Welcome! There's a lot to see in Chico. These are just the highlights. If you can't find something, ask one of our friendly residents - it's how we roll!
Chico is smallish city with a huge city park. At 3,670 acres, we mean huge. In Lower Park you can take a drive, ride your bike or jog the 6-mile loop. There are picnic spots along the creek and swimming areas at One Mile and Five Mile recreation areas. For young children, Caper Acres features Humpty Dumpty and other fantasy play centers. Hooker Oak Park and Wildwood Park have additional playgrounds and picnic areas. Visit Chico Creek Nature Center in the middle of Lower Park to see science exhibits and some live animals. Upper Park offers more rigorous hiking and mountain biking, horse-back riding, swim holes, the Chico Community Observatory, and a public golf course. There is disc golf at Hooker Oak Park and at Peregrine Disc Golf off Highway 32.
California regional children's theater
Whether your kids like to be on stage or in the audience, CRT is dedicated to the creation of excellent theater and the education of students of all ages in the art of performance. CRT also features shows for all ages year-round. Visit their website for show times, tickets, workshops and more!
Chico offers a robust Theater scene. Chico Theater company and The Blue Room offer performances year round featuring some of Chico's most talented thespians. From adaptations to original productions, there's something for everyone, young and old alike.
chico community observatory
One of the many features of Bidwell Park, the Chico Community Observatory offers family friendly entertainment and a stellar opportunity to explore the night sky. Operated by the Pacific Center for Astronomical Outreach, entrance is free for the public Friday-Sunday (clear weather nights permitting) from sunset until park closing. The mission of the Observatory is to provide access to our universe through its telescopes for the enjoyment of the youth of our community and beyond. The CCO is located in Upper Park just past the first parking lot. Visit their Facebook page for current information.
Downtown Chico is where you’ll find niche shops, vibrant public art and some of our fine cuisine and libations. Sometimes the streets are closed for fun activities such as Thursday Night Market or bike races. Friday night concerts in the City Plaza are a weekly feature during the summer.
The Chico Museum on Salem Street presents a timeline of Chico’s development and you can find the world’s largest yo-yo at Bird in Hand’s yo-yo museum.
Park downtown and you can stroll right onto the gorgeous Chico State campus (officially, California State University, Chico) which straddles Little Chico Creek. Bricks, ivy, and so many trees there’s an actual nature walk. You will find several footbridges and paths near the creek. If you time it right, Chico Performances might be hosting a famous performer or play in Laxson Auditorium.
Check out the Esplanade just north of downtown. This tree-lined thoroughfare was planned by Chico’s founder, John Bidwell, and is most spectacular when autumn leaves are turning. Not so coincidentally, Bidwell Mansion is your first stop on the Esplanade. On your tour, you might learn about the Gold Rush, Native American culture, or the purpose of fainting couches. Plan to visit the Gateway Science Museum at the same location. Across the Esplanade, about two blocks up, The Museum of Northern California Art (MONCA) is opening soon.
Food, Beer, Shopping, Museums and Entertainment
As you venture out in all directions from the city center you will find more fabulous restaurants, some larger hotel chains, several shopping centers, and the world-famous Sierra Nevada Brewery, where you can dine, tour, and possibly take in a live concert at the Big Room. Don’t miss the Chico Air Museum’s vintage aircraft at the Chico Airport, which served as a flying school for WWII aviators.
Historical & General Tours
Chicoans love their history and their environment. They also love sharing it with others. Below are a few of the many tours you can find throughout the year.
Downtown Historic Walking Tour: This eleven block self-guided walk passes many of the locations which helped shape Downtown Chico's history. Also included, for those with more time, are possible detours to the Junction, Stansbury Home and St. John's Catholic Church, CSU Chico and The Bidwell Mansion
Upper Bidwell Park Hiking Tour: This loop contains the most popular trails on both sides of the park, B Trail and Guardian Trail. You'll find great views of the valley and the park itself. Total length is 14.2 miles. Wear sturdy shoes and bring your water-filled Klean Kanteen.
Chico Cemetery Tour: There is nothing like an informative tour of our City's oldest cemetery to gain insight into our past. Led by local historians, you'll pass the burial site of Ira Weatherbee who notoriously found a 54 pound gold nugget worth more than $10,000 in 1859 and visit the resting place of John and Annie Bidwell, Founders of Chico. Tours are offered the third Thursday of every month and evening tours are offered during the fall. Call 530.345.7243 for details and availability.
Haunted Chico Tours: Starting Fall 2016, this group of local historians and ghost buffs cater to those brave enough to explore some of Chico's most historic sites after dark. Tours start with a short film, involve a walking tour, last 60-90 minutes and may result in hair raising or full body chills.
Sierra Nevada Brewery Tours: Beer geeks will love the variety of tours offered. All are free and you must be 21 and over. Visit their website for times and reservations.