8 Hours in Downtown Lodi

Do you ever feel like escaping for a day? Do a Ferris Bueller Day Off and take a day for yourself?  Leave the laundry, ditch the housework, call off sick (can moms do that?!) and take a day for yourself. You don’t need to travel far… Our Central Valley towns and districts hold enough character and charm to keep you occupied all day. 

Our team at San Joaquin Magazine is always out and about on the lookout for the most happening spots around the Central Valley. Some of our best outings have come from wandering the main thoroughfares of each city exploring all the shops and restaurants each downtown area has to offer. This month we are spotlighting Downtown Lodi. We invite you to take a stroll with us down School Street for an unforgettable afternoon on the town!

school streetSchool Street Bistro
116 N. School Street
Starting at the top of the street, School Street Bistro is one of our publisher Tony’s favorite restaurants. They serve up innovative dishes like Barbecued Shrimp Chipotle with blue cheese coleslaw and crispy red onions, Deviled Eggs Sunday Southern Style, Wild Alaskan Snow Crab Tater Tots drizzled with creole aioli, and the “Original” Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf served with smoked gouda macaroni and cheese or smashed potatoes. The restaurant also features Lange Twins wines crafted by Bistro owner and winemaker, David Akiyoshi, and a rotating selection of award-winning Lodi Appellation, imported and domestic wines. 209-333-3950, schoolstbistro.com

Cheese Central cheese central
11 N. School Street
Walking south, we end up at Cheese Central, a specialty shop offering up to 100 varieties of cheeses from around the world, as well as accompaniments such as local olive oils, chutneys, preserves, honeys, and more. Stop by Grand Central Kitchen for some samples and catch a class or demonstration, then swing by the cookbook and magazine library to help you whip up a little culinary inspiration of your own. Learn all about craft beer and wine pairings from local brewers and winemakers, and don’t forget to pickup a passport application for special Grand Tour Passport Group member benefits. (209) 368-3033, cheesecentrallodi.com

thorntonThornton House Furniture & Interior Design
6 S. School Street
Whether you’re looking for a gorgeous sofa to compliment your newly remodeled living room, or you need some expert advice, Thornton House Furniture & Interior Design has you covered. This high-end furniture store is the perfect place to browse, buy or get help designing your personal space. (209) 369-0130, thortonhousefurniture.com

knowltonKnowlton Gallery
115 S. School Street
If furniture pieces aren’t quite your idea of fine art, head up to the second floor of Woolworth Place to the Knowlton Gallery, known for showcasing the works of many of the finest contemporary representational artists in Northern California. The gallery specializes in landscape and figurative paintings and photography, “with an emphasis on representing fine artists who live and work within a two-hour radius of the gallery: Bay Area, Central Valley, Sierra Foothills and Sonoma County”. The space is owned and operated by Robin Knowlton, a Lodi resident since 1989, who (along with her husband, Stefan Sekula) collected art for many years and became friends with the local artists. Give a glance to their display of distinctive handcrafted jewelry as well. (209) 368-5123, knowltongallery.com

The Mud Millmudd mill
115 S. School St #1
Since January 2004, The Mud Mill Pottery Painting Studio has become a favorite place for kids and adults alike to let their creative juices flow. The studio’s owner, Vicki Snell, who has a background in early childhood education and art, came across a similar business while visiting family in Scottsdale and thought it would be perfect for Lodi as well. Patrons simply pick out their favorite piece of pottery and start painting! With more than 300 pottery choices and 70 different colors, the design possibilities are endless. When you’re done, The Mud Mill staff will glaze and fire your work of art so you can pick it up in a few days. (209) 365-9900, themudmill.com

houseThe House of Clocks
208 S. School Street
Save some energy before dinner for a stop by The House of Clocks, the largest clock store in Northern California. Since 1970, this family owned and operated shop has been providing the latest designs from top manufacturers and professional and personal service for your treasured antique pieces. Their motto is, “Whatever you are looking for – as long as it’s bigger than a wristwatch! – House of Clocks is the place for you to find it.” Don’t forget to ask about the pre-World War I Gustav Becker clock from Germany that started it all–it is still proudly displayed on the wall in the shop. (209) 369-7961, thehouseofclocks.biz

Dancing Fox Winery and Bakerydancing
203 S. School Street
This 100-year-old brick building housing our final two stops is a unique place to eat and drink. The Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery strives to keep the good ole days alive by creating a “fanciful” atmosphere filled with antique furniture and murals. The restaurant offers a variety of European and American-style dishes made from locally grown ingredients when possible, as well as wine selections from the owner’s family vineyard. In fact, even the bread is made fresh, using organic grains naturally leavened from a culture created from the Lewis family vineyard’s petite sirah grapes, then baked in their Llopis wood-fired oven. Try the Ode to the Islands Pancakes with white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts, bananas, whipped cream and toasted coconut, or The Tango, one of their signature wood-fired pizzas with mushrooms, leeks, sun-dried tomatoes, mixed Italian cheeses and a creamy garlic sauce. They also boast the best Sunday brunch in town and offer outdoor patio seating. (209) 366-2634, dancingfoxwinery.com

Shangri-La Asian Bistroshangrila
203 S. School Street
Once you’re tipped your glass with the Lewis family, finish the day at Shangri’la Asian Bistro right next door. Priding themselves on “good food with fresh ingredients,” they will tantalize your taste buds with bold Asian spices flavoring fresh seafood creations. Collaborating with local farmers and vendors, they have created what they call “Asian fusion cuisine” representing an abundance of different cultures and using a variety of innovative cooking techniques. Shangri’la offers family-style dishes perfect for celebrations and groups of all sizes. (209) 366-0539, shangrilaasianbistro.com