Multiple Cities Family Adventure Museums

12 Kid-Friendly Spots in Butte County

Look­ing for a fun des­ti­na­tion for a kid-friend­ly vaca­tion? Enjoy a vis­it to Butte Coun­ty, an extreme­ly kid-friend­ly com­mu­ni­ty with plen­ty of fun activ­i­ties to keep chil­dren active, engaged, and enter­tained. Take a look at the fol­low­ing list of 12 kid-friend­ly spots in Butte Coun­ty, map out an excit­ing itin­er­ary, and get ready to explore. (It’s always a good idea to check the linked web­sites for hours of oper­a­tion, admis­sion fees, and hol­i­day closures.)

For Those 12 and Under

Caper Acres: Fun and Amusement

Caper Acres has been delight­ing young chil­dren, and their par­ents, for gen­er­a­tions. Locat­ed at One Mile Recre­ation Area in Bid­well Park, this expan­sive fairy­tale-themed play­ground for chil­dren 12 and younger includes fun fea­tures like a crooked house play struc­ture, cement cheese slide, pirate ship with sea mon­ster, Hump­ty Dump­ty sand­box, plen­ti­ful swings, and more. The play­ground is sur­round­ed by large oak trees, bench­es, and green space, per­fect for fam­i­ly pic­nics and out­ings. If you’ve got young ones, this is a must-stop for fam­i­lies. Any­one over the age of 13 must be accom­pa­nied by a child under 13.

Chico Children’s Muse­um: Play and Learn 

Expect to stay a cou­ple of hours at the Chico Children’s Muse­um, and pre­pare for eager pleas to stay longer. This enchant­i­ng muse­um is pri­mar­i­ly for chil­dren aged 2 to 8 and hopes to inspire cre­ativ­i­ty, inves­ti­ga­tion, and learn­ing through play. Kids and par­ents cre­ate won­der in a dim­ly lit sen­so­ry room. They explore art sta­tions and walls made of tape, Legos, and wind pipes. There’s a mini stage with cos­tumes, a make-believe farm, two-sto­ry tree­house for read­ing, space­ship com­mand cen­ter, fire sta­tion, and camp­ground com­plete with kayak, tent, s’mores, and ani­mals. Kids can wear lab coats and stetho­scopes to work in the den­tal office and vet­eri­nary clin­ic, shop at the mar­ket, mail let­ters at the post office, and make food at the local café. See why they won’t want to leave?

Chico Creek Nature Cen­ter: Explore a Liv­ing Ani­mal Museum 

Just steps from Chico Creek in Bid­well Park, the Chico Creek Nature Center fea­tures a Liv­ing Ani­mal Muse­um (LAM) where kid­dos can learn more about small ani­mals, such as bun­nies, tur­tles, lizards, and more! Kids under 10 will find the muse­um par­tic­u­lar­ly fun; when they’re not get­ting close looks of the ani­mals on site, they can enjoy some time in a nature play­room with books and toys or even get some ener­gy out on a small climb­ing wall. There’s even more fun to be found on the grounds, with a nat­ur­al teeter tot­ter, fort build­ing area, and Chico Creek just steps away.

All Ages Fun

Nation­al Yo-Yo Muse­um: Learn New Tricks

Kids will love learn­ing all there is to know about yo-yos and more at the Nation­al Yo-Yo Muse­um in Down­town Chico . The muse­um fea­tures the world’s largest pub­lic dis­play of yo-yos and yo-yo mem­o­ra­bil­ia, includ­ing Big-Yo,” a mas­sive, work­ing 256-pound wood yo-yo. Dis­cov­er thou­sands of yo-yos on dis­play, watch videos of con­test per­for­mances, and get a free les­son if you vis­it on a Sat­ur­day from noon to 2 p.m. In Octo­ber, come watch top per­form­ers at the Nation­al Yo-Yo con­test. The muse­um is locat­ed in Bird in Hand, which also has fun edu­ca­tion­al toys, games, cloth­ing and housewares.

Gate­way Sci­ence Muse­um: Enjoy Learning 

The Gate­way Sci­ence Muse­um is hands-on insti­tu­tion where kids and fam­i­lies can learn, build, and exper­i­ment with all areas of sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­ery. A part­ner­ship between Chico State and the com­mu­ni­ty, this small but engag­ing muse­um is an easy walk from Down­town. It hosts rotat­ing trav­el­ing exhibits with inter­ac­tive activ­i­ties and pro­grams, Sat­ur­day inves­ti­ga­tion sta­tion events, and dis­cov­ery camps. 

Exhib­it top­ics have ranged from bats, bears, and brains to sus­tain­abil­i­ty and aero­space. Check the web­site to see what’s fea­tured. On your way out, make sure you vis­it the gift shop and out­door native gar­den. Expand your vis­it by grab­bing tasty fare from near­by restau­rants and enjoy it on the grassy grounds of Bid­well Mansion , which is adja­cent to the museum. 

12 Kid-Friendly Spots in Butte County

Chico Air Muse­um: Dis­cov­er Avi­a­tion History

For those inter­est­ed in avi­a­tion and the mag­ic of flight, the Chico Air Muse­um is a must-see. The muse­um is locat­ed near the Chico Munic­i­pal Air­port and housed in a WWII hangar built as part of the Chico Army Air Field. Vis­i­tors can climb into the cock­pit of an air­craft, view mil­i­tary and civil­ian planes, and exam­ine avi­a­tion arti­facts, pho­tos, and dis­plays. Knowl­edge­able docents (many of them for­mer pilots) share inter­est­ing flight sto­ries, as well as the his­to­ry and sci­ence of avi­a­tion. Head out­side to see an impres­sive dis­play of jet and pro­peller-dri­ven air­craft, and pos­si­ble take­offs and land­ings. There’s also an area for lit­tle ones to pilot their own ped­al-oper­at­ed mini planes.

Rare Air Tram­po­line Park: Catch Some Air

Rare Air , Chico’s tram­po­line park, allows kids of all ages to lit­er­al­ly bounce off the walls. In the main court, kids can catch air jump­ing, flip­ping, and fly­ing through a matrix of open-jump tram­po­lines. They can also par­tic­i­pate in dodge­ball and bal­ance games and enjoy an airbag pit and slam dunk court. Small­er guests can safe­ly jump in a des­ig­nat­ed junior court area. Board games, drinks, and snacks are avail­able. Rare socks are required and can be pur­chased for $3 and are reusable. Check the web­site for details about waivers, prices, fam­i­ly nights, tod­dler time, and sea­son­al camps.

Bar­ry R. Kir­sh­n­er Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary: Encounter Exot­ic Animals

It’s not every day that you get an up-close vis­it with lions, tigers and bears. The Bar­ry Kir­sh­n­er Wildlife Sanctuary fea­tures a fas­ci­nat­ing assort­ment of wild and exot­ic ani­mals from all over the world, many of whom have been injured or are unable to return to the wild. Chil­dren and adults walk the grounds, see­ing and learn­ing about these ani­mals and their habi­tats, as well as the care and preser­va­tion of all wildlife. Spot­ted and snow leop­ards are always crowd favorites, and kids will be mes­mer­ized by the larg­er ani­mals as well as bob­cats, wal­la­bies, lynx, and exot­ic birds and reptiles. 

Per­son­al­ized guid­ed tours avail­able for an addi­tion­al fee upon request. Note that the sanc­tu­ary may close ear­ly on 100 degree-plus days.

Lake Oroville Vis­i­tor Cen­ter: Explore Local History

Wind your way up scenic Kel­ly Ridge for a birds-eye view of the Oroville lake and dam  at the Lake Oroville Vis­i­tor Center . Kids will enjoy inter­pre­tive dis­plays, videos about the dam con­struc­tion and fish hatch­ery, as well as life-sized his­toric exhibits of native Amer­i­can tribes and min­ers who resided in the area. A 47-foot tow­er with two high-pow­ered tele­scopes pro­vides panoram­ic views of the lake, dam, and sur­round­ing areas. The cen­ter includes cov­ered pic­nic tables and easy walk­ing trails for exploration.

12 Kid-Friendly Spots in Butte County

River­bend Park: Spend an Afternoon

Pack your swim­suit, fris­bee, beach chair, and pic­nic bas­ket, and enjoy a scenic day at Oroville’s River­bend Park. Just min­utes from down­town Oroville, this beau­ti­ful 210-acre park is sit­u­at­ed along the Feath­er River and offers green spaces, paved trails , a sandy beach, boat dock, and fish­ing ponds. Four large pavil­ions (avail­able for reser­va­tion) offer bar­be­cue pits and seat­ing. Kids will enjoy the play struc­ture area, catch­ing craw­dads, skip­ping stones, and splash­ing in the riv­er. A disc golf course and dog park are also near­by. Dur­ing the salmon sea­son each fall, kids and fam­i­lies will mar­vel at the hun­dreds of fish swim­ming in the river.

12 Kid-Friendly Spots in Butte County

Sweet Treats

Shu­bert’s Ice Cream & Can­dy: Get a Scoop

After din­ner at a kid-friend­ly restau­rant (real­ly, that’s most places around here) of your choos­ing, head over to Shubert’s Ice Cream and Can­dy for a clas­sic Chico tra­di­tion. Shubert’s has been mak­ing its ice cream and can­dies using local ingre­di­ents and sea­son­al fruit since it opened in down­town Chico in 1938. A few years back, its Chico Mint ice cream was vot­ed the No. 2 ice cream in the nation by Good Morn­ing Amer­i­ca. Oth­er local favorites include Mount Shas­ta (choco­late, coconut and marsh­mal­low), Tur­tle (caramel, pecans and choco­late), and lemon cus­tard. Order a cone, sun­dae, or shake, or intro­duce the younger gen­er­a­tion to a freeze, malt, or brown cow. While you’re there, try some of their deli­cious con­fec­tions, includ­ing choco­late tur­tles, peanut brit­tle, sea salt caramels, mints, and old-school choco­lates. Choose from 30 ice cream fla­vors, as well as dairy-free options.

12 Kid-Friendly Spots in Butte County

Sweet Chico Con­fec­tions: Enjoy a Visit

A trip inside Sweet Chico Con­fec­tions feels like you’ve entered Willy Wonka’s choco­late fac­to­ry. This col­or­ful can­dy shop is packed with near­ly 5,000 dif­fer­ent sweets, gifts, and nos­tal­gic toys that are sure to bring back sweet mem­o­ries for adults, and cre­ate new ones for kids. Enjoy a creamy, hand-craft­ed gela­to, treat your­self to a fresh spe­cial­ty choco­late, and comb the aisles for new or old-time favorite con­fec­tions. Rest assured, you’ll find lots of hap­pi­ness at Sweet Chico.