best spots and try catching steelhead, trouts, and Chinook salmon.
If these activities prove too strenuous for you, you’re welcome to explore the riverside trails on foot and take stunning photos along the banks.
Tour Lodi’s Vineyards During the Wine and Chocolate Weekend
When the love month comes and romance is in the air, the Wine and Chocolate Weekend comes in full swing as well.
This much-anticipated event is an open-season tour of Lodi’s wineries, with more than 50 businesses joining in every year.
After buying a ticket, you’d get a pass to visit all city’s wineries and try their drinks and chocolates.
It’s the perfect way to sample the many varieties created from the lush farms around the city.
So bring a car, a bike, or any convenient mode of transport and tour Lodi’s many vineyards and wineries.
Don’t forget to bring your significant other for a memorable pre-Valentine’s Day experience.
Discover New Concepts at World of Wonders Science Museum
Whether you’re a kid or an adult, you’re still going to learn many new things while visiting the World of Wonders Science Museum.
This educational facility offers hands-on experiments and engaging programs for all ages.
And since they are designed to stimulate thinking and encourage discovery, the exhibits will blow your mind with unusual effects and amazing experiences.
Most of these focus on STEM, so you can expect cool lasers, shadow shows, plasma balls, and brain-teaser exhibits.
Your inner child will thank you for all the wonders you’d see inside the museum.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Once you’ve had your fill of Lodi adventures, check out these other places just a few minutes away.
See Ancient Trees at Oak Grove Regional Park
Large swaths of the San Joaquin Valley once served as the home to ancient oaks.
One of the places where the original trees still stand is at Oak Grove Regional Park, a 180-acre attraction in Stockton.
It’s less than 20 mins away from Lodi, so you can easily drive to the destination and enjoy the views.
Aside from the majestic trees, the park has a disc golf course, a grand lake, an interactive nature center, and many well-paved trails for exploring.
Make a Stopover at the Children's Museum of Stockton
At the heart of Stockton lies another educational attraction, this time targeted towards kids: the Children's Museum of Stockton.
Their playful and interactive exhibits are designed to stimulate the imagination and curiosity of young minds.
By playing with scientific displays, musical instruments, art materials, and various other collections, your child will discover new ideas and lessons.
It’s a great supplement to regular classroom studies, especially now that hands-on learning is seen to have many benefits for young minds.
With its up-and-coming wine scene, beautiful natural attractions, and community festivals, Lodi has become a haven for curious travelers and adventure seekers.
There’s something for every preference, whether you want to go kayaking on a quiet river, sample fine drinks, or stroll in a Japanese zen garden.
Reference this list when making your itinerary so you won’t miss the top spots.