6 Guided Tours to Experience in Butte County
Seasoned travelers know that guided tours provide an insider view of local attractions and often include interesting details and offerings not available if you visited on your own. Take advantage of the free and affordable tours available in Butte County. If you’re lucky, you might even snag a fun lunch or dinner recommendation from your guide or fellow attendees.
Bidwell Mansion Historic State Park
Travel back in time to see and learn about the area’s history with a guided tour of the Bidwell Mansion, John and Annie Bidwell’s grand, 26-room Italian-style mansion, carriage house and grounds. Entertaining docents showcase the home’s period furnishings and discuss the Bidwell’s contributions to the city and state, the famous guests they entertained, how the home later served as a college dormitory, and tales of Annie Bidwell’s ghost.
Tours: Check for current hours
Admission: $6 for adults $3 for ages 5-17; free for children under 4.
Take a fascinating tour of Oroville’s Chinese Temple, which was built in 1863 as a place of worship for the nearly 10,000 Chinese laborers that called Oroville home during the Gold Rush. Inside the museum and active temple, you’ll view an extensive collection of embroidered tapestries, parade parasols, costumes, furnishings and artifacts representing daily life during this time period. You can also enjoy the Chinese garden and koi pond. The temple is currently open Wednesdays and Saturdays from Noon-2pm. It is closed on holidays and from Dec. 15 through Jan.
Tours: To schedule a guided tour, call (530) 538-2508
Admission: $3 adults/$2.50 for groups and AAA members; children under 12 are free.
CSU, Chico University Farm
All ages will enjoy the one hour, tractor-driven tour of the Chico State's University Farm—a working 800-acre ‘living laboratory’ for ag students. Located just south of Chico, you’ll learn about and interact with farm animals, take a peek at the organic dairy operations, and enjoy the scenic beauty of row crops and orchards. You’ll see the Meats Lab, which sells farm-raised beef, pork, lamb, goat and other items every Thursday and Friday from 8am to 5pm. Free guided public tours are offered at 2pm on the third Friday of each month (no tours are offered in Jan., June and July).
Tours: Reservations are recommended but not required. Call 530-898-3737 to reserve your space on the tour. Self-guided tours are not permitted.
Downtown Oroville Historic Walking Tour
Learn more about the rich (and sometimes racy) history during the monthly Downtown Oroville Historic Walking Tour. Guide Danny Ballard will take you through different attractions and points of interest in and around Downtown Oroville. Tours change monthly to feature different routes and different subjects, so there's always something new to discover and always a reason for repeat visits.
Tours: First Saturday of every month, with tours at 3pm, 6pm, and 8pm. No reservation required, and all tours start at the Oroville Convention Center
Feather River Fish Hatchery
Visit the Feather River Fish Hatchery for a fascinating view of how this spawning facility keeps Chinook salmon and steelhead populations strong in California. Visitors can watch from observation platforms and underwater windows as thousands of fish swim up the hatchery’s ladders to the spawning operations. Salmon viewing is best mid-September through November; steelhead spawning is most visible January and February. Visitors will still see fish March through May.
Tours: Call (530) 534-2306 to arrange a guided tour to learn more about these life cycle and population efforts. Self-guided tours are available daily from 8am to 5pm.
Sierra Nevada Brewery
There’s a tour for every taste at Chico’s landmark Sierra Nevada Brewery. Choose between different topics, lengths and beer samplings at this state-of-the-art, environmentally sustainable operation. Enjoy tours geared toward beer geeks, hop heads, sustainability, gardens, educational tastings and more. You can also take a self-guided tour, and taste specialty brews and foods, at the brewpub. Tours fill up quickly, so it’s a good idea to make online reservations in advance.
Tours & Admission: Visit the website for different tour details, costs, and hours.