Welcome to 101 Things To Do In Butte County California.
Family Fun – Oroville
There are plenty of opportunities for Family Fun in Butte county. Indoors and outdoors 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 in each community and these will be things that the entire family can have a fun learning experience doing. Lets get started.
Let’s begin our morning with a one-mile drive across Oroville Dam. Follow Oro Dam Blvd. East to where it connects with Orange Avenue and joins the Green Line Tour. (Look for the green line in the middle of the road.) Stay on the Green Line until you reach the dam. Completed in 1968, it stands 770 feet high and is 6,920 feet across the top. It is the tallest and one of the largest earthen dams in the USA. Tailings from the gold dredging era make up most of the material used in construction.
A picnic area overlooks the dam & has restroom facilities. The dam area is also a favorite of local swimmers.
Beneath the dam, a cavern almost as large as the state capitol building has been hollowed out to house six power generation units. Coupled with four units in the Thermalito Power Plant, they generate more than 2.8 billion kilowatt-hours of power annually.
Lake Oroville, which the dam created, has a surface area of 24 square miles and a shoreline of 167 miles, including many waterfalls in the Spring. Info: 530-534-2306
Lake Oroville Visitor CenterAfter our drive across the dam we will continue on the Green Line the the Lake Oroville Visitors Center at the North End of Kelly Ridge Road.This is a great source for just about any kind of information you want about the area. The center, a joint venture between California’s Dept. of Parks & Recreation and the Dept. of Water Resources, has exhibitions which cover the history of the California water projects from the early Spanish-built dams to the dams of today, Maidu Indian culture, and local wildlife.More than forty videos are available for viewing upon request. Brochures on all area attractions are available as well as maps of hiking and horse trails.Be sure to climb the 47-foot high viewing tower for spectacular views of the lake, mountains, and valley. The Center’s hours are: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 7 days a week. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year’s DayInfo: 530-538-2219
When we leave the Visitors Center we’ll be heading for Lakeview Restaurant less than a mile away at 5131 Royal Oaks Drive located in the Lake Oroville Golf and Event Center.
Following lunch we’ll head back to the valley again following the Green Line west to the Feather River Fish Hatchery & Nature Center located Off Table Mountain Blvd. at Feather River Crossing. When you come to the round about to your immediate right is the road to the Feather River Nature Center, making a normal right takes you across the bridge to the Fish Hacthery. When Oroville Dam was built, several miles of spawning grounds were no longer available to salmon and steelhead trout returning to their home stream to spawn. To compensate for this loss, the Dept. of Fish & Game and Dept. of Water Resources opened this state-of-the art facility.
The hatchery can accommodate 9,000 adult salmon and 2,000 adult steelhead. The incubators can hold 20 million eggs, and 9.6 million fingerlings can be reared in the eight concrete raceways. During their Fall-run (heaviest in September-November, but extending into February) the fish can be seen, through windows built into the wall, jumping the ladder-like steps leading to the gathering tanks, providing an aquarium-like view. Visiting Hours: 8 a.m. to Sundown. Fish ladder opens the day after Labor Day. Tours: 530-534-2306
If you’ve never witnessed this life cycle, try to find time to watch nature in spectacular action at this official California Watchable Wildlife site.
Built of stone and sitting beside the river just across from the hatchery on Old Ferry Road, the 1930’s WPA bath house has been restored and converted into a Nature Center. Beautifully constructed from nature’s gifts, it’s our favorite structure in the county and a wonderful place to commune with nature during any season of the year. Picnic tables are provided along with the nature!
Next we’ll head to Riverbend Park located at the west end of Montgomery Street., by coming back to the roundabout and heading west on Montgomery Steet and you’ll drive right into the park.Several open-air pavilions are found throughout the park and are available for picnicking or nature viewing. The water play area is very popular with kids. Later additions to the park will include an Aquatic Park with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, waterslides, an exercise pool and a diving pool.A great family pastime, because it’s free and all ages can play, is a round of disc golf at the Riverbend Disc Golf Course. The course was designed by Ed Hedrick, the father of disc golf, and was a project of Sunrise Rotary Club. Discs can be purchased at the Feather River Recreation & Park District office at 1875 Feather River Blvd.
If you haven’t already decided on a picnic take the family to Tong Fong Low in downtown Oroville just two blocks off Montgomery St. at 2051 Robinson St. (530) 533-9332. “Charlie’s” as it’s known locally has been serviong lunch and dinner in Oroville for over 100 years!
Museum Madness – Oroville
To help make your visit to Oroville fun and rewarding we have put together an exciting day of museum hopping. Oroville is blessed to have one of the finest if not the finest working Chinese Temple & museum in the United States. The only tool museum in the world also resides in Oroville. If you enjoy browsing through a museum, this itinerary is created for you. We can’t say, “Leave the driving to us,” but we can say, “Leave the planning to us,” and “Follow the Greenline.” Don’t worry about a thing! We have it all mapped out for you.
Start your day off at 10:00 AM heading for Sank Park and the Lott Home, a major historical center on Montgomery Street near downtown Oroville dating back to 1856. The Victorian garden was designed to express the taste and affluence of a successful businessman. These geometric style gardens were distinguished by regularity and symmetry. The Sank Park landscape architect was Vernon M. Dean. Straight paved walks, enclosed beds filled with a profusion of flowers, trees and shrubs were carefully grouped to create vistas inviting people out of doors.
A Victorian gothic revival style cottage, the C.F. Lott Historic Home, built in 1856, serves as a cultural repository for decorative art objects which are typical of the homes of Oroville’s pioneer families. The collection includes furniture, paintings, rugs, textiles, clothes, silver and glassware of the period, 1849–1910. The Lott Home opens at 10:00 AM To hear a narrative on this historic attraction, dial 530-539-3004 and press 101.
Kids will love the Bolt Tool Museum and so will all the men in your group. Lots of hands-on learning exhibits. All of the tools on display were manufactured during or prior to WWII. There is a collection of adjustable wrenches that measure from a tiny pair about 4 inches long to a giant 12-foot industrial wrench. A set of unusual tools includes a 3-in-1 tool for replacing the belt on a treadle sewing machine. One part of the tool cuts the belt to the correct length, another part punches holes in the new belt, and a third attaches the clamp that holds the belt together.
To set the tone for our first afternoon museum, plan to have lunch at Tong Fong Low in Downtown Oroville on Robertson Street. There you will find one of Oroville’s busiest restaurants.
By now you’re saying, “That’s the best Chinese food I’ve ever eaten,” so let’s head to the Chinese Temple, Tapestry Hall & Garden. The Oroville Chinese Temple was built in 1863 to serve a community of 10,000 Chinese. 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. Confucius taught that all human relationships depend upon proper maintenance of the family. The Moon Temple, so called because of its entrance, is Wong Fat Tong – Hall of the Yellow Buddha. The Council Room served a variety of civil and cultural needs of the worker; such as banking, letter writing, discipline and arranging for the burial of the dead.
In 1968, Tapestry Hall was built to display the extensive collection of embroidered tapestries, parade parasols and other objects of beauty and value which characterize the best of Chinese folk art. In China, art was never separate from religious and ethical teaching. 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.
Our second stop this afternoon will be at the Pioneer Museum on our way to the the Lake Oroville Visitor Center. As you approach this storehouse of history, a plaque embedded in the sidewalk catches your eye. “This building is dedicated to Truth, Liberty, & Toleration by Native Sons of the Golden West – May 12, 1932” it reads. Then you may notice the old steps – the first sidewalks of Oroville. And you’re not even inside yet! That’s how it is at this remarkable museum – one historic treasure after another! To hear a narrative on this historic attraction, dial 530-539-3004 and press 107.
At the Lake Oroville Visitors Center, one will find information about the State Water Project, Oroville Dam, the Feather River Fish Hatchery, history of the area, recreational opportunities, maps, books, and a museum containing displays of the State Water Project, animals of the area, Native American artifacts, and gold-mining artifacts. More than 40 videos are available for viewing on request, covering subjects from history of the gold rush and gold dredging, to wild animals, and ghost towns. Interpretive and educational items such as gold panning materials and children’s coloring books may be purchased at the front counter, and outside a 47-foot high viewing tower affords spectacular views of the lake, mountains, and valley.
At the Lake Oroville Visitor Center you are only a half mile from Lake View Restaurant and Kelly’s Bar located at the Lake Oroville Golf and Event Center, 5131 Royal Oaks Drive. Here you can enjoy a beautiful sunset overlooking Lake Oroville, the dam and out into the Sacramento Valley.
Shop Til You Drop – Oroville
Shopping trips frequently revolve around special interests, but sometimes it is just a means of entertainment or whiling away the time. Here are some interesting Oroville stores worth your time.
Let’s start out at a very unique store and museum. If you have any interest in hunting or fishing you don’t want to miss Huntington’s Sportsman’s Store located at 601 Oro Dam Blvd., Oroville (huntingtonsports.com). Even if your interests don’t run to the outdoors, you might be fascinated by the museum and its extensive taxidermy and historic firearms collection. The store has a history dating back to the early1940’s when RCBS, Inc. was founded by Fred Huntington and later became one of the world’s largest manufacturers of reloading equipment. The name RCBS is derived from the name of the dies the company was founded to produce: “Rock Chuck Bullet Swage.”
From here we’ll head downtown and stop at another internationally renowned retailer, Mary Lake-Thompson Ltd. The retail store is located at 2121 Montgomery St. Here you’ll find Mary’s artwork on hundreds of gift items ranging from aprons and ceramics to totes and soaps all sourced from original art done by Mary herself. It actually is an outlet store for Mary Lake Thompson Ltd. Mary’s virgin olive oil comes from the fruit on her property. If you have the good fortune of visiting the shop when Mary is present, you’ll enjoy talking with her.
A block east on Montgomery Street you’ll find two places for lunch Mugshots 2040 Montgomery St. (mugshotsinternetcafe). and Bird Street Cafe at 2025 Bird St. Both have wonderful sandwiches and salads.
Our first stop after lunch is the Betty Jean’s one block south of Montgomery St. at 1920 Bird St. Betty Jean’s carries a wide array of women’s clothing and gift items and friendly clerks. If it’s jewelry you’re looking for, downtown is the right place to be. There are three stores from which to choose. Also on Bird St. to the west of Betty Jean’s is Crown Jewelry Co. To the east is Sierra Gem Co. housed in a building recently remodeled to reflect its 1800’s historical past. Then on the corner of Myers and Robinson Strs. is Marcozzi, R. F. Jewelers. All three are family owned businesses.
For dinner you can stay downtown and eat at Bird Street Cafe or if it’s Chinese you’d like to sample, Tong Fong Low on Robinson is one of Oroville’s busiest restaurants.
Western Pacific Brewing Company is located 3 blocks from Luceddies at 2191 High St. in the historic train station. Music is available some nights and the beer selection is intriguing. Try their Oatmeal Stout.