Kid friendly

Chico is fun for kids of all ages

Hey, kids! It’s you’re turn to have some fun. Chico is not just a college town; it’s great for kids, too. The many sunny Chico days keep kids running around outside or playing on recreational sports teams. But above of all, Chico’s parks are kid-perfect. With a little imagination, Chico becomes a playground paradise. And don’t worry about your little brother or sister; downtown curbs seem designed for easy stroller navigation.

The best place to start is Bidwell Park. It has a bunch of picnic spots, playgrounds and swimming holes. Sycamore Pool at One-Mile Recreation Area is the easiest to get to. The creek has been dammed off a bit, and kids of all ages spend many sunny summer hours there, splashing and floating in the water.

If you’ve just rolled into town for a visit and you’re going car-crazy—or worse—head directly to Caper Acres in the One-Mile Recreation Area. This playground is strictly for kids. In fact, the sign on the entrance gate says no adult may enter unless accompanied by a child. There are water fountains shaped like animals, a castle, sandboxes, playground equipment and more. Spaces for children’s parties can also be reserved.

After a visit to Caper Acres, you and your parents can take a walk through nature. Start at One-Mile Recreation Area and head east (ask your mom which way east is). It’s a good way to enjoy the huge oak trees and the wildlife. There’s a nice walking trail next to the creek and a paved bicycle path a bit farther away.

Other places to explore in the park include the cork forest just behind Parkview School near Cedar Grove. Cork trees are pretty strange by themselves—a whole forest of them is really weird. Nearby is John Bidwell’s experimental tree-growing area, where the general planted trees from around the world. There is a self-guided nature trail to help you identify the trees. From there it is a short walk to the Chico Creek Nature Center (, where kids can experience a safe and organized introduction to the natural world of Bidwell Park. The center’s Living Animal Museum includes tortoises, birds, snakes, frogs and ferrets. Wow, fun and educational. That should make your parents happy. These attractions are all located in Lower Bidwell Park.

Your older brothers and sisters will enjoy hiking in Upper Bidwell Park, which encompasses the whole of Big Chico Creek Canyon beginning five miles east of downtown. Check out the Yahi Trail, which runs along the north side of the creek, featuring swimming holes and dazzling basalt rock formations.

THE LONG GREEN <br>Kids and adults have a great time on the Funland miniature golf course.

Chico also has plenty of playgrounds, fun centers and other diversions. Here’s a list:


There are two great playgrounds in Bidwell Park—Caper Acres and one at the Hooker Oak Recreation Area. There is also a small playground area at the Children’s Park, which is conveniently located downtown, just north of the Bidwell Memorial Presbyterian Church at First and Broadway. Chico’s largest outdoor sports park, the Community Park off East 20th Street just west of Highway 99, has a large children’s playground in addition to its volleyball and tennis courts and expansive playing fields. A great place for a picnic while visiting is the Oak Way Playground, at the corner of West Eighth Avenue and Highway 32, which offers a variety of play facilities, including a playground, sports fields and basketball courts. And Chico’s newest playground (and one of its best) is located at Wildwood Park, on Wildwood Avenue just off Manzanita at the entrance to Upper Bidwell Park. It’s got state-of-the-art equipment that is second to none. It’s definitely worth a visit. On 16th and Broadway is the small but fun Rotary Park.

A skating rink plus miniature golf plus batting cages. What more could a kid want? Cal Skate is Chico’s one and only roller-skating rink, and it’s a good one—large, clean and well run. It’s the kind of place where you can drop off the kids for a couple of hours and know they’re going to have fun and be safe. The miniature golf course called Putters is fun for kids and challenging for grownups. There are different activities every day of the week, as well as an Ice Cream Shoppe, so call Funland’s “Fun Line” at 343-1601 to find out what’s happening and what the hours are. The rink is located at 2465 Carmichael Drive, just west and north of the Park Avenue and Highway 99 intersection.,

Chuck E. Cheese
We can’t leave Chuck the “Big Cheese” out of this list. Our own kids won’t let us. You have your mechanical band made up of a gorilla, a chicken, a mouse and a pizza maker. There are carnival-type games, video games and rides for the real little kids, as well as an indoor soft-play facility. It’s open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.-Tues. and 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Located at 966 East Ave. 894-0400.

Putt Putt Hut
The recently opened Putt Putt Hut Family Fun Center at 986 East Ave., Suite C-1, is an indoor, nine-hole mini golf course. Prices range from free (for under age 4) to $5 (5-18) to $6 (adult), with discounts for additional rounds. Open Tuesday-Sunday, with private parties on Monday. 894-7884.

Orchard Lanes
More than a bowling alley, this entertainment center has an arcade, snack bar, pro shop and plenty of family fun at 2397 The Esplanade. 895-3257.

Farm Sanctuary
Just down Highway 32 from Chico, in Orland, is Farm Sanctuary, where animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, goats and turkeys are protected from harm—including becoming dinner. Children can meet the animals on weekends from April through November. For more information or directions, call 865-4617 or visit

Humboldt Neighborhood Park
For skateboarding and inline skating, this park is located between Orient and Flume streets along Humboldt Avenue. The 10,000-square-foot skate track is equipped with a pyramid, a rail, a box, two 3-foot-wide steps, curbing and steel coping to supply the skaters with enough variation to mix up their patterns. The park is open from 8 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. throughout the summer months; in fall the park closes at sunset.