15 Exciting Things to Do in Butte County

Are you looking for an adventure-filled getaway or a weekend escape packed with picturesque landscapes, rich history, and unique activities? Look no further than Butte County, California. 

Nestled in the heart of Northern California, Butte County is a hidden gem boasting lush forests, crystal-clear rivers, vibrant art scenes, and fascinating history. Here are 15 exciting things to do in Butte County, California that will leave you with unforgettable memories.

1. Hike a Trail or Go Swimming at Bidwell Park

Bidwell Park
Photo by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bidwell_Park

Bidwell Park, located in Chico, is one of the largest city parks in the United States, spanning over 3,670 acres. With miles of diverse trails, it’s a hiker’s paradise. The park is split into two parts. Lower Bidwell Park has beautifully manicured lawns and playgrounds. 

Upper Bidwell Park has rugged landscapes and the stunning Big Chico Creek running through it. Sycamore Pool, a unique artificial pool within the creek, offers a refreshing break during the summer months. Driving time from Butte Valley is approximately 29 minutes, covering 21.4 miles.

2. Take a Guided Tour of the Feather River Fish Hatchery

Feather River Fish Hatchery
Photo by https://www.actionnewsnow.com/news/fish-hatcheries-reopen-for-first-time-in-2-years/article_d9145328-b67e-11ec-95e2-5f6cf0c0eeef.html

Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville plays a crucial role in breeding and conserving fish species, particularly salmon and steelhead. It offers self-guided tours where you can observe the fish ladder, learn about the fascinating spawning process, and enjoy beautiful views of Feather River. 

Don’t miss the annual Oroville Salmon Festival held in September, celebrating the return of the salmon to their birthplace. The hatchery is around 19 minutes and 14.1 miles from Butte Valley.

3. Experience Butte County’s Gold Rush History

Pioneer History Museum
Photo by https://www.visitoroville.com/blog/discover-our-museums

Step back in time, and immerse yourself in Butte County’s rich Gold Rush history. Start your journey at the Chinese Temple and Museum Complex in Oroville, a testament to the area’s early Chinese settlers. The complex houses exquisite artifacts and beautifully restored interiors. The museum is 20 minutes and 14.8 miles away from Butte County.

Next, visit the Pioneer History Museum to explore a vast collection of gold rush-era relics and learn about the miners who shaped the region. The driving time for the Pioneer Museum is 20 minutes and 14.5 miles.

4. Go Wine Tasting at South County Wines

Long Creek Winery
Photo by https://winemaps.com/winery/long-creek-winery

Sample some of Butte County’s finest wines in the South County region, home to LaRocca Vineyards (31 minutes and 21.3 miles) and Long Creek Winery (29 minutes and 18.6 miles). LaRocca Vineyards, known for its organic wines, offers a serene setting with picturesque views. 

Long Creek Winery boasts an impressive variety of wines and a beautiful outdoor tasting area. Both wineries host special events throughout the year, so keep an eye on their calendars. Both places are around a 30-minute drive from Butte Valley.

5. Go Boating and Fishing at the Finch River Access

Irvine Finch River Access in Hamilton City is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and picnicking along the Sacramento River. With abundant birdlife and serene surroundings, it’s the perfect place to relax and reconnect with nature. Irvine Finch River Access is approximately 42 minutes and 30.1 miles away from Butte Valley.

6. Take an Art Tour of the Northern California Art Centers

Northern California Art Centers
Photo by https://www.explorebuttecounty.com/places/museum-of-northern-california-art

Chico is a hub for the arts in Northern California, boasting galleries and studios like 1078 Gallery (28 minutes and 19.3 miles) and Chico Art Center (31 minutes and 21.5 miles). The galleries showcase a diverse range of contemporary and traditional art by local and regional artists. 

In October, Chico hosts the Open Studios Art Tour. During the tour, artists open their studios to the public. It’s a unique opportunity to meet the creators behind the work in Northern California. Artists participate in the tour, a 30-40 minute drive from Butte Valley.

7. Go Shopping and Explore Downtown Chico Business District

Downtown Chico Business District
Photo by https://www.explorebuttecounty.com/stories/neighborhood-guide-downtown-chico

Head to the Downtown Business District for a delightful shopping and dining experience. This vibrant area is home to charming local boutiques, specialty stores, and a diverse range of restaurants. 

You’ll find everything from vintage clothing shops to artisanal food stores. After a day of shopping, treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of the many eateries offering everything from farm-to-table fare to international cuisine. Downtown Chico is only a 31-minute (21.2 miles) drive from Butte Valley.

8. Go Rafting or Rock Climbing with Chico State’s Adventure Outings

Looking for a more adrenaline-pumping experience? Chico State’s Adventure Outings offers guided outdoor trips such as rafting, rock climbing, and backpacking for students and the general public. 

These outings provide an excellent opportunity to challenge yourself and explore the breathtaking beauty of Northern California. You can also rent equipment for your independent adventures. Chico State’s Adventure Outings is around a 31-minute (21.6 miles) drive from Butte Valley.

9. Take a Scenic Walk along Butte Creek Canyon

Butte Creek Canyon
Photo by https://www.explorebuttecounty.com/places/butte-creek-watershed-overlook

Experience the tranquility of Butte Creek Canyon as you walk or run along its picturesque trails. The area offers scenic views, abundant wildlife, and a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The canyon is approximately a 35-minute (24.1 miles) drive from Butte Valley.

10. Go Hiking at Table Mountain

Table Mountain
Photo by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_Mountain_%28Butte_County,_California%29

Butte County is a hiker’s dream, with various trails to suit all skill levels. For a challenging hike, head to Table Mountain near Oroville, a unique basalt plateau covered in wildflowers during spring. Table Mountain is roughly an 11-minute drive from Butte Valley, covering 5.3 miles.

11. Attend an Event or Demonstration at the National Yo-Yo Museum

National Yo-Yo Museum
Photo by https://sacramentovalley.org/stories/saturdays-in-chico/

For a quirky and fun experience, stop by the National Yo-Yo Memorabilia Museum in Chico. The museum showcases an impressive collection of yo-yos, including vintage and rare pieces. You can also attend special events and demonstrations where skilled yo-yo players showcase their incredible tricks. The museum is approximately a 30-minute (21.1 miles) drive from Butte Valley.

12. Take a Wildlife Observation Tour at the Butte Creek Ecological Preserve

Butte Creek Ecological Preserve
Photo by https://www.travalour.com/attraction/21910-butte-creek-canyon-ecological-reserve

The Butte Creek Ecological Preserve in Chico offers a serene setting for hiking and wildlife observation. The preserve’s trails meander through diverse habitats, providing excellent spots for birdwatching and nature photography. Guided nature walks are available. The walks let you learn about the preserve’s unique flora and fauna. The preserve is around a 23-minute (17 miles) drive from Butte Valley.

13. Go Swimming and Picnicking at the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area

Lake Oroville State Recreation Area
Photo by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Oroville_State_Recreation_Area

Lake Oroville State Recreation Area is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. This vast reservoir offers recreational activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, and picnicking. You can spend your time hiking nearby trails. 

Alternatively, you can bike along the many trails surrounding the lake or camp at one of the numerous campgrounds. For an unforgettable experience, explore the lake on a houseboat rental. Lake Oroville is approximately a 32-minute (21.2 miles) drive from Butte Valley.

14. Shop for Fresh Products at the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market

Chico Certified Farmers’ Market
Photo by https://chicofarmersmarket.com/about-us/

Get a taste of Butte County’s agricultural bounty at the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market. Held every Saturday morning in downtown Chico, this lively market offers fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, artisanal bread, cheese, honey, and more. Enjoy live music, meet local farmers, and discover unique crafts by regional artisans. The farmers’ market is around a 30-minute drive from Butte Valley, covering 21 miles.

15. Wander Through the CSU Chico Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

The CSU Chico Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is a hidden gem showcasing diverse plant species from around the world. Stroll through the beautifully landscaped gardens and admire the wide variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers. 

The gardens offer a peaceful retreat for nature lovers and a perfect spot for a leisurely picnic. The arboretum and botanical gardens are located on the Chico State University campus, approximately a 28-minute (21.7 miles) drive from Butte Valley.

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With such a diverse range of attractions and activities, Butte County is a destination that truly has something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re exploring the great outdoors, delving into history, or soaking up the local culture. You’re bound to fall in love with this Northern California gem. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in Butte County!

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