122 acres packs in a lot of low key fam­ily fun

The Oakdale Leader - - LIVING - By DEN­NIS WY­ATT 209 Liv­ing

It is with­out a doubt the crown jewel of the San Joaquin County Park sys­tem.

It’s a place where you can see a snow leop­ard, catch a merry go-round ride, play disc golf, frolic in the wa­ter, take in the seren­ity of a Ja­panese gar­den, ex­plore the his­tory of the Big Val­ley, or just sa­vor the shade of stately oaks on a sum­mer day.

“It” is Micke Grove Park, a 132-acre fam­ily oa­sis mid­way be­tween Lodi and Stock­ton west of High­way 99.

If you are ex­pect­ing the San Fran­cisco Zoo, the Golden Gate Park or the carousel on Pier 39, for­get it. Micke Grove is true to its San Joaquin County roots. It’s low key and ac­cen­tu­ates the val­ley. It isn’t a glam­our place, but rather a gath­er­ing spot for friends and a respite from the daily rou­tine for fam­i­lies.

The fact it isn’t some­thing you’d find west of the Al­ta­mont Pass is its charm.

Its open ex­panse and soar­ing trees weren’t part of a de­sign that man­made like Golden Gate Park where the land­scape was im­ported to con­vert 1,017 acres of sand and shore dunes into what has be­come one of the na­tion’s most rec­og­nized and used ur­ban parks. The ba­sic land­scape at Micke Grove is true val­ley.

There’s lit­tle doubt it got a lot of help. That’s es­pe­cially true with the three acre Ja­panese gar­den. It was de­signed with the in­flu­ence of three re­li­gions — Shin­to­ism, Tao­ism, and Bud­dhism — through the use of stones, is­lands, and lanterns.

Its lus­cious land­scape is en­cir­cled by 60 Kwan­zan flow­er­ing cherry trees. In the cen­tral area of the gar­den you’ll find five Ak­i­bono flow­er­ing cherry trees.

There are bridges, a pavil­ion, and an im­pres­sive en­trance gate as well as a koi pond.

The soli­tude and beauty of the gar­den is with the trip alone.

But if you have kids in tow they’re go­ing to want to hit the zoo or Fun Town.

It may be a small zoo but it packs a lot into its five acres. It fea­tures na­tive ani-

mals as well as species — more than a few of which are ex­otic — from around the globe. There are a num­ber of en­dan­gered species that in­clude the Black and White Ruffed Lemur as well as the Cot­ton Top Ta­marin.

Keep in mind an­i­mals are most ac­tive I the morn­ing and late af­ter­noon es­pe­cially in days when the tem­per­a­ture heats up.

The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 pm. with the last ad­mis­sion at 4:30 p.m. Adults are $5, ages 3 to 13 are $3 and those un­der 2 are free.

Next door is Fun Town at Micke Grove fea­tur­ing 10 kid­die car­ni­val, rides such as a coaster, train, and tilta-whirl. Ticket rides can be bought in­di­vid­u­ally on in a book. The small amuse­ment park is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

My fa­vorite Micke Grove Park des­ti­na­tion is the San Joaquin County His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum.

The mu­seum’s 18 acres in­clude four his­toric build­ings in­clud­ing the 1866 Calav­eras School that pe­ri­od­i­cally hosts school chil­dren to ex­pe­ri­ence what the class­room was like 151 years ago as well as he 1848 hoe of the man who funded Stock­ton — Charles We­ber.

There are eight ex­hibit build­ings show­cas­ing much of the mu­se­ums 50,000 items that are in the col­lec­tion. The agri­cul­tural equip­ment col­lec­tion — trac­tors of yes­ter­year and more mod­ern im­ple­ments — is im­pres­sive along with au­tos, horse drawn car­riages and all the im­ple­ments of 19th cen­tury trans­porta­tion. The mu­seum has taken care to cre­ate a var­ied ex­hibit ex­pe­ri­ence rang­ing from Na­tive Amer­i­can ar­ti­facts from the Mi­wok and Yokuts In­di­ans, items from the We­ber fam­ily such as fur­nish­ings, early set­tlers, and rem­nants of days gone by in­clud­ing tex­tiles, cloth­ing, firearms, com­mu­ni­ca­tion forms, toys, sports equip­ment, black­smithing, wood­work­ing, house­hold items, per­sonal items, Chi­nese the­atri­cal cos­tumes, and more.

There is also a chil­dren’s ac­tiv­ity area.

The grounds in­clude the Delta Wa­ter Path as well as the liv­ing ex­hibit of na­tive habi­tats along the Sun­shine Trail. The mu­seum fea­tures ro­tat­ing spe­cial ex­hibits. The next one is “War Comes Home” from Sept. 9 to Nov. 5 that spans the Civil War to the cur­rent Global War on Ter­ror. Through pho­tos, pri­vate let­ters and cor­re­spon­dence it shares the ex­pe­ri­ence of those who went off to fight, what it was like n the home front, and the ad­just­ments to re­turn­ing home.

The mu­seum’s sum­mer hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wed­nes­day through Sun­day. The mu­seum is closed Mon­days, Tues­days, and hol­i­days. Win­ter hours are an hour shorter with open­ing time at 11 a.m.

Ad­mis­sion is $5 for ages 18 to 64, $4 for those 65 and older as well as ages 13 to 17, $2 for chil­dren 6 t 12, and free for those 5 and un­der.

There is a child’s wa­ter play fea­ture as well as a three acre lake with a 40foot wa­ter foun­tain. Micke Grove Park also in­cludes an 18-hole disc golf course, pic­nic ta­bles, BBQ grills, horse­shoe pits and soft­ball fields.

En­trance fees to Micke Grove Park per ve­hi­cle are $5 week­days, $6 week­ends and hol­i­days. and $10 for spe­cial hol­i­day week­ends such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Memo­rial Day, Fourth pf July, and La­bor Day. Pets are $1 each and must be on a leash. Dis­counted mul­ti­day passes are avail­able. They do ac­cept credit cards

There is an an­nual park pass avail­able for $100 that al­lows park­ing at the county’s six re­gional parks in­clud­ing Micke Grove, Oak Grove, Moss­dale Cross­ing, and Dos Reis. Those wish­ing an­nual passes that in­clude a towed ve­hi­cle typ­i­cally to en­ter the wa­ter on the San Joaquin River at Moss­dale Cross­ing or Dos Reis are charged an ex­tra $50 for the an­nual pass.

HIME ROMERO/ 209 Liv­ing

TOP PHOTO: Gi­ant oaks at Micke Grove Park pro­vide shade for fam­i­lies to en­joy a sum­mer out­ing. The 132 acres was a gift from Wil­liam G. Micke who farmed in the Lodi area be­fore pass­ing away. MID­DLE LEFT PHOTO: A Golden-Lion Ta­marin at the Micke Grove...


HIME ROMERO/209 Liv­ing

TOP PHOTO: The en­trance to Micke Grove Park. MID­DLE PHOTO: The en­trance to the Micke Grove Zoo. BOT­TOM PHOTO: Fun Town of­fers 10 car­ni­val-style amuse­ment rides for kids.

HIME ROMERO/209 Liv­ing

TOP PHOTO: The wa­ter play fea­ture at Micke Grove Park is near the group pic­nic area. BOT­TOM PHOTO: One of the many play­grounds at Micke Grove Park.

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