Chico is a wonderful little town to call home, but even this smoke can make the most dedicated Chicoan want to get out for just a little while. With the smoke continuing to permeate the air, weekend getaways and even day drips are becoming more and more popular.
The question is what activities or places to visit on a Saturday or Sunday will make the several hours in the car worth it? If you aren’t sure what sounds like fun how can you even search for it? No need to ponder what your next day trip should be, we’ve got a long list for you to choose from.
Old Historic Towns
Chico is a place known for its rich history and places to visit, but what about other small towns in California? Luckily there are several historic towns near Chico that can be visited within a day’s drive [especially if you leave by 8am]. Visiting an old historic town doesn’t really require a whole lot of planning. All that’s needed is to pack up the car with some food (in case you don’t want to go out to eat for each meal) and a change of clothes, now you just have to get in the car and go!
Below are a few historic towns that range from just an 1.5 hours to 4 hours away from Chico.
It's one of the easiest day trips to make with it only being an hour and thirty-nine minutes outside of Chico. Enjoy stepping back in time to the California Gold Rush while staring out onto the Sacramento River. Old Sac has everything from shopping, entertainment, dining, and historical attractions one can only experience in the old west.
Located just across the Bay from San Francisco, you’d never feel like you were close to the city. Experience some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge along with their famous Richardson Bay houseboat enclaves that were built by artist squatters after World War II. Take the thirty-minute boat ride from San Francisco and take a walk on the waterfront wandering through the shops and restaurants. Make sure you stop by and see the Bay Model, a 3-D representation of the San Francisco Bay built in the late 50’s.
Enjoy a day doing all the outdoor activities you can think of. Take a run, walk, or bike along the paved trail along Lake Tahoe. There are a variety of places to go mountain hiking or if you want to spend the night, places to camp lakeside. You can also spend the day on the lake paddle boarding or relaxing on the beach.
This may be the farthest away from Chico at around four hours, but it's definitely worth it, and if you can, we’d suggest making it into a weekend trip! Enjoy the famous Glass Beach or head on over to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. You can also take a ride on the Skunk Train which is an old steam train that will take you through the redwood-thick Noyo River Canyon and over the first tracks laid down in 1885.
Just under two hours from Chico lies the Old Historic Town of Auburn, the first place gold was discovered in Placer County. Now it’s a town that has events year-round to celebrate everything from old street fairs, a weekly farmer’s market, fall festivals, country Christmas, and more!
The place to go if you’re looking for picture perfect historic streets and it's only an hour and a half away from Chico! Walk down Broad Street, enjoy yummy baked goods, and visit the Empire Mine State Historic Park. You can also tour all the historic buildings such as the Nevada Theatre, County Courthouse, and Firehouses No. 1 and No. 2.
Places to Visit
These may not be historic old towns, but they sure have their draw when it comes to the multitude of things you can do without having to go super far outside of Chico.
Located on the Sacramento River in Redding, you’ll be able to spend your day exploring and learning new things while among nature. You can take a leisurely walk across the Sundial Bridge, spend time roaming the park, or visit for an event or exhibition you think would be interesting. No matter what you decide to do when you get there we promise you won’t be disappointed.
With summer ending and fall just around the corner Apple Hill is the place to go to experience all that fall has to give. With the ability to pick your own apples, veggies, pears, grapes, and pumpkins it can be a family event or a fun activity with friends. You can also experience harvest events, pie contests, jam making, and haunted houses.
Want to spend your day relaxing drinking wine and learning where the grapes come from and the best food to pair it with? Visit one of the wineries close to Chico like New Clairvaux, Gale Vineyards, or Purple Line Urban Winery. For a bigger adventure you can head on down to Napa and go tasting at any one of the amazing wineries they have.
Looking to make more of a plan for your day trip? Try one of these awesome outdoor activities that aren’t too far away from Chico.
- Hiking at Feather Falls
- Floating down the Sacramento River
- Go boating on Lake Almanor
- Take a white-water rafting trip with American Whitewater Expeditions in Sacramento
- Jump out of a plane with Skydive Sacramento
- Hike along one of Mount Shasta’s trails
- Take a hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley
Sporting events have been gathering people together for decades. Whether you’re routing for or against the home team it’s always an experience that brings out people’s competitive side. Turn your day trip into a possible afternoon or evening trip and go watch one of the games below.
- The Sacramento Kings [National Basketball Association] @ Golden 1 Center
- The Golden State Warriors [National Basketball Association] @ Oracle Arena
- The Oakland Athletics [Major League Baseball] and the Oakland Raiders [National Football League] play their home games at Oakland Alameda Coliseum.
- The San Francisco Giants [Major League Baseball] @ AT&T Stadium
- The San Francisco 49ers [National Football League] @ Levi’s Stadium
- The San Jose Sharks [National Hockey League] @ SAP Center at San Jose
- The San Jose Earthquakes [Major League Soccer] @ Avaya Stadium
Once a horse track, Calistoga Speedway is now known nationwide for sprint car races. They have hosted some of the best drivers that later went on to win championships in races such as the United States Auto Club, the Indy Racing League, and NASCAR stock cars. There's still time to see the Louie Vermeil Classic and if you miss it there's always the Wine Country Showdown, check out the dates and tickets here.