Lodi CA may be known for its wineries and tasting tours, but its small town charm is packed with vintage appeal perfect for exploring history, stellar shopping, and touring tasty treats. Located just 35 miles south of Sacramento, Lodi is an easily accessible location a heartbeat off Interstate 5. Here in the northern part of California’s Central Valley, you’ll find plenty of independent eateries and retailers to keep you occupied for a weekend getaway.
Downtown Lodi is a welcoming community grounded in its history. Visitors will perhaps notice the historic appeal first when seeing the classic Mission Arch, built in 1907 as a grand welcome during the first Lodi Grape Festival. The 40-foot arch features a 23-karat gold-leaf adorned state bear. This is a great first stop for snapping selfies and starting your tour of the downtown corridor.
As you peruse Lodi’s walkable downtown, stroll along the wide assortment of murals adorning city buildings. One hundred murals artfully depict Lodi’s history. A map for all locations is available at the Downtown Lodi Visitors Center located at 25 N. School Street.
Downtown Lodi is a vibrant community and the streets are lined with unique independent shops and eateries. You’ll find eclectic home decor and vintage collectibles at Country Living, Secondhand Rose, and Divines Antiques, Treasures, and Oddities. Or, put your own personal spin on a creative keepsake at The Mud Mill pottery paining studio. For more art to peruse or purchase, visit Lodi Community Art Center.
During my visit to Lodi, I fueled my culture walk with a visit to School Grounds coffee house. Here you’ll find a nice assortment of gelato along with espresso beverages. For an afternoon ice cream stop, Double Dip Gallery serves Gunthers Ice Cream. As you wander downtown Lodi, you’ll want to pop into Cheese Central, purveyors of world cheese, for some take-home treats. And, for local produce and more, the Thursday night Farmers Market runs Thursday nights, May through end of August.
At the end of the day, after touring palm tree lined streets and exploring Lodi’s assortment of boutiques, settle in for an amazing dinner at Fenix Restaurant. Chef Richard Hyman serves up a contemporary American menu featuring local ingredients. For starters, try his Crispy Brussel Sprouts topped with farmer’s cheese, pomegranate, garlic, and jalapeño-cilantro aioli. For main entrees, I recommend sharing plates with your dinner partner. During my dining visit, I tried the molasses cured Grilled Salmon Filet with pickled shallot, peas and carrots, and snow pea tendrils, along with the 7 oz Grilled USDA Choice Filet Mignon, accompanied by cipollini onion, charred brussels sprouts, and herb bacon butter. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, the service attentive, and the menu is something you’ll remember as a highlight of your time in downtown Lodi.
While in the area, be sure to treat yourself to a nostalgic dessert. You’ll find plenty of memorabilia on-site at Lodi’s historic A&W, where a classic root beer float is the perfect way to cap off your weekend getaway. Your visit just might coincide with a classic car show meet.
I loved my exploration of downtown Lodi and was charmed by the small town vibe. With plenty of history to absorb, along with a fabulous assortment of shopping and dining options, Lodi is a family-friendly small city in the heart of wine country perfect for a casual weekend getaway.
For help planning your visit to Lodi, explore the Visitors Guide from Visit Lodi.