How can I make 'Stinkton' stink less?
January 23, 2010 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Moving to Stockton, CA (yeah, I know). How can I get involved in outdoor activities and meet people? What kickass things are there to do within a 60 mile radius?

So I'm moving from Georgia to Stockton, CA for my dream job. I've read up on it, so I already know it's a pretty lame and rough city. Please, no asinine remarks about how there's nothing to do in Stockton or that I should move to Lodi instead. I've lived in the middle of nowhere, there's always something to do. I've already seen this previous question.

Give me recommendations of clubs or organizations I should join so that I can get out, have fun, and meet people (something like this but for the Stockton/Modesto/Sacramento area.

I love camping, hiking, rafting, caving, roadtrips, and all that good stuff. Amtrak trips are fun, too. Please don't recommend anything religious (like joining the YMCA or going to church).

Recommendations for in-town activities are appreciated as well, like bars with diverse beer selections (especially non-sports bars that are somewhat quiet), quirky independent businesses I should support (like a natural foods store or co-op), etc. I'll be living in northwest Stockton near the intersection of W Hammer Ln and Thornton Rd and I prefer to commute by walking or biking.

Last but not least, if you're from the east coast and moved to California, what do you wish you knew then that you know now after living there for a few years? Anything goes: state laws, cultural differences, etc. (I grew up in Georgia but I've lived in Vermont and Oregon too, so I'm not a retard).

posted by bengarland to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Just in case the "prefer to commute by walking or biking" was confusing, I DO have a reliable car as well and I plan to get the hell out of town on most weekends :)
posted by bengarland at 8:25 AM on January 23, 2010

You'll almost certainly get better answers from someone who's actually spent more than a week in the region, and I can't speak to Stockton directly, but I really enjoyed Sacramento. Depending on which side of Stockton you're talking about, a commute from Sac might not be completely un-doable.
Midtown Sacramento is charming, loaded with trees, and has a burgeoning restaurant/bar scene (alas, I cannot remember the names of the places I went; one of them was a restaurant whose name was a letter and a number, representing its location on the city's easy-to-navigate grid layout).
The produce is really good--Sacramento's sort of the hub of the surrounding agricultural region--as are the nuts. There are some vineyards south of town, too.
Good luck!
posted by willpie at 8:32 AM on January 23, 2010

...and I should have previewed because I completely missed the bike commute bit. Sorry.
posted by willpie at 8:33 AM on January 23, 2010

Best answer: Stockton/Manteca/Lodi/Sacramento and all the other cities in the central valley tend to be too hot to do much outdoors during the summer so you'll need to go up into the mountains to find a more reasonable temperature. Stockton puts you relatively close to Yosemite, Tahoe, and all the random stuff in the foothills but I'm not sure any of that is within 60 miles.

I've got nothing useful to contribute for activities in Stockton itself but for activities a bit farther away -- I'd aim to ski in Tahoe, do some winter camping and snowshoeing in the Sierras, climb in Yosemite/Tuolumne/Lover's Leap, do some backpacking in Toulumne/Kings Canyon/Mt Shasta, take a road trip up the Mendocino/Humboldt coast, and go rafting on the American River.

I've been in Stockton for work during the summer several times, you may want to reconsider the walking or biking to work thing when summer rolls around. You'll probably be fine biking in late fall, clear days in the winter, and the first part of spring.
posted by foodgeek at 8:43 AM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Try the REI in Stockton. A membership is worth it if you do a lot of outdoors stuff.

The Sierras are more than a 60 mile drive from Stockton, but worth getting to for pretty much any kind of outdoors activities. The Delta's a bit closer.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:46 AM on January 23, 2010

Best answer: Man - you're not in the middle of nowhere at all. It's true that Stockton, the city, is pretty rough and lame - but if you're willing to drive a little there are tons of things to do. You are only 3 hours from South Lake Tahoe, and 2.5 hours from Echo Summit. Head up those hills every weekend (like half of the population does) and you'll be loving life. Clearest water you've ever seen, amazing peaks, rapids, backpacking, etc.

Start with the Horsetail Falls hike in the desolation wilderness. It's 30 minutes from Tahoe on the Stockton side, so it's easily reachable for you. You can hike up and back in a few hours, or strap on a backpack and make a three day trip of it, coming out at Echo Lake. The swimming and cliff jumping at the top can't be beat.

Also, no one has mentioned yet that you'll be a stone's throw from the coolest city on the planet, San Francisco.
posted by crapples at 9:05 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: By Bay Area standards, Stockton is un-Godly hot in the summer and a bit of a come-down, but there are far worse cities to which one might have to move. You are two hours closer to the Sierras and the Motherlode (the Sierra foothills that were the source of the original California Gold Rush) than the rest of us Bay Area slobs. World class backpacking and winter sports activities are only 2-3 hours away.

Closer to home, Stockton is also in the heart of the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus river deltas, one of the richest ecosystems on the West Coast. Excellent fishing, bird watching, and regional hiking opportunities abound. Lots of great biking routes (both road and mountain) are also nearby.

I live in the Bay Area and I view Stockton as a hub, because I am inevitably driving through it to get to the above activities. Yeah, it's kinda hick compared to the more cosmopolitan cities over the hill, but you are still in California, not Outer Flyover.

Stockton is the Bay Area's back porch, and the Bay Area is a great place to live!
posted by mosk at 10:12 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, I looked at the average temps and was surprised that it's hotter than Atlanta. However, looking at the rainfall index I'm guessing there's hardly any humidity during the summer -- and that's what matters (to me). I've always felt more comfortable at 100F in dry areas with no humidity versus 85F in Atlanta with the humidity through the roof.
posted by bengarland at 10:15 AM on January 23, 2010

Best answer: Stockton is a port city, so maybe learning to sail would be cool.

I've only driven through Stockton, but it's in the middle of farmland and there have been many waves of immigrant populations. So there are cultural festivals like Cambodian New Year and possibly lots of options for decent Cambodian, Vietnamese, Mexican, and Italian food. Yelp is something you might find useful.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:31 AM on January 23, 2010

This doesn't really fall into the "hiking" "backpacking" category, but one of the coolest beaches I've ever been to is Muir Beach. Which, of course, is right next to one of the coolest forests I've ever seen, Muir Woods.

I think Mosk nailed it: You're in California. This list of cool stuff could go on for a hundred pages.
posted by crapples at 11:08 AM on January 23, 2010

Best answer: Okay, I'm sorry, I don't know much within 60 miles. But, Northern California rocks. Seriously.

Redwoods. Have you been to Redwoods National Park? Holy crap, you have to go. The national park actually has, I think, 5 state parks within it. One of those parks has a campground right next to the beach with great trails in the adjacent forest. So awesome.

The whole area around the Oregon - California border is just gorgeous and rather untouched. Stunning. I remember even the little highways that link I-5 to the coast in that area (I think highway 95 through Happy Camp) are stunning. Klamath National Forest, you can't go wrong there.

Yosemite is great. Since you will be nearby, I'll bet you will figure out how to avoid the crowded times of the year and the busiest parts of the park.

UC Davis is in Sacramento so there must be students going out on tons of outdoor excursions. I don't know how old you are but you might be able to find outdoorsy partners through something around there. Also, Feather River Community College isn't crazy far away. If you checked out FRCC and UC Davis' outdoors programs you could copy the trips that they are doing which would probably turn you on to a lot of cool stuff around there. If you want to climb -- going to the indoor climbing gyms and posting a note on their message board (there usually is one) will help considerably in finding partners.

Have fun
posted by fieldtrip at 11:20 AM on January 23, 2010

Not outdoorsy, but Stockton is a very diverse city with a lot of cheap ethnic restaurants. There are a lot of good Mexican and Asian places. Central Valley Mexican food is out of this world. Also the Stockton thrift stores can't be beat.

It is hot in the summer, but you will learn to love the Delta Breeze.
posted by Duffington at 12:03 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Moving from the east coast to California? The produce! Oh my god, the beautiful, organic (if you want), year-round produce!

Make the most of it, our lives have been so much better since I really learned to cook with what's in season. Even if you don't cook, enjoy the range of fruit that's available here, and just enjoy going to the market and looking at it all!
posted by crabintheocean at 12:06 PM on January 23, 2010

I've always felt more comfortable at 100F in dry areas with no humidity versus 85F in Atlanta with the humidity through the roof.

Then you'll be fine in Stockton summers, which are very dry comparatively. I used to play tennis and go for strenuous bike rides on the hottest days in Stockton, and it was fine so long as I drank lots. You perspire, it actually evaporates, and you cool down - no problem.

I see the Blackwater Cafe is still around. It used to be the only "cool" place in town - maybe it still is.
posted by exogenous at 12:07 PM on January 23, 2010

Best answer: I have family there, and was raised nearby.

There are some paved running/biking trails. They swing by UOP, so biking those and some nieghborhoods is a really good winter activity. The country roads are also great for biking, I see people on them all the time.

Check out the delta and the little towns on it. Taking highway 12 east, you can drive straight to Napa. Visit the Cosumnes River Preserve to see what the area used to look like. Lodi Lake also has about 80 acres of woodlands to look at. For more river goodness, drive up to Electra in the Sierras where the Mokulumne runs. For hiking (most local I know of), EBMUD maintains Sierra and East Bay trails and recreation areas. They're working on a Sierra to Bay trail now.

For more biking, there are trails in Sacramento along the American River, they run from Folsom to downtown Sacramento. From there you can bike to Davis.

Amtrak runs a special to Yosemite. They take you to Merced, then you hop a bus to the park. Haven't done it, but it looks well run.

To get a true sense of the county, visit the country towns and country roads. Highway 88 is a beautiful drive. If you only see Stockton, you'll think the whole place is a pit.

I don't know your tastes, but I've heard the Black Pearl Cafe and Plea for Peace Center have some local indie/punk shows. (It might be high schoolers, but Against Me! came to the Plea for Peace center recently). There's more clubs in Sacramento and Modesto. UOP hosts jazz concerts. The Empire and Bob Hope theaters also have random concerts.

Personal favorites: I tend to like the businesses in Lincoln Center and the Miracle Mile (on Pacific). The different branches of Super King have a decent selection of Asian foods.

I've seen it get over 110 in summer, with no wind, so something involving water is the best option.
posted by shinyshiny at 12:26 PM on January 23, 2010

Best answer: The part of Stockton you'll be living in isn't that bad at all. My boyfriend grew up in Stockton and his parents live really close to there. I think the town is improving. The Miracle Mile has had a lot of development and had nice places to shop and eat. You'll be close to Lincoln Center, which is good for. Stockton is a very franchise-heavy town, but Sacramento is only 45 minutes away.

The farmers market is amazing. There are a lot of southeast Asian (Hmong, Vietnamese, Laotian) farmers in the area, and their food is well represented at the market. It was in Saveur magazine's 100 best list a couple of years ago. If you like wine tasting there are bajillions of wineries in the Lodi and Galt area, a short drive from Stockton. The valley is really a foodie paradise.

You'll also be close to the Delta. There are a lot of small, practically ghost towns in the area. It's fun to drive down highway 160 and explore. Because there is so much agriculture there are a lot of food festivals, like the Courtland Pear Fair and the Stockton Asparagus Fest. Yelp is a good place to find weird, out of the way places to visit in the Delta. This restaurant is a good example of what you'll find.

The whole San Joaquin valley is extremely flat, which makes it great for biking. Here is a bike club in the area. I never biked around Stockton, but I did around Davis and Sacramento. Sacramento has the American River Parkway and Bike Trail, which is a huge nature preserve going through the middle of the city. It's really neat.

I actually really like Stockton. Maybe I'm crazy. Housing is super cheap, especially right now, so you'll probably be able to buy a house for much, much less than any other major city in California. Most of the haters are Bay Area snobs, so don't believe everything you hear!
posted by apricot at 12:27 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't know if birding holds much interest for you but the Delta is on the pacific flyway and is a serious goldmine for birding. I was out west of Lodi a few weeks ago and it was truly spectacular. And you're also super close to Gold Country where there is a really nice up-and-coming wine industry that is significantly less touristy than Napa but equally interesting and beautiful. And all those old gold rush towns are fascinating, too.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:44 PM on January 23, 2010

Forgot to add, Stockton is not the crime hell-hole that some descriptions make it out to be. Just like any other place, be aware of your surroundings. The Central Valley is not the Bay Area's 'backporch.' It is distinct in its own special, weirdo way. Since you're coming in fresh, you'll find something to charm you about the area.
posted by shinyshiny at 2:04 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've lived in Lodi for the past year, and lived in Stockton for six years before that, and my wife lived there for ten years before me. You nailed all the best answers; we'd hit the Sierras, especially Yosemite, several times each year and we don't even ski. Lots of great parks in the East Bay, and the Peninsula if you're willing hop over the Bay.

Get up early and go to Chuck's Hamburgers for breakfast. Cheap diner fare, big portions, and pretty damn good.

Me-mail me if you ever need any more info, or if you want to take a hike some time.
posted by DakotaPaul at 5:53 PM on January 23, 2010

Response by poster: Is anyone familiar with different areas of Stockton? My job will be in the northwest near I-5 (W. Hammer Ln). I'd like to live near there but I've read up on the apartments in the area (west of I-5 and along Pacific Ave) and it seems like they are all dumps and/or poorly managed.

Would it be better or worse to live in midtown (Magnolia District) ?

My main concern is my car. I have a 2008 Prius that I bought new and paid for. It seems like any area of Stockton has frequent break-ins from what I've read. Short of getting a place with a garage (which seems highly unlikely for a 1 BR apartment), what should I do? Will my car be a target even if I never ever leave anything in it? Are thieves smart enough (ha!) to realize they can't jack a Prius? Is there somewhere I could rent a garage, such as a self-storage place? (I don't know if they allow that?) I don't need the car every day. Probably only on weekends or extremely rainy days.

posted by bengarland at 11:49 AM on January 24, 2010

Echoing all the above about the outdoors - The mountains are very close and the coast isn't too far away. If you're a wine drinker at all the foothills of the Sierras have blossomed into a wine region all their own. You will be very close to the Amador area, not too mention there is a ton of wine grapes in the Lodi area (although I've never had any or been around down there).

I think the problem with the perception of Stockton is the highway corridors are not very nice areas, and the only news we hear in tv up in Sacramento is about crime. People tell me there are nice areas to the place but I've never seen them becuase we're always just driving through. Your milage will most likely (and hopefully!) vary.

Welcome to California.
posted by Big_B at 10:16 AM on January 25, 2010

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