Across the street from City Hall between 4th and 5th Streets sits the Municipal Plaza or as some call it Plaza Park. The plaza was actually reserved by John Bidwell over 135 years ago as an informal gathering place for city residents. According to the Chico City Plaza Master Plan in 2005, Bidwell was actually reported to have planted the trees and suggested the diagonal walkways as a design element.
Walk through downtown Chico or drive along its many tree lined streets and you will surely see some murals. Some depict the history of Chico, others just familiar spots across the United States. All of them seemed to be very well done and in touch with the surrounding area. For example, at the back of the Brooklyn Bagel Works in downtown is a mural of the New York City cityscape. A detailed list, which I wish I had when I was last in Chico, is available from the below link.
Ok, so there has to be a museum for everything right? If Ct. has a garbage museum, and NC has an aluminum tree museum, certainly there has to be a national yo-yo museum right? Well low and behold one exists and it is in Chico, California. Now well I was advised by the one reviewer on Virtual Tourist as to the address what was left out is that the museum was in the back of the Bird in Hand Gift store on 320 Broadway in downtown Chico. So I had to circle up and down the street before entering the store to ask directions when i suddenly found the museum in the back of the store. A neon light just below the store ceiling illuminated me to the fact that I had arrived.
Situated snuggly in the back of the greeting card store, is about 500 square feet devoted to yo-yo's. There is the world's biggest yo-yo and about I would estimate 2,000 yo-yos of all sizes and colors under a series of display cases.
The National Yo-Yo Museum was established in this building in 1993 to celebrate the history of the yo-yo. In 1993 the museum hosted the first United States National Yo-Yo Championship since 1961. The museum also sponsors applicants who compete in the national championship. There is a superb collection of yo-yo's in the museum. A current site on the web museum's web goes over a beautiful set of wooden yo yo's designed by Tom Kuhn. This is definitely a unique museum and worth visiting to relive a time in my life when I purchased a yo and yo and tried to master tricks such as "walking the dog."
The museum is open Monday to Saturdays 10 to 6 pm and on Sunday 12 to 5 pm. Admission is free.
Bidwell Park in Chico, CA is a favorite of the locals. Annie Bidwell donated 2500 acres if land to the City of Chico in 1905. Through purchases by Chico, the parks size is now 3670 acres, and almost 11 miles in length. It is divided at Manzanita Ave into two sections, "lower and upper" parks. Swimming, biking, and hiking are probably the two most popular activities in the park. There is a concrete pool built around the Big Chico Creek at the One-Mile Recreation area that has lifeguards on duty during the popular summer months. There are also miles of bike and hiking trails that are used by many of the students, both paved and unpaved. Horseback riding is also a common sight in the park. Basically, pick your past-time and Bidwell park is a great place to enjoy it.
Rising out of the plains below is a flat-top edifice known as Table Mountain. It's a lovely place any time of year, with meadows (also used for grazing land), oak trees, rocky outcrops from an ancient lava bed, seasonal streams & rivulets, & even a little waterfall.
But Table Mountain really comes into its own in the Spring! Around late February/early-March to mid-April is the best time to come - it's when you'll be blown away by the masses of wildflowers! Lupine, poppies, owl's clover, vetch, paintbrush, shooting stars, buttercups, monkey flower - the list seems endless!
They don't all bloom at once - more like a wave of this group followed by a wave of that group; but each segment of the tide is glorious in its own right!
Make Table Mountain a Rite of Spring & explore historic Cherokee along the way in or out.
You bet there is, and it's held the first weekend of October every year in Chico, California!
Spear-headed by Barbara & Bob Malowney, owners of Bird in Hand, which also houses the National Yo-Yo Museum, yo-yoers from all over the United States assemble in the new City Plaza to compete in five divisions of yo-yo performing. This year's winner of the 1A Division, Yuuki Spencer from San Jose, California, also won the title of World Champion in Orlando, Florida.
Even if you're not a yo-yo player, come see the national contest - you will be amazed and agog at the skills demonstrated by these young people!
Take a drive along Honey Run Road, and you'll find yourself in a different world altogether. Pastoral and scenic, there's something new around every corner!
There's the Boneyard (an ancient Indian burial ground);
the Honey Run Covered Bridge - closed to vehicle traffic now, but you can walk across it and there are picnic sites;
a beautiful old watering trough that looks more like it was built to be a reflecting pond;
the Centerville Cemetery, dating from the 1800s;
the site of the Chinese encampment from gold mining days;
Centerville, with it's schoolhouse - built in 1894 - and the Colman Museum . . .
Get yourself a map to mark the historic sites, pack a picnic lunch, and head out on an adventure!
If it's a nice warm day, you might even want to stop at one of the pull-outs (they're small) where you can walk down to Butte Creek and cool your feet (even swim if you're so inclined). Just respect the private property owners nearby, if you please.
A wonderful time to come to Chico if you're interested in the migratory waterfowl is during the annual Snow Goose Festival. It's held the fourth weekend in January and offers all sorts of activities - workshops, field trips, and special events - to enhance your birdwatching experience.
The entire Central Valley of Northern California is part of the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south migratory route for huge numbers of waterfowl, Sandhill Cranes, hummingbirds, hawks, and more. Chico makes a wonderful home base for exploring the migratory bird world!
From September through March, hundreds of thousands of migrating birds arrive in Butte County and the surrounding areas. Some pass straight on through, some stay awhile to rest up before continuing on their way, and some spend the winter. (In the Spring, I have flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying over my house on their way back north - I can tell they're passing over from inside the house as they "chatter" LOUDLY the whole time! LOL)
December and January are the months with the heaviest bird populations.
The Chico Chamber of Commerce offers a pamphlet for an easy to follow self-guided tour that is guaranteed to knock your socks off with the number and variety of birds that you will see! And you can easily do the tour in a day.
Chico has nearly 40 murals on walls, buildings, freeway supports, and even on a truck!
The topics are diverse, the artists are myriad; some of the murals are more modern, some are historic, and some have an ancient feel. But all of them were painted with love and care, and they're all part of Chico's personality.
So get a brochure from the Chamber of Commerce and see how many Chico Murals YOU can spot!