Nicknamed ‘the City of Roses,’ Chico is a bustling city in northern California that is home to an array of attractions for the whole family to enjoy. Bidwell Park features an observatory, a golf course, and plenty of woodland trails for hiking and mountain biking; the former home of local pioneers John and Annie Bidwell, Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park offers a delightful afternoon of historical and cultural discovery. The Gateway Science Museum provides fun, hands-on exhibits and an Ice Age skeletons display for children of all ages, and the National Yo-Yo Museum boasts a variety of fantastic toy memorabilia, including a gigantic wooden yo-yo. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Chico Air Museum, Chico, California
© Chico Air Museum
The Chico Air Museum is a museum dedicated to aviation, aircraft, and space artifacts. Located at the Chico Municipal Airport, the Chico Air Museum was established to collect, maintain, and exhibit the history of aviation, aircraft, and space artifacts and educate visitors on the importance of the industry. The museum houses a variety of aircraft, artifacts and aviation-related exhibits in a well-maintained World War II-era hangar that was once part of the Chico Army Airfield and located next to the Chico Air Attack Base. The museum also features an outside static display area, an extensive collection of scale models of airplanes, and an extensive aviation research library. The Chico Air Museum is open from Thursday through Sunday.
165 Ryan Ave, Chico, CA 95973, Phone: 530-345-6468
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2.Gateway Science Museum, Chico, California
© Gateway Science Museum
The Gateway Science Museum is a small, kid-oriented museum that features interactive and hands-on science activities and exhibits, and quality programming in the field of science, technology, and engineering for children of all ages. Part of CSU Chico, the science museum is devoted to the advancement of science literacy and life-long learning and also brings world-class traveling exhibitions to the region and serves as a gateway connecting the community of Chico with the State. Located at 625 Esplanade, the Gateway Science Museum is open to the general public Wednesday through Sunday, year-round.
625 Esplanade, Chico, CA 95926, Phone: 530-898-4121
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3.Bidwell Park, Chico, California
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Bidwell Park is a public municipal park in Chico that features an array of attractions and points of interest and a nature center. The park spans 11 kilometers in length and boasts 3,670 acres of beautiful landscapes, ranging from unusual rock formations such as the Chico Formation sandstone, thick canopies of trees, and the Chico Municipal Golf Course. The third largest municipal park in California, Bidwell Park is divided into Upper, Middle and Lower sections and points of interest in the park include Sycamore Pool, a beautiful pool built in the late 1920s with concrete decks, walls, and bottom to contain Big Chico Creek that offers a unique swimming experience. Other attractions include Caper Acres Playground, Cedar Grove, Horseshoe Lake, Monkey Face rock formation, Alligator, Bear and Salmon Hole, Diversion Dam, and Devil's Kitchen.
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4.Bidwell Mansion, Chico, California
© Bidwell Mansion
Opened in 1865, Bidwell Mansion is a famous historic home that was once the residence of General John Bidwell and Annie Bidwell from late 1868 until 1918. Located at 525 Esplanade, the construction of the three-story, 26 room Victorian mansion began in 1865 on Bidwell’s 26,000 acres, and it became the social and cultural center of the upper Sacramento Valley. Now a museum and State Historic Park, the Bidwell Mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open for the public to explore on hour-long guided tours during the week. The Bidwell Mansion Visitor Center shows a video for those visitors who cannot access the second and third floors of the mansion, and there is also a gift shop, museum, theater, and comfortable lobby.
525 Esplanade, Chico, CA 95926
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5.Chico Certified Farmer's Market, Chico, California
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The Chico Certified Farmers’ Market (CCFM) is a local market in Chico that offers a variety of organic and natural produce, products, and handcrafted items from artisans and farmers in the region. The market is one of four farmers’ markets in Butte County that operate on Saturdays and Wednesdays year-round, as well as two seasonal markets known as Tuesday Paradise and Saturday Oroville. Visitors to the market can find an unlimited selection of freshly picked, locally grown fruit, vegetables and herbs, nuts, honey, and homemade olive oil, prime meats and chicken, fresh eggs, freshly baked artisan bread, handcrafts, and handmade items, and prepared foods to go.
E 2nd St, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-893-3276
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6.Silverdollar Speedway, Chico, California
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The Silverdollar Speedway is a famous car race track in Chico that has been hosting car races since 1962. The track is a high-banked, quarter-mile clay oval surrounded by grandstands that can seat up to 7,000 spectators. The fourth auto racing track to be built in the Chico area, the Silver Dollar Speedway first began as a one-half mile track where Big Sprint Car Races were held between 1948 and 1950. In 1962, the Valley Auto Racing Association was formed, and the present track constructed and has been the only track in Northern California to operate on a primarily Friday night weekly schedule ever since. The Silver Dollar Speedway hosts a weekly Friday night show between early April and the end of August with the main attraction including 410 sprint cars, dirt-modified cars, and pure stocks. The Speedway also hosts several other big events throughout the year, including three days of racing during the Silver Dollar Fair on the Memorial Day Weekend.
2357 Fair St, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-350-7275
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7.Chico Museum, Chico, California
© Chico Museum
Housed in the historic Andrew Carnegie Library in the heart of vibrant downtown Chico, the Chico Museum is dedicated to displaying the history of Chico. Located next to the California State University campus, the Chico Museum features a variety of memorable permanent and rotating exhibits and displays that celebrate the heritage of Chico and the influence it had on the surrounding region. The museum has two galleries called the Carnegie and Patrick Galleries that permanent host displays, including a topographic map of Northern California, the Chinese Temple, and a Native American Exhibit. The Chico Museum is open from Thursday through Sunday.
141 Salem and 2nd St., Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-891-4336
8.Orient & Flume Art Glass Company, Chico, California
© Orient & Flume Art Glass Company
Orient & Flume Art Glass Company produces fine art glass pieces using traditional and contemporary motifs. Drawing inspiration from nature, the artistic works are made in both iridescent and crystal clear glass and different styles, ranging from paperweights and fruit to animals and vases. Glassworks is artfully made on site in the glass workshop and available to purchase in the main gallery. Established in 1972, Orient & Flume has been nationally acclaimed for its excellence in design ever since and can be found in the permanent collections of the most prestigious museums in the world.
6702, 2161 Park Ave, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-893-0373
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9.DeGarmo Park, Chico, California
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DeGarmo Park is a 36-acre community park in northwest Chico that offers a range of amenities and facilities for the public to enjoy. The park has youth softball fields and multi-use turf fields, a playground for children, a dog park where dogs can be unleashed, several picnic shelters, restrooms, and walking paths.
199 Leora Ct, Chico, CA 95973, Phone: 530-895-4711
10.Butte Creek Ecological Preserve, Chico, California
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The Butte Creek Ecological Preserve is an area of land that protects Butte Creek and Butte Creek Canyon. Located along 0.9 miles of Butte Creek shoreline, the Preserve provides access to the creek, which provides critical habitat for Chinook salmon and offers spectacular views of the surrounding canyons, which are covered in wildflowers in the spring and summer. The narrow corridor along the creek is home to an array of riparian vegetation, while the upland habitat welcomes an abundance of birds and a wide range of avian diversity, from ducks and raptors to falcons, shorebirds, and woodpeckers. The creek is ideal for swimming on warm summer days and the sandy beaches for picnicking.
Honey Run Road, Chico, CA
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11.Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park, Chico, California
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Bidwell–Sacramento River State Park is a 349-acre state park that preserves a riparian habitat on the Sacramento River and its tributary Big Chico Creek. Located on the border of Butte County and Glenn County, the park protects a rich riparian habitat that is a disappearing natural resource and whose various landscapes display great scenic beauty. Fauna and flora in the park include huge oak and cottonwood trees, wild grape, blackberry, and elderberry bushes and numerous perennials, along with cool-water creatures, salmon, shad, and a variety of birds. Day-use areas in the park include the Indian Fishery Day Use Area, the Big Chico Creek Day Use Area, the Pine Creek Day Use Area, and the five-acre Irvine Finch River Access with a parking lot and launch ramp.
12105 River Rd, Chico, CA 95973, Phone: 530-342-5185
12.1078 Gallery, Chico, California
© 1078 Gallery
The 1078 Gallery is a volunteer-run art gallery that features exhibitions of contemporary and experimental artworks in a variety of mediums from film, musical and literary, to visual and performance mediums. Founded in 1981 as an artist's collective and alternative exhibition space, the 1078 Gallery grew in size and mission and now features exhibitions, concerts, and installations by an array of artists of cultural and geographic diversity. The gallery boasts works from both local and international artists and has received several grants and awards for being a vital element in maintaining cultural diversity within the community.
1710 Park Avenue, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-433-1043
13.Chico Theater Company, Chico, California
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The Chico Theater Company (CTC) is an intimate and charming community theater that hosts productions of musicals and comedies throughout the year. Launched in 2003, the 200+ seat theater aims to provide theatrical awareness to the local community and encourage an interest in the performing arts. The theater also seeks to foster the talents of first-time performers and promote the skills of experienced performers for a variety of audiences from school groups to adult theater-lovers. The Chico Theater Company is open Monday through Saturday throughout the year.
166 E Eaton Rd # F, Chico, CA 95973, Phone: 530-894-3282
14.Things to Do in Chico, California: 20th Street Community Park
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The 20th Street Community Park is a public recreation facility in the heart of South Chico that provides a variety of settings and equipment for recreational sports, leisure activities, and public events. Taking its name from its location on 20th Street, the 40-acre community park features amenities such as two playgrounds for children of varying ages, picnic areas with tables and barbecues, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, pickleball courts, and tennis courts. Other facilities at the park include multi-purpose sports fields, softball pitches, soccer fields, a gymnasium with basketball, volleyball, and dodgeball courts, and modern restrooms. The 20th Street Community Park is also home to the Ancestor Gates Art Project and is open to the public year-round.
1900 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Pkwy, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-895-4711
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15.Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Tours & Tastings, Chico, California
© Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Tours & Tastings
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is a family-owned and operated brewery that produces a range of beers and ales offers tours and tastings of the facility. Inspired by the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company beers are designed to be as bold, wild and unwavering as those storied granite peaks and are prepared using the highest quality ingredients. The brewery offers several tours of varying durations and content, including visiting the brewhouse vessels, fermenters, and packaging facility, as well as learning more about the ingredients, beer-making process and of course, sampling the wares. A guided beer tasting of new and limited-release beers or sampling straight from the fermentation tanks is also available for visitors over the age of 21.
1075 East 20th Street, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-893-3520
16.Things to Do in Chico, California: Secret Trail Brewery
© Secret Trail Brewery
Secret Trail Brewing Company is a community-focused, artisan craft brewery in the up-and-coming beverage district in the Barber area of South Chico that produces brews and ales in both classic styles and original innovations. The 3,200 square-foot brewery has a 15-barrel production facility and a modern tasting room and a range of signature brews that include Bout It!, Bout It! Northeast Double IPA, Delta Breeze Kolsch, Lights Out Baltic Porter, Charlie & the Pastry Factory Imperial Stout w/ Cacao and Almonds, and Out Of Your Element Hazy Pale Ale, among others. The taproom offers an inviting and comfortable space in which to taste the brewery’s products and is open Monday through Sunday, and is closed on Tuesdays.
132 Meyers St Suite 120, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-487-8151
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17.Horseshoe Lake, Chico, California
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Horseshoe Lake is a man-made lake in Upper Bidwell Park that is used exclusively for outdoor recreational purposes. Located just past the observatory in the park, the lake is named after its U-shape, which is more evident when the water levels are high. Originally built as a reservoir, today the lake is used for outdoor recreation and activities such as swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing for catfish, which the lake is annually stocked with for a ‘Hooked on Fishing’ competition. Horseshoe Lake can only be accessed on Upper Park Road via Wildwood Avenue with a parking area, bathrooms and water fountains for lake users and hikers.
Upper Bidwell Park, Chico, California
18.Sycamore Pool, Chico, California
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Sycamore Pool is a swimming area in the One Mile Recreation Area in the lower section of Bidwell Park. The pool was formed by cementing a portion of Big Chico Creek and has continuously flowing water, keeping the water cold. There is a small dam that maintains the waters levels in the pool even when the creek levels are low, making it a favorite spot for swimming and picnicking with lifeguards on duty in the summer months. The surrounding One Mile Recreation Area boasts large grassy areas with picnic tables and barbecues and a small vendor known as The Dog House serves snacks and drinks. On New Year's Day, there is an annual ‘Polar Bear Swim’ across the pool for those who want to brave the icy waters.
One Mile Recreation Area, Lower Bidwell Park, Chico, California
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19.Things to Do in Chico, California: Museum of Northern California Art
© Museum of Northern California Art
The Museum of Northern California Art (MONCA) is an art museum and gallery that is dedicated to promoting the works of Northern California artists through a diverse collection of artworks, collections, exhibitions, and art-related educational programs. The museum’s collection includes paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and photography from more than 100 artists around Northern California, with works by Ann Pierce, David Hoppe, Claudia Steel, Richard Hornaday, Steve Reoutt, Salvatore Casa, James Kuiper, Ruth Ormerod, Maia Peebles-Bright, and Paul Di Pasqua. The Museum of Northern California Art (MONCA) is open Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
900 Esplanade, Chico, CA 95926, Phone: 530-487-7272
20.Chico Art Center, Chico, California
© Chico Art Center
The Chico Art Center is dedicated to the appreciation of visual art in society. Established in 1956, the center has been promoting the visual arts ever since through permanent and rotating exhibitions, professional gallery shows, fine art instruction, and art-related events and functions. The Center boasts an 800-square-foot gallery space with professional lighting and showcases a wide range of works by regional artists, as well as solo exhibitions and group shows. The Center offers a full schedule of art classes four times a year for specific age groups and experience levels, as well as special workshops, symposiums and lectures, and demonstrations by guest artists. Visitors to the center can enjoy self-guided tours through local artists' studios, giving them the opportunity to see the artists at work in their studios.
450 Orange St # 6, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-895-8726
21.National Yo-Yo Museum, Chico, CA
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Located in the heart of downtown Chico, the National Yo-Yo Museum is dedicated to the popular toy known as the yo-yo, telling the story of its history, and displaying a variety of yo-yo-related memorabilia and a massive, working 256-pound wooden yo-yo. The museum is set in the back of a local shop called Bird in Hand and features a variety of yo-yos of various shapes and sizes, as well as the world’s largest working yo-yo. The Museum also hosts an annual National Yo-Yo Contest in October and draws yo-yo fans from around the world to partake. The National Yo-Yo Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
320 Broadway St, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-893-0545
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22.Colman Memorial Community Museum, Chico, CA
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The Colman Memorial Community Museum was founded by Lois Colman, granddaughter of D.B. Colman, canyon pioneer in 1976 to preserve the history of Butte Creek Canyon. The museum boasts a variety of items relating to the region, including Civil War memorabilia, gold mining equipment, antique tools, an Indian basket collection, 1800s clothing and objects, antique cooking materials, Chinese artifacts, and old-school materials and books. The museum also features the New Maidu Exhibit, the Bridges of Butte Creek Canyon Exhibit, and several changing exhibits. The Colman Memorial Community Museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
13548 Centerville Rd, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-893-9667
23.5th Street Steak House, Chico, CA
© 5th Street Steak House
5th Street Steakhouse is a locally-owned and operated restaurant in the picturesque downtown Chico that serves upscale cuisine in a refined setting. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant boasts a main dining room and a banquet room for private dining and special functions. The menu features an array of globally-inspired cuisine, including prime steaks, fresh seafood, organic salads and vegetables, handmade pasta and a selection of award-winning desserts. The outstanding cuisine is matched with first-class service and an extensive list of fine wines from around the globe which can be enjoyed by the glass or bottle.
345 W 5th St, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-891-6328
24.Crush, Chico, CA
Crush Dining Room and Lounge is a contemporary restaurant in the heart of Chico that serves traditional Italian cuisine and a sizable wine list in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. Blending tradition with new age modern style, the restaurant specializes in Italian cuisine with a global twist, with dishes prepared from fresh, locally sourced ingredients that are made from scratch and served with flair. Crush exudes an intimate and chic ambiance with an elegant lounge and soft lighting and serves an extensive wine list with more than 100 selections of local and international wines by the glass and bottle. Crush is open for late lunch and dinner, seven days a week and offers valet parking.
201 Broadway St #200, Chico, CA 95928, Phone: 530-342-7000
25 Best Things to Do in Chico, California
- Chico Air Museum, Chico, California, Photo: Chico Air Museum
- Gateway Science Museum, Chico, California, Photo: Gateway Science Museum
- Bidwell Park, Chico, California, Photo: Courtesy of kikimor - Fotolia.com
- Bidwell Mansion, Chico, California, Photo: Bidwell Mansion
- Chico Certified Farmer's Market, Chico, California, Photo: Courtesy of metha275 - Fotolia.com
- Silverdollar Speedway, Chico, California, Photo: Courtesy of r_tee - Fotolia.com
- Chico Museum, Chico, California, Photo: Chico Museum
- Orient & Flume Art Glass Company, Chico, California, Photo: Orient & Flume Art Glass Company
- DeGarmo Park, Chico, California, Photo: Courtesy of jnovack7 - Fotolia.com
- Butte Creek Ecological Preserve, Chico, California, Photo: Courtesy of phumpatp - Fotolia.com
- Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park, Chico, California, Photo: Courtesy of Arcansél - Fotolia.com
- 1078 Gallery, Chico, California, Photo: 1078 Gallery
- Chico Theater Company, Chico, California, Photo: Courtesy of aerogondo - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Chico, California: 20th Street Community Park, Photo: Courtesy of Kelly Mercer - Fotolia.com
- Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Tours & Tastings, Chico, California, Photo: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Tours & Tastings
- Things to Do in Chico, California: Secret Trail Brewery, Photo: Secret Trail Brewery
- Horseshoe Lake, Chico, California, Photo: Courtesy of andrea - Fotolia.com
- Sycamore Pool, Chico, California, Photo: Courtesy of t_o_r_q_u_e - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Chico, California: Museum of Northern California Art, Photo: Museum of Northern California Art
- Chico Art Center, Chico, California, Photo: Chico Art Center
- National Yo-Yo Museum, Chico, CA, Photo: Courtesy of Jorge MoYol - Fotolia.com
- Colman Memorial Community Museum, Chico, CA, Photo: Courtesy of unclepodger - Fotolia.com
- 5th Street Steak House, Chico, CA, Photo: 5th Street Steak House
- Crush, Chico, CA, Photo: Crush
- Cover Photo: Downtown Chico
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