With its huge population of students, Chico has the devil-may-care energy of a college kegger during the school year, and a lazy, lethargic hangover during the summertime. Its oak-shaded downtown and university attractions makes it one of Sacramento Valley’s more attractive social hubs, where easygoing folks mingle late in the restaurants and bars, which open onto patios in the balmy summer evenings.
Though Chico wilts in the heat of the summer, the swimming holes in Bidwell Park take the edge off, as does floating down the gentle Sacramento River. The fine pale ales produced at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, near downtown, are another of Chico’s refreshing blessings.
There’s a bit of irony in the fact a town so widely celebrated for its brews was founded by John Bidwell, the illustrious California pioneer who made a bid for US president with the Prohibitionist party. In 1868, Bidwell and his philanthropist wife, Annie Ellicott Kennedy, moved to the new mansion he had built, now the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park.