10 Best Student-Friendly Things to Do in Chico CA

Hey students of California State University, Chico! Did you know your university stands out with top marks from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scoreboard and consistent top-10 regional public university rankings in the West since 1998? Additionally, it has been recognized for its environmental efforts, making The Princeton Review’s 2014 “Green Honor Roll” with the highest score. 


However, there’s a lot more to Chico than just being a college town. Known as the “City of Roses” Chico offers a plethora of activities beyond the classroom. From exploring wildlife parks and engaging museums to browsing farmers markets, there’s an adventure waiting for every student. Let’s dive into the top 10 things to do in Chico for an unforgettable college experience!


To start us off…

1. Chico Air Museum

The Chico Air Museum, located at the Chico Municipal Airport in Chico, CA, offers a fascinating journey through aviation history with its diverse collection of aircraft and artifacts spanning nearly 100 years. Visitors can explore both indoor and outdoor exhibits, including World War I and II aircraft, a Russian biplane, and unique displays like classic uniforms and NASA space artifacts. The museum hosts events and speaker series, providing educational and engaging experiences for aviation enthusiasts of all ages. Admission is free, inviting everyone to explore the rich history of aviation. For more information, visit their website

2. National Yo-Yo Museum

The National Yo-Yo Museum, home to the world’s largest public display of yo-yos, yo-yo memorabilia, and contest awards, offers a unique cultural experience. Located in conjunction with Bird in Hand, visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour for free, with docent-led tours available for groups by special arrangement. The museum’s centerpiece, Big-Yo, holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s biggest working wooden yo-yo, demonstrating the playful and inventive spirit of yo-yo culture. For more details, Check out their website

3. Chico Certified Farmers Market

The Thursday Night Market at Downtown Chico is an essential destination for anyone looking to explore the vibrant local culture and produce of Northern California. Hosted by the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market, this weekly event offers an extensive selection of fresh, locally-grown fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey, and artisanal goods. It’s a place where community members come together to support local farmers and artisans, offering a unique shopping experience filled with fresh produce and handmade products. For more information on market days, times, and locations, visit Chico Farmers Market site

4. Sycamore Pool

Sycamore Pool in Chico, California, is a unique swimming spot where Big Chico Creek flows through a man-made pool in the heart of Bidwell Park. It’s celebrated for offering a natural swimming experience within a picturesque setting. The pool, flanked by lush parkland and sycamore trees, serves as a popular destination for both locals and visitors seeking relaxation and recreation. Its clear waters and scenic backdrop make it an ideal spot for swimming, picnicking, and enjoying the outdoors.

5. Gateway Science Museum

The Gateway Science Museum, affiliated with California State University, Chico, serves as a dynamic resource for both the university and the wider community, aiming to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of science and the natural world. Through engaging exhibits, such as “Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion” and “Bombus: A Natural History of Bumble Bees,” as well as educational programs and events like the Science Rocks Gala, the museum offers an enriching experience for visitors of all ages. Check it out here!

6. Silver Dollar Speedway

The Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California, offers thrilling quarter-mile dirt track racing, including the renowned annual Gold Cup Race of Champions and a variety of other specialty racing and car events. This speedway is a hub for motorsports enthusiasts seeking high-speed excitement and community gatherings around the sport. For more information and event schedules, visit the Explore Butte County website! 

7. Butte Creek Ecological Preserve

The Butte Creek Ecological Preserve offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the outdoors, observe diverse wildlife, and enjoy the stunning landscapes that define Northern California’s natural beauty. This 93-acre preserve is a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts looking to experience serene environments, hike through picturesque trails, and witness the conservation efforts supporting local ecosystems and species. It’s an ideal spot for educational outings, photography, and simply soaking in the tranquility of unspoiled nature. For more details on visiting, click HERE

8. Night Golf- At Skyway

Skyway Golf Park in Chico offers a blend of facilities catering to various athletic interests, prominently featuring golf amenities like a driving range, putting green, and a 6-hole golf course. With options for outdoor activities available year-round, it’s a prime spot for golf enthusiasts and athletes looking for quality practice environments. The park promotes a friendly and professional atmosphere, inviting visitors to experience its first-class facilities firsthand. To check when their night golf days are, click HERE

9. Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park

The Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park offers a wide range of outdoor activities across its 349 acres. It’s a fantastic place for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and enjoying the natural beauty of the Sacramento River. With multiple day-use areas, visitors can picnic, hike, and observe wildlife in one of the last remnants of riparian habitat. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful day by the river or an adventurous outing, this park provides a scenic backdrop for all. For more details, visit the county website!

10. Thursday Night Market at Downtown Chico

The Thursday Night Market, voted 2023 C&R’s Best Family-Friendly Event, is a bustling marketplace in Downtown Chico, spanning Broadway between 2nd and 4th Streets, including side streets and the City Plaza. With over 100 vendors, including certified farmers on Broadway, an Art Block featuring local artists, and Locals Lane showcasing downtown businesses, it offers farm-fresh produce, authentic crafts, artwork, and live entertainment. The market is kid-friendly, operates rain or shine, and is a food facility where only service animals are permitted. It’s a vibrant community event where downtown shops and restaurants extend their hours. Check it out Here!


And there you have it! 


Chico State University offers students much more than a top-rated educational experience; it’s a gateway to exploring the vibrant community and natural wonders of Chico, CA. From the educational allure of the Gateway Science Museum to the high-speed excitement of the Silver Dollar Speedway, Chico provides a diverse array of activities. Whether it’s soaking in the natural beauty at Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park, enjoying the Thursday Night Market, or exploring the unique Sycamore Pool, there’s something for every student in Chico. These adventures promise to enrich your college life beyond the classroom, making your time at Chico State unforgettable.


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