Imagine a place with a hot summer Mediterranean climate, a thriving historic core, walk-able port, and a world-class cultural scene. This isn’t Barcelona or Marseille, but Stockton - a diamond in the California Delta rough that is well worth a visit. For the third time, the city will host a start of the Amgen Tour of California. In 2007, Stage 3 started on Stockton’s waterfront and traversed the Diablo Ridge into San Jose where fan favorite Jens Voigt won the day. While the 2018 Stage 5 start headed north, its 2019 Stage 3 again travels towards the coast like 2007, but this time finishes a little further south in Morgan Hill. As the Amgen Tour of California has demonstrated, Stockton is a centrally-located cultural hub that is hard to miss.
Stockton may be the third largest city in the inland San Joaquin Valley, but its harbor-front location may shock even long-time Californians. The San Joaquin is known as the “food basket of the world” thanks to a combination of perfect soil and climate. Amid the otherwise waterless landscape, Stockton lies at the furthest reaches of the California Delta, which connects with San Francisco Bay. Amid this sprawling water world is Stockton. The city was founded by an opportunist German immigrant who came for gold and found it in trading goods. It was Stockton’s river accessibility that made it a crucial harbor, first to the riches of the Sierra mines and then San Joaquin agriculture. A Depression-era port modernization and expansion even led the Navy to establish a supply center here during World War II.
With thousands of miles of waterways in and around the city, Stockton is literally an oasis. The newly developed waterfront promenade is a serene place to float in a kayak, sip regional brews and wine, or enjoy local farm fresh products. Stockton is a large sprawling town, but at its core is a historic treasure trove of buildings. In less than one quarter-square mile, there are no less than eleven buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, displaying a wide spectrum of the city’s history. From the Sperry Union Flour Mill to the appropriately named Farmer’s and Merchant’s Bank, Stockton is a larger-than-life exhibit. Such businesses have come and gone, but the Diamond Foods Corporation is one of the remaining Stockton producers who has grown from a small cooperative of walnut growers into a company known today for its national brands of chips, popcorn, and nuts.
The diversity of produce that has historically flowed through Stockton is symbolic of the city’s rich cultural heritage. Aside from being the hometown of singer Chris Isaak and Marvel’s Fantastic Four, Dave Brubeck got his start at the University of the Pacific and Bob Hope was a frequent visitor. The historic Fox Theater in downtown now bears the legendary comedian’s name and is still an iconic venue to catch a show. The visual arts are strongly represented by the illustrious Haggin Museum, which boasts the central valley’s largest fine art collection in a relaxing and spacious park environment. But the cultural heritage of Stockton is best exemplified at one of its many annual festivals. Here, the city’s historic melting pot produces an international feel on par with the world’s leading cities. Whether this be the annual Chinese New Year’s Parade, the Cambodian New Year, Greek Festival, or Colombian Independence Day celebration, Stockton has been a welcoming and vibrant spot since its Gold Rush days. True to this custom, the Amgen Tour of California’s riders and fans are sure to feel at home in this global city.