Set just below the Sierra Nevada foothills almost equidistant from Sacramento and Redding find Chico, a medium-sized city that combines history and culture with easy access to peaceful parkland. Home to Chico State University (aka Chico State), and its 17,000 strong student body, the campus contributes both a strong arts-oriented and academic focus to the community, earning this city ranking on John Villani's "Top Ten Large Art Towns in America" list. Further setting Chico apart from the rest of pack is Bidwell Park, at 3,670 acres one of the largest municipal parks in the nation.
While it would be easy to spend a large portion of your stay lazing under ancient oaks or soaking in Chico Creek as it drops through upper Bidwell Park, there's a clutch of cultural sights worth seeing in town. Pay your respects to Chico's founder, John Bidwell, by touring the mansion he built in 1865, now a state historic park. Though vibrant murals are the highly visible marks of the city's artistic side, there are also a number of galleries, open studios and drama companies (like Blue Room Theatre) to add to your "to-do" list.
Consequent to Chico's location below the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, visitors don't need to venture far from the city center to find outdoor opportunities. Bidwell's Lower Park has ball fields, picnic areas, equestrian trails, the World of Trees walk, a golf course and summer productions of Shakespeare's plays. For more rugged terrain, try mountain biking or hiking in Upper Park with a dip in Chico Creek or some star-gazing at the Kiwanis Chico Community Observatory to mix things up a bit. In summer, locals also head to man-made Lake Oroville, a short drive to the southeast, to enjoy extended houseboating holidays and water skiing. Come cooler weather, Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lassen National Forest to the northeast are fine places to test your cross-country skiing skills or do some snowshoeing.
Chico is located in the Northern Sacramento Valley of California approximately ninety miles north of Sacramento, in Butte County, east of Interstate 5.