Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Chico, CA

  • Published 2022/12/19

Though small and populated, the city of Chico in Butte County is beautiful, teeming with parks, museums, restaurants, and many more!

Geographically, it is near the Sacramento Valley, one of the richest agricultural areas in the world.

It is also blessed with mountains on one side and a river on the other.

Additionally, Chico has a Mediterranean climate, with hot dry summers and mild winters.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the best things to do in Chico, California:

Learn about Aviation at the Chico Air Museum

Chico Air Museum

Bsudicky, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on the campus of the Chico Municipal Airport is the Chico Air Museum.

It has various artifacts and exhibits related to aviation and aircraft.

Space aircraft are also on display, which educates visitors about space and the various hazards the aviation industry faces while sending rockets to space.

Bird's eye view of Chico Air Museum

Bsudicky, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The hangar has been recreated and set in a world war two theme, giving it a beautiful aura and an aesthetic appeal.

There is also a static display area on the outside where huge and large-scale aircraft models are on display.

There is also a research library located inside the campus.

Exhibits at Chico Air Museum

Bsudicky, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experience the Fun Recreational Activities at Bidwell Park

Bidwell Park

Roadwardbound /

A huge municipal park in Chico, Bidwell Park is spread over nearly 3,670 acres of land, making it one of the largest city parks in the entire USA.

What makes it interesting is there are a variety of different points of interest located inside the park.

For example, you can try fishing or swimming at the Sycamore pool.

Then there is the Caper acres playground, set in a fairytale theme.

Stunning view of Bidwell Park

Bryan Ramsey /

The Cedar Grove grow is a tree experimentation farm where a variety of trees are planted and taken care of.

Pack a picnic to take to the five-mile area, which is beautiful, with water on one side and sitting space on the other.

Colorful flowers at Bidwell Park

Roadwardbound /

Another interesting and aesthetic place to visit inside the park is the monkey face rock formation, which resembles a monkey head.

The Chico Creek Nature Center is the interpretive center of the park and features many non-releasable wildlife species at its animal museum, alongside foreign plant species at the native plant garden.

A family hiking at Bidwell Park

Michael Mercer /

Visit the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park

Bidwell mansion State Historic Park

Michaelfavor at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bidwell Mansion is an architectural beauty set in an Italianate style.

An hour-long guided tour allows you to explore the mansion’s interior.

The second and third floors are almost 50 stairs high.

View of Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park

© Frank Schulenburg

It is beautiful and aesthetically pleasing.

The visitor center inside the mansion is tremendous and accessible.

They have a gift shop, a theater, and a lobby area for seating.

Take Your Kids to the Gateway Science Museum

A kid-oriented museum, the Gateway Science Museum is an entertaining and interactive museum you can visit with your kids.

It offers exhibits that can give you hands-on experience in learning some scientific facts in the most fun way possible.

It helps educate children about science, technology, and engineering and is a must-visit for children of all ages.

The traveling exhibits are also really wonderful.

It’s a great spot to visit if you’re on a family trip.

Go Canoeing on the Bidwell Sacramento River State Park

Bidwell Sacramento River

Frank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on the Sacramento River, the Big Chico Creek State Park is a wonderful park that preserves the riparian type of terrestrial biome.

Canoeing and kayaking are two really fun and thrilling activities that you can do on its waters.

It is also aesthetically pleasing, and the scenic beauty looks straight out of a postcard.

Signage of Bidwell Sacramento River State Park

Sharon Hahn Darlin, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With trees like oaks and cottonwoods, it is a perfect example of a great natural habitat preserved.

Some of the bushes that grow include wild grapes, blackberries, and wild roses.

Nature photography enthusiasts would surely love visiting this part.

Other popular activities are fishing for the local species, like salmon and steelhead.

Heron at Bidwell Sacramento River State Park

Frank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also try hiking and picnicking.

Birdwatching is also a great activity; you can spot some rare species at the lake.

The waters are also completely accessible and can be used for outdoor sports like jet skiing and water skiing.

Beautiful butterfly at Bidwell Sacramento River State Park

Frank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Buy Fresh Fruits at the Chico Certified Farmers Market

A part of Butte county’s four farmers’ markets, the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market is the perfect spot to buy some fresh fruits and veggies.

It is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays only.

For those looking to take some goodies back home, you can buy locally produced, organically made honey or some homemade olive oil.

Baked goodies like artisan bread can also be bought.

There are also shops selling handcrafts and handmade items that you can take back as souvenirs for your friends and family.

Learn Facts about the Rich History of Chico at the Chico Museum

Chico Museum

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located near the California State University.

The Chico Museum honors the history and culture of Chico with many permanent exhibits and beautiful rotating exhibits.

It provides an insight into the rich history of Chico.

The museum itself is divided into two main galleries– the Patrick gallery and the Carnegie gallery–which host a variety of exhibits and displays.

Watch a Car Racing Competition at Silver Dollar Speedway

One of the famous car racetracks of Chico, Silver Dollar Speedway has hosted competitions since its inception in 1962.

With the huge stand and the seating of up to 7,000 people, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Weekly shows on Friday nights are held from early April till August end, and a variety of cars are used in the racetracks, like sprint cars, pure stocks, and dirt-modified cars.

Other than this, it hosts the main events related to car racing.

One of the main and significant events that are held here also includes the Silver Dollar Fair, where three days of racing fun can be watched.

Pay a Visit to the 1078 Gallery

An interesting and quaint gallery, this gallery features different and quirky artworks and exhibits in modern and contemporary styles.

It facilitates and supports artists to make art forms in a completely different fashion.

Since its inception in 1981, it has come a long way and today hosts many types of exhibits and installations with various themes and cultures.

The gallery displays local and international artists both and is an important element for maintaining cultural diversity in Chico.

Watch a Musical Show at the Chico Theatre Company

Chico Theatre Company hosts many musicals and comedies alongside drama performances throughout the year.

It was established in 2003 and seats about 200 to 250 people at a time.

It was also established with the sole purpose of creating a theatrical mindset and allowing for the encouragement of the arts among the local people.

Moreover, it also helps spread cultural diversity and awareness since it encourages local youth to perform.

It is closed on Sundays but remains open from Monday to Saturday throughout the year.

Play Volleyball at the 20th Street Community Park

Another public park in the south of Chico is this community park spread over 40 acres of land.

It has various courts, but it’s most famous for its volleyball court.

There is also a pickleball and tennis court.

The playgrounds are of two types depending on the age of the kids.

So don’t worry if you’re getting a toddler along.

There are also cute horseshoe pits.

You can also pack a picnic and picnic in the designated areas where tables and barbecues are set up.

Other games that can be enjoyed include softball, soccer, basketball, and dodgeball.

There is also a gymnasium.

Sample Some Ale at the Secret Trail Brewery

Famous for its authentically brewed brews and ales, Secret Trail Brewery produces art in a glass.

Located in the barber area, it is spread over 3200 square feet and has a production facility with as many as 15 barrels.

The tasting room is modern and well-equipped.

Some of its signature brews that you must try are the Lights out Baltic Porter, the Delta Breeze Kolsch, and many more.

The taproom is stunning and aesthetically pleasing to the eye, with a welcoming atmosphere.

The brewery remains closed on Tuesdays.

Go Kayaking on the Horseshoe Lake

Horseshoe Lake

Roadwardbound /

Though it’s a manmade lake, it is a thriving area for a variety of natural animal and plant species.

It is located in upper Bidwell Park, near the observatory, and is well-built.

It was originally built as a reservoir to store water, but today it is used as a recreational lake.

Scenic view of Horseshoe Lake with dark clouds on the background

Michael Mercer /

You can enjoy kayaking and swim in its waters.

Canoeing is another fun option to try.

Restrooms and water fountains are also provided nearby.

Meet a Furry Friend at the DeGarmo Park

Here at DeGarmo Park, dogs can be unleashed from their hooks.

So if you are a dog lover you would love visiting this place.

Make new furry friends while you walk in these peaceful premises.

There are also softball fields and turf fields.

The walking paths are also well-built and aesthetically pleasing, with trees on either side.

Picnic shelters are also made well accessible with spots all around the park.

Moreover, it is spread over a huge area of 36 acres of vast green spaces and lawns, making it great for walking and hiking.

Buy a Piece of Art Glass at the Orient and Flume Art Glass Company

Art glass making is a very intriguing and detailed process, but the amount of work and patience is worth it since it gives rise to some really beautiful pieces of artwork that are very pleasing to the eye.

You can find a variety of styles and themes made on the artworks at Orient and Flume Art Glass Company.

The main gallery hosts a variety of artifacts and exhibits which customers and visitors can buy for their collections.

With such a variety of things to do and places to visit, we would surely recommend booking Chico as your next holiday destination or weekend getaway!

Take a Look and Appreciate the Exhibits at the Museum of Northern California Art

Thanks to the Museum of Northern California Art (MONCA), situated in lovely Chico, California, everyone can access exceptional art pieces.

The Museum of Northern California Art’s mission is to serve as a platform for local areas to engage with and produce art to achieve entertainment, emotion, social cohesion, creativity, and connection.

Cole & Brouchaud, a well-known Chico architectural company from the 1920s, was selected to create the property’s design concept.

The permanent collection and exhibitions of MONCA are well-suited to this opulent structure, which is located next to other local museums on the Esplanade.

Nearly 100 Northern Californian artists’ canvases, prints, sketches, artworks, and photographs are included in the MONCA collection.

Book a Tour at National Yo-Yo Museum

Exhibits at National Yo-Yo Museum

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Yo-Yo Museum has the biggest public collection of yo-yos, yo-yo collectibles, and competition prizes worldwide.

The legendary No-Jive 3-in-1 from Tom Kuhn has been enlarged and used as their highlight, Big-Yo.

Big-Yo, who weighed 256 pounds, entered the 1982 Guinness World Record as the “World’s largest Working Wooden Yo-Yo.”

Interior view of National Yo-Yo Museum

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is accessible during Bird in Hand’s regular operating hours and is offered for free as a self-guided excursion.

Groups can schedule special tours with docents who can lead them.

World's largest Working Wooden Yo-Yo at National Yo-Yo Museum

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Order a Delicious and Quality Meal at 5th Street Steakhouse

Exterior view of 5th Street Steakhouse

MARELBU, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the charming downtown of Chico, a restaurant called 5th Street Steakhouse is locally owned and run.

The proprietors of this restaurant have taken delight in serving the area’s highest-caliber food since opening in August 2000.

They provide quality seafood, USDA. Prime Cuts of Beef, a comprehensive service bar, and a sizable wine selection.

Offering their services for exclusive gatherings at breakfast, lunch, or supper makes them happy every time.

Although it is connected to the primary dining room section, the 5th Street Steakhouse Banquet Room offers a private space for your special occasion.

Birthday parties, wedding rehearsal banquets, anniversaries, Christmas parties, and private gatherings are ideal for using their space.

Additionally, they provide a complete projection system for your comfort.

Get a Suite at Hotel Diamond and Unwind

Street view of Hotel Diamond

MARELBU, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy convenience and pleasure in Chico’s beautiful Hotel Diamond.

Beautiful, roomy suites with first-rate, contemporary amenities are available for you to select from at the famous Hotel Diamond, where you can relax and rejuvenate.

You will be near the most excellent eating, shopping, and entertainment Chico offers because you are situated in the city’s center.

Discover the best eateries in Downtown Chico within a few blocks from the Hotel Diamond.

Entrance to Hotel Diamond

MARELBU, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Additionally, the hotel’s bar and lounge employees are available to assist you in unwinding after a long day.

You may choose from premium wines, an excellent selection of beers, and unique cocktails made to your liking.

Additionally, the Hotel Diamond has two sizable banquet halls that can hold up to 100 people for any event.

View Handmade Items at Chico Arts Center

On November 1, 1955, the Chico Arts Center, formerly recognized as the Northern California Creative Arts Center, was founded on Salem Street next to Fourth Street in Chico.

The center has an 800-square-foot gallery area with quality lighting and a high, uncovered beamed ceiling, and it is housed in the ancient 1892 Train Depot.

It has increased community recognition through notable gallery shows, artistic lecture programs, fall arts festivities, patrons, and funders.

All year long, group and individual exhibitions of all mediums are featured.

Visit the Chico Art Center to see the newest artwork and handmade items.

Final Thoughts

Chico, California, is known as one of the earth’s wealthiest agricultural areas, as it offers a wide variety of beautiful natural attractions and exciting water sports to experience.

Its stunning landscape and other natural characteristics draw visitors from around the world, not just the surrounding neighborhoods.

Explore the best things to do in Chico, California, by booking your travel plans right off the bat.

© All rights reserved.