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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

What to do with your kids when it’s over 100 degrees or raining

Jessica Melear
Pazlee Nan Melear painting a sindi at Chico Children’s Museum, Art in the Park installment.

The day was sweltering. Sweat poured down our faces and soaked our shirts. We wanted to play at the park but heat from the sun enveloped us in discomfort.  My air conditioner was overloaded and my son wanted to play.

I loaded him into the car, walked up to the swing set, and put him in. “Ouch Daddy! It’s too hot,” he said as he burned his legs on the hot rubber of the swing set. He went to the slide and again, “Ouch Daddy! Too hot!”

My toddler cried; he wanted to play, but he just couldn’t in this heat. We needed to find someplace with air conditioning that was family-friendly.

Luckily, parents in Butte County have many indoor opportunities for childhood play. The Chico Children’s Museum and the Gateway Science Museum are curating new exhibits. Various businesses offer family-friendly play areas, games and learning opportunities.

Chico Children’s Museum

My son raced to the door.  He passed the lifelike trees and climbed into a realistic spaceship cockpit called Cosmic Quest, where he pretended to explore a galaxy far, far away.

Just past the spiral slide, he entered the treehouse and then it was off to the farm to collect eggs from the chickens. A realistic coffee shop, grocery store, veterinarian’s office and post office encourage creative play.

Before entering the sensory room, my son took off his shoes and approached a wall coated in glow-in-the-dark paint, drew patterns and created silhouettes. The fun continued with visits to a puppet theater, a craft zone and then a soft-block tumbling area.

The newest exhibit is a sticker zone, where kids can stick colorful stickers to the walls of a playhouse. I hope to bring my son to Little Tots Yoga class, which is offered on Saturday mornings.

I reached out to Chico Children’s Museum Founder Dana Leslie, whose daughter Charlie inspired many of the exhibits featured within the space.

“At the front of the museum, it’s called ‘Art in the Park,’ and it has three big oak trees so that when it’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too many allergens, the kids can come inside and still get some of that outdoor feeling because not everybody can be outside,” said Leslie.

The realistic trees are the product of a fabrication company called NatureMaker which manufactures many of the artificial trees that can be found at Disneyland.

People who bring an EBT card can get an entry fee discount. The Chico Children’s Museum also offers a 20% discount in an October membership drive for Chico State students. Students who present their ID get a full year of access for under $100.

The Gateway Science Museum

Bobmus! The Natural History of Bumble Bees is currently on display, featuring a hands-on microscope that kids can use, a video presentation and activities for children and adults alike.

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards is both a national and international organization and every year there is a photography competition where they let you license some of the ‘Best-Of Photographs’… So we’ve selected 60 of them,” said Museum Director Adrienne McGraw.

The exhibit will open on Oct. 14.

Chico Marketplace

The Chico Marketplace has various activities geared toward young children and shops that cater to people of all ages.

My toddler’s eyes lit up when he arrived. Greeted by a mini merry-go-round and candy dispensers, he frolicked toward the playground, stopping to get pretzel dogs and enjoy the video arcade. He took a ride in the race car stroller, then it was off to the playground where he could find a game of cornhole or giant chess. Ice cream was the final stop before he was fully tuckered out and ready for a nap.

For older kids, GameStop awaits, along with many other clothing and novelty shops. The marketplace is also home to Chico Princess Parties which offer realistic character actors and an event center.

Coin-Op Game Room

Billed by, Explore Butte County as a “21+ Arcade and Bar,” the Coin-Op Game Room is open to players of all ages during daylight hours. Mom can grab a beer and her child can drive race cars, shoot hoops, play Skee-Ball and enjoy classic arcade games from the ’80s and ’90s. They showcase live music during the weekly Thursday Night Market.

Rare Air Trampoline Park

Rare Air has so much more than just trampolines. Dodgeball, jousting, basketball, rock climbing walls, trampolines, massage chairs and party rooms are just some of the available attractions. Weary parents can unwind in the electric massage chair. Rare Air has locations in both Redding and Chico.


For foodies willing to drop a bill, Ojiya entertains and feeds heartily. It’s teppanyaki-style cooking in a clean, comfortable environment. Highly trained chefs put on an entertaining and exhilarating show featuring rhythmic knives, fire and flying food.


Old-fashioned bowling is epic, especially for a toddler with a cheater ramp. The food is palatable and they have a bar stocked with both craft and local beer.


If you want to escape your kids and the heat, take them to KidsPark. $10 an hour gets you sweet freedom. They feature arts and crafts, a theater, games, toys and an outdoor playground. Meals and snacks are offered for an affordable price.

Butte County Library

Often forgotten is the most permanent institution available to children for play and education alike, the Butte County Public Library. Frequently missed is the fact that the library offers more than just books.

On the first and third Thursday of every month, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., Health and Human Services agents answer questions about your child’s early development, in an environment tailored toward education.

Cal Skate / Fun Land

Most locals can recall at least one fond memory of skating at Cal Skate. They offer afternoon and evening public skating sessions and have quad skates and rollerblades available for rental.

Youth For Change 6th St. Center For Youth

Sometimes older children find themselves with no way to escape the elements; this can be uncomfortable, even life-threatening during events of extreme heat. Youth For Change has been serving at-risk youth of Butte County, for over three decades with crucial services.

The 6th St. Center for Youth is a safe space for youth 14 to 24 years old to access family reunification, counseling, crisis intervention, health screenings, employment, housing and educational advocacy among other resources. This is the tip of the iceberg regarding the services offered by Youth For Change making their website and their facilities worth a visit.

Chico Boys and Girls Club Teen Center

Remember that EBT Card mentioned earlier? You can get free food from your family from the county. While you’re at it, you might as well visit the Chico State Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry!


Nicholas Kepler can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]

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About the Contributor
C. Nicholas Kepler
C. Nicholas Kepler, Reporter

C. Nicholas Kepler works as a Solar Broker, raising his beloved 3-year-old son, as a full-time student in the College of Psychology at California State University, Chico. Kepler is an owner and founder of Late Bloomr Vintage Boutique located at 363 East Sixth St., in Downtown Chico and holds degrees in behavioral eealth and psychology.  At a young age, he fell in love with the idea of being a reporter.

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    Jessica melear // Oct 26, 2023 at 2:10 pm

    Thank you ! We love offering a wonderful place for our community. And we are appreciate you shining a light on multiple things for the children to take part in.

    Thank you from Jessica Melear creative Director at the Chico children’s museum