Independence Day in Butte County is a blast, and there’s nothing quite like celebrating the Fourth of July by watching the rockets’ red glare over the waterfront. You can do just that in Oroville, where the Rotary Club puts on a viewing show across three locations: the South Thermalito Forebay, the North Thermalito Forebay and Aquatic Center, and the Nelson Sports Complex. The fireworks are visible for anyone near the Forebay, but these areas in particular are great for those with kids because of swimming, food, crafts, and music. For adults seeking a more adventurous time, you can even rent out water gear and watch the fireworks from the water.
Of course, patriotic fervor isn’t limited to Oroville in Butte County. A couple of other options for celebrating the Fourth of July in the area:
- Biggs kicks off Independence Day with a pancake breakfast, follows up with a parade through town and a celebration at the high school, and then the fireworks start at dark.
- Paradise is holding a commemoration of resilience in conjunction with the spirit of independence, with the Paradise Ridge Chamber of Commerce hosting speakers and music by the USAF Band of the Golden West.
Explore Bidwell Park’s swimming holes. Once upon a time, the tucked-away spot on Big Chico Creek in Upper Bidwell Park known as Bear Hole was sort of a locals-only secret. Those days are long gone, but all that means is that it’s turned into a sort of natural public pool on its busiest days. The water’s always fresh and cold, and thus the perfect cure for those 100-degree days. And that’s only the most popular one!
Other quality swimming holes in the park include Alligator Hole (great if you have little ones with you, since it’s quite shallow and close to the easily accessible parking lot and trailheads), Salmon Hole—further up the trail than Bear Hole and a bit more secluded—and Brown’s Hole, which is farthest from the park entrance but worth the journey if you value the exercise and the opportunity for some solitude. For a full rundown, check out this comprehensive list of swimming spots in the park.
Relax at Riverbend Park. Check the flows first, but typically the Feather River moseys by the park, which itself is a clean, well-maintained place to play for families. Shallower spots near the park will allow you to wade in and cool off from a grassy shore; there are also several spots locals use for diving where the river is deeper. It’s a great spot for a swim if you’re also planning a picnic or a game of fetch with a furry friend.
If you’ve got a boat, the deep, cool waters of Lake Oroville--the city's top recreational site--are tough to beat for local watersports. But it would be a mistake to discount it as a great swimming spot, too. Hundreds of coves, especially on the deeper north branch, make a day in the water just a short watercraft ride away—and many others still are within short hiking distance.
Butte County has no shortage of ice cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt establishments where you can find a creamy dessert any time. And with National Ice Cream Day landing on July 21, what better way to celebrate than by giving one of these locations a visit?
- Sweet Chico. Formerly known as Powell’s, the downtown Chico confectioner has a gelato selection perfect for warm summer evenings, with a good variety of flavors ranging from fruity to truly indulgent.
- La Flor de Michoacán. A massive selection of Mexican-inspired flavors, as well as more familiar classic ones. Whether it’s tamarind, almond or a classic strawberry or chocolate, “La Flor” will definitely have something you’ll like—and there are multiple Chico locations, too.
- Foster’s Freeze in Oroville: If old-fashioned Americana is what you’re craving, this Oro Dam eatery has options to satisfy any sweet tooth with dipped cones, shakes, sundaes, and splits.
Oroville has compiled an impressive list of guests and performances at Gold Country over the past few years, and a couple more promising acts are on the docket for late July. The highlight of those shows is comedian Margaret Cho, a Rolling Stone top-50 all-time comedian, who brings her stand-up act to Butte County on the 27th.
One of downtown Chico’s more popular summertime traditions, Slice of Chico offers family-friendly fun designed to put downtown’s eateries in the spotlight, with one summery twist: Watermelon! On July 12 and 13, multiple watermelon stations offer cold slices of the refreshing fruit, and select restaurants offer watermelon-themed menu items. On top of that, many downtown stores offer specials for the event, and kids of all ages can enjoy face painting and caricature drawing while music fills the air.
So, whether you’re on the lookout for sensory overload this summer, or just looking for entertaining ways to relax and stay cool, Butte County has plenty of options to make sure you’ll always have something to do!