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"Chico: Amazing Parks and Open Space" Top 5 Page for this destination Chico by TooTallFinn24

Chico Travel Guide: 87 reviews and 156 photos

Chico: Early Visits Set the Tone

Thirty five plus years ago I remember receiving a phone call from my cousin Mary who was going to school in Chico while a student at the University of California at Davis. "Come on up to Chico, it is Pionner Days." an offer for a weekend of non-stop drinking, cavorting, and an escape from the life of a college student. So I said, "Sure," and piled three of my best buddies into my Dodge Dart and headed the approximate 90 miles north to Chico. Yes, we had a great time of drinking, meeting girls, drinking and partying but something else happened. Now over the years this spring event of Pioneer Days became so raucous that in 1987 after a series of riots during Pioneer Days the event was terminated by the University President. It resumed in a much reduced form in 1996 and is still celebrated to this day.

During that first visit one morning I decided to take my car and drive around town. I was over come by the simple beauty of this town in Northeastern California. An amazing mansion adjacent to college, a huge city park with canyons and waterfalls, a covered bridge and more. It started a love term love affair with this great town.

At the time of my first visit Chico was a relatively sleepy college town of under 30,000 people. Today it is the largest city in Northeastern California with a population of over 85,000 people not including all those California State University at Chico students. It even has a mini freeway and expressway system something it did not have before.

Amazing Historic Gift of Parks and Open Space

In the 1840's one of the first settlers to enter California by wagon train was a man named John Bidwell. He eventually headed north purchased on two occasions land amounting to 22,000 acres alled the Rancho Arroyo Chico. Eight years later John Bidwell established the town of Chico. Bidwell would later serve in the House of Representatives and be the Chico Postmaster. John Bidwell married Annie Ellicot Kennedy in 1868.

Five years after Bidwell's death in 1905, Annie Bidwell deeded 1,903 acres of land to the City of Chico for a park. An additional 302 acres were donated after her death in 1911. During the next fifty years an additional 1,500 plus acres were added to Bidwell Park.

Today, Bidwell Park is the 13th largest urban park in the United States. It has an amazing variety of woodlands, canyons, waterfalls and special event areas. Walking and hiking of Bidwell Park is a pure pleasure. Once you reach an area called Upper Bidwell Park it is as if you are in a totally rural setting that is years away from urban development. All of this began because of the generosity of John and Annie Bidwell.

California State University at Chico

Originally known as Chico Normal School the university has been in existence in some form for 125 years. In 1887, the California Legislature passed an act to create the Northern Branch of the State Normal School for the training and education of teachers. The first class was approximately 90 students. Over the ensuing years as the college grew the name was changed several times including Chico State Teachers College, Chico State College and now California State University at Chico.

During the 1970's and 1980's s the school developed quite a reputation as a party school. In 1987 Playboy Magazine voted Chico State as the # 1 party school in the United States. While that reputation has faded somewhat the school is still known as a great place to have a good time.

Today, the school has over 16,000 full time students. It has over 50 educational departments and offers undergraduate degrees in over 150 subjects.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great College Town, Much To Do and See
  • Cons:Isolated
  • In a nutshell:Chico Worth A Detour on the Way to Lassen National Park
  • Last visit to Chico: Nov 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (20)

Comments (4)

  • briantravelman's Profile Photo
    Jan 24, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    I've never seen that mural before. It's nice. There are a lot in Oroville.

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Feb 19, 2013 at 4:30 AM

    Thank you for a nice virtual tour of Chico. I never got up there when i lived in California, though I do remember it was well thought of as a party place:) You did a great job finding the yo yo museum. Seems like plenty to do.

    • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
      Feb 19, 2013 at 9:46 AM

      Val- Thanks for your reviews of my Chico pages. Yes it is a great place to hike around and visit.

  • pedroswift's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    Hi Steve, Enjoyed the virtual tour. It's unexplored territory for us. Looking forward to a brewery visit in the future. de peter

    • 807Wheaton's Profile Photo
      Feb 15, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      Hardly anybody knows where Chico is located so I enjoyed your comments. We spent a day there in the archives part of the University looking at pictures of the Army Air Base that was located there in 1942. My Dad was drafted and sent from Kalamazoo, Michigan to Chico - my Mom was able to live there too and I had heard so many stories about the area we planned a trip around Chico, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mt. Shasta and the Whiskeytown area and of course pretty little Paradise! I too love this area. We visited Cinque Terre last September and absolutely loved it - we took a short trip to Portofino also. But we really enjoyed our visit to Turin. Can't help with your request for tickets to The Last Supper, but you might get lucky! Marcia

    • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
      Feb 15, 2013 at 7:06 PM

      Marica- Thanks for visiting my Chico pages. Ironically I was just there yesterday with my wife hiking in Upper Bidwell Park. A great urban park with a new observatory that has been constructed out there. Looking forward to my trip to Italy. Thanks again and I will be adding some additional tips on Chico soon.

  • tropicrd's Profile Photo
    Nov 1, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    Steven,what a great place to visit one day.


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