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7 Top Things To Do in Chico

7 Top Things To Do in Chico

From admiring the beauty of Bidwell Park to touring a historic mansion, these are the best things to do in Chico. Team


5 min read

February 02, 2021

It’s no wonder Chico is nicknamed the “City of Roses”—the charming town is rich in natural beauty. Besides being among the best NorCal cities to live in and one of the top inexpensive college towns in the Golden State, Chico is home to a wide array of activities everyone can enjoy. 

Whether you’re looking to go out in nature and explore new parks or want to venture into the city and visit the charming downtown attractions, one thing’s for sure—you won’t run out of things to do in Chico. As an insider’s guide to Chico would tell you, this underrated Northern California city is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.

Fun things to do in Chico

Discover the numerous natural wonders within the 2,500-acre Bidwell Park. There's no shortage of things to do at this top Chico destination.

1. Spend a day at Bidwell Park

With numerous hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, swimming holes, and other spots for recreational activities, Bidwell Park is a great place to spend the day. As one of the largest municipal parks in the nation, the 2,500-acre expanse has been a haven for Chico residents since 1905, and there’s no shortage of places to explore here. 

Is disc golfing a passion of yours? Bidwell Park boasts two disc golf courses: Sherwood Forest in Middle Park and Peregrine Point in Upper Park. More of an avid hiker? From the Yahi Trail in Upper Park which follows Big Chico Creek to the scenic Guardian Trail that leads to breathtaking views, Bidwell Park offers trails for hikers of all levels and interests.

Looking for things to do in Chico that don’t require trekking a trail on foot? Good newsmost trails are multi-use, so you can explore them on two wheels or on a horse. As if all of that wasn’t enough, paragliding, fishing, and swimming are other fun things to do at this Chico destination. Need we say more?

Stroll down this enchanting park and soak in the wonders surrounding you.

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2. Let out your inner child at DeGarmo Park

If you’re traveling with children, DeGarmo Park is a must-see stop on your California family road trip. Offering plenty of outdoorsy stuff to do in Chico, DeGarmo Park is also constantly adding new amenities to its already impressive list. Currently, you can enjoy the youth softball fields, multi-use turf fields, playgrounds, walking paths, and picnic areas. In the near future, you can look forward to the opening of additional sports fields, an aquatic facility, and a gymnasium (all of which are currently in the works). If you’re on a getaway with your four-legged friend, there is a large dog park here that you’ll both love. 

Make your way to the beautiful Bidwell Mansion to take a step back in time.

3. Admire the spectacular Bidwell Mansion

Located in the center of Chico, Bidwell Mansion stands as one of the finest examples of early Victorian architecture in California. This prominent Chico landmark offers a direct connection to John and Annie Bidwell, two pivotal figures in the state's history. John Bidwell was a renowned pioneer, soldier, statesman, politician, and philanthropist, while his wife, Annie, was the daughter of a prominent Washington official and an active participant in the suffrage movement. Their grand estate in Chico was a gathering place for notable individuals including John Muir and Susan B. Anthony, reflecting the Bidwells' significant role in shaping the region and their times.

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 their own or on guided tours (during normal circumstances). Besides being a gateway to the social, cultural, and economic heritage of this NorCal city, Bidwell Mansion can also be rented as a beautiful wedding venue in California. Whether you’re heading to this Chico attraction to admire its sheer beauty or to celebrate a milestone, it is among the best things to do in Chico and definitely worth a visit.

4. Go for a swim in Sycamore Pool

As with a lot of cities in Northern California, Chico’s location means the weather is relatively cool throughout the year. But if you’re visiting during the sunny summer months, taking a dip in the refreshing Sycamore Pool can be one of the best things to do in Chico. This natural swimming hole is a perfect Chico attraction for families—the water is regularly cleaned, and there are lifeguards on duty during summertime. 

Grab a variety of organic vegetables, fresh fruits, and handmade items from local purveyors at the Chico farmers market.

5. Visit the Chico Certified Farmers Market

Fresh, regionally grown produce and handmade food from the local community can be perfect souvenirs to take home with you from Chico. So, head to East Second Street to discover the wide selection of organic fruits and vegetables offered every week at the Chico Certified Farmers Market. 

Although the big draw here is the fresh produce, you'll also find arts and crafts, bath and body products, handcrafted jewelry, artisanal baked goods, and local honey at the market. Stuff your face with your body’s weight in delicious food, then walk it off around the downtown area. This is a top thing to do in Chico that foodies are bound to enjoy.

6. Get inspired at the Museum of Northern California Art

In addition to its many natural wonders, Chico has a rich cultural arts scene. The Museum of Northern California Art hosts rotating exhibitions of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photography by NorCal artists—it is a prime destination for an introduction to the region’s amazing emerging talent. 

The museum also hosts many special activities and events throughout the year, including guest speakers, art workshops, and festivals (currently online). The latest exhibition, which ran until January 24, was titled Selfie and focused on the theme of “self” during the first 10 months of 2020 and COVID-19. The next exhibition, titled Dream State is set to be unveiled in early February; it can currently be viewed online.

Take a stroll through downtown Chico to peruse the local shops, grab a bite to eat, and admire public art pieces.

7. Explore the public art around downtown Chico

As if the natural scenery of Chico wasn’t beautiful enough on its own, one of the fastest-growing cities in California is also home to unique public art. Downtown Chico is adorned with everything from intricate mosaic tiles and larger-than-life murals to picturesque fountains and striking sculptures. 

Taking a self-guided art tour of the downtown area is one of the best things to do in Chico. Our Hands, Love Mural, Unity Mural, Luminary Benches & Pedestal Arts Seats, and Diamond Alley Arches are some of the pieces you should consider adding to your public art tour while in Chico.

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