• WHAT: Micke Grove Regional Park
• WHERE: 11793 N. Micke Grove Road, Lodi. Accessible by taking the Armstrong Road exit off of Highway 99 and following the signs. The park entrance is roughly a mile west of the freeway offramp.
• WHAT TO DO: The park contains an interactive water feature, picnic grounds, a children’s ride area, a playground, a lake and a golf course. A Japanese garden complete with cherry blossom trees, a tea house and a koi pond is a popular wedding spot and the San Joaquin County Historical Museum paints a picture of the area’s early roots.
• WHEN: The park itself is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset while the Japanese Gardens are open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Micke Grove Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fun Town Amusement Park is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
• COST: Park admission is $5 per vehicle. Admission to the zoo is $4 for adults and $2 for children and rides at Fun Town are dependent upon tickets – each person needing one, which can be purchased at $1.75 each or in a book of 10 for $15.
• FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit http://www.mgzoo.com/parks/micke-grove-park.htm or call (209) 953-3460.
LODI – Ever seen a golden mane tamarin?
How about a ring-tailed lemur? And no, watching Madagascar and King Julien doesn’t count.
You’d have to travel all the way to Sub-Saharan Africa to see a spotted dikkop – a bird with unusually long legs that will actually stop and eye you down as you stand in front of it. Central America is the only place where you’d see a black-handed spider monkey scale trees with remarkable ease.
All of these animals – and a lot more – live right in our backyard. All it takes to see them, and marvel at their unique majesty, is a trip to San Joaquin County’s Micke Grove Regional Park.
All it takes is a trip to the zoo.
For 75 years the Micke Grove Zoo has provided a unique opportunity for local residents to see a variety of animals from across the globe – rotating exhibits and showcasing regions of the world that few people ever get to see.
While mountain lions abound in Northern California and throughout the mountainous regions that run from Canada all the way down to the Mexico border, few people ever get the chance to spot the elusive animal. Unfortunately for its prey, it seldom sees the animal either – they are stealthy when they stalk deer and other wild animals that are plentiful in the hills.
But you can see one at Micke Grove. You can watch it prowl around its enclosure and marvel at how such a large cat can exist in communities less than an hour away from your home.
The park, as a whole, offers a whole lot more than wild experiences with animals.
A recent overhaul and expansion created a new park entrance and an entire section dedicated to families enjoying themselves – an interactive water feature is often packed with children and a playground provides plenty for the family to do on its outdoor excursion.
Here are a few other things you can look forward to when you visit the park:
• The Japanese Garden – This three-acre site – a popular wedding destination – boasts a tea house, an angled bridge and a koi pond. Three separate religions are expressed in the makeup of the unique attraction – Shintoism, Buddhism and Taoism – and a handful of traditional Japanese plants like cherry blossoms and lotus flowers are included in the makeup.
• Fun Town – No longer do you have to wait for the carnival to come around to enjoy the rides with your family. A handful of popular attractions – a carousel, a small roller coaster, a train – are available throughout the year in a family-oriented setting. Tucked off by the side of the zoo and back in the corner of the original park, large oak trees grow over the area and provide a natural canopy. Tickets are needed for the rides and help pay for the ride upkeep.
• Covered Picnic Grounds – A handful of spots throughout the park are perfect for big family gatherings, barbecues or parties – whether it’s taking in a holiday weekend with the family or celebrating the birthday of a youngster. Spaces exist in the older section of the park – beneath the canopy of old oak trees – and in the newly expanded section near the interactive water feature and the three-acre Wortley
– By JASON CAMPBELL
209 staff reporter