If it has ever flown through the atmosphere or space, chances are you’ll have the opportunity to learn about it at the Chico Air Museum. Located on Ryan Avenue, the Chico Air Museum is dedicated to preserving the area’s rich aviation past. Over the years, its collection has grown to include an array of aeronautical and aviation equipment and memorabilia that are engaging and educational for visitors of all ages. Of course, the refurbished aircraft tend to steal the show; they’re housed in an authentic World War II hangar at the city’s municipal airport. The museum is only open a few days a week, so check their schedule before making a special trip.
Due to its northern location, the weather in Chico can be cool or downright cold for much of the year. But during the warm summer months, there are often days that lend themselves to a dip in a refreshing pool. Sycamore Pool is located in Bidwell Park and was created by constructing a concrete dam across a segment of Big Chico Creek. The resulting natural swimming area features brisk water throughout the year. During the summer, there are lifeguards on duty, making it a good fit for families traveling with children. There’s also an annual ‘polar bear’ swim on New Year’s Day for those with strong constitutions.
Though they share many of the same influences, there are several distinctions between art created by Northern and Southern California artists. The Museum of Northern California Art’s collection features works from dozens of Northern California’s premier artists; they’re displayed in some distinct collections. The works include paintings, drawings, sculpture, and photography, most of which feature distinctly regional themes. The staff also hosts many special activities throughout the year, including guest speakers, art workshops, and festivals. The museum is located on Esplanade Drive in Chico and is usually only open four days per week.
Since it was founded in 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has become one of the country’s most popular breweries. Though it started small, it’s now among the top ten largest brewers by volume in the US, and it all got started in Chico. Known for their bold flavors and top-notch ingredients, Sierra Nevada’s beers come in nearly all colors and flavor profiles. There’s no better way to see how they’re made and sample them than by hooking up with a guided brewery tour. A number of tour options of varying lengths are available, and tastings may include beers that haven’t yet been released to the public.
The Chico Certified Farmers’ Market on East 2nd Street is a local market offering a variety of locally and regionally grown organic fruits and vegetables, as well as handcrafted products made by artists and entrepreneurs who live in the area. Though the produce tends to be the big draw, visitors also have access to other items like arts and crafts, handmade jewelry, health and body products, and prepared food items like olive oil, artisan baked goods, and honey. The market is open two days per week, year-round. There are two affiliated seasonal markets that take place in nearby Paradise and Oroville on different days as well.
At more than 3,500 acres, Bidwell Park is one of the area’s largest municipal parks. It offers visitors a variety of outdoor recreation options. The park’s amenities include a nature center, lake, several impressive geological formations, abundant treed areas, and a popular municipal golf course that’s popular with cost-conscious golfers. On the weekends during the warm spring and summer months, the park can draw sizable crowds. If you’d prefer to visit when the masses are at work or still in bed, consider stopping by in the morning during the week.
Located on East Eaton Road in Chico, the Chico Theater Company offers live performance enthusiasts an intimate venue in which to enjoy a wide range of locally produced productions throughout the year. The theater was officially opened nearly two decades ago to foster local talent. Its productions include a variety of performances, many of which are produced with school-aged visitors in mind. Their schedule includes lots of performances for adult theater lovers as well. Tickets to the most popular shows can go quickly, so it’s wise to reserve seats in advance if you know when you’ll be in the area.
Though they’re definitely not as popular with little ones as they were in decades past, yo-yos hold a special place in the hearts of lovers of vintage toys. The National Yo-Yo Museum is located on Broadway Street in downtown Chico. According to locals, it features one of the most impressive collections of historic toys in the region. Guests will learn about the iconic toy’s history, see a dizzying array of examples of all shapes and sizes, and gaze upon a massive 200+ pound specimen that’s one of the world’s largest. The museum hosts an annual yo-yo contest and other fun events throughout the year, and it’s open to the public nearly every day.
Featuring great coffee, a comfy and quiet atmosphere, and friendly staff, Brave Coffee is a perfect destination for harried travelers running low on energy. Previous visitors who’ve tried numerous area competitors claim Brave’s coffee puts the others to shame. Their menu includes no-frills drip coffee as well as hot and cold specialty drinks like lattes, cappuccino, and fraps. There are also plenty of non-coffee drinks and fresh baked goods available, as well as abundant seating, easy parking, and fast Wi-Fi for those looking to settle in with a laptop to get a few hours of work done in the pleasant surroundings.
At just over 300 acres, Chico’s Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park isn’t the area’s largest, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in amenities. The park includes protected riparian habitat along the Sacramento River and Big Chico Creek. It is home to a large variety of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and fish. There are several day-use areas within the park’s boundaries. For those interested in boating and fishing, there’s a boat ramp. The park features a network of multi-use trails popular with bird-watchers, hikers, bikers, and those looking to spend a little quality time away from the crowds in the great outdoors.