Goin’ Chico: Community

Hang with the locals

37. Chico Heat at Nettleton Stadium

37. Chico Heat at Nettleton Stadium

37. Embrace The Heat

The boys of summer are back in Chico. After a 14-year absence, the Chico Heat baseball team has returned as part of the new, six-team Great West League, which draws top college players from across the country. That means high-caliber baseball, hot dogs, fireworks and Heater, the wacky dragon mascot, are back at Chico State's Nettleton Stadium. The season runs from June 3 to Aug. 11 and includes 30 home games. Go to www.chicoheat.com for tickets and schedule information.

38. Dig up history

40. The Polar Bear Plunge

OK, don't take that literally, but do head over to the Chico Cemetery for a tour of the graveyard and learn about some of the town's earliest residents. City founders John and Annie Bidwell—as well as a number of other prominent Chico folk—are buried there, and on the third Thursday of each month, tour guide extraordinaire Clark Masters will show you around. Sometimes he'll even bring out the antique hearses while spinning stories about our kooky (and spooky) past. Call to reserve a spot. 881 Mangrove Ave., 345-7243.

39. Shake the hand that feeds you

There's something ritualistic about the Chico Certified Farmers' Market. Partly, that's because the vendors—farmers, food-makers and other crafty folk (ceramicists, jewelry designers, etc.)—sell their wares every single Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m., rain or shine, in the heart of downtown. The market at Second and Wall streets is also a great place to start the weekend; pick up some fruits and veggies and then head farther into the city center for additional shopping and people-watching. Speaking of which, the Thursday Night Market is a great place for seeing all sorts of Chico characters. In addition to selling stuff from the farm, vendors at this street-fair-like seasonal market (6-9 p.m., April-September) have everything from carnival food to live music.

40. Everybody shrinks

The Polar Bear Plunge is a New Year's Day tradition that's guaranteed to cleanse—or at least chill—the soul. Jan. 1, 1 p.m., One-Mile Recreation Area.

41. Be a team player again

45. Echo spot at Chico State

When you were a kid, before your sports were video games, you used to run, jump and roll around in the grass. Remember? Well, you can still get dirty by joining a team through the Chico Area Recreation and Park District (CARD), or if you're a Chico State student, through the university's Club Sports and Intramural Sports programs. There are many team sports available—basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, soccer, kickball, flag football, ultimate disc, etc.—offering many opportunities to recapture the glory of your youth. Visit www.chicorec.com for CARD info and registration, and www.csuchico.edu/recsports for details on Chico State's offerings.

42. Chico's hoppy place

Not only does Chico have the great fortune of having the kings of the craft-beer movement making a million barrels a year of world-class brew right in our own backyard, but the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. also offers a look at the science and art of the process with daily free tours of the brewery. And if you're 21-over, there's a free beer tasting at the end of each tour! They fill up fast, so reserve your spot. 899-4776, www.sierranevada.com

43. Treasure hunting

College is a time to take risks and stand out. Fashion is no exception. One of the great things about Chico is that there are plenty of thrift/antique/bargain shops to help students build their wardrobes without breaking the bank. There are too many to list, but here are some options close to campus: Elite Repeat, Salvation Army's fancier thrift store at Seventh and Broadway, tons of clothes, super cheap; Bootleg (126 W. Second St.), chock-full of high-quality vintage items that are affordable; and for housewares and generally kooky and kitschy items for decorating, head to Orange Street Consignment (514 Orange St.)—stuffed animal heads galore, plus great furniture and curios. Happy hunting!

44. Bike to the river

48. Silver Dollar Speedway

There's only one place in Chico where you can enjoy a cold one and standard pub grub while sitting on a patio overlooking the Sacramento River. Scotty's Landing is the riverside dive where a colorful mix of fishermen, Chico State tubers, farmers, bikers and longtime locals convene, and it makes a great destination for a bike ride—roughly 6 miles through the orchards straight out West Sacramento Avenue. 12609 River Road, 710-2020.

45. Stand right there. Now talk.

Want to freak out a friend? Head to the Roth Planetarium, the circular building behind Meriam Library on the Chico State campus. There's a walkway that winds around down to its entrance. Instead of heading down, though, have your pal climb on top and stand in the center of the concrete circle, tell him to talk, and then watch his eyes widen as his voice echoes back to him (and only him). The spot is actually an echo chamber, and there's a second one in town as well, in a similar concrete circle in front of Tri-Counties Bank at Fifth and Salem streets.

46. Get a read on Chico

How much does Chico love its downtown used-book oasis, The Bookstore? A few years ago, when the previous owner decided to retire, the community rallied around longtime employee Josh Mills and his wife, Muir Hughes, and, via an Indiegogo campaign, raised the $35,000 needed for them to buy the store and keep it from closing. Go now, get lost in the smell of dusty pages and the soul of downtown Chico. 118 Main St., 345-7441, www.chicobooks.com

47. Take a free ride

50. Chico State Wildcats

Photo by Emily Bentz for Chico State athletics

With your Chico State Wildcat Card in hand, you can hop on any Butte Regional Transit bus and go anywhere in Chico your heart desires, for free! You can even explore beyond the Chico bubble and take a B-Line adventure to other Butte County cities—Oroville, Paradise, Gridley, even Biggs! www.blinetransit.com

48. What's that sound?

On Friday nights during spring and summer, Chico sounds like it's being invaded by a swarm of locusts. But it's not the end times, it's just the sound of sprint-car racing at Silver Dollar Speedway. Watch supercharged vehicles speed around a muddy oval at up to 140 mph, hear their 800-horsepower engines scream, feel the hailstorm as the cars kick dirt clods into the grandstands rounding the final corner, taste that ice-cold domestic beer and smell the freedom. www.silver dollarspeedway.com

49. John and Annie's crib

That big pink house on the edge of campus was home to Chico founders John and Annie Bidwell, and the 26-room, three-story Victorian home, which was completed in 1868, remains a well-preserved time capsule of life in Chico during the late-19th century. The Bidwells hosted many visitors at the Italian villa-style home, including Susan B. Anthony, John Muir and President Rutherford B. Hayes. Fifty-minute tours leave on the hour Saturday-Monday, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. 525 Esplanade, 895-6144.

Chico State's Wildcats are legit. Seriously, go check out the school's winning baseball, basketball, softball and volleyball programs. Visit www.chicowildcats.com for schedules.