California’s Central Valley’s Gem: Chico

Recent History:  Chico, CA has been in the news a lot since the devastating fire that destroyed its neighbor, Paradise.  It became the the staging ground for Cal Fire and volunteers from around the state and country.  Chico was also inundated with almost 20,000 displaced persons.  The community was impacted greatly but is slowly recovering. Bravo Chico.  I’ve been a regular visitor for almost 20 years.  If you are on a road trip and in the vicinity, it’s well worth a stop.

On the Go: Chico is a cycling/hiking enthusiast’s heaven.  Bidwell Park, its crown jewel, is one of the largest city parks in the US (3,670 acres), with approximately 60 miles of dirt and paved bike trails. It was established in 1905 and is divided into Lower, Middle and Upper Park. Lower Park is flat, with mature trees providing a shade canopy. For movie buffs, it was “Sherwood Forest’s” location in The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn in 1938. Sycamore Pool, at the One-Mile Recreation Area, is a local hangout.

Sycamore Pool at One-Mile

Upper Park’s terrain is much steeper, since it’s in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

Upper Bidwell Park

Big Chico Creek runs through the region. The scenic Sacramento River is a short 10 mile drive from Chico and a mecca for picnicking, tubing, and fishing.  More can be found at 

Travel Writer Relaxing at Big Chico Creek

Wandering About: Downtown Chico is a delight for roaming; historic buildings, boutiques, bars, book stores, restaurants, outdoor cafes, art galleries, and antique shops line the streets. Don’t miss the National Yo-Yo Museum.  It has the largest public display of yo-yos and memorabilia in the US. 

The World’s Largest Yo-Yo Weighs in at 256 Pounds

Also downtown is Chico State University.  Founded in 1887, it is the second oldest school in the California college system.  Laxson Auditorium, on campus, features plays, musicals, and concerts that are open to the public (  There is a seasonal Thursday night farmers market, as well as, every Saturday throughout the year. 

Where To Eat:  

  1. Steaks – 5th Avenue Steak House is a splurge, but worth it. Make reservations.
  2. Italian – Franky’s features freshly made pastas, pizza, risotto, etc., plus an outstanding happy hour.
  3. Burgers – Burger Hut is a casual, family friendly restaurant for your burger fix (don’t forget to order a milkshake).
  4. Mexican – Gordo’s Taco Truck is on 8th and Cypress. An incomparable shrimp quesadilla awaits you!  
  5. Indian – Taj Finest for sit down or carry out.  Good food, reasonable prices, and they offer samples.
  6. BBQ – Smokin’ Mo’s has a diverse menu, daily specials, and features four original BBQ sauces.
  7. Sandwiches – Foodie’s Cafe offers and eclectic menu, including breakfast.  The owner/chef and his wife are “Purveyors of Innovative and Memorable Deliciousness.”
  8. Ice Cream – Shubert’s first opened in 1938 and is still making homemade ice cream and candies. 

Diversion: Like to play poker?  Chico’s Casino 99 is a casual, friendly, well run card room offering table games and poker tournaments, plus a bar and grill. More information can be found at 

Home Grown: Three of my favorite companies are headquartered in Chico: ChicoBag,, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company,, and Klean Kanteen,  

Up and coming: The Stand Team.

Information:   Drop into the Chamber of Commerce,, for a free copy of Discover Chico.  Also pick up101 Things to Do In and Around Butte County forsuggestions,  Logon to the Chico News & Review,, for weekly entertainment, local features, and updates. 

Next time you are near California’s Central Valley, visit Chico.  You won’t be disappointed.  

Let’s Go!

Thanks to various websites for information, logos, photos, etc., and Owen Roth for the Sycamore Pool shot


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *