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Stories from the valley

A Weekend Trip North

Contributed by Ellen Martin

Whenever we have a free weekend, my family looks for new places to explore locally, in the Sacramento Valley. One weekend we decided to get an AirBnB in Chico and spend some time checking exploring in and around the area.

The first day we drove up past Chico to check out a favorite spot of ours, the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. (For more on the park check out my earlier post here.) This time we got to also explore the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens on the other side of the Sundial Bridge – which were just amazing. The kids had a wonderful time running around and exploring all the secret passages and hiding spots.

Upon returning to Chico and checking into our AirBnB (which was a perfect little studio on an almond farm right out of town) we went into Chico for some food. We had dinner at The Italian Cottage, a family-owned restaurant that has been around since the 1960’s. After a delicious dinner we had to have ice cream – so we made an evening stop at Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy before heading home to call it a day.

The next day, we started off at Caper Acres in Bidwell Park. Caper Acres is an amazing kids play area in the park that opened in 1970. It is currently going through a renovation and the grand opening of the new facilities is coming up on May 12.

We also explored the Bidwell Park Nature Center, getting up-close with a turtle and a few rabbits and learning about other creatures that you might see in and around the park. Then we made another stop at the Gateway Science Museum, a great little museum on campus with rotating exhibits.

Since we were on the campus we finished off the day at the bridge that is named after my grandfather (and my son’s namesake) the Gus Manolis Bridge. The kids had a fun time exploring around the bridge and campus and little Gus liked seeing his name on the plaque.

The next day it was time to head back home to Sacramento, but we had enough time to grab breakfast at Mom’s Restaurant and stop at the beautiful Honey Run Covered Bridge on our way out of town.

Spending a weekend full of nature, special treats and bridges was a perfect mini vacation for our family. We’d love to do it all over again.