Having been born and raised in Chico, California, I hardly think of it as a vacation destination. It is my hometown, my roots, and my history, but I never think about it in any other way. I have come to realize that to other people your hometown is a vacation destination….no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.
I have run into many people in my travels who have been to Chico or have heard of it, and it always surprises me. It also surprises me that I met one of my good friends because she was an exchange student from Germany at my local high school. Chico…of all places. Chico State University was even mentioned on Late Night talk shows as being one of the top party schools. The latest claim to fame is that Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is from Chico, and played football for my Alma mater Pleasant Valley High School.
Thinking about his has made me reflect on my hometown, and realize that there are many things that I love about my hometown and would like to take a moment to share a few of them.
1. Bidwell Park– Chico has always been called “The city of trees”. I grew up in a rural community surrounded by almond orchards, but even in town the main streets are lined with beautiful trees that show off the seasons with a colorful array of leaves. The inner city park in Chico is one of the 25 largest in the country, and 3rd largest in California. I love spending time walking, swimming, biking, and playing in this beautiful natural haven. It’s not unusual to see the occasional deer and other critters wandering around. We just keep ours eyes out for the occasional mountain lion that we don’t care to run into.
2.Chico State University– Chico State University is the main thing that Chico is known for. Besides its beautiful campus, it is one of the best Universities for Liberal Studies. The influx of students each year helps the local economy and students bring in new skills and talents to the community as well. Every year at graduation it is nearly impossible to find a vacancy at local hotels. Chico State also has many sustainability programs that continue to help improve our environment. I love getting delicious organic meat from Chico State Farms.
3. Bidwell Mansion– The Bidwell mansion is a well-known historical feature of our city. It was the home of the city founders John and Annie Bidwell. I still remember taking a class field trip to this beautiful historical site when I was younger. Some interesting trivia I just learned is that some of the interior scenes from “The Thin Man” were shot there.
4. Natural Beauty– There are some of the most beautiful drives in and around Chico. We are surrounded by farm land, almond orchards, and beautiful foothills. It is a 3 hour drive to the ocean in one direction and two-hour drive to Tahoe ski slopes….but only 1/2 hour up the hill to play in the snow. It is known for its many bike trails…becoming one of the most bike friendly cities. There are many beautiful spots to enjoy the outdoors whether it be in sport, relaxation, or observation. One of the many beautiful drives is down the Midway toward Durham. The tree-lined road is so beautiful at times it can bring tears to your eyes. I also love the drive to Paradise, Ca and back. It is worth doing even just to drive there and back. You will find spectacular views and photo ops.
5. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company– The number one attraction in Chico, California would have to be Sierra Nevada Brewery. It is not only the 2nd largest craft beer company in the nation, but it is arguably some of the best beer and food. The founder started this brewery in his garage years ago. One of my friends fathers actually laid the cement in his yard and later the cement at his brewery. It is truly a Chico born beauty named for the beautiful mountains surrounding us that he loves to hike. I toured the brewery a few months ago and was impressed by how clean and beautiful it was. The tour was very educational and the tasting was amazing! I loved the hear how innovative the company is in its sustainable efforts. If you are unaware of these many efforts be sure to check out this wonderful brewery a bit more on its website.
Chico is truly a hidden gem that many have yet to find, but those who have keep coming back. I know many people who have moved away, but always view Chico as their true home and many return someday. I hope it never loses its ‘small town’ feel and its marriage with nature. I invite you to come visit this beautiful city and I am sure you will find that the discoveries will continue to be endless…..
Have you ever been to Chico, Ca? What was your favorite thing to do?