A Fun Three-Day Adventure in Butte County
Nestled in the heart of Northern California, Butte County is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. From the serene beauty of Paradise to the vibrant city life of Chico to the popular moonlight paddle in Oroville, this region offers a diverse range of experiences for every traveler. Join us on a three-day journey through Butte County, with stays in an enchanting glamping destination as well as the perfect Airbnb for all your adventures throughout the region. We'll also explore the must-eats of the area, from local restaurants to artisanal chocolate shops. And of course, we'll guide you through exhilarating outdoor adventures and local activities that will make your visit unforgettable.
As an adventure and travel couple with 52 national parks, countless cities, and even more calories consumed from coast to coast, we give Butte County our stamp of approval, and if you follow this itinerary on your trip, we know you will too.
Where to stay
Begin your three-day adventure with a serene morning walk around the gorgeous grounds of Chappelle de L'Artiste Chateau & Retreat. This unique glamping site from Creative Excursions offers nearly everything you can imagine, from breathtaking views of the surrounding valley to a poolside oasis that includes a giant koi pond, and it even has its very own party cave with a stage and bar. You will get a comfy night’s sleep in a spacious tent that includes a queen bed, air conditioning, mini fridge, coffee maker and more. It's a perfect place to clear your mind and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Paradise.
Where to Eat
Head over to Debbie's Restaurant in Paradise for a hearty breakfast. This local favorite is known for its unique thin-and-crispy pancakes, delicious omelets, and friendly service.
Another must-eat spot in Paradise is the iconic Joy Lyn’s Candies, where our diet went completely out the window, and we left with more chocolate than an 8-year-old on Halloween.
For lunch and dinner, there are plenty of local restaurants and cafes to choose from.
Things to Do
Head over to the nearby Paradise Lake for a fun day of hiking that includes gorgeous views of the lake, with plenty of shade for those warm summer days, as the trees provide the perfect canopy above.
Evening in Paradise
When you get back to your tent and rinse off in their onsite private showers, take a tour of the grounds, and make your way over to the aptly named Burnt Barn Distillery. When we visited, they were putting the finishing touches on the Distillery for its grand opening later in 2023, but we were lucky enough to get the grand tour from one of the owners.
Following the tour, our gracious host and her amazing husband sat down with us for a delicious dinner, as they shared tales of 2018’s Camp Fire that devastated Paradise and the remarkable community that came together to rebuild better than before. Our experience at Chappelle de L’Artiste was one we won’t forget, and while we can’t guarantee you will have the chance to sit down with the owners for a chat, we are happy to say that the host family of this beautiful property manages to outshine the property itself.
Where to Stay
We checked into an Airbnb in Meriam Park, Chico, and it was the perfect place for our next couple of days. This is a newer neighborhood, with everything you could want within a short 3 to 5 minute drive, and Downtown Chico only 10 minutes away. The Chico Marketplace is around the corner for those that get that shopping itch, and that’s where we rented our car for the few days we were in town. All that being said, you can literally skip the rental, as there are great restaurants, coffee shops and more only steps away in Meriam Park’s Tank District. And if you need to, you can always catch a short Uber ride.
Where to Eat
Since we stayed at this Airbnb for a couple of nights, we took advantage of the great food nearby on Days 2 and 3. For breakfast, you can walk to Daycamp Coffee or take the short drive to Downtown Chico’s Tin Roof Bakery & Cafe, and you’re guaranteed to start your morning off right. Our biggest issue at Tin Roof was deciding what delectable treat we wanted with our morning coffee!
For lunch or dinner, we can’t recommend Burban Kitchen in Meriam Park enough, as the menu has plenty of mouthwatering options, and the fancy flatbread and pork rib tacos were out of this world! Finally, for another great meal with a local brew, you can walk just up the street from Burban Kitchen to Farmers Brewing Restaurant and Taproom for a great date night spot.
Things to Do
The first stop as you make your way from Paradise to your Airbnb in Chico has to be the Butte Creek Watershed Overlook. What seems like an inconspicuous stop on the side of the highway is actually a sprawling look at the 510,000-acre canyon below which is locally known as a “miniature Grand Canyon.” With easy access parking that leads right to the edge of the overlook, anyone can take in the views or add a love lock to the countless locks hooked on the chain-link fence that acts both as a barrier and an endless tribute of unbreakable love for the many that have passed through over the years.
While there are many activities and hikes to choose from, on our second day we happened to be in town for the full moon, and the Forebay Aquatic Center in Oroville has a moonlight paddle that it offers a few times a year in late summer and early fall, which ended up being the highlight of an unforgettable trip.
After about a 25 minute drive from our Airbnb, we pulled into the Thermalito North Forebay, met our group of paddlers, put on our life jackets, and after a brief safety rundown, got in our kayak and set out for a breathtaking full moon over the lake. If you are interested in this activity, we highly recommend it, and you can get updates about the annual dates on the Forebay Aquatic Center’s website.
If you are anything like us, you will likely be ready for a quick bite, shower, and bed after all the excitement, and that leads into our final full day in Butte County.
Spend your third day exploring the vibrant city of Chico and the beautiful parks that make it feel like a true oasis in the desert.
Where to Stay
When a good thing is working, don’t change it. So that’s why we stayed another night in our Meriam Park Airbnb and recommend you do the same.
Where to Eat
There really are so many options, but as we said above, our go-to for breakfast is Tin Roof in downtown, which went well with our full day of adventure. For lunch, explore Downtown Chico's dining scene. You'll find a variety of cafes, bistros, and eateries offering diverse cuisine. We grabbed a bite on the go, and after a full day of adventure, we went to Farmers Brewing Restaurant and Taproom, where a flight of their in-house beer, wings, and some pork-belly and salmon bowls reenergized us for our nightcap in town.
Things to Do
Spend your third day exploring the vibrant city of Chico.
Upper Bidwell Park: Since summer days can get hot, we recommend starting your day with a hike in Upper Bidwell Park. The Yahi Trail follows the crystal-clear Big Chico Creek with plenty of tree cover that offers the perfect morning hike before the afternoon heat—we were even lucky enough to see a family of deer pass by as we were cooling off in the river!
Lower Bidwell Park Swimming Hole: With the heat really starting to ramp up, we went to one of the coolest—literally and figuratively—city park attractions we’ve ever seen. Sycamore Pool at One Mile Recreation Area in Lower Bidwell Park is a massive pool of constantly flowing spring water that provides a beautiful and natural backdrop, with a fun way to cool down during the long summer days.
Coin-Op Game Room: Visit Downtown Chico for dinner, drinks, and fun. With several places to choose from, you have plenty of night-life options in Chico. However, if you’re like us, you can end your night playing old-school arcades and enjoying live music at the Coin-Op Game Room, which is located on the same streets as our bonus option below. The Coin-Op has food and drinks as well, but you should know that after a certain hour it becomes 21 and up.
Bonus: Thursday Night Market in the heart of Downtown Chico. Every Thursday from May through September from 6pm to 9pm, you can browse a wide selection of fresh, locally grown produce, artisanal goods, and handmade crafts. It's a great place to pick up souvenirs or snacks for your journey. To help with fun and safety, the streets are closed off to pedestrians and vendors. We had the opportunity to enjoy a stroll around the market, and then hit up the Coin-Op.
Final Trip Recommendations
Pack comfortable clothing and footwear suitable for outdoor activities.
Bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during your adventures.
Check the weather forecast before your trip—summers are generally hot and sunny, but we experienced a surprise storm when we visited, so make sure you prepare for the unexpected.
Make reservations at restaurants in advance, especially during peak dining hours.
Embrace the local culture and engage with the friendly residents to learn more about the area's hidden gems.
Butte County, California, offers a perfect blend of nature, art, and culinary delights. From the enchanting glamping experience at Chappelle de L'Artiste to the vibrant neighborhoods of Chico, this region has something for every traveler. Whether you're indulging in mouthwatering dishes at local eateries, embarking on outdoor adventures, or exploring the artistic expressions that define the area, Butte County promises a memorable and immersive experience.
So, pack your bags, and get ready to discover the beauty and charm of Butte County, California. Your three-day adventure awaits!