One of the biggest perks of living in the San Joaquin Valley, is being relatively close to the gems of Northern California. If you take a two hour drive west, you’ll reach the diverse dynamic of San Francisco. A two and a half hour drive east can take you to the crisp, cerulean waters Lake Tahoe or the majestic presence of Yosemite. Although Stockton may be the last town on someone’s mind when it comes to places to visit, there is more to this hometown of mine than being twenty minutes away from Lodi and being the second largest American city to file for bankruptcy during the 2008 financial crisis. Recently, research from the California Policy Center ranked Stockton 18th out of 116 cities on fiscally healthy big cities (more information can be found here).
I like to think of Stockton as an underdog city because many people overlook the rich history and strong sense of community it has. As a Stockton native, I cannot help but get a little offended when people look down on this town and its community. On the contrary, Stockton has a rich art scene with many art galleries and museums such as The Haggin Museum and the Elsie May Goodwin Goodwin Gallery. In addition, Stockton an extremely diverse culinary community: last year, Guy Fieri visited Stockton to tape an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives. I am extremely fortunate enough to attend the University of the Pacific, a university whose architecture has been used as a lanscape backdrop for Hollywood films such as Indiana Jones and Flubber.
Now I know I may sound like a tourist guide for my hometown, but I’m just being real here. Since I am a sucker for free things, especially free admissions to museums, I decided to explore Stockton like a tourist. Since Haggin Museum has free admission on the first Saturday of each month and I didn’t have any plans for my Saturday, I decided to go. It was such a beautiful day too so I was more inclined to actually spend my day to go on a little adventure. I had originally planned on going solo but I brought my little brother along with me. To be honest, my mom and I bribed him to go with me by promising him a trip to the new ice cream parlor that had opened the week before. My mom even gave us ice cream money, so of course he couldn’t refuse the offer! Now this may sound like my little brother is 8, but he’s about to turn fifteen. I personally think my mom just wanted to spend time out of the house and not cooped up inside playing on the xBox. So with my camera and our ice cream money, my brother and I were off to spend the warm, sunny day out in our hometown!
Our first stop on our little adventure was The Haggin Museum. Located in Victory Park, the Haggin Museum holds a special place in my heart because I remember coming here every week for a month during the summer when I was little. My mom had enrolled my brothers and I for an arts camp held at the museum; we had different themes each week, but my favorite was making a stained glass inspired piece out of glue and colored tissue paper.
During our visit, the Haggin had an an exhibit that showcased the artwork of students in the Stockton community. I always find it amazing to see children’s artwork and this was no exception. Some of the artwork had a theme of unity and inclusion due to MLK day having passed and the current political climate. One piece that made me feel so strongly was seeing a sixth grader’s portrait of a woman with the caption “When the go low, we go high.” For those that don’t already know this, it is a quote from Michelle Obama’s powerful speech that she gave last October. I remember feeling so emotionally moved when I listened to her speak and seeing a sixth grader portray what she felt and turn it into art was so incredibly comforting and empowering. After walking through the children’s showcase, I admired the several stunning paintings that adorn the walls of the Haggin.
Our second and final stop was getting ice cream at Dream Ice Cream Parlor. A new addition to the Stockton dessert scene, Dream is an innovative dessert shop that has a variety of ice cream flavors and toppings. Its namesake is an acronym for “Desserts Rule Everything Around Me” and I can totally relate, I have a massive sweet tooth.
My brother and I each ordered a puffle, which consists of a waffle, a scoop of ice cream, and two toppings. My puffle had green tea waffle with mocha almond fudge ice cream, topped with sprinkles and crushed oreos. My brother’s puffle was a chocolate waffle with strawberry cheesecake ice cream, topped with Pocky and Fruity Pebbles cereal. For the price ($6 each) I’d say it’s totally worth it: the portions are very generous and can be shared with another person.
Overall, we had a fun Saturday at home! I would definitely go back to both places, preferably on free admission day. Playing tourist in your hometown is a great way to spend the weekend because you won’t to drive far and you might even gain a new appreciation for your town, like I did! A museum in Stockton that I haven’t been to yet is the Filipino American National Historical Society Museum. I will always remain curious about Filipino American culture and history, so visiting this museum would be very fascinating. I am definitely looking forward to my next hometown adventure!
(More information about The Haggin Museum can be found here.)