Museums & Historical Sites

No longer simply musty tributes to the past, museums and historical sites today often bring the past to life. Tales of native peoples, stories of settlers swarming California in pursuit of gold, and other elements of the North State’s rich and surprising history will fascinate adults and kids alike. Hands-on, interactive displays also bring meaning to the region’s unique environment and geography in fresh, exciting ways. 



Bidwell Mansion; Chico. Built in 1865. Learn history of the mansion & surrounding area at the visitors’ center & by guided tour of the 3-story, 26-room home of two of Chico’s founders, John & Annie Bidwell. 525 Esplanade. (530) 895-6144.

Bolt’s Antique Tool Museum; Oroville. Features the largest-known documented collection of hand tools in the U.S., with more than 12,000 items on display. Group discounts & tours available. 1650 Broderick St. (530) 538-2528.

Bricks 4 Kidz; Chico. Field trips, classes & camps offer children of all ages an imaginative, 3-dimensional, hands-on learning experience using LEGO® bricks to explore architecture, engineering & technology concepts. For preschools: teachers can come to you with a variety of educational themes. 1141 Forest Ave., Ste. 40.

(530) 332-9172.

Chico Air Museum. Chico Municipal Airport. Features outdoor & indoor displays of aviation artifacts, a book & video aviation library, full-sized historic aircrafts & a P-51 pedal plane small children can use. Summer hours (Jun-Sep): Thurs-Sun 9-2pm. Winter hours: Thurs-Sun 10-3pm. Free. 165 Ryan Ave. (530) 345-6468.

Chico Children’s Museum. Opening soon! Visit to see progress toward opening & how you can get involved.

Chico Museum. Housed in the historic Carnegie Library building in downtown Chico; features both prestigious traveling exhibits & exhibits focusing on Chico & Butte County history. Group rates & tours available. 141 Salem St. (530) 891-4336.

Chinese Temple & Museum Complex; Oroville. Built in 1863, the temple is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is both a museum & active temple. The complex includes 3 temples, a Tapestry Hall displaying an extensive collection of embroidered tapestries, costumes & more; the Fong Lee Company Building displaying artifacts from the medicinal herb sales & shop of the Chan family. Group & classroom tours available. Open 7 days a week 12-4pm. 1500 Broderick St. (530) 538-2496.

Gateway Science Museum; Chico. Inspiring the exploration of science & natural history in the Butte County region & beyond. Providing a stimulating experience for visitors as they grow into adulthood. Devoted to the advancement of science literacy & lifelong learning.

625 Esplanade (near Bidwell Mansion). (530) 898-4121.

Gold Nugget Museum; Paradise. The Museum has a wonderful collection of Maidu Indian artifacts. On the grounds, you will see a blacksmith shop, gold sluices & a miner’s cabin, a schoolhouse & a covered bridge that spans the width of a rushing creek. Free. 502 Pearson Rd. (530) 872-8722.

Lott Home; Oroville. The C.F. Lott Home in Sank Park was built in 1856 by Charles F. Lott, gold-rush pioneer, California senator & judge. The house & garden encompass an entire city block. Take a guided tour of the Victorian home & hear captivating stories of the Lott family & their importance to early California history. View original furnishings, paintings, clothes, silver & more. Group & classroom tours available. 1067 Montgomery St. (530) 538-2497.

National Yo-Yo Museum; Chico. This small world-class museum houses “Big Yo,” the world’s largest working wooden yo-yo, & features the biggest public display of yo-yos & yo-yo memorabilia. Includes a vintage toy display. Yo-yo demonstrations on Sat from 12-2pm. Free. 320 Broadway (located inside the Bird in Hand toy store). (530) 893-0545.


Oregon City School. Visit the oldest one-room school in Butte County. A California Historical Landmark, Oregon City was one of the first mining camps in the county, established in 1848 by a party of Oregonians who came to California. Also visit the nearby Oregon City covered bridge & tour the Cherokee Museum (by appointment). The school is open Sat & Sun 1-4pm. Drop-ins are available during the week based on caretaker’s availability. Free. 2100 Oregon Gulch Rd. (530) 533-1849.

Paradise Depot Museum. This wonderful grass-roots museum features a full-sized restored caboose in addition to its star attraction: a 30-foot working HO gauge model of the Butte County Railroad. Kids have a blast running a button-operated model that represents the 33-mile rail line that ran between Chico & Stirling City. Free. 5570 Black Olive Dr. (530) 872-8722.

Patrick Ranch Museum; Durham. Dedicated to enhancing the understanding & appreciation of the area’s rich agricultural heritage. See exhibits & tour the historic Glenwood Farmhouse, built in 1877. Fun & educational annual events include the California Nut Festival (April), the Country Faire & Threshing Bee (June),  and AutumnFest (October). School & group tours available. 10381 Midway.  (530) 342-4359.

Pioneer History Museum; Oroville. First opened in 1932 by the Native Sons & Daughters of the Golden West, & now operated by the City of Oroville, this museum was built as an oversized replica of a 49er’s cabin. The original building has been enlarged to now hold 6,000 sq ft of historic treasures. 2332 Montgomery St. (530) 538-2497.

Valine L. Smith Museum of Anthropology; CSU, Chico. The Museum of Anthropology trains university students in becoming museum professionals. The museum’s mission is to promote respect & appreciation for human diversity through our academic museum studies program within the Department of Anthropology. The museum is committed to the care of collections & to inspiring a diverse community through exhibitions & events. Free. 400 W. 1st St. (located on the first floor in the Meriam Library). (530) 898-5397.



Kid Time Children’s Museum; Medford. Features more than 20 exciting indoor exhibits geared towards children 0-10 years old. Offers camps, classes & preschool. 106 N. Central Ave. (541) 772-9922.

Medford Railroad Park. Five railroad clubs operate this 7-acre site featuring full-size train cars, caboose, hopper car, locomotive, HO scale model track & trains, working telegraph system, & operating outdoor garden railway. Free train rides – see bridges, waterfalls, tunnels & hills. Children love the “Thomas the Train” loop led by Thomas & Percy. Private train parties available. Open 2nd & 4th Sun of each month from Apr thru Oct, 11am-3pm. Free. 799 Berrydale Ave. (541) 582-3912.

ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum; Ashland. Offers fun & intriguing hands-on exhibits & displays promoting the exploration of science & the arts. A great experience for all ages, this multi-sensory environment is guaranteed to bring out the kid in everyone. Keep an eye out for special events. Offers summer camps, field trips & other educational programs.

1500 E. Main St. (541) 482-6767.



Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park; Nevada City. Hydraulic mining washed away mountains in pursuit of gold. Visit California’s largest hydraulic mine & learn about the gold mining era through the Environmental Living Program. Look for overnight options & tours guided by “Akali, The Last ‘49er.” Book early; schedule fills up quickly. Visitors center offers exhibits & info. (530) 265-2740.

Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum; Nevada City. Dedicated to the preservation of local transportation history & artifacts from the narrow gauge railroad era. Offers docent-led historical tours of the museum, railyard & restoration shop. See wooden rail cars & much more, including a 1875 Baldwin locomotive that has hauled lumber, passengers & freight, then was a movie engine at Universal Studios in Hollywood. School & group tours available. Free. 5 Kidder Ct. (530) 470-0902.



Maidu Museum & Historic Site; Roseville. The museum houses interactive exhibits, displays & two art galleries showcasing contemporary California Native American art that changes throughout the year. The museum offers public tours every Sat at 10am, school programs & group guided tours by reservations. Maidu Museum & Historic Site also hosts a variety of special events, including art receptions, campfires, cultural speakers, petroglyph tours, live music & movie screenings. Johnson Ranch Dr. (916) 774-5934.



Western Pacific Railroad Museum; Portola. Offers lots of hands-on activities & fun! Sit in the engineer’s seat of the largest diesel locomotive ever built. Tour vintage passenger cars, climb aboard a restored caboose, tour freight cars & other locomotives, take a train or cab ride (Weekends between Memorial Day-Labor Day only), rent a vintage diesel locomotive to operate on the museum grounds with instruction from private instructor. 700 Western Pacific Way. (530) 832-4131.



California Museum; Sacramento. A wide, dynamic range of exhibits about California’s rich history & unique contributions to the world through ideas, innovation, the arts & culture. Interactive experiences. 1020 O St. (916) 653-7524.

California State Railroad Museum; Sacramento. Features 21 restored locomotives & train cars along with exhibits reflecting California’s rich railroading history. Check out a Pullman-style sleeping car, a dining car filled with railroad china & a railway post office. Offers train rides, excursions & fun special events. Open daily 10am-5pm, excluding major holidays. 125 I St. (916) 323-9280.



Anderson Historical Society & Museum. Interesting & rare display items, historical relics, & great research documents. Sort through old photos, see our drought tolerant garden or sit & chat with local historians.  View artifacts, photographs, maps, books, pioneer histories & the Stabler Civil War gun collection. 2330 Ferry St.

(530) 365-7045.

Behrens-Eaton House Museum; Redding. Features a comprehensive collection of documents relating to the history of Shasta County. A special collection recounts the history of the county’s schools. The children’s room features toys, clothes & artifacts. Free. Main House at 1520 West St. & Display Museum at 1939 Butte St. (530) 241-3454.

Court House Museum; Shasta. Part of Shasta State Historic Park, this former county courthouse is restored to its 1861 appearance & filled with historical exhibits. Includes a notable collection of early California artwork. Also view the remains of brick buildings that were once the center of intense activity during the Gold Rush era, & visit historic roadways, cottages & cemeteries. 15312 Highway 299 W. (6 miles west of Redding). (530) 243-8194.

Moore’s Flour Mill; Redding. While at the shop you can see the old-fashioned 19th-century millstones used at this wonderful local mill & store. They offer fresh flour, oatmeal & other hot cereals, many different kinds of sugar, spices, teas, pasta, honey & other products that are mostly local & organic. 1605 Shasta St. (530) 241-9245.


Turtle Bay Museum; Redding. Features interactive touring exhibits, multi-media displays, historic exhibits & re-creations, a hands-on science lab, fun & educational activities for children & more. 844 Sundial Bridge (Located in the Turtle Bay Exploration Park). (800) 887-8532.

Wintu Cultural Museum; Shasta Lake City. Dedicated to deepen understanding, promote accuracy, sensitivity, & respect for the culture, heritage & history of the Wintu people as well as that of all native peoples. Offering exhibitions, demonstrations, films, workshops & cultural celebrations while providing a venue for Native American contemporary arts & crafts. Open Tue, Thurs, Fri 11am-4pm & every 2nd Sat of each month 10am-3pm. 4755 Shasta Dam Blvd. (530) 215-1840.



Dunsmuir Railroad Depot Museum & Historical Society. This small museum showcasing Dunsmuir’s history is located in the former Southern Pacific Railroad dispatcher’s office. Features historical artifacts, railroad memorabilia, photographs & a model of the Dunsmuir Roundhouse. Open 1st & 3rd Sat of each month (Apr-Oct) & for special events. Free. 5750 Sacramento Ave. (530) 235-0839.

Etna Museum. Located in the first town hall of Etna (built to resemble Philadelphia’s Independence Hall), which also housed the fire department, library & jail. See a vintage parlor, 1890 farm kitchen, displays of tools, 1890’s dresses & other unique collections, research items & more. Open Jun–Aug. Tue-Sat, 11am-3pm (closed the week of the Siskiyou Golden Fair). 520 Main St. (530) 598-6726.

Fort Jones Museum. Dubbed the “Biggest Little Museum,” features hundreds of artifacts depicting the lives of local tribes, trappers, miners, pioneers & soldiers. Includes fossils, unusual rocks, vintage guns & one of the finest basket collections in Northern California. See carriages, buggies & vintage farm equipment in the carriage house. Open Memorial Day thru Sep & by appointment. Free. 11913 Main St. (530) 468-5568.

Heritage Junction Museum of McCloud. Located in a historic 1904 building, the museum offers an impressive collection of McCloud artifacts, including the giant Corliss steam engine that powered the McCloud sawmill from 1903-1979. Features a photograph collection depicting the history of the town & surrounding area. Open Memorial Day thru Sep. Free. 320 Main St. (530) 964-2604.

Lava Beds National Monument; Tulelake. Visit the site of the largest concentration of lava tube caves in North America. Participate in ranger-led explorations & evening campfire programs that explore the monument’s Native American history. Rangers help match children’s interests & capabilities to the various types of caves developed for viewing. 1 Indian Well Headquarters. (530) 667-8113.

Montague History Center. Walk through a refurbished bank building built in 1906 that houses old City Hall records, a jail & a small library. The public can browse through the files for local, county, state & US history & information, including obituaries from the surrounding small towns. Open Jun-Labor Day. Free. 131 S. 10th St. (530) 459-5021.

Montague Railroad Depot Museum. Visit a building built in 1887 that features displays of railroad & other artifacts from the area. Open Jun-Labor Day. Free. 230 S. 11th St. (530) 459-5021.

Siskiyou Arts Museum; Dunsmuir. Offers exhibits & programs representing visual, literary & performing arts. A gallery & gift shop features the work of local & regional artists. Free. 5824 Dunsmuir Ave. (530) 235-4711.

Siskiyou County Museum; Yreka. The Siskiyou County Museum was built in 1950 by the County with the goal of preserving the history of the area for future generations. From its humble beginnings the Siskiyou County Museum has grown from a collection of articles donated by the descendants of early pioneers & dedicated members of the first Historical Society members, to its present facility with exhibit galleries & an Outdoor Museum that displays original & recreated buildings from all over Siskiyou County. From homepage, find Departments>Museum. 910 S. Main St.

(530) 842-3836.

Sisson Museum; Mt. Shasta. Located in a charming building at the Mount Shasta Fish Hatchery site. Features displays, exhibits & special events focused on local history. Children’s activities include a vintage fire truck, model railroad setup with locomotive control panel, old-fashioned toys & more. Gift shop features a great book selection, unique gift items, & children’s toys. Open Apr-Dec. Class field trips available. 1 N. Old Stage Rd. (530) 926-5508.

Weed Historic Lumber Town Museum. Features logging & town memorabilia, a jail cell & many interesting artifacts. Open Memorial Weekend-Sep. 303 Gilman Ave. (530) 938-0550.



Gaumer’s Mineral & Mining Museum; Red Bluff. An educational & entertaining experience for visitors of all ages. Learn about gold mining, fossils, Native American artifacts, rocks, crystals & fluorescent minerals. Free.

78 Belle Mill Rd. (530) 527-6166.

Tehama County Museum. In 1980, the Tehama County Museum Foundation was created by a group of local citizens to preserve & exhibit artifacts that represent the cultural heritage of Tehama County. Open most weekends. Private tours & group tours available by appointment. Free. 275 C St. (530) 384-2595.

William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park; Red Bluff. The park memorializes pioneer William B. Ide & other settlers who contributed to California history. Features a visitor center, ranch buildings, blacksmith shop, & offers fun historic reenactment events & hands-on educational programs. Enjoy a picnic along the Sacramento River. Visitor center open Fri-Sun 10am-4pm. 21659 Adobe Rd.

(530) 529-8599.

Updated September 2017 RD

North State Parent
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North State Parent is a free monthly publication that circulates within five California counties: Butte, Glenn, Shasta, Southern Siskiyou and Tehama. Our pages are filled with family-oriented places to go, services and products geared for women and things to do; a focus on parenting, community, health, education, teens, youth, and much more.

Updated: Sep 7, 2017 @ 1:27 pm