Find Yourself in Chico: Where Every Corner Holds a New Adventure

There’s something beautiful and at times indefinable about Chico that’s nonetheless known by everyone who calls it home. You can find it as readily in a drive down the Esplanade as you can on a leisurely stroll through a farmers market. It’s in the culture and community, in the way friends run into each other on the street or at their favorite coffee shop. Chico is many things to many people, but perhaps more than anything else, it’s one of the easiest cities to fall in love with.

Find Yourself in Chico: Where Every Corner Holds a New Adventure 1
Chico Farmers Market (@delphinejespersen)

More so than almost anywhere you’re likely to visit, Chico makes it effortless to fall into something new and exciting, no matter where in the city you happen to end up. It’s a college town big enough to be home to a rich array of art, culture, and opportunity, but still small enough that strangers smile at one another on the street, and you’re all but guaranteed to catch sight of someone you know around town. It’s the kind of laid-back place where casual dress will get you everywhere, where anything you want to do is only a short walk or drive away, and a little bit of money goes a long way.

Three women linking arms and laughing near the Chico Ice Rink
The Holidays in downtown chico

Exploration in Chico happens every time you walk out the door. If you’re an art lover, the city is loaded with it, from cafes and coffee shops with their own galleries (such as Naked Lounge, one of Downtown Chico‘s venerated cafe spaces), to public art all over downtown and the CSU Chico campus. Museums are plentiful and cheap too, whether you stroll through the Chico History Museum, get inspired at the Museum of Northern California Art (monca), or attend the annual ice cream social at the history-rich Stansbury Home.

Museum of Northern California Art
Musuem of northern california art (monca)

While you’re exploring the city, don’t be surprised if you end up making friends with people you’ve just met. Chico is a place where neighbors greet each other and it’s easy to strike up a conversation almost anywhere. It has a robust and social coffee culture that can stand up to cities three times its size, and a patio life born out of California’s beautiful weather, making its social scene accessible to everyone. And with so many dog-friendly restaurants, bars, and cafes—to say nothing of the city’s wealth of public park spaces—you and your companions, canine or otherwise, will never have to work hard to make new friends.

If you’re looking for outdoor adventure in and around Chico, you’ll stumble upon it almost anywhere you look. Easy walks are available all over Lower Bidwell Park, and Upper Bidwell Park is full of both relaxed and challenging hikes that serve up spectacular views but don’t require any investment in outdoor gear to enjoy. And you won’t need a boat to get on the water on a hot summer day, with no less than seven swimming areas to dive into. Whether you prefer a dunk in Big Chico Creek at Sycamore Pool, just a short walk from downtown, or a more secluded plunge in one of Upper Bidwell Park’s natural pools like Bear Hole or Salmon Hole, Chico will help you cool off and chill out.

Late afternoon at Upper Bidwell Park's Bear Hole, with people hanging out on the rocks and swimming in the swimming holes
bear hole in upper bidwell park

All this is just a stone’s throw from wherever you’re staying. If you don’t have your own transportation, public transit is available, and Chico is a wonderfully walkable city, whether you’re checking out downtown or heading into its wild spaces. With so many opportunities for exploration, you’re sure to find where you were meant to go, even if you started out with no idea where you were headed.