Welcome to 101 Things To Do In Butte County California.
Chico, California is ranked as one of the “100 Best Small Art Towns in America.” We could write a book about the artistic talent and galleries in this town. Our goal is to help you explore the art scene in Chico, hit some of the high points, and make sure you get the most out of your time. There’s lots of art to see and it will be all around us. If you’re ready, lets get going.
We could easily spend a week visiting the galleries and finding the public art displays, but we’ll limit our exploration to just one day. Let’s begin in downtown Chico with the Luminary Art Benches which are the result of a project to create artistic tributes to world-renowned persons who either lived in Chico at one time and went on to become famous in his or her field, or who contributed to the character of Chico in a significant way. Chico is the theme of all the Pedestal Art Seats. A brochure featuring a walking map and detailed description of the benches and pedestal seats is available at the Chico Chamber of Commerce and at many of the art galleries.
Benches celebrating the following Chico luminaries are installed in downtown Chico: Architect Julia Morgan is honored by artist Jenna Mae Hepworth; the achievements of Astronomer Carolyn Spellman-Shoemaker are celebrated with a bench by artist David Barta; Painter Jackson Pollock is depicted in mosaic tile by artist Robin Indar; Writer Raymond Carver, who lived in Chico in the late 1950’s, is honored by artist Dylan Tellesen; Actor Erroll Flynn and the 1938 filming of “The Adventures of Robin Hood” in Bidwell Park are recognized by mosaic artist Christen Derr; in recognition of the contribution of Chinese workers to Chico’s history and dedicated to the memory of Andrea Spressards Christen Derr designed a mosaic tile bench; John Muir is remembered with a concrete and bronze bench by Michael Ginnattasio; Franz Cilensek (Santa Claus to generations of locals) is honored by a mosaic tile bench by Pat Koszies and Kay Wooldridge; Sir Joseph Hooker’s bench is a concrete and bronze creation by Juan Cole and Jeff Lerche; and Susan B. Anthony is remembered by a concrete and metal bench created by Jean Summerville.
Julia Morgan was California’s first female architect who designed well over 700 buildings including Hearst Castle and the Albert E. Warrens Reception Center (formerly the President’s House) at CSU, Chico.
Astronomer Carolyn Spellman-Shoemaker, who holds the world record for comet discoveries, grew up in Chico and graduated from Chico State College with her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in 1949 and 1950, respectively.
A bench not to be missed is one done by mosaic artist Christen Derr in remembrance of Chinese workers’ contributions to Chico’s early history. It is dedicated to Andrea Spessard (1980-2004).
Right on the corner of Broadway and 3th upstairs in the . . . . . building is the Broadway Heights restaurant featuring wonderful California cuisine and award winning sandwiches.
Just a half a block away is pour first stop of the afternoon. Art etc. etc. etc. has been in town, centrally located between Main and Broadway on 3rd, for 33 years and has had artist-owners for the past few. Especially unique about the shop is that the entire staff are artists (paper, oil, watercolor). The shop is popular with local artists because all of the framing work is done in the store. Particularly interesting here are the estate print collections.
Nearby is A gallery and gift store to be savored is the Vagabond Rose. Some of the area’s finest painters, photographers, woodworkers, and potters exhibit their work here. Many have received national and international acclaim, including Janet Turner, Salvatore Casa, and Kenneth Parker. Fine art is displayed amidst quality crafts and collectibles.
From Vagabond Rose we’ll walk south on Broadway to Chico Paper Co., a Chico cornerstone for more than 40 years, is owned by a unique husband-wife team. She has a masters degree in fine arts, and he has been a framer for 29 years. All design staff members have either a Master of Fine Arts or a Bachelor of Arts degree. Housed within the 2,500 square foot gallery are works of sculpture, jewelry, pottery, paintings, limited edition prints, hand-blown glass, posters and bonsai. The gallery focuses largely on representing more than 25 local artists but also shows regional, national and international art. Also known for its extraordinary selection of frames and skill at framing three-dimensional art and mirrors, as well as traditional media on paper or canvas. The shop is a long-standing member of the P.P.F.A. (Professional Picture Framing Association.
Next we’ll have to catch the B-Line or go by car to AicoraGems “Jewelry Box” Gallery where we’ll see one of Chico’s most unique public murals, a giant wooden jewelry box by Scott Teeple. A visit inside mimics an Alice in Wonderland type experience . . . passing through the door of the jewelry box to the inside where the creative brilliance will surprise you. AicoraGems features national award winning designer Geralyn Sheridan’s eco-friendly collections as well as handcrafted fine jewelry by several other talented local metalsmiths, Paul Crosbie’s art glass and periodic visiting artists. Definitely a must see.
Now on to At the Sally Dimas Art Gallery & Studio, the owner, an artist herself, also carries works by other local and regional painters, potters, and jewelers. Every wall is adorned with works by different artists.
At the end of our tour we’ll return downtown and if our timing is good we can experience Second Friday ARTabouts put on by Chico Visual Arts Alliance (ChiVAA) a 501c3 umbrella organization linking art groups and individual artists and enabling them to have a united voice, presence, and visibility in Chico. One of their most successful programs is the monthly Second Friday ARTabouts where artists open up their studios and galleries welcome the public. These festivities take place from 5 to 8 p.m. on a rotating basis in three Chico neighborhoods: Uptown, Downtown, and SOPA (South of the Post Office). These are a great way to get to know your own neighborhood or someone else’s and a refreshing activity for the whole family—and it’s free! The map for the particular neighborhood-of-the-month, together with a listing of participants is published in the Enterprise-Record and is also available on the “ARTabout Chico” Facebook page, as well as on the group’s website. For more information, please call 530-487-4553 or go to www.chivaa.org
To help make your visit to Chico fun and rewarding we have put together an exciting day of museum hopping. Chico has over 17 museums from which to chose. We have selected five which range all the way from art to yo-yo. If you enjoy history, art or toys his itinerary is created for you. We can’t say, “Leave the driving to us,” but we can say, “Leave the planning to us.” We have it all mapped out for you.
Start your day off in downtown Chico at Bird In Hand at 320 Broadway St. at 10:00 AM. Here you will find the National Yo-Yo Museum with the largest public display of yo-yo’s and yo-yo memorabilia in the country. From here we will head over to The Janet Turner Print Museum at California State University, Chico. The museum is located at 400 West 1st Street. Exhibitions change every few months. Call ahead and find out what exhibits are on display while you’re in town (530)898-4476.
For lunch stop in at the nearby Upper Crust Bakery & Eatery located at 130 Main Street in downtown. The From here we s will be near our next stop, The Bidwell Mansion.
The Bidwell Mansion is located at 525 Esplanade just a block to the north. The Mansion State Historic Park is a beautiful, three-story, 26 room Victorian House Museum that stands as a memorial to John and Annie Bidwell. When constructed, Bidwell Mansion featured the most modern plumbing, gas lighting and water systems. The overall style of the three-story brick structure is that of an Italian Villa. The Visitor Center is open Mon. 12-5 and Sat. & Sun. 11-5. Tours start at 12:00pm Monday and 11:00am on Saturday and Sunday.
Just a few steps north of the Mansion is the Gateway Science Museum where we’ll go next to learn about the natural history of Northern California, past and present. We will compare Northern California’s habitats with others in North America and the world, explore interactions between our region’s environment and the people who live here, including the original Native Americans and participate in the exhilaration of “doing science.”
If you have time after leaving the Gateway Museum, stop by Shubert’s for an old-fashion ice-cream cone with ice cream made on the premise. You’ll find Shubert’s at 178 East 7th street. (530)342-7163.
There are lots of good restaurants in Chico. We recommend trying the Italian Cottage located at 2234 Esplanade or 2525 Dominic Dr. (530)343-7000. The Italian Cottage is rated locally as best Italian restaurant.
Visiting Butte County for the first time can leave you wondering, “What should I do first?” Between the outdoor activities, museums, parks, shopping, spectacular dining, and all the scenery it almost seems impossible to see everything! Our goal is to help you hit the high points, and make sure you get the most out of your visit to Butte County. This itinerary will take you to several communities throughout Butte County. Check out one of our other itineraries if you prefer to stay in one community. If you’re ready to get a taste of all Butte County, lets get going.
Our first stop is going to be Satava Art Glass Studio at 2161 Park Ave. (530-893-0373). The doors open at 9:00 AM. Tours are available Tuesday through Thursday. Richard Satava opened his Using ancient techniques, Richard Satava, to creates beautiful art glass by combining technical skill and delicate artistry. Vivid colors and unique nature theme are his trade-mark. Passion is visible in his creations.
From here we go to The Bidwell Mansion located at 525 Esplanade. The Mansion State Historic Park is a beautiful, three-story, 26 room Victorian House Museum that stands as a memorial to John and Annie Bidwell. When constructed, Bidwell Mansion featured the most modern plumbing, gas lighting and water systems. The overall style of the three-story brick structure is that of an Italian Villa. The Visitor Center is open Mon. 12-5 and Sat. & Sun. 11-5. Tours start at 12:00pm Monday and 11:00am on Saturday and Sunday.
For lunch we are heading to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company www.sierranevada.com located at 1075 E. 20th St., 530-893-3520. Here we also want to sign up for the 1:00 PM brewery tour. If you’ve never toured a brewery, you’re missing an interesting and informative experience. And this brewery produces award-winning beer known across the nation.
Let’s leave Chico and head for Oroville and the Chinese Temple built in 1863 to serve a community of 10,000 Chinese. Located at 1500 Broderick St (530-538-2496) it includes three chapels for each of the major ways of life in China. The main chapel is called Liet Sheng Kong-Temple of assorted deities. It is a place of prayer for various worships including Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. The Chan room is a Confucian room for reverence of ancestors. The Moon Temple, so called because of its entrance, is Wong Fat Tong – Hall of the Yellow Buddha.
In 1968, Tapestry Hall was built to display the extensive collection of embroidered tapestries, parade parasols, puppets and other objects of beauty and value which characterize the best of Chinese folk art. All objects in everyday use by the common people of China were ornamented by symbols expressing the religious ideas of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism.
Not an idle pleasure garden, a Chinese garden is designed as a place for meditation and reflection, and is an expression of artistic ideas emerging from an intimate feeling for nature. All its parts are symbolic reminders of the religious principles that guide the search for The Way – Tao. To hear a narrative on this historic attraction, dial 530-539-3004 and press 101.
We’ve seen a lot already today, but if time permits, we’ll head east on Montgomery Street following the Greenline all the way to Lake Oroville and the tallest earthen dam in the nation. Driving across the mile-long dam we can see out into the Sacramento Valley and across the main body of Lake Oroville. From here we are too close to the Lake Oroville Visitor Center not to stop in. The visitor center closes at 5:00 PM, but we can still climb the 47-foot high viewing tower for even more spectacular views of the lake, mountains and valley.
There is much more to see and do in Butte County, but now it’s time to think about dinner. In Oroville we recommend Papacito’s Mexican Grill & Cantina if you like Mexican cuisine. Located at 1751 Oro Dam Blvd. (530-532-9344). If you are staying in Chico try Sicilian Cafe for a wide selection of wines and excellent Italian food, located at 1020 Main Street, chico (530-345-2233).