Free Activities in Chico, California

Unless you’re made of money, you are probably looking for a way to save during your travels. This article will give you some ideas about what to do in Chico, California, with a budget of $0.

Bidwell Park

All city parks are free, but none are quite like Bidwell Park. Stretching almost 11 miles from the edge of downtown Chico up into the hills northeast of town, Bidwell is one of the largest city parks in the U.S. The area known as One Mile has a huge concrete swimming pool built into Big Chico Creek, with lifeguards keeping watch during the summer. There are acres of sports fields where you can always find a game of ultimate Frisbee or softball to join. Upper Park is a beautiful natural area with many miles of nature trails perfect for hiking, birding, or viewing wildlife. There is a disc golf course and an observatory that’s open on clear nights Thursday-Sunday, and it’s all free!

Sierra Nevada

FREE BEER! You read that correctly. Chico is home to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., which brewed its first large-scale batch of beer in 1980. Thirty-three years later, the brand has expanded to 19-plus beers sold across the nation. No visit is complete without a Brewhouse Tour, which will take you from ingredient selection through the whole process of fermentation and finally, to bottling. They always have several small-batch brews for sampling at the end of the tour (for those 21 and older). Like I said, free beer!

Brewhouse Tours are conducted daily for those ages 12 and up. Check website for tour hours.
1075 E. 20th St. – 530-893-3520

Thursday Night Market

If you will be in Chico anytime from April through September, keep your schedule clear on Thursday nights. Chico closes three blocks of Broadway in downtown close to the Chico State University campus for Thursday Night Market. Many of the local farms set up stands to sell their produce and give free samples. The selection includes fresh flowers, strawberries, honey, almonds, olive oil, and much more. An eclectic mix of street performers show off their skills ranging from belly dancers to the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. Grab a snack from the booths and trucks of local restaurants, browse the creations of our hometown artists, and dance to the live music that’s always a feature of our Thursday nights. The true colors of Chico can be seen here!

Every Thursday night April-September, 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
Downtown Chico

Christmas Preview

Much like Thursday Night Market, Christmas Preview brings downtown Chico traffic to a halt, but the streets come alive. Almost every store downtown stays open until 8 p.m. to showcase their holiday wares and offer free refreshments ranging from cookies to hot apple cider to champagne. Carolers meander through the crowds spreading Christmas cheer while the clothing shops have live mannequins and Santa meets the kids. You should arrive at 4 p.m. in order to take advantage of all there is to offer. This is one event that all of Chico looks forward to all year long.

November 24, 2013, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
Downtown Chico

Orient and Flume

Beautiful vases and custom glass work aren’t simply manufactured, they are an art form. It’s an art form you can witness being created for free every Saturday at Chico’s own Orient & Flume Art Glass. You will be amazed by the intricacy as you watch the artists create one-of-a-kind pieces out of colorful glass. The process of glass-blowing is fascinating. Orient and Flume has pieces on display all over the world, including the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Showroom open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
2161 Park Ave.- 530-893-0373

Home Beer Brewing

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