Child’s Play: 6 Fun Kid-Friendly Activities

By Carly Boettcher, @momwhatsnextchico

Chico offers a wide variety of kid-friendly activities that are perfect for children of all ages. As a born and raised Chico native now raising her own kids in Chico, I can say lovingly that Chico is an amazing place to raise a family. No matter the weather and no matter the season, there’s always something fun to explore. Here are just a few of our family’s favorite activities.

Hiking in Upper Bidwell Park

Upper Bidwell Park is an adventure waiting to happen. While the trails of Bidwell Park are known to be technical, there are two trails in particular that are great for introducing hiking to your kids. The first is Monkey Face is a short (about 1-1.5 miles) out-and-back hike that peaks at the top of a rock that, yes, looks like the face of a monkey and features stunning views of Chico below. While this trail is steep, it’s short and manageable for the whole family! The second is Yahi Trail, another out-and-back hike that’s significantly less technical than Monkey Face. You can make it as long or as short as you’d like. The heavily shaded trail meanders along Big Chico Creek, and within two miles of the Horseshoe Lake parking lot, you’ll find three swimming holes, including the popular Bear Hole, perfect for taking a well-earned rest!

Kid-friendly activities in Chico
Exploring Horseshoe Lake in Upper Bidwell Park (@shortshifter09)

Visiting Parks

Chico has many fantastic parks to pick from, but our favorites include Chapman Park, Caper Acres, and Wildwood Park. Your water babies will love Chapman Park, which features the only splash pad in Chico. Caper Acres is a local staple, and I highly recommend spending a few hours at this versatile park. It includes an inclusive play structure, a sand play area, swings, and the iconic “cheese wedge”. Nestled at the base of Upper Bidwell Park, the large Wildwood Park features a bike pump track for kids and adults, baseball fields, a half mile walking path, multiple play structures, and soccer fields.

A toddler boy standing in front of the Caper Acres entrance
Caper Acres (@momwhatsnextchico)

Playing at the Chico Children’s Museum

When the weather is too hot or too wet, the Chico Children’s Museum is top on our list for inside play because it’s a place where your child’s imagination can go wild! There is a small entrance fee, but we think it’s worth it for all the fun you will have while visiting. There are many “exhibits” to explore, and you could very easily spend a few hours here. It’s located in Downtown Chico, making it a perfect location for checking out all that our vibrant downtown has to offer.

Two girls in front of a glowing tube
Chico Childrens Museum (Photo courtesy Explore Butte County)

Learning at the Chico Creek Nature Center

The Chico Creek Nature Center is next on our list for an indoor excursion—though you can also include this as an outdoor activity, as it’s located along the Lower Bidwell Park walking path. The center is wonderful for learning more about animals and nature in the area, and you can enjoy weekly and monthly events all year round!

An adult looking at a small animal on the ground with three kids in the background looking at it to
Chico Creek Nature Center (Photo courtesy)

Getting Hands-On at the Gateway Science Museum

Tucked away on the edge of Chico State’s campus, the Gateway Science Museum is a great place to wander and discover with your family. There are many constantly changing exhibits to check out, so it’s a fun place to visit multiple times throughout the year! They also offer hands-on science experiments and projects on various weekends throughout the year. Gateway Science Museum is also surrounded by several beautiful gardens, including the Native Plant Pollinator Garden, perfect for learning more or just wandering about.

A young boy standing in front of a bear skeleton
Gateway Science Museum (Photo courtesy Explore Butte County)

Taking Off at the Chico Air Museum

The Chico Air Museum is a hidden gem of Chico! Located at the Chico Airport, it has a WWII Army Air Corp hangar full of amazing old airplanes, helicopters, and aviation-related artifacts. The museum hosts several large events throughout the year (like a Santa Claus fly-in at Christmas time!), but is also a place to learn and explore during their regular business hours. Lastly, there are a few large planes outside of the hangar along with some kid-sized toy airplanes that your kids can “drive” around! We think this place is definitely worth a visit while you’re in Chico.

A kid sitting in a toy airplane
Chico Air Museum (@nicoleashley30)

As you can see, Chico has so much to offer families! This is just a small sample of the great kid-friendly activities you can experience here; there are many other adventures to be had. I hope you take the time to do some of your own exploring to discover the other things I couldn’t list here! Come visit Chico and see for yourself!