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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Stockton’s ship has come in

Courtesy Stockton CVB

Where is Stockton, Calif.?

This city of 290,000, the 13th-largest city in California, is 90 minutes east of San Francisco and 45 minutes south of Sacramento.

How do we get there?
If Las Vegas or Long Beach, Calif., are the destinations, Stockton Metropolitan Airport is the ticket, with bargain flights on the airport’s lone airline, Allegiant Airlines. An interesting and unexpected feature is free airport parking. Interstate 5 and state Highway 99 run north and south through the city. There are multiple options for drives to the Bay Area, including highways 4, 12, 26 and 88. Stockton is also on Amtrak’s San Joaquin line, which provides access to the Bay Area through Oakland.

What types of meetings best suit Stockton?

Primarily a drive market, Stockton is popular for association conferences and with the social, military, education, reunion and fraternal markets because of the area’s affordability. It can handle groups of 400 or fewer and is particularly adept with groups under 150.

Did you know?
Stockton has been an inland seaport since the 1930s, connected to San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean by the San Joaquin Delta. Oceangoing vessels visit the port each week. The water is tidal, and the occasional sea lion makes its way to the city. Stockton has constructed wooden yachts, ships for the Army and Navy, and the famous 1920s paddle wheelers the Delta Queen and the Delta King.

The Stockton Asparagus Festival has raised more than $5 million for local charities during the past 25 years. It is the state’s largest charitable fest.

The Stockton CVB’s website won a Travel Standard of Excellence award last year from the Web Marketing Association.

What’s new?
The city’s waterfront has undergone a revitalization in the past few years that will be of interest to meeting planners because of the meeting venues it encompasses. The new Stockton Marina replaced an old marina that was falling apart. An arena, a new minor league ballpark and a hotel have also been built on the waterfront. The marina includes a walking promenade on both sides of the channel.

Most meeting properties have remodeled in the last few years.

Delta Discovery Cruises began offering tours in April.

Tell me about some sites worth seeing.
Sunset magazine has called the Haggin Museum one of the “undersung gems of California.” The museum has a collection of fine art, history exhibits and several traveling exhibitions each year. In a 22-acre city park, the museum can host receptions for up to 150 people.

Charters are welcome on Delta  Discovery’s 149-passenger Island Girl yacht. Passengers cruise the San Joaquin Delta in comfort sitting up top beneath a canopy or below in a climate-controlled cabin. The Island Girl is a venue for small-group receptions and excursions and has a bar and dining area.

Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple is like no other. More than 40 statues, larger than life, handpainted and bejeweled, depict the life of Buddha. The largest is a 50-foot-long reclining Buddha.

Tell me about the main venues for meetings.
There are 5,000 hotel rooms in the Stockton metro area, and 2,500 of those are within the city limits.

Two hotels are near the arena: the 189-room Hilton Stockton, which was remodeled last year, and the 179-room Lexington Plaza Waterfront Hotel, built in 2007. The Hilton has 13,450 square feet of meeting space; the Lexington Plaza has over 10,000 square feet including outdoor waterfront event spaces.

The Stockton Arena, with arena seating for 10,000, also has meeting rooms for up to 200.
Other meeting hotels, all recently remodeled, include the 202-room Best Western Plus Heritage Inn, with meeting space for 200, and the 89-room Courtyard by Marriott and 104-room Residence Inn by Marriott, which sit side by side.

For a true taste of Stockton…
There are five private banquet rooms in which to enjoy the continental cuisine at Papapavalos. Meals are served on a patio year round; guests can sit at a large bar and watch the chef at work.

Passed-down family recipes inspire the Genovese cuisine at Angelina’s, a favorite for more than 30 years. Locals love the homemade ravioli, including a chocolate ravioli for dessert. There’s banquet space for up to 70.

For yam fries washed down with award-winning beer, try Valley Brew. It’s a sports bar that families can enjoy with reliables like pizza and sandwiches and banquet space for 100.