Keep Cool ‘til They’re Back in School


Summer may be winding down, but there are still plenty of hot days left here in Northern California.  If your kids are anything like mine, they tend to alternate between antsy and bored right before school starts. If they’re over the newness of summer and feeling restless in the heat, here are some fun places kids and families can visit and chill out. Even if you don’t live in the same town, why not get out and take a few day trips to other areas? You may be pleasantly surprised!

Lake Shasta Caverns • 20359 Shasta Caverns Rd., Lakehead • (530) 238-2341
This exciting day trip begins with a boat ride across Shasta Lake, and continues with a bus trek to the cavern entrance. Prepare to be amazed as you tour this underground wonderland. Celebrate a unique birthday with an extended tour and cave activities.

Gateway Science Museum • 625 Esplanade, Chico • (530) 898-4121
Open during summer Wednesday-Sunday from noon-5 p.m., Gateway Science Museum inspires exploration of natural history and science. Featuring engaging exhibits, educational activities, and plenty of hands-on fun, there is always something new to learn at this museum. It’s located right next to Bidwell Mansion, so you can visit there, too!

Waterworks Park • 151 N. Boulder Dr., Redding • (530) 246-9550
This family-friendly water park has something for all ages. It’s the perfect size and has the right number of attractions without the worry of losing your kids in the crowd. The Kiddie Playground features a shallow wading pool with a fountain, great for babies and toddlers. There are even small waterslides for the little ones. Want to relax? Float your cares away on the Lazy River. The more adventurous can spend the day riding the Avalanche, Cyclone, or three other slides designed for older kids and adults.

Kids Kingdom and Fantasy Fountain • 4300 Victor Ave., Redding • (530) 225-4095
Tucked away into a well-shaded part of Enterprise Park, Kids Kingdom has both playground and water features for the little ones to enjoy for free. There are great forts and climbing structures for your little adventurers to explore. The recently remodeled Fantasy Fountain is a “water volcano” that spouts every 15 minutes during the day, and is surrounded by a large splash pool for the little ones.  Fantasy Fountain is open daily in the summer from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

A Melo Place Art & Project Center • 417 Chestnut St., Mt. Shasta • (530) 859-1296
Get your art on! This crafty spot offers materials and instruction in a variety of mediums for people of all ages. Ongoing classes, workshops and family sessions are offered throughout the week. From painting to beading, ukulele lessons to pine-needle basketry, they’ve got you covered. Open M-F, 10a.m.-5p.m., and on weekends for scheduled workshops.

Redding Aquatic Center • 44 Quartz Hill Rd., Redding • (530) 245-7248
This cool spot offers an Olympic-size pool, a recreational pool and a kids’ water play feature, plus provides water safety classes, swim instruction, a waterslide, family swim nights, special events, birthday parties and more. You can practice or learn stand-up paddle boarding too!

Lariat Bowl • 365 South Main St., Red Bluff • (530) 527-2722
Join the “Kids Bowl Cheap” club and pay $1 each for games and shoe rental Monday-Thursday between noon and 5 p.m., and Fridays from 12-3 p.m.  through August 30.  During the “Friday Afternoon Thunderstorm,” rent a lane for $15 and enjoy unlimited bowling from 3-6 p.m. (includes shoe rentals), featuring a rolling thunder laser light show and music. You can also play mini golf!

Cal Skate/Funland • Hwy 99 & E. Park Ave., Chico • (530) 343-1601
Parents, don’t sit on the sidelines for this one! “Shoot the Duck” or play Redlight-Greenlight with your kids. This skating rink rents both quads and inline skates. You can also play video games, miniature golf, or practice your swing in the batting cages. Extreme Fun day camps run through August 9.

Chico Community Observatory • Wildwood Ave. & Observatory Wy., Chico • (530) 343-5635
Summer evenings are perfect for exploring the night sky at this open-sky planetarium. Visit for free stargazing in Upper Bidwell Park next to Horseshoe Lake. Open Thursday – Sunday on clear nights, from about 8:30 p.m.  until  10:45 p.m.

Star Studios • 1224 Mangrove Ave., Chico • (530) 520-4935
What’s cooler than being a rock star for the day? Kids can host their own Rock Star Party at a real recording studio – a variety of party packages are offered. Dress up like a rock star, have a photo shoot with your friends, and get a CD to take home! Don’t want the party? Kids and adults alike can come in and record a song for a flat rate of $35/hr.

Forebay Aquatic Center • 930 Garden Dr., Oroville • (530) 538-4332
Located just north of Oroville off Highway 70, this excellent spot offers a beach and a picnic area, with classes and rentals for kayaking, stand up paddling (SUP), and canoeing. Depending on age, kids can try SUP by themselves or ride on the board with a parent. It’s a blast!

Other “cool” ideas include watching plays or movies in a theater; taking a camping trip to a nearby area such as Mt. Shasta, Butte Meadows (33 miles east of Chico), or Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area (Corning); and taking advantage of natural swimming holes like the one off Garland Road in Forest Ranch, Butte Creek near Honey Run Bridge (Chico), or Alligator Hole in Upper Bidwell Park (Chico). Your summer’s not over yet – take the time to enjoy the variety activities the North State has to offer.

Desiree Gonzalez
About Desiree Gonzalez

Desiree Gonzalez is an author and a mother of two in Chico.

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