One perfect day in Lodi, CA

Visit a Central Valley town that knows its wine
Kate Washington

A visitor center with legs: The folks at the Lodi Wine and Visitor's Center are quick with maps, but they can also school you on the region's vino. Learn how night breezes from the Sacramento Delta keep vines from withering in the valley heat. Then choose from a dizzying array of Lodi bottles (200-plus), including small-batch vinters without tasting rooms of their own. $5 tasting; 2545 W. Turner Rd.; lodiwine.com

Get a taste of downtown: Lodi's four-block downtown has recently come alive with tasting rooms, thanks to newcomer Jeremy Wine Co. ($5 tasting; 6 W. Pine St.; jeremywineco.com), known for its take on Spanish varietals. Sip Albarino at a vintage oak bar before zipping up the street to Cellardoor ($5 tasting; 21 N. School St.; lodicellardoor.com) to graze on salumi and local cheddar while sampling from a list of a dozen wines by the glass.

Not your garden-variety park: The best spot in town to stretch your legs is Micke Grove Park and Zoo. Spread over 250 acres, it encompasses the zoo (say hello to Ling, an 80-pound snow leopard)  plus a mini amusement park and a Japanese garden bursting with camellias and other spring blooms this month. Park $5/vehicle, zoo $4; mgzoo.com

Best place to stock up: The creamy edamame hummus drizzled with chile seasame oil is reason enough to stop by Crush Kitchen + Bar. Another one: the restaurant's new adjoining market. Load up on specialty treats like pink Hawaiian salt, cured meats, 38 artisanal cheese, and local honeycomb. $$; 115 S. School St.; 209/369-5400.

Make it a weekend: There's a reason Wine & Roses is the place for Lodi weddings. The luxe 80-room inn oozes romance, from the large rustic rooms to the world-class spa, famous for its organic facial with rose hips. After your treatment, soak in the waterfall hot tubs set in a secluded garden, where (if you ask nicely) they'll even bring you a glass of wine. From $239; winerose.com

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