Chico Getaway Artist

Highway 99 Road Trip

Make your next road trip all about the jour­ney instead of just the des­ti­na­tion. If you’re com­ing down from Ore­gon or gen­er­al­ly head­ing south on I‑5 to Sacra­men­to and beyond, adven­ture off the beat­en path for unique wine and beer expe­ri­ences, out­door hid­den gems, and a dif­fer­ent spin on the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia expectations.

All it takes is a detour from I‑5 at Red Bluff to con­nect to High­way 99 South, and then you can explore the less-traf­ficked path with a High­way 99 road trip through Butte County. 

Get Ready to Explore

Explore our cus­tom map or get enjoy a guid­ed tour on Google Earth.

Take the Drive

Day One

Taste at New Clair­vaux Vineyards

Locat­ed about 30 min­utes out­side Chico in Vina, New Clair­vaux is not just a win­ery, it is a Roman Catholic abbey and the home to Trap­pist-Cis­ter­cian monks who man­age the vine­yard and win­ery. In addi­tion to the abbey, there is also a chapel and a book­store, not to men­tion plen­ty of nat­ur­al beau­ty. Fifth-gen­er­a­tion wine­mak­er Aimée Sun­seri pro­duces wines that have won a host of awards, which makes the trip to New Clair­vaux a worth­while one for all wine lovers. Be sure to vis­it the chapel and take a few bot­tles home with you before you leave.

Get there: From Hwy 99, turn west onto Vina Rd and fol­low it onto 7th St. The paved road ends at the entrance to the Abbey prop­er­ty; con­tin­ue along the dirt road and fol­low the arrows all the way to the tast­ing room.

Dine at CJ’s Last Chance Diner

From New Clair­vaux, hop back onto CA-99 South towards North Chico for a stop at CJ’s Last Chance Din­er, your first chance to grab a late lunch com­ing into town. The din­er offers an impres­sive array of road trip favorites, from com­fort food brunch and break­fast options, to a huge selec­tion of burg­er and BBQ sand­wich­es, plus sal­ads, sides, and a small kids menu.

Play in Low­er Bid­well Park

After fuel­ing up, head to Chico’s Low­er Bid­well Park for a refresh­ing wind-down in one of the loveli­est (and largest) munic­i­pal park areas in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. If the weath­er is favor­able, enjoy a dip in the icon­ic Sycamore Pool, or sim­ply take some time to walk under the tree-fil­tered sun­light for a while as you let your mind (and stom­ach!) settle.

Get there: From CA-99 take the E. 1st Ave. exit and head west. Turn south (left) onto Man­grove Ave, and then turn left onto Val­lom­brosa Avenue. The out­skirts of Low­er Bid­well Park stretch along the right side of the street, with a few con­ve­nient places to park, includ­ing at the Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter; but for the most direct access, dri­ve about a block past the Post Office and turn right onto Val­lom­brosa Way (across from Arbu­tus Avenue) and park along­side Sycamore Pool and One Mile Recre­ation Area.

Explore Down­town Chico

After your Low­er Park explo­rations, it’s a short dri­ve to near­by Down­town Chico, the bustling epi­cen­ter of the city and neigh­bor to Chico State. Here you’ll find a trea­sure trove of shops and restau­rants. Vis­it Made in Chico, a local-favorite that sells hand-craft­ed goods, cloth­ing, local food items, and more. 

If you’re inter­est­ed in books, sta­tion­ary, games, toys, and a vari­ety of home goods, you’ll enjoy a trip through Bird in Hand. This pop­u­lar spot also hous­es the Nation­al Yo-Yo Muse­um, with a huge dis­play of dif­fer­ent yo-yos, includ­ing the world’s largest work­ing wood­en yo-yo, which sits in the cen­ter of the small museum.

Down­town din­ner options are no less abun­dant than the shop­ping. Gogi’s sits not far from the Chico State cam­pus, offer­ing some of the best Indi­an cui­sine in the area (plus a ded­i­cat­ed menu of deli­cious veg­an options, includ­ing las­si and naan). If burg­ers are what you’re after, Burg­ers and Brew has a giant menu of burg­ers, sand­wich­es and hot dogs (and a pair of stel­lar veg­an choic­es) sup­ple­ment­ed by an unbeat­able selec­tion of beer on tap, includ­ing local favorites and their own line from Sacra­ment Brew­ing, or vis­it col­lege favorite Madi­son Bear Gar­den for a Jiffy Burg­er and curly fries. If you’re look­ing for a fine® din­ing expe­ri­ence, Crush or 5th Street Steak­house would fit the bill.

Get there: From Low­er Park, take Val­lom­brosa Avenue back to turn left onto Man­grove Avenue, then a right onto East 3rd Street to access the Salem Street park­ing garage across from Momona. Street park­ing is usu­al­ly avail­able, but will be a lot more crowd­ed on event nights, and be aware that while you can use a card to pay on the street, the park­ing garage requires coins.

Stay the Night

There are plen­ty of places to stay in Chico, no mat­ter what your budget.

Day Two

Enjoy a Cof­fee Break

Chico loves its cof­fee, and there’s no short­age of places to find a per­fect roast. Sto­ble Cof­fee offers deli­cious and respon­si­bly sourced cof­fees, teas, and blend­ed drinks, plus break­fast, sand­wich­es, soups, and sal­ads, served in a recent­ly remod­eled his­toric build­ing down­town with a rooftop lounge. Day Camp Cof­fee, just off E. 20th Street, offers a com­fort­able, two-sto­ry expe­ri­ence with an assort­ment of plates, small bites, and top-notch cof­fee options. Cof­fee Ranch sits on E. 1st Ave, and they’ve got a more robust food menu with great morn­ing options (includ­ing a few veg­e­tar­i­an ones) to go with their excel­lent coffee.

Highway 99 Road Trip

Taste the Boun­ty at a Farm­ers Market

If you’re dri­ving through on a Wednes­day or Sat­ur­day, make sure you make the stop at one of Chico’s cer­ti­fied farm­ers mar­kets. The Wednes­day mar­ket is close to the high­way at 30 Plaza Way. If you’re lucky enough to be in town on a Sat­ur­day, then the farm­ers mar­ket will be locat­ed at 1 East 2nd Street, in the heart of Down­town Chico just by the round­about. At either mar­ket you’ll be treat­ed to ven­dors of all shapes and sizes, offer­ing pro­duce, local food, fresh breads, cof­fee both brewed and to brew at home, plus live music and oth­er enter­tain­ments. See what all the locals are talk­ing about and pick up a lit­tle some­thing to take home with you.

Sier­ra Neva­da Brew­ery and Taproom

One of Chico’s can’t‑miss stops is Sier­ra Neva­da Brew­ery and Tap­room. Locat­ed on E. 20th Ave right off High­way 99, you’ll find your­self at a par­adise of food and drink whether you’re a huge beer enthu­si­ast or just accom­pa­ny­ing one. The brew­ery offers sev­er­al dif­fer­ent tours of their state-of-the-art facil­i­ty, beer tast­ings are avail­able (some­times with local-only and small-batch brews), and the Tap­room restau­rant serves a selec­tion of cui­sine sourced so local­ly it might even have been grown in Sier­ra Nevada’s on-site garden.

Shop at Sohn­rey Fam­i­ly Foods

Explore Sohn­rey Fam­i­ly Foods gift shop on the out­skirts of Oroville. This local shop is known for cre­ative fla­vors in its vari­ety of nut but­ters, plus whole nuts, can­dies, local hon­ey, local wine, and hand­made home goods from Mary-Lake Thomp­son and oth­er local cre­ators. Be sure to leave a lit­tle extra space in your bag for a jar (or three) of whichev­er nut but­ter sam­ples you like the best!

Get there: Turn onto East 20th Street to merge onto CA-99 South toward Sacra­men­to. Stay in the right two lanes to turn slight­ly right to stay on CA-99. Turn right onto Skillin Lane.

Dis­cov­er at Gri­d­ley Museum

If you want like to sam­ple the ulti­mate dis­til­la­tion of pure nos­tal­gia, con­tin­ue south to the Gri­d­ley Muse­um. This local muse­um is sure to delight vis­i­tors of all ages. The build­ing itself her­alds all the way from 1909, orig­i­nal­ly used as a local bank, with the upper floors reserved for den­tists, doc­tors, and attor­neys. There is a ful­ly-fur­nished peri­od den­tal office avail­able to walk through upstairs, and the low­er floor con­tains a vari­ety of local Gri­d­ley and Butte Coun­ty his­to­ry, with cloth­ing, wartime mem­o­ra­bil­ia, antique appli­ances and kitchen equip­ment, and photographs.

Get there: From Sohn­rey Fam­i­ly Food, con­tin­ue south on CA-99 to take a right on Spruce Street and then a left on Ken­tucky Street.

Highway 99 Road Trip

Dine at Casa Lupe

Your next meal is just a few blocks away from the muse­um at Casa Lupe. A sta­ple in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia for 50 years, this fam­i­ly run mar­ket and adjoin­ing restau­rant offers fresh sal­sa and tamales pre­pared tra­di­tion­al­ly dai­ly. Locals know about the Lupe’s car­ni­tas spe­cial, avail­able only on the week­ends, so make sure to show up ear­ly before it’s sold out. 

Get there: Head south on Ken­tucky Street toward Hazel Street, turn left on Sycamore Street, and then right onto CA-99. The restau­rant is on the cor­ner of 99 and Mag­no­lia Street, just across from East Gri­d­ley Road.

Highway 99 Road Trip

Explore the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

A des­ig­nat­ed Wildlife Area of approx­i­mate­ly 9,100 acres sur­round­ed by miles of rich agri­cul­tur­al lands, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is avail­able for vis­i­tors to hunt, fish, and bird watch. Bird­ers will be hap­py for this stop — espe­cial­ly dur­ing the migra­to­ry sea­son Novem­ber through Feb­ru­ary, when snow geese and flocks of oth­er birds take their rest in the area — but every­one can enjoy these pris­tine wet­lands year-round, either for a relaxed car tour, or as a per­fect sun­set hike to end a day of local adven­ture. If the birds are present, make use of the few indoor blinds to cap­ture unfor­get­table moments, or sim­ply walk around the wet­land loop and appre­ci­ate the pink skies as they con­trast the water, trees, and local wildlife. You’ll also enjoy a view of the Sut­ter Buttes —known in the region as the world’s small­est range” — on the hori­zon.

Get there: Take Sycamore Street to Colusa High­way head­ing west, take a right on Pen­ning­ton Road, and a left onto Ruther­ford Road.

Explore Sacra­men­to and Beyond

After that final sun­set, con­tin­ue your trip by return­ing to High­way 99 and con­tin­u­ing south for one more hour to recon­nect to I‑5 near the Sacra­men­to Inter­na­tion­al Air­port and set­tle in for the night at one of the many avail­able lodg­ing options in Sacramento.

Whether you enjoy some time in Sacra­men­to or con­tin­ue down the inter­state to your final des­ti­na­tion, we hope that you enjoy the sou­venirs, pho­tos, and mem­o­ries of your time spent in beau­ti­ful Butte Coun­ty and remem­ber to explore more off-the-beat­en paths on your return trip.