Art Abounds – Chico

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 ChicoPaperthe 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 PeruNat-DimasARTabouts 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


Museum Madness – Chico

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.”

Afternoon Snack

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.


First Timer’s – Butte County

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 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).


Shop Til You Drop – Chico

Shopping trips frequently revolve around special interests, but other times it is just a means of entertainment or exploring new and different stores. There are some interesting Chico stores to explore. Let us show you around.


Let’s start out at a very unique store and museum. Bird in Hand 320 Broadway is a mini department store with many unique items from clothing to toys to gifts. Housed in the store is the National Yo-Yo Museum where you can see the largest display of Yo-Yo memorabilia in the nation.

From Bird in Hand we’ll walk north up broadway to Collier Hardware where we can visit an old fashion hardware store experience a 140 year old Chico icon. The building was completed in 1871, with the upper story housing the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodges, and the ground floor housing a hardware store, along with agricultural implements, wagons, buggies, and, of course, buggy whips.

Our final stop for the morning will be Diamond W Western Wear 181 E. 2nd. St. Winner of the prestigious Golden Rose Award for 2001 , owner David Halimi took his time to “get it right” in designing and restoring this building, which is a work of art—done by local artisans. Just for starters you’ll walk on a copper slate floor, mined in the mountains of India and laid in a diamond pattern. You’ll admire the Galaxy granite store front and the fireplace hearth that has copper naturally inlaid in it.


Were right next door to Panama Bar & Cafe, (177 E. 2nd St.) so let’s stop in for one of their 31 famous burgers. They are also famous for their 31 iced teas.


Our first stop after lunch is the Satava Art Glass Studio 819 Wall St. a nice walk south after lunch. Richard Satava opened his studio in 1977 using ancient techniques to create beautiful art glass by combining technical skill and delicate artistry. Vivid colors and unique nature themes are his trade-mark. Passion is visible in his creations. The studio is open featuring glass blowing demonstrations Tuesday-Saturday, 9-4.

Since we’re in the general neighborhood we may want to 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.

Our next stop is a short drive to 2201 Pillsbury Rd., Suite C-5 where we’ll find String Bead for a unique experience viewing thousands of beads of every size, shape, and color. You’ll see some collector’s items. Note especially the handmade lampworked glass beads. You’ll find glass, wood, bone, metalized, horn, precious and semiprecious stones, and seed beads from which to choose. They have a fully operational jewelry fabrication and glass bead-making shop.


It’s been a long day we’ve cover a lot of ground. How about a Basque style dinner at Basque Norte? 3355 Esplanade 530-891-5204. A family owned restaurant serving among other things, the best T-bone steak in chico.


For Kids To Do – Chico

There are a lot of things for kids to do in Chico. Indoor things and outdoor things. Quiet things and athletic things. You’ll find more to do here than you can find time to do them all. We’ll help you explore some of them and we’ll include those where the entire family can have a fun and learning experience. Lets get started.


We are going to start the day off at Funland or Kids In Motion. The choice is yours. Either choice will get you off to an exciting day. Both will get your blood flowing.


(530) 343-1601, Hwy 99 & East Park.

Whether it’s done for the exercise or just for the fun, there’s no denying that roller skating is a popular sport engaged in year round in Chico. We know of some parents who plan their kids’ birthday parties here just so they can get a little extra time on skates. There are others that need to “supervise” offspring’s batting skills at the batting cages here or their putting on the 18-hole miniature golf course, which features a natural setting with rivers and is a challenge for both adults and kids. Also, it’s a great activity for a date. So, who needs an excuse—just go and enjoy!

Kids In Motion (In Motion Fitness)

1293 E. First Ave., (530) 343-5678.

Kids in Motion’s 6,000 sq. ft. wing serves children from infants through teens with over a dozen programs and is an absolute visual delight. Known as “Childcare with an Ocean View,” Kids will view a 150 ft. “Under the Sea” mural; mermaid, sea turtles and octopus mosaics; and salt water aquariums (some of the largest in the Chico area).

One aquarium features a living reef with corals and other creatures. Another houses larger, more aggressive sea life. The In Motion facility also has a Kids Splash Park and 5 pools and offers year round swim lessons. It’s no wonder that kids call it the “In Motion Ocean” and that it has become a very popular spot for birthday and pool parties.

Bidwell Park

(530) 896-7800, 4th Street and Cypress Avenue, (click Park Dept.)

Caper Acres, an imaginative fairy-tale themed playground featuring just about everything to keep small children busy. (My favorite is the castle, but I think the treehouse thingy is more popular with the youngsters.)


For lunch we’ll be heading for Fun Zone & Pizza 966 East Ave. (530) 894-0400

Fun Zone & Pizza has video games and other high-tech stuff that today’s young adults as well as kids seem to revel in, plus kiddie rides for the wee tots. They also have birthday party packages for a minimum of six children.


Following lunch, it off to the Nature Center in Bidwell Park. This will be a fun, learning, hands-on experience.

Chico Creek Nature Center

1968 East 8th St., (530) 891-4671,

Entrance is off of East Eighth St. just beyond Cedar Grove. (Turn off of Highway 32 onto Fir Street, go straight through the stop sign, and Fir St. becomes Eighth St.).

Hours: Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Free nature walks with knowledgeable naturalists, classes, and environmental ed programs are all available here. Weekly day-camps are held June- August and over the holiday break in December for ages 5-11 years. Summer sessions include themes like Aquatic Adventure, Earth Island, Native’s Ways, and Jammin’ Salmon, while the winter session helps kids learn about hibernation, migration, and critters’ food storage, along with what happens to plants during winter.

The nature museum includes a living display of wildlife and features other displays of nature. Pick up the “World of Trees” brochure and walk the trail to experience Portuguese Cypress, English & Cork Oak, among others. When we leave here we’ll be heading downtown to the Yo-Yo Museum inside Bird In Hand mini department store. But, on our way, let’s stop at Shubert’s for an ice cream treat.


178 E. 7th St., (530) 342-7163

At Shubert’s, Chico’s oldest ice cream and candy store, they’ve been making these creations since 1938. We like them all, but two special ice cream flavors are Chico Mint and Mount Shasta. You can also enjoy milkshakes, root beer floats, freezes and sodas. In the candy department, you’ll find everything from chocolate creams to English Toffee, and you can buy it by the piece or by the pound.

National Yo-Yo Museum Inside Bird in Hand, 320 Broadway, (530) 893-0545,

Open 7 Days a Week, Free AdmissionAwarded the most popular toy of the 20th Century, the Yo-Yo continues to be very popular with all ages. Visit the largest display of Yo-Yo memorabilia in the nation. Ninety years of Yo-Yo artifacts are on display here. The display includes photos, competition awards, and Yo-Yo’s from the 1920’s through today, as well as the world’s largest Yo-Yo at 50 inches in height and weighing 256 pounds.

This exhibit is a fascinating look at the childhood we all have in common.If you’ve learned about the natural world at Chico Creek Nature Center, gotten into shape at In Motion fitness, learned a new trick at the Yo-Yo Museum and you’re still full of energy and have time before dinner, then, maybe it’s time to try one of these.

Kids Park

Ross Shopping Center, 2483 Notre Dame Blvd., (530) 894-6800

Kids Park is a childcare indoor play and party center. They offer a preschool program, arts and crafts, and games galore. They also host birthday parties. They are open seven days a week.

Two by Two Ranch & Petting Zoo by appt. only, (530) 893-1088,

Two by Two Ranch & Petting Zoo is a unique educational opportunity for kids to experience a variety of animals. This zoo has mobile capabilities and attends many area events.

Farm Sanctuary Hwy. 32, 19080 Newville Rd., Orland, (530) 865-4617, E-mail: [email protected]Open to visitors April 1-Nov. 30

Farm Sanctuary is a 300-acre farm that shelters, rescues, rehabilitates, and provides life-long care for hundreds of animals (cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and turkeys) every year. Open to the public for tours on Saturdays. Tours begin every hour on the hour, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Powell’s Sweet Shoppe
121 W. 3rd St., (530) 332-9866Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, has the largest selection of sweet treats in town. Besides a stock of over 5,000 types of candies, they also serve all-natural gelato, old-fashioned sodas, retro toys, root beer floats, and a huge selection of nostalgic candies. Treats you have not seen since your childhood—Clark bars, Candy Buttons, Nik N’Lips, Walnettos and more. A stop here is a walk down Memory Lane and a sweet experience.

We are going to head to Basque Norte for a family style dinner. Now’s you’re last chance if you want to invite someone to meet you there. Basque Norte™ has been serving quality dinners since 1975. Enjoy the warm hospitality of this family-operated restaurant. After dinner, around sunset we’ll end the evening under the stars at the Observatory & Planetarium.Basque Norte™ Restaurant3355 Esplanade Chico, Calif. 95973, Tel. (530) 891-5204 (after 3:30pm Wed.–Sun.)

Closed: Monday & Tuesday

Open: 5:00pm Wednesday through Sunday. Closed for vacation early July. Call for specific dates.


Kiwanis Chico Community Observatory & Planetarium

Upper Bidwell Park near Horseshoe Lake parking lot, (530) 879-0207, (530) 513-0135,

From sunset and for the next three hours, Kiwanis Chico Community Observatory & Planetarium is open to the public. Located in Bidwell Park, near Horseshoe Lake parking lot, check out the planets yourself.