If you have friends who had never been to Manteca, they are definitely missing out. The rich history of the farming community is mixing with modern-day conveniences of living in California, mostly consisting of “retail therapy” in the town’s many shopping centers. But Manteca is more than that; the up-and-coming city nestled in the heart of San Joaquin Valley is truly a treat to all five senses.
See the murals
Cows and cars, fields of pumpkins, a baseball field full of fans and falling almond blossoms – Manteca is a proud home of 26 unique murals. Walls in Downtown are adorned with paintings telling the story of this town, from “Beginnings” showing a Native American family around the campfire to “Early Industry”, a gorgeous Art Deco style mural displaying the business cornerstones of the community. So why not explore them all? Several of them are hidden inside the Manteca Senior Center (295 Cherry Lane), but the majority is clustered within a walking distance from Library Park. Favorite of many is the “Cow-munity Mural” — can you spot the three-legged cow? The Manteca Mural Society website offers a map and a description of each mural so you won’t get lost looking for each piece hidden in Manteca’s alleys.
Smell the wine
When it comes to wine, Manteca does not have the appeal (or appellation?) of Napa Valley, but visiting the city guarantees a pleasant wine experience. Delicato Family Vineyards located just off Highway 99 has a friendly tasting room open daily between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and the menu offers both red and white wines from several “big” brands as well as limited release wines available only at the tasting room. If you had friends who had never been to Manteca, this is a perfect place to “sniff” what Manteca has to offer. Gnarly Head, anyone?
Taste the produce
Visitors will also appreciate the numerous produce stands sprinkled at the outskirts of town. Juicy seasonal fruit, nuts, yummy pies and everything at a very reasonable price – tasty gifts from nature are just a short drive away, but still within the city limits.
If you would like to devour a more complicated meal than a simple (yet delicious) fruit pie, one of the hidden gems of Manteca is definitely Ernie’s. Ernie’s Food and Spirits, as the full name goes, is quite unassuming place squeezed between a casino and car rental place at the north side of town. But inside it’s all about food, namely certified Angus Beef, Kobe beef, always fresh seafood and impressive menu plus upscale décor willing to match that of San Francisco’s best restaurants. Don’t miss this culinary treat!
Hear the crack of the bat
If you want to hear what Manteca is all about, head no further than Big League Dreams at Milo Candini Drive. One of the few famous people hailing from the town, Milo Candini was a Major League Baseball player and it’s only fitting that a stadium raising his successors will be located at a street bearing his name. Watch one of the many softball and baseball games played in one of the replica fields and you will feel like you are sitting at the Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Fenway Park or Angel Stadium. If you don’t have enough time to watch a game and listen to the sweet sound of a bat hitting the ball, just try one of their batting cages. Rental starts at 15 minutes.
Get in touch with nature
Finally, get in touch with nature at Manteca’s largest tourist attraction – Bass Pro Shops. One of only two locations in the whole state of California, the store draws upwards of 3 million visitors a year. The store is the ultimate outdoor experience, from grand entrance with a replica of the world’s largest tree, The General Sherman in Sequoia National Park, to a spectacular waterfall, (taxidermied) wild animals captured in their natural environment and a gigantic fish tank filled with local species. Shop for anything you may need for hunting, camping or hiking, take an archery lesson, dream about owning your own boat, and spend all your money at the General Store and Fudge Shop, looking just like an old country store. Their black licorice is divine.