California’s other “City of Roses” is Chico. Meaning “small” in Spanish, Chico’s spirit and fun attitude are anything but. Situated about 90 miles north of Sacramento on the northeast edge of Sacramento Valley, one of the richest farming areas in the world, Chico has rural surroundings coupled with the sophistication of a sizeable city in the downtown area. The stunning Sierra Nevada Mountains lie to the east, and Chico’s eastern city limits meander several miles into the beautiful foothills of this wondrous landscape. The grand Sacramento River is just outside of the city, and offers a myriad of recreational activities.
With its lovely historic downtown area and pretty setting in the mountain valleys, Chico is perfect for walking, strolling, and bicycling. In fact, Chico is known to be a bicycle-friendly city, and has been ranked as the number one cycling city in the country. You’ll enjoy exploring this wonderful part of California and all the natural recreational activities located nearby, so go ahead and book an RV in Chico, California.
Experience the Sites and Scenery
Chico really does sit in the middle of some amazing outdoor spaces, and right in the middle of Chico itself is the popular Bidwell Park. Nearly 11 miles in length, following the length of Big Chico Creek, it is the largest municipal park in California and one of the 25 largest city parks in the United States. The lower portion of the creek is a green oasis of meandering creek shoreline, with walking paths and picnic areas. Here you’ll find the Chico Creek Nature Center, with an interpretive center, a native plant garden, natural history exhibits and a rescue for injured wildlife. The upper portion of Bidwell Park is strikingly rugged, with exceptional views of canyons and gorges carved by Big Chico Creek. There are dozens of hiking trails and mountain biking paths.
Also located in the city limits, Verbena Fields is a former quarry that has been restored into a lovely natural space. With seasonal wetlands, native plants, and a Mechoopda Indian cultural planting area, Verbena Fields is a wonderful little spot of peaceful nature in the city. Several walking trails meander through the park, including a walking trail loop.
Just a few miles to the west of the downtown area, take your Chico rental RV to Black Butte Lake Recreation Area. There is much to enjoy, including sitting on the beach, fishing from the shore, or renting a small boat or kayak. Here, you can laze your day away in the beautiful surroundings of the lake. Clean restrooms and comfortable basic camping facilities make this a perfect place to spend some time in your Chico rental motorhome.
Chico is surrounded by national lands that you can tour when you rent an RV. Tahoe National Forest to the east and Mendocino National Forest to the west both offer hiking, mountain bicycling, fishing, hunting and camping opportunities.
Of course, no trip to the Chico area would be complete without a visit to the amazing Yosemite National Park, just a few hours’ drive southeast of the city. Known for its picturesque and awe-inspiring cliff faces and rugged mountain terrain, Yosemite National Park is a very popular spot. Avoid crowds by visiting during the week, or offseason. Camping is available for your Chico RV rental, but check road conditions when considering driving over mountain passes and grades. It’s not unusual to find snow in the middle of the summer in the upper reaches of the park!
Experience the beauty of mountains and ocean meeting, in the most dramatic way you can think of, at the King Range National Conservation Area. Almost directly west of Chico, this sanctuary features beaches for walking or hiking, surfing, tide pools to explore, plus hunting and camping.
Chico really is a pretty city, with a historic feel and character that is often missing in more modern cities. This historic feeling is, however, coupled with contemporary offerings to fit all interests. For a city its size, Chico also features a lovely variety of museums, parks and shopping areas.
Bidwell Mansion is a historic home occupied by one of the city’s founders. At the time of construction in 1868, it featured all the modern amenities, including plumbing, gas lighting and water systems. The visitor center is completely accessible, along with the first floor of the mansion, and features a gift shop, theater, museum and comfortable lobby.
In the former Carnegie Library building downtown, is the Chico Museum. See the unique circus exhibit, along with art and history displays showing the diverse history and culture of Chico.
If you love airplanes, you’ll have a great time at the Chico Air Museum. Several historic aircraft, alongside interesting and interactive exhibits, are displayed in a restored hangar, one of the few remaining from World War II.
You can’t go wrong visiting the National Yo-Yo Museum, with the country’s largest collection of yo-yos and artifacts. A favorite feature at the museum is a 4-foot tall yo-yo that is dropped with a crane every few years. It’s actually the world’s largest functioning yo-yo! Not confident in your yo-yo skills? No worries, there are classes for yoyo-ers of every skill level.
The Chico Art Center is a wonderful art museum featuring local, regional and nationally recognized artists. With permanent and temporary displays, a great little gift shop, tours, events, classes and other activities, this museum is definitely worth a visit.
Other museums that are popular with folks of all ages and interests are the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology, The Gateway Science Museum and Janet Turner Print Museum, near the main Meriam Library in downtown Chico.
If shopping is your bag, you’ll love downtown Chico, a one-stop shopping mecca where you’ll find trendy clothes, handcrafted jewelry, home decor, inspiring art, and one-of-a-kind gifts, all within walking distance. This is an attractive historic shopping district with plenty of parking.
Where to Park It
You’ll find great places to park your Chico rental camper. The national forests and recreation areas all offer camping, and there are also numerous private RV parks with amenities like WiFi, cable TV, camp stores, and some even with rental bikes and tours. With many mountain passes in the area, check road conditions before driving your Chico motorhome rental out of the city, especially in the winter months. With plenty of grocery and convenience stores, gas stations, and places to buy camping supplies, it will be easy for you to outfit the Chico travel trailer rental. Several Walmarts are located in the area, including near Highway 99 and E 20th Street.
Chico is in the center of one of the richest agricultural areas in the world, so you’ll taste and enjoy a lot of local produce in any of the numerous fine restaurants in the downtown area and throughout the city. Food offerings include steakhouses, seafood, and international flavors from Indian, Mexican, Korean and Chinese restaurants, too. There are several farmers markets held in the Chico area, including the Thursday night market with a street-fair vibe, held during the warm months of the year, right in downtown on Broadway, between 2nd and 5th Streets. This unique farmers market was named in the top 10 markets to eat at in northern California. You’ll find plenty of vegetarian/vegan and gluten-free options, too!
Enjoy all that this beautiful part of northern California has to offer, and book your Chico, CA rental RV today!