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Stories from the valley

Things to do in the Winter in the Valley

Contributed by Steve Beckley

Winter will soon make its arrival in the Sacramento Valley.  Hopefully it brings the rains that fill our reservoirs, nourish the soil and plants, and supply our groundwater basins.    Some days the sun will shine brightly, and others may be foggy.  Either way, there are lots of great things to do in the Valley and I have listed a few of mine.

Look at the Birds

Winter birdwatching is fantastic in the Valley.  Millions of waterfowl drop in for the winter to take advantage of the rice fields and nearby wetlands.  Hawks sit atop trees and power poles watching for opportunities for a meal. You might even spot a Bald Eagle.  We are lucky to have both federal and state wildlife refuges in our area.  Take the auto loops at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in the Gridley area, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge or Willow’s Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.


Drop by a Dive Bar

Sometimes you just have to just need to get away from it all and a dive bar can be the place to go.  You may find me at times at Colusa’s Sportsman Club, The Butte City Club (open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings) or having a hamburger at The Oasis in Chico. Also, I have been known to stop at the Cigar Box in Marysville.


Bayless library

Go to the Library

One of the great treasures of the Sacramento Valley is the local libraries.  So next time you are in Grimes, Bayliss, Princeton and another towns stop in (days and times open may vary).   Many have limited edition books on the area’s history and landmarks.  They also serve as a gathering place for the youth of the community; I am always impressed by the young people at the Grimes library.


Buy Local Food

The Chico Farmers Market  is open on Saturday’s year round.  But there are so many businesses that sell local produced foods and gift baskets.  A couple of them are Stephens Farmhouse  in Yuba City and Chico’s Maisie Janes.


Caffeinated coffee house in Colusa

Have a Coffee

Try some of the valley’s independent coffee houses.  Among my favorites are The Brick Coffee House  in Marysville, Colusa’s Caffeinated and in Arbuckle there is Two Chicks Creations Coffee and Sweets.


Christmas decorations on a roof top

Celebrate the Holidays

It‘s not Christmas Season to me until I see Santa Claus and his reindeer on the roof of my alumni Pierce High School in Arbuckle.  But also check out the local events such as Biggs Christmas in the Park on December 3, Marysville Christmas Parade on December 3 or attend a Very Chico Nutcracker on December 1, 2, 3,4 at Cal State Chico.  Just enter the valley town name and Christmas 2016 in your internet browser and you will come up on all kinds of great events..


Colusa Made gift shop

Buy Locally Made Gifts

There are very talented people in the Sacramento Valley that make various items and produce wonderful art.  Some of the places you can find locally produced, artisan products & goods are Made in Chico, Colusa Made and Christmas in Maxwell. There are small independent stores in all the valley towns that sell wonderful items.


Eat Italian Food

One of the great winter day meals is a bowl of minestrone soup, pasta, French bread and a glass of red wine.  A couple of my favorite places to accomplish this task are Louis Cairos  in Williams and Chico’s Italian Cottage.   My friends tell me I have to try Marcello’s in Yuba City and Live Oak’s Pasquinis.


Go up to the Hills

It is hard to hide the fact that it does get foggy in the Sacramento Valley and hopefully this year will have lots of rain which can lead to fog.  To see the sunshine on those foggy days just head to the hills and visit some of the great little town in the foothills such as Placerville, Auburn, Grass Valley, Nevada City and Paradise.


Give Back

The holiday season is a great time to give back to your community.  Volunteer or contribute at a food bank; Drop off gifts or contribute to a charity: Ring the bell for the Salvation Army, or take a meal to a shut in. Get some exercise and help a good cause by participating in charity walk/run or run a marathon as California Rice Commission’s Jim Morris is doing to benefit Chico’s Jesus Center.

I‘m always looking for new suggestions for things to do, so list your favorites in the comments section.