I thought a weekend in Lodi would be more than enough time to get to know this region in the Central Valley of California, but I was wrong. It turns out that this town, which is 45 minutes south of Sacramento, is loaded with excellent wineries, plenty of outdoor activities, and some seriously good restaurants. And when you spend your day driving among blooming orchards, old-growth oak trees, and row upon row of vineyards, the result is a scenic setting for a romantic getaway.
Before becoming famous for all of its wineries, Lodi was considered the Watermelon Capital of the Country. But when the market for its melons dried up, grapes quickly became the crop of choice in the region, first for table grapes and eventually for wine. After the repeal of prohibition in 1933, the winery business in Lodi grew quickly.
Come to Lodi hungry for great food and thirsty for excellent wines. In between all of that eating and drinking, explore the outdoors on foot or bicycle to burn off some of those calories. You’ll definitely return home relaxed and ready to face the week ahead.
Part of this trip was hosted by Oak Farm Vineyards, but all opinions are my own.
Things To Do In Lodi
I definitely recommend setting aside most of your time for wine tasting, but when you need a break from imbibing, there are certainly other sites to see.
Drink Great Wine
Lodi is home to over 85 wineries and produces more grapes than any other appellation in California. Among the best-known wines here are Old Vine Zinfandel, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc.
We began our time in Lodi at Oak Farm Vineyards. This land was originally purchased and cultivated by the DeVries Family in the late 1800s. As a lover of trees, William DeVries never allowed the oak trees on the property to be cut down, and as a result, many remain today, providing a dramatic backdrop and a wonderful source of shade. The Panella family purchased the land in 2004 and began planting vines. Today they produce award-winning wines that can be sampled. Don’t miss the classic Lodi Arch on Pine Street that welcomes visitors to this part of town. Built in 1908, this is one of the few remaining Mission Revival ceremonial structures within the state of California.
Anytime I’m in at their beautifully appointed, open-air tasting room. I personally recommend their Estate Chardonnay and Vapor Trail Merlot (we came home with bottles of both).
Just down the road from Oak Farm is m2 Wines, a winery powered almost exclusively by solar power. It’s hard to miss the large rustic tasting room that appears to explode out of the surrounding vineyards. If you enjoy Zinfandels and Rhone-style wines, this is the place for you. Reserve a tasting, or grab a glass of wine to enjoy on the patio.
Steve and Lori Felten, owners of Klinker Brick Winery, are fifth-generation grape growers in Lodi and specialize in Old Vine Zinfandels. Vines must be at least 50 years old to receive the special designation of, Old Vine and some of this winery’s vines are over 120 years old. Their affordable wines and tasting flights make this an especially popular stop in the area.
Pro Tip: If you’re traveling with a dog or children, be sure to check each winery’s policies in advance. Some do accept both, but others do not.
Explore Downtown Lodi
If you don’t have a designated driver, or you want to combine wine tasting and shopping, skip the drive out to the vineyards and head to downtown Lodi. Here you’ll find a nice selection of wine tasting rooms, vintage shopping, and plenty of restaurants.
The Weibel Family Winery tasting room on School Street offers a unique selection of sparkling wines like Almond, Peach, Peach Mango, and even Pina Colada. Grab a table and order a tasting flight, or just sip a glass of your favorite varietal. The vibe here was really relaxed and easygoing.
Twisted Barrel Winery’s tasting room, just outside the main core of downtown, is also a relaxed and welcoming space. In addition to trying their wines, you’ll enjoy light snacks and occasional live music. This family-owned business specializes in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese varietals.
Any time I’m in a historic downtown, I hope to find an independent or used bookstore, and Lodi did not disappoint. Tom’s Used and New Books is the kind of place I could spend hours browsing, but unfortunately, we had limited time, so I hope to get back there soon. I also enjoyed a quick walk through French At Heart, a lovely shop selling home decor and skincare items.
Cycle Around Town
I’ll admit that we didn’t find much time for exercise while visiting Lodi since we were so busy eating and drinking, but there are plenty of opportunities for some outdoor fun.
Lodi is a popular spot for cycling offering views of vineyards, mostly flat routes, and even a few wineries to visit along the way. If you’re looking for something easy and family friendly, head to Lodi Lake. This five-mile route has only 17 feet of elevation, making it a nice option if you’re towing children or pets.
For something more challenging, try the Cosumnes River Preserve Ride with Blossom Road Loop. On this 36 mile route, you’ll ride along tree-lined roads with vineyards and olive orchards to the beautiful and peaceful Cosumnes River Preserve. This is a terrific bird-watching area, so be sure to bring your binoculars.
I do enjoy cycling, so if I were to ride in Lodi, I’d opt for the Three Wineries and a Cafe route. Spend the afternoon cycling the vineyards, tasting wine, and enjoying lunch with a slice of freshly baked pie. Or, head out early and enjoy a mid-ride breakfast stop.
Relax At The Lake
Lodi Lake is popular with both visitors and locals, so if you have time, definitely make a stop here. If you’re in the mood for an easy walk, the loop around the lake is just one mile long. Another option is to rent a kayak to explore both the lake and the Mokelumne River that feeds it. There are miles and miles of waterways to explore, each bend with something new to see. Headwaters Kayak offers both rentals and tours.
Editor’s Note: For even more to do, consider these 8 Fantastic Experiences In Beautiful Lodi, California.
Best Restaurants In Lodi
Wherever there is good wine, excellent food follows, so it’s no surprise that Lodi has a great food scene. The problem is there are just too many restaurants to choose from in one short weekend. However, I’ll happily share the places we selected.
Pietro’s is the best Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy. Executive Chef Pete Murdaca is a second-generation restaurateur in a family that hails from Italy. We began with bruschetta followed by agnolotti in cream sauce topped with aged balsamic vinegar and ended with a pizza topped with locally grown asparagus and a spicy olive oil. After a day of wine tasting, we opted for cocktails instead of wine, and these were both delicious and creative.
My husband, Jason, is very supportive of my vegetarian diet, so occasionally I select a restaurant that I’m confident he will love, and that’s how we ended up at Woodbridge Crossing. This place is known for its prime rib and clam chowder, and according to Jason, both were excellent. The size of the prime rib alone was impressive, but he said it was also tender and flavorful. This historic building — built in 1865 — was once a Wells Fargo stop along the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company.
Richmaid Restaurant is a classic diner with a long counter in front and red and white vinyl booths along the walls. Originally, it was a creamery that made and exported ice cream, but later it became a popular local restaurant. I ordered huevos rancheros and Jason had their chicken and waffles. My dish was good, but Jason raved about his. I’m pretty sure we were the only out-of-towners here since the staff seemed to welcome many regulars.
On our first morning in Lodi we wanted to grab a fast breakfast but wanted something more unique than Starbucks, so we headed to Towne Corner Cafe and Market. Located on the property of the Wine and Roses resort (more on accommodations here below), this lovely cafe had a nice selection of hot breakfast items, baked goods, and coffee drinks. They also open much earlier than other breakfast spots in the area, so this is an ideal stop if you’re an earlier riser.
Best Hotels In Lodi
Lodi has a nice range of accommodations including upscale and budget hotels and vacation rentals of all sizes. We were fortunate to stay at Annandan Vineyard Suites, a Vrbo property located on the grounds of Oak Farm Vineyards. This two-bedroom home with fully upgraded furnishings was perfect for our romantic weekend. We could watch the sunrise over the vineyards from the backyard patio and see the sunset from the front porch. With two master suites, this would be a lovely option if traveling with friends or family. While we ate all of our meals out, the large and well-stocked kitchen would be ideal for staying in.
If you’re in the market for an upscale hotel, try Wine and Roses, a 1902 country farmhouse transformed into a stylish resort. The setting is peaceful with lush gardens, ornamental fountains, and exotic birds. Amid the flora and fauna are 69 guestrooms and suites, all with picturesque views.