Chico from Arts to Zip Codes

There’s a reason why Chico was named one of America’s top arts towns. There are roughly 30 galleries, cafes and museums with visual art on display by local and visiting artists. There are five community theaters that regularly produce everything from full-scale Broadway musicals to contemporary avant-garde dramas to locally written originals. There’s also the massive Open Studios tour in the fall, and Shakespeare in the Park in the summer.

And there’s still the impressive programming at Chico State: The students and faculty of the School of the Arts fill up several campus galleries with original works and keep the school’s four stages booked with campus-produced theater and dance productions. And the programming of the university’s public-events arm, Chico Performances, is world-class, bringing in performers of all disciplines from all over the world to the beautiful Laxson Auditorium stage.

Look for Chico State’s arts bible, Kaleidescope, at the beginning of the summer for a comprehensive list of the entire year’s programming, and check the CN&R’s Calendar for weekly listings of all of Chico’s arts. Contact the University Box Office for more info: (530) 898-6333 or
Arts affair

Bidwell Park
It’s a freakin’ huge park, and it’s right there for you to nap, walk, hike, jog, run, ride, play, swim, picnic, hike and otherwise just get away from it all and let the stress be absorbed by nearly six square miles of nature.

The park is divided into two halves. Lower Park is protected by a continual canopy of trees and is the more developed half, with the popular One-Mile area holding the Sycamore Pool, a baseball field, picnic areas and the kid-friendly Caper Acres playground. The rest of Lower Park flanks Big Chico Creek with paved roads for cars, bikes and people and numerous dirt trails for bikes, people and even horses.

Upper Park is much wilder, with the exception the initial lower section consisting of the Five-Mile and Hooker Oak recreation areas, Wildwood Park, an observatory and Horseshoe Lake. From there Upper Park spreads out on both sides of the creek with a web of dirt trails to take you far away from the modern world. Follow the main dirt road to popular spots along the creek—Bear Hole, Salmon Hole, on up to Brown’s Hole. Please follow all the rules for use. The park and its visitors need to be protected.

The park celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005. See our special issue at Also, visit the city’s Web site ( and the Friends of Bidwell Park site ( for more park rules and other info.

Competitive sports
Chico State isn’t the only game in town. It is hard to compete with a Wildcats baseball team that heads to Alabama nearly every year for the Division II College World Series, or a women’s basketball team that made it all the way to the 2006 Final Four, but Chico also has a few pro teams … and an amateur women’s roller derby league!

Pro baseball: ChicoOutlaws,

Pro basketball: Chico Force,

Pro soccer: Chico Rooks,

Roller derby: Nor Cal Rollergirls,

Chico State sports:

Day trips
Day trips can be your salvation. Like it or not, Chico is kind of an island. For optimum mental health, make it a point to head out from time to time across the ocean of orchards and dry fields of grass in any direction for a (Reno, Lassen Peak, San Francisco, Lake Almanor, etc.) getaway.

You may be new to town, but chances are—whether you know it or not—many Chico-based products have made it to your hometown. Some of the area’s more famous exports include: R.W. Knudsen juices, Sierra Nevada Brewery beer, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, filmed in Bidwell Park), Woof ’n’ Poof, Lundberg rice, Orient & Flume art glass, AVL Looms, Klean Kanteen water bottles, actress Amanda Detmer (Final Destination, Saving Silverman), Overland Equipment (backpacks and bags) and, of course, almonds.

Front Porches
Chico is a social town, and the big front porches of Chico’s old homes are cozy, highly visible places to socialize and introduce yourself to the community. Start with a friendly wave, and before you know it your neighbors will be taking naps on the tattered couch in your front yard.

Love ’em or hate ’em, the folks who join sororities and fraternities in Chico have fun. As with anything, though, the best advice is to do your homework. Check out each house, visit the Greek Life advisers at Chico State ( and ask around.

Chico’s history for dummies: Mechoopda Indians. General John and Annie Bidwell. Sacramento Railroad. Chico Normal School. Bidwell Park. Almonds. Robin Hood. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Pioneer Days. National Yo Yo Contest. Bob Dole falls down. King of the Hill says “Chico State.”
Magical history tour

Ishi is one of those famous local names you’ll hear the more time you spend in Chico. Reported to be the last Native American to live outside of European-American culture, Ishi is the last known survivor of the Yahi tribe. He emerged from the wilderness around Oroville in 1911.

Jazz for free
Chico loves jazz, but it doesn’t like to pay to watch it. This isn’t so good for the local cats who try to eke out a living playing, but it’s great for the poor student. Check the CN&R Night Life grid for the week’s rotation, as the Dave Elke Trio, NewmanAmiYumi, Rudy Giscombe, Holly & Eric, Charlie Robinson, Charlie Haynes, Midnight Six, Jazz X-Press, Larry Peterson, Trivah and a dozen more vie for gigs at 33 Steaks, Marketplace Café, Christian Michaels, 5th Street Steakhouse and Monk’s.

K is for radio
KCHO, 91.7FM (Chico State public radio)

KCSC, (student-run Internet radio)

KEWE, 1340AM (ESPN Radio)

KFMF, 93.9FM (classic rock)

KHAP, 89.1FM (Christian)

KHSL, 103.5FM (country)

KLRS, 92.7FM (Colors 92.7, top-40)

KMXI, 95.1FM (The Mix, adult contemporary)

KPAY, 1290AM (news/talk)

KRQR, 106.7FM (Z-Rock, hard rock)

KTHU, 100.7FM (Thunder 100.7, classic rock)

KZAP, 96.7FM (Club 96.7, hip-hop)

KZFR, 90.1FM (community radio)

With reading being FUNdamental and all, you’ll be happy to know that Chico has two great library resources. The Chico Branch of the Butte County Library is at the corner of East First and Sherman avenues (hours: Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri.-Sat.

9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun. closed). And, of course, there’s Chico State’s four-story Meriam Library (Hours: check for current hours).

Make it yours
We would be guilty of seriously burying our heads in the sand if we didn’t acknowledge the fact that Chico State students put a lot of time and energy into having a good time. But we’d be equally remiss if we didn’t suggest that there’s more than one way to party, and just joining the masses to party for the sake of partying gets old really quick. Since you’re an adult now, why not make your own choices and seek out what else living in a college town might do for your spirit? Take in a local band. Become an activist. Join a campus organization, or better yet, start a new one. Take a Sierra Club hike. Whatever you do, be original.
Do it your way

The very basics for newcomers: Hwy 99, Mangrove Avenue, The Esplanade and Nord/Hwy 32 are Chico’s four north-south arteries. Memorize the downtown one-ways: Broadway and Main go in opposite directions north and south, and Third/Fourth, Eighth/Ninth do the same for east/west. Nearly every Mexican restaurant is awesome. Stay off railroad tracks at night. Chestnut, Hazel, Ivy, Cherry and Orange streets spell CHICO! Monday night is cheap night at the Pageant, and Thursday is cheap night for plays at local theaters.

The Other college—Butte
Butte College is no longer just “the other school,” with a faraway campus out past the dump in the middle of nowhere. The new Chico Center next door to the Wittmeier Auto Center on Forest Avenue brings a campus to Chico. The state-of-the-art facility handles 2,000-3,000 students a day and is conveniently located just off Hwy 99 with plenty of parking for everyone (unlike a certain other local university).
The community’s other college

With four computer labs, a bookstore, child development lab, an art room, a full complement of student services and an admissions price tag quite a bit lower than Chico State’s, it offers good reason to consider spending time as a Roadrunner.

Places to know
• The observatory in Upper Bidwell Park (it’s free).

• The roof of Chico State’s planetarium (stand in the exact center to hear yourself echo).

• The Crux Art Collective ( and 1078 Gallery (, warehouses for funky art and music.

•The water towers east of downtown (they’re big).

•The public parking lot at Second and Flume streets (Saturday morning Farmers’ Market).

Quiet spots
• The third and fourth floors of Meriam Library.

• Under a Bidwell Park tree.

• On the couches inside Café Mondo (951 Nord Ave.).

• Kendall Hall lawn on the Chico State campus.

The Rock
There’s a long history of rock music in Chico, and though the energy of the local scene fluctuates from year to year (usually in conjunction with the closing of a vital live music venue), there is something live happening somewhere almost every night of the week at: LaSalles (rock, metal and cover bands for the college crowd), Off Limits (rock, punk, indie, rap and metal for hipsters), Sierra Nevada Big Room (blues, jazz and Americana), Senator Theatre (big touring acts like Ice Cube, Slayer and The String Cheese Incident), and a handful of smaller venues like Stormy’s, Coco Caffe, Crux Arts Collective, 1078 Gallery, Has Beans, Lost on Main, Tower Records, The Maltese and many others. Check the CN&R’s Night Life Grid for weekly listings.
Music, music everywhere

Most college students likely don’t have enough scratch to get all fancy when it comes to eating out. On the other hand, if financial aid just arrived, maybe some prime rib or fried calamari is the inspirational fuel needed to kick-start the semester or impress a date. Scope out the CN&R Chow reviews every week for expert advice.
Ahhh, romance …

Taco Trucks
If a food truck is parked in a dirt field or a parking lot, your meal is going to be cheap. If it’s selling Mexican food, it’s probably going to taste good, too. Chico has many of these authentic mini-restaurants scattered around town, all serving carne asada tacos on a double-layer of fried corn torillas with a pickled jalapeño pepper for dessert. Perfecto.
Taco truck taste test

Underwater Hockey
Put on your mask, fins and snorkel and jump in the pool with the co-ed Underwater Hockey Club to knock around a leaded puck with a foot-long hockey stick. Open to all comers every Tuesday and Thursday, 7:30-9 p.m., at the Chico State pool. Info: (530) 864-3971.

Don’t let your time in Chico take place in a work/party/study vacuum. Step out and meet new and different people by volunteering. CAVE ( on the Chico State campus is a good place to start. It offers myriad opportunities for involvement, and you can even tally a few credits along the way.

The day will come when every major city in the world will be pulsing with the chatter of completely free Wi-Fi access for all citizens, but for now, especially in little ol’ Chico, you still have to seek out the hotspots.

Some local coffee houses offer free or almost-free Wi-Fi, and the usual FedEx Kinkos-type places have it as well. If you are a Chico State student, you probably want to sign up for the On-campus Wireless Network so you can be connected at Meriam Library as well as the Bell Memorial Union. Contact Communications Network Services for info: (530) 898-6868 or
Java huts

Has that tickle in your throat turned into cold chills? Have a burning itch that you don’t feel safe scratching? Roomate put his hand through the drywall? Here’s a list of places to go for help near the campus:

• Student Health Center on the Chico State campus (Hours: Mon-Tues., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Wed., 9:15 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.), (530) 898-5241.

• Immediate Care (Hours: every day, 7 a.m.-11 p.m.), 376 Vallombrosa Ave., (530) 891-1833.

• Enloe Medical Center Emergency Room (open 24/7), 1531 Esplanade (Fifth Avenue side), (530) 332-7330.

Yes, Chico gets hot.
You don’t have to be in Chico during summer to experience north valley heat. You may not get the meltdown of 100-plus temps that can happen in June, July or August, but the September average will be over 90 and May and October are often more summer than spring or fall.

Zip codes

95926, 95927, 95928, 95929, 95973 and 95976.