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20 ways to celebrate summer near Lodi

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Posted: Friday, June 22, 2012 7:41 am

1. Make root beer floats

When paired with a hot day and post-swimming hunger pangs, there’s nothing more tasty and fun than a good ol’ root beer float. Owner of Lodi’s A&W Root Beer, Peter Knight offers a few tips on creating that perfect float:

  • Use a great root beer, the best you can find. Knight prefers root beer with a distinct vanilla flavor.
  • Don’t skimp on the vanilla ice cream. Buy a good quality ice cream.
  • Typically, a good float is filled two-thirds full with root beer, with a big ball of ice cream on top.

2. Cruise Lodi Avenue

Don’t feel like making your own root beer float? You can buy one at A&W, when you attend their summertime Thursday night Cruise Nights. See classic cars, dine in and then walk to the Farmers Market.

3. Camp out tonight in the backyard or Oak Grove Park

Nothing says summer like hammering a tent into the ground and roasting marshmallows over an open fire. So, in honor of today’s national Great American Backyard Campout, REI — a Stockton sporting goods store — and the National Wildlife Federation  are teaming up to create a camping experience for children and families.

Local people will pitch tents and play all weekend as Oak Park on Eight Mile Road becomes a camping hub. If you don’t want to camp at the park, organizers are encouraging families to get outside and spend a night under the stars in the backyard.

“It’s a really cool opportunity for kids to be outside away from the TV, away from video games and away from movies — to enjoy urban nature,” said Ashley Lee, outreach specialist for REI Stockton.

Last year, 75 families attended the event, which is free and entertaining with tons of activities that include a presentation by the astronomical society, crafts, geocaching, disc golf with a presentation by a pro-disc golfer, and Dutch oven cooking.

Lee says families enjoy the weekend because it is the first time many have been camping. Even though the park is in a city, it offers an opportunity for fishing and to experience the great outdoors.

“It’s just really cool,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like it’s in middle of the city because it’s really lush.”

For information, visit

4. Bocce ball in one hand, wine in the other

Need to chill out on a Friday night? Take the family to Borra Vineyards for the winery’s regular Fusion Friday. There, you can play Bocce ball on the lawn, taste wine, watch children play on the trees, eat food made by local chefs and listen to live music.

For Tina Borra, the best part watching guests make new friendships.

The next Fusion Fridays are July 13 and Aug. 3 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. $12,

5. From the farm to your belly

Take the kids out for blueberry-picking at Giusto Farms, 8048 S. Orchard Road in Acampo. There will be plenty of blueberries for a fun Fourth of July outing. $5 you-pick, $8 pre-picked, per pound.  Hours are Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m .  209-369-1416.

6. Feast on local food

Whether you’re making a dish for a backyard shindig or lunch for one, treat yourself and friends to a cold salad made with Lodi-grown heirloom beans combined with Lodi olive oil and veggies of any kind — one of Taste of Heaven owner Robyn Grace Jennings’ favorite summer treats. Another of her favorites is Delta Barrel Frantoio Olive Oil drizzled over sliced apples with  a squeeze of lemon and fresh chopped parsley.

7. Feast on the best tacos in Lodi

On June 30, the Lodi Arts Commission will host the Annual Taco Truck Cook Off. After last year’s popular event, it is being moved to Central Avenue between Hilborn and Flora streets. The cook off will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Winners will be announced in two categories:  Judge’s Award and People’s Choice. The winner of the People’s Choice award will be featured at the Lodi’s Farmers Market on July 12.  

This year, at least 10 Lodi trucks will be featured. Free arts and crafts activities for children will be hosted by the Lodi Community Arts Center. The Ballet Folklorico de Frank Zapata, children dancers from Stockton, will also perform. Admission  is free. 

8. Lace up some quad skates in the country

Did you know that there is a roller skating rink not too far from Lodi? In the country just before Elk Grove, you can rent those skates and glide across the small blue rink. It’s eclectic and funky, like rinks should be. King’s Skate Country is located at 10408 Franklin Blvd. in Elk Grove. For information, visit

9. Eat for the prize

Battle your friends in a little friendly food-eating competition. In Lodi, try to down the 2-pound Maddog Burger at Andres. In Santa Cruz, compete to be the second person, ever, to finish 5 pounds of chili dogs and fries in 20 minutes at Parker’s Hot Dogs. At Suki Sushi in South Sacramento, guests try to inhale 4 pounds of sushi in an hour; if they do, it’s free.

10. Let a little color into your yard

So it might be a little late to plant your tomatoes, melons and zucchini, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fill your yard, garden and patio planters with lush, beautiful color. Weigum’s Nursery in Lodi recommends using color to beautify a yard for parties, graduation and Fourth of July.  

Now, vinca, zinnia, lobelia, marigolds, alyssum and salvias are OK to plant until the fall season.

11. Test yourself physically

Join a gym, do a session of Bikram yoga in a 105-degree room or join a boot camp group.

12. Do the hop

Join hundreds of dancers at Midtown Stomp in Sacramento for swing dancing and Lindy Hop dancing every Friday night. Beginning swing lessons are from 8 to 9 p.m., and open dancing is from 9 p.m. to midnight. No partner needed. For information, visit

13. Make breakfast an experience

Plan breakfast in bed or on the patio. Think: Iced cafe lattes, fresh fruit and maybe even waffles or warm croissants.

14. Kayak Lodi Lake

Want to be a little more brave? Try paddleboarding — you know, the surfboard you paddle. It’s fun, a good workout and you may get wet.

15. Embrace your inner child

Run barefoot through grass. Go to the Lodi Lake wilderness area at dusk and photograph wildlife. Pack a picnic.

16. Hike our backyard

Please the adventurer spirit in you, and hit the trails this summer. Lodi’s experienced hiker and vice president of the Bank of Agriculture of Commerce Phil Felde shares his favorite hikes for summertime:

  • Mount Tallac at the Southern base of Lake Tahoe: “One of my favorite hikes, though a little strenuous,” Felde said. It is about 10 miles roundtrip, and increases 3,000 feet in elevation.
  • Wright Lake up Highway 50: This 6 to 7 hour hike along the western edge of desolation wilderness is extremely popular in the summer. “Just make sure you have a map because the trails go all over,” he said.
  • Mount Diablo out of the Clayton area: You can see across the Valley and the Bay from the top of Mt. Diablo. It’s about a 9 to 10 mile hike roundtrip, and it’s best to start this hike in the early morning.

17. Ditch the heat and go underground at Black Chasm Cavern, a natural landmark in the foothills

Inside, it is a cool 57 degrees, even in the summertime. You will see underground formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and rare helictite crystals, for which Black Chasm Cavern is famous. Above ground, kids can mine for gemstones. For information, visit

18. Take a daytrip to the foothills

See Murphys, Sonora, Angels Camp, Jackson or Sutter Creek.

19. Brew iced tea

Iced tea. It’s pretty much how summer would taste if it was liquified and poured over ice. Maybe you forget about summer tea, but Jing Perez, of Tillie’s Coffee & Tea in Lodi, shares tips on how they make their beloved iced tea:

• Use loose tea leaves, not tea bags (available at Tillie’s).

• Don’t reuse the tea leaves.

• Instead of black tea, experiment with flavors, like the ones they sell: Classic, herbal, green tea and their most popular, Moon Over Cancun.

20. Flip through the pages of a guilty pleasure

Pool? Check.

Sunglasses? Check.

Summer Tunes? Check.

Steamy read?

It’s probably at the bottom of your book bag, where you’ll keep it hidden from daylight. Though many say they wouldn’t read “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the new erotic novel topping charts, in public, it is still one of the most popular sellers at Tom’s Used Books in Lodi.

If you want to feel comfortable reading on the beach, perhaps stick to other favorites, like “Explosive 18” by Janet Evanovich or Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games.”

Contact Lodi Living editor Lauren Nelson at



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