It’s the middle of summer. The outdoors beckon. Social distancing and safe practices make travel all but impossible. When your home base is Butte County, what’s one to do to beat cabin fever?
The simple answer is the same one in any instance you need to get away, but can’t: Take a staycation.
Turning your own backyard (sometimes literally) into your playground for a few days is a great way to see your home in a new light—from the perspective of a visitor! It renews the sense of adventure you might have had that attracted you here in the first place, it restores the appreciation for everything right at your fingertips, and it allows you to recharge your batteries without needing to hit the road or make that sad, back-to-reality car ride home.
Why is Butte County a great spot for a staycation? Mostly, for the range of activities and leisure available for all paces, for anyone from a lone adventurer to a full-sized family. Make the most of your staycation by following these five tips:
Staycation Tip #1: Keep It Simple
You can make plans, but don’t overcomplicate things and defeat the purpose of the “stay” part of things. The whole point is to do something you’re familiar with that you simply don’t have time in your regular schedule to do. Stay close to home, list out one or two major activities to do or places to visit a day, and build on that. Itineraries are for capital V Vacations—for your staycation, simplify.
Staycation Tip #2: Indulge
It can be tempting in a familiar place to do familiar things. Anyone who’s working from home can attest to the distractions that household chores add to the work day. But to get the most out of your staycation, you’ve got to do some make-believe. Disengage from your responsibilities and pretend you’re visiting.
Prepare enough clean changes of clothes so you’re not tempted to do laundry on your staycation; pack a bag, if you need to! Especially if you’re sharing this time with someone else, protect it: Dishwashing, oven cleaning, floor sweeping, and toilet scrubbing will all be there for you when your staycation ends. Don’t let them intrude on your relaxation time.
If the prospect of staying in your own house and disengaging from being your own housekeeper is too daunting, make your staycation official and grab a local hotel room. It’s usually a novel experience—honestly, how often do you grab a hotel in the town you live in?—and your house can’t get messy if your crew isn’t there. And with more delivery and curbside pick-up options than ever before, you can enjoy dinner out from the comfort of your hotel room.
In Oroville, book a room at the Holiday Inn Express, America’s Best Value Inn, or, if you want to rough it a little bit, Riffles RV Resort and Campground. In Chico, spend a few nights at some popular visitor options like the Residence Inn or Courtyard by Marriott, Best Western Heritage Inn, or Chico’s Holiday Inn Express.
Staycation Tip #3: Find a Splash Zone
Each of the hotels mentioned above features a pool, which is crucial if you’re a) staycationing in summer and b) schlepping kids around. But you don’t need to limit your swimming and splashing to your hotel—the whole point of giving yourself a break is to make time for excursions you wouldn’t normally take!
If swimming is your thing, level up your experience by partaking in local swimming holes. It’s always surprising to hear how many locals actually never have spent an afternoon at Salmon Hole, Bear Hole, or Brown’s Hole, for example. For a quick, easy dip, of course, Sycamore Pool at One Mile is about as easy as it gets. If your staycation is in Oroville, shoot for water and beach spots around Feather Falls or even the calmer spots on the Feather River—the newly opened beach at Riverbend Park is perfect for a relaxing waterside picnic.
Lake Oroville and the Forebay and Afterbay are also prime for picnickers and swimmers, but you can get even more out of your day at those locations if you bring or rent some watercraft. Oroville in particular offers open spaces if you want to do some fishing or watersports, while the Forebay Aquatic Center offers an array of kayak and paddleboard rental options.
And, nearly all of these cool-down choices come with the ability to pair with a hike, whether you traverse Upper Park in Chico or the many trails around Lake Oroville. Just remember: It’s supposed to be a vacation! Try something new.
Staycation Tip #4: Enjoy the Local Flavor
Whether it’s literal or figurative, getting a taste of the town is a must if you are approaching your stay-at-home vacation as a visitor would. Try to capture the feeling of being a tourist and pack in “musts” as well as some novel experiences.
Local art is an incredible way to soak up culture and in both Chico and Oroville, you aren’t necessarily missing out on it if you can’t make it to a museum—both cities feature walkable art tours complete with sculptures, murals, and other installations worthy of exploration. You’ll also find a few murals around town in Paradise or Durham, as well, if you’re out exploring already.
And, of course, what would a vacation be if you didn’t treat yourself to the local fare? This is a perfect time to order something off the menu you haven’t tried before at a favorite restaurant, or, to go even further, try a new place.
If you’re adventuring in the nearby outdoors, trek up the hill around Paradise, Magalia, and Stirling City. You’ll find great hiking and nature walking, and there are some newer options for quick, satisfying bites, too. Check out the Pickle Nickle, which was formerly Lovelock Restaurant and now operates as a food truck, for a hearty burger or breakfast burrito. If your local cruise takes you across Hwy. 70, the newly opened Rock House Dining & Espresso in Yankee Hill makes for a perfect stop to recaffeinate and snag a diner-style breakfast.
And combining takeout or delivery with your hotel stay? You’ll forget you’re just a few miles from home. You can go a bit fancier if you’re in Chico—think takeout of a boatload of tasty, elegant rolls from Japanese Blossoms or elevated gastropub fare from the likes of The Lab Bar & Grille Whatever you're craving, you'll find it close by.
Staycation Tip #5: Extend Your Business Trip
One key vacation strategy we’ve always been fond of when traveling for business is to turn the trip into an opportunity for some personal fun time, too. Why waste the visit, right? Well, the same rules apply on staycation. Bring a day of remote work with you, finish up in the hotel while the kids are in the pool (or, even better, get some work done poolside yourself!), and call it a day. Boom: You’re on site and ready for your much-deserved break already.
Travel for work rocks when you don’t have to go anywhere AND you can still get the benefit of a vacation.
No matter what you do to fill up your normal vacation, Butte County provides avenues for all of it. The biggest trick is turning your “trip” on its head: You can always make a temporary destination your home for a weekend. Making home your destination? It’s not only possible, but a great way to gain a new appreciation for your hometown and all it has to offer.