My apologies to the late Huell Howser on my impressions of downtown Lodi having that “wow” factor.
Oh, by the way, WOW so happens to be the acronym for the World of Wonders Science Museum, which debuted on once empty space at 2 N Sacramento St. about five years ago.
Jaime, who was working the entrance on Thursday, noted that not much was in this area of downtown prior to WOW, a hands-on, science-based museum with over 50 exhibits and programs to stimulate people of all ages.
This community-supported endeavor is housed in the 9,000 square foot building.
“There wasn’t anything here before,” said Jaime, who was in the Bay Area prior to moving back to Lodi.
In fact, she noted that there really wasn’t much to downtown prior to revitalization. Just a few old businesses and shops along with some boarded up buildings, said Jaime, remembering the days of her youth.
School Street is the happening part of Lodi. In the heart of it is the Lodi Stadium 12 Theater, where thousands come here while becoming part of the downtown scene.
Howser, who, sadly passed away a year ago, did a public television series ‘Road Trip,’ covered this in his many visits to the “Zinfandel Capital of the World.”
My walking tour along revitalized downtown began at the Visit Lodi Visitors Bureau on 25 N. School St. I received some information from Camille before heading out.
But let me backtrack – I made it clear that this was my first-ever visit to downtown Lodi outside of a CYO basketball game at St. Anne’s back when Josh, my son, was 12. And I’m from Stockton.
Now, I’ve been to Lodi countless times, hitting the wineries, big box retailers, and even the Grape Festival, but just not to downtown.
The information on the kiosk also proved helpful.
I strolled down School Street with its canopy of Sycamore trees not to mention the wine-tasting rooms, sidewalk cafes and restaurants.
Not to be outdone, but downtown has a brewery or two and a couple of bars.
I was reminded of this past summer’s day visit to Sonoma, where one of its famous restaurants prepared fried green tomatoes. Low and behold, the School Street Bistro also offered just that.
The place that attracted the biggest lunchtime crowd on this day was The Dancing Fox at 203 S. School St.
If I had enough time, I might’ve stopped over to enjoy some of the handmade breads or thin crust pizzas baked from The Dancing Fox’s wood-fired brick oven.
Instead, I made my way over to the Woolworth Place. This old art-deco building was renovated about 10 years ago and includes restaurants and other services. I went upstairs where I happened along the Knowlton Gallery.
The work here includes some of the finest artists of the West.
It’s here that I encountered the owner of the gallery, Robin Knowlton. I made sure to mention that this my first real visit to downtown.
“I get lot of people from the Bay Area and they come away impressed with downtown,” she said.
I certainly came away impressed.
A stone-throw away from downtown is the original A&W Root Beer restaurant. When Huell Howser was here a few years ago, he stopped at this place.
Now, if A&W was good enough for Huell Howser, it was certainly good enough for me.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, email firstname.lastname@example.org.