2015 Winners: BEST OF Play

Best of San Joaquin


By Copper Williams

There’s a utopia tucked away in our Central Valley where the great outdoors pairs with family fun in all the best ways. With easy access to the beach, miles of trail and campgrounds galore, we’ve only just begun to touch the surface of Eagal Lakes and what this sensational hotspot has to offer. And who do you have to thank for this patch of paradise? Look no further than Karen and John Eagal. These third-generation Stocktonians opened up their Tracy region resort with high hopes and the desire to provide a retreat for families to have some fun!

John had begun working on the resort in the early 90’s. His passion became something that the couple both began to strive toward. In 2001, Karen stepped in as more of an admin and support role, fully backing what her husband was trying to give to the people of their community. “His dream was to create a safe haven for kids and families to play. That was his vision,” says Karen. After years of hard work, this vision became a reality for their members to enjoy year-long.

Eagal Lakes is perfect for family, but the resort provides a plethora of opportunity for those coming in to enjoy other highly regarded hangouts. Fishing spots aren’t in short supply when you have a personal lake stocked full of bass and the San Joaquin River at your back! And the second private lake John and Karen carefully crafted is the perfect platform for watersports. Filtered, fitted with barriers along the shoreline and ready to take on the pros, this waterway was designed to be a water-skier’s wonderland, easily handling the many kayaks, canoes and kneeboards that pass along its surface. Members can also perfect their swimming technique in the warmer waters.

The couple strives to ensure that any event held at the resort is custom created to provide the perfect setting. Be it a corporate function at the Tuscan Villa or beachside wedding along the lake shores, each venue is tailored to meet the needs of their guests. “They can choose whatever activities they’d like to do!” says Karen. “Tug o’ war… Bring in bands, DJs, carnival style- whatever they want to create, we do it!”

Eagal Lakes is a labor of love for the couple, but their contributions in San Joaquin County are vast. Karen has been on the board of the Dameron Hospital Foundation for 25 years. She’s kept active in the Tracy and Stockton Chamber of Commerce and the Child Abuse Prevention Council. John’s given free private training sessions to some students honing their cross-country skills and local Tracy high schools are admitted down the trails to practice, free of charge. The couple are big supporters of the Boys and Girls Club and host many organizations around their neck of the woods. But, for them, all this is only natural when they care so much about their community. “Family and friends, history, we love the city, it’s just home.”

Where is your date night spot in SJ?


Where do you love to shop in SJ?



Tattoo Parlor

Emerald Tattoo and Piercing
2525 S. Hutchins St. #8 Lodi
(209) 333-8282
Modesto: (209) 578-1580

Emerald Tattoo and Piercing is the best venue for a lifetime commitment. Those looking to get inked can stop by locations in Lodi or Modesto for a custom design. From tribal to fine line, color to black and white, the shop has been revered for its dedication to art and a sterilization process that surpasses hospital standards. Customers brag about the quality customer service and ink they’ve received at Emerald Tattoo. Not in the market for a tattoo? The shop offers piercings, as well.

Music Venue

Mile Wine Company
2113 Pacific Ave., Stockton
(209) 465-9463

Certified sommelier Paul Marsh owns the eclectic wine-cheese-gourmet Panini-haven dubbed Mile Wine Company. Jazz music vibrates the exposed brick and salvaged wood building on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Private parties can seek refuge in the music-inspired Brubeck room complete with record album décor, a cork-filled floating wine rack and a floor made of pennies. When asked about his venue, Marsh said “Owning a venue like this isn’t easy because you have to manage the wine side of it while also making sure the music is of good quality. Things like managing your ticketing platform, booking guests, and organizing events can be challenging but are definitely worth it when they are on stage performing.”

Local Sports Team

Stockton Thunder
(209) 373-1500

The Stockton Thunder has celebrated its loyal fans since 2005 by remaining one of the top places to play in San Joaquin County. This season, however, was their last. The fans that fill the seats in the Stockton Arena named the minor league professional ice hockey team that represents their town. A similar contest was held to name the Arena’s newest home team – the Stockton Heat. While ice hockey hasn’t left Stockton, the home team has. Fans will surely miss the Stockton Thunder!

play-social swimSocial Swim (Editor’s Picks)

Headwaters Kayak Shop
847 N. Cluff Ave., Lodi
(209) 224-8367

Waterfront property and breathtaking views are enough to tempt patrons, but Lodi Lake has more to offer than picnics. It’s not enough to simply view the sweeping landscapes; Lodi Lake offers one of the premiere offerings for water sports in the Central Valley. Headwaters Kayak Shop provides kayak rentals for lake-goers who don’t have their own, or expert advice for those looking to purchase. Lessons are available for beginners just learning the craft, but the best way to see the Mokelumne River is with a gaggle of other kayak-enthusiasts. On Wednesday evenings, patrons can enjoy sunset tours throughout the summer, while meeting and mingling with other riders. Headwaters provides the tools – including the kayak – and all you have to bring is yourself. It’s a new kind of social gathering that beats a night at the bar, or the gym.

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World of Wonders Science Museum
2 N. Sacramento St., Lodi
(209) 368-0969

Jim Pryers’ Illumination Lab at Lodi’s WOW Science Museum is a wonder all its own. The lab, built entirely from the dedication and passion of local engineer Jim Pryers, offers children and adults a chance to learn about light though interactive activities and playful visuals. As the museum’s newest addition, the lab presents more than 10 different exhibits including a shadow table, fiber optics, prisms and a two-faced display. Each of the lab’s displays cater to all age groups, from toddlers to seniors, there is something informative and enjoyable for everyone.

play-paint and sip 4Sip and Paint (Editor’s Picks)

Painted Cellars
(530) 715-0808

What better way to bring out your artistic side and create memories than by combining some of our favorite past times: art and wine?! Whether you share the experience with a partner or a group of friends, this is a proven recipe for fun. Painted Cellars, which puts on sip and paint events throughout California, offers San Joaquin a chance to mingle, paint, relax and of course, enjoy wine at a variety of locations (including vineyards) in Lodi. You’ll walk out with your very own masterpiece, and maybe even a new found talent.

Shot Through The Heart (Editor’s Picks)

CQB City
3200 E. 8 Mile Rd., Stockton
(925) 457-4832

Here, you will find a haven for airsoft enthusiasts. The urban combat training facility gives the Valley folk the chance to train where the professional do. With areas for the public and law enforcement/combat training, there is no better place to battle it out with a game of airsoft. The Stockton-based arena is the largest in the world, and so advanced that law enforcement and government agencies train at the location which features an urban simulated environment. So get ready to tune in your skills and prepare for an epic adventure at CQB City.

DCIM100MEDIALive, Play and Stay (Editor’s Picks)

River Islands
73 Stewart Rd., Lathrop
(209) 879-7900

This waterfront community is home to 11,000 homes with a master plan to eventually include a business park, schools and various forms of entertainment that focus on outdoor recreation. The ‘healthy living’ approach encompasses several parks, trails, sports field, bocce courts, and access to lakes for fishing and boating. Additional perks to living along the waterways give members opportunities to kayak, canoe, paddleboat or row. River Islands is also located near one of the world’s largest estuaries, which encourages a sustainable approach to living and a chance to celebrate and protect wildlife.


Fairs & Festivals
Asparagus Festival
Grape Festival

Casino Within 90 Miles
Jackson Rancheria Casino
Thunder Valley Casino Resort
Black Oak Casino

Live Music Venue
Mile Wine Company
Whirlow’s Tossed and Grilled
Jessies Grove Winery

Professional Local Sports Team
Stockton Thunder
Stockton Ports
Pacific Tigers Men’s Basketball

Tattoo Parlor
Emerald Tattoo & Piercing
Hard Luck Tattoo
12 Monkeys Tattoos