Stockton, an inland port at the end of a ship channel accessing the San Francisco Bay, is a somewhat gritty Central California transportation, distribution and agricultural center. Despite an attempted comeback with some downtown renewal and public relations efforts, and pleasant suburbs near the University of the Pacific campus, the area remains generally unattractive and working class in character. Crime rates (particularly violent crime) remain very high, but the employment picture has improved somewhat.
The strategic location at the crossroads of major north-south and east-west roads and rail routes into the Bay Area help the economy, especially in the commercial-industrial center of Lathrop to the south. There is an active local symphony but other arts amenities are sparse.
Another bright spot is the small agricultural town of Lodi 12 miles north, is growing as a favored regional wine growing and residential area. The bedroom community of Tracy further south houses a large group of commuters willing to sacrifice a long, windy Bay Area commute for the privilege of owning a family home, though the Altamont Commuter Express rail service aids this commute somewhat.
Winter climate and proximity to San Francisco (80 miles) are among the positives, but ironically, the area may suffer from being a little too close to Sacramento and the Bay Area to develop its own amenities. Median home prices have skyrocketed, underscoring a common Central Valley problem of sparse amenities, economic and social problems overlaid by high California costs.
Stockton is on the southeast corner of the broad delta formed by the confluence of the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers. The surrounding terrain is flat, irrigated farm and orchard land near sea level. The Sierra Nevada foothills rise about 25 miles to the east and northeast. The climate is Central Valley Mediterranean, with warm, dry days and relatively cool nights with clear skies and no rainfall. Winter brings mild temperatures with relatively light rain and frequent valley fog, which can last for 4 to 5 weeks. Most rain occurs in winter and snow is practically unknown.