For the under-agers
There’s plenty here for the nondrinkers to do
Like music? There are a number of all-ages venues around town. If you’re into punk music, for example, check out Monstros Pizza, on West Sacramento Avenue, which regularly puts on sweaty, loud punkariffic evenings (plus they have good, cheap pizza). The acoustic crowd tends to gravitate toward the cafés: Café Flo (365 E. Sixth St.), Has Beans (Main and Fifth streets) and Café Coda (on Humboldt Avenue), which also features indie rock, progressive experimental music and straight-up rock (and also serves a mean pizza, albeit of the artisan, flatbread variety).
If you’re a little more artsy, or you like to chill all night to techno or hip-hop beats, TiON is your best bet. A converted warehouse a bit out of the way on the south end of town (take a right on Meyers Street from Park Avenue, follow it to the right and there you are), the venue is often open after hours and features art as well as fun, eclectic music performances that include the occasional experimental or indie offering.
Perhaps the newest kid on the block is Café Culture, a hippy retreat that is home to a “dance church” on Sundays, a café and occasional world music, folk and rock performances. The big names—we’re talking Queens of the Stone Age big—are more likely to grace the stages of the Senator or El Rey theaters, both old, remodeled downtown all-ages venues with modest ticket prices. In the springtime, the CN&R hosts the CAMMIES—Chico Area Music Awards—with genre-specific showcases and a big blowout bash at the end to recognize the wealth of talented local musicians.
Wanna dip your toes into the bar scene?
There are a few hotspots that are open to the under-21 crowd, but most will kick you out at a certain hour. The Graduate, on West Eighth Street, is probably the most friendly pub in town for the young’ns. Three pool tables and a variety of arcade games, along with the famous “Grad burgers” make this a local fave. Madison Bear Garden, with its location practically on Chico State’s property, is a legend as well as an all-ages venue—until 8:30. The décor is lively and a huge outdoor patio makes it a fun lunch spot for just about anyone. The Oasis, on West First Street near student-central Nord Avenue, is open to everyone until 9 p.m. “The O,” as locals like to refer to it, places more emphasis on pool than other indoor sports, but there’s also a ping-pong table, shuffleboard and foosball. The newest offering in this arena isn’t an alcohol bar at all, but a hookah bar, downtown, called Arabian Nights. It’s 18 and older and is open till the wee hours of the morning. Its rival across town, off Nord Avenue, the Hookah Spot, is also open late-night and does not serve drinks.
Like to play?
We sure do. And Chico is one big playground. Hop on your bike and head over to Bidwell Park and try to be bored—we dare you. There are swimming holes galore to explore while the weather is hot. The best time for taking a hike through Upper Park is when it cools. For maps, visit www.friendsofbidwellpark.org. There’s also a golf course there (and a number of others around town) and two disc-golf courses for those who are better throwers than swingers.
If you’re into more organized activities, there’s a bowling alley in town (Orchard Lanes, north on the Esplanade) as well as FunLand, which has a skating rink, batting cages and a mini-golf course (south, off East Park Avenue). If you’re feeling really adventurous, women can try out for the roller derby—they’re hardcore! If you’d rather watch than do, Chico has a pro baseball team—the Outlaws—that plays through the end of August, and an amateur indoor soccer team—the Bigfoot—that plays in the spring. That’s not even mentioning the host of teams at Chico State and Butte College (where Green Bay Packer QB Aaron Rodgers got his start).
What about the arts?
If there’s one thing Chico loves, its art, whether it be of the visual, performance or any other kind. Let’s start with local theater. There are easily half a dozen performances to choose from at any one time. The Blue Room Theatre, just off First Street downtown, offers an array of witty, offbeat productions, while the minimalist Rogue Theatre, which has taken root at the 1078 Gallery on Broadway, often puts on more thought-provoking pieces. Chico Cabaret, tucked into a corner near Gen Kai Japanese restaurant on Pillsbury Road, is famous (at least locally) for its annual Rocky Horror Picture Show. And Chico Theater Co. rounds out the ensemble with a lineup of classics. There are also performances at Chico State and Butte College, in addition to those in Paradise and Oroville to enjoy.
For visual arts enthusiasts, there is no end to the eye candy. You can visit various studios during show openings, etc., but for those really ready to soak it all in, there are an array of events that help pack a lot in a small amount of time. Regularly, there’s Art First Saturdays, starting at 4 p.m. the first Saturday of each month, during which dozens of art galleries—including some hidden-away gems—are open to the public. (Check the News & Review the Thursday preceding the first Saturday of the month for a map of locations.) During the month of October, Chico sort of goes into hyper-arts mode for Artoberfest, with events happening literally all over the place, all the time. Among the most popular are the Chico Palio, a sort of kickoff parade, and the Open Studios Tour, which opens galleries, coffee shops and artist studios—including those in Paradise and Oroville—to the public, some complete with workshops.
Chico may be a small town—especially for those who are coming from big cities—but there’s an awful lot packed into this small package. One of Chico’s most visible qualities is its dedication to those who live here. Shopping locally, either at mom-and-pop shops or the farmers markets, is a Chico tradition. Sure, there’s East 20th Street with its big-boxes and the Chico Mall, but there seems to be a magnetism that draws Chicoans back to their neighbors. There are a number of farmers markets and a flea market each week. The most popular are the Thursday Night Market, which takes over downtown through September and features musical acts and bounce houses along with the local vendors. Saturday’s farmers market, located in the parking lot at Second and Wall streets, is year-round. Both offer great local foodstuffs and other goodies.