Paradise extensive guide to Berkeley and San Francisco area, plus inspiring articles about trips around the world

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HIGHWAY 5 NORTH ●PARADISE

From Chico, this mountain hamlet is an easy 11-mile drive up a scenic hill via Skyway/Highway 134.  On the way, watch both for fields dotted with big rocks left from when Mt. Lassen blew in prehistoric times and for historical Chinese walls fitted together without mortar.  You’ll find great fishing and hiking here.  The town sign reads, “May you find Paradise to be all its name implies.”

Annual Events

Johnny Appleseed Days  October.  Free.  Though only one orchard is left in this former apple-producing area, people come from all over to celebrate everything apple.  Demonstrations, crafts, a pancake breakfast, and, of course, plenty of apple pie are part of the fun.  This festival has been held since 1888 and is the oldest harvest festival in the state. 

Attractions

Antiquing  This town has more than 20 well-priced antiques shops, most of them on the main drag.  Some are in old historical houses sporting pampered resident cats and atmospheric old-time music.  One of the most extensive inventories is in the Skyway Antique Mall, where 25 dealers display their finds. 6118 Skyway.

Gold Nugget Museum  502 Pearson Rd.  Free.  Visitors here can walk through a replica mine and view a reproduction of the largest gold nugget ever discovered in North America--a 54-pound monster found here in 1859.  A miniature covered bridge and a one-room schoolhouse are found on the shady grounds outside, and a blacksmith shop and gold-panning sluices operate on summer weekends. 
     Days of Living History occurs each year in September and includes crafts demonstrations, hands-on activities, and food booths. 

CHICO--PARADISE-Honey Run Covered Bridge-scan-400pix(cCaroleTerwilligerMeyers)
Honey Run Covered Bridge  If you are in a four-wheel drive, you can take the downhill road directly across street from Skyway Antique Mall.  Otherwise, access it via Centreville Road at the bottom of Skyway.  Built across Butte Creek in 1894, this is the only covered bridge in the U.S. with three different roof levels.  Though closed to traffic, it provides a lovely stroll.  (A horse and buggy scene was shot here for the 1955 film Friendly Persuasion.)  From here, it’s 5 miles back to Chico on a road that passes through 1,000-foot-deep Butte Creek Canyon gorge--called “Little Grand Canyon” by locals.
     An annual fund-raising Pancake Breakfast in June raises money for a local school and museum and permits the opportunity to dine on the bridge.  Arts and crafts projects and live music are part of the down-home atmosphere. 

PARADISE-Joy Lyn's Candies-PR
image courtesy of venue

Joy Lyn’s Candies  This Belgium-style shop has been here since 1969.  Only fresh sweet cream butter, roasted nuts, and premium chocolate are used in the hand-crafted chocolates  and beer brittle, and visitors can often see chocolates and other candies being made through the store's kitchen viewing window.

Nearby Restaurants/Hotels

Stirling City  This picturesque mountain town retains its original wooden walkways from when it was action central for logging.  Though it has a population of only 371, logging continues. 

Stirling City Hotel  16975 Skyway, 17 mi. from town, up scenic Skyway.  Reservations required.  Afternoon tea is served in this 1903 building, as is lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch--all by advance reservation.  Diners are assured tasty fare.  Owner-chef-cookbook author Charlotte Ann Hilgeman says she only makes dishes she likes “because I might have to eat the leftovers.” 
     The B&B part of the hotel consists of simple, cozy, and blessedly un-cutesy guest rooms.  They are decorated with vintage furniture and chenille bedspreads, and they share bathrooms.  6 rooms.  Afternoon snack; full breakfast.  No pets.
     Across the street, manicured Clotilde Merlo Park has several koi ponds, nature trails, and a lovely outdoor chapel.  Free.


MORE INFORMATION:
Paradise Ridge Chamber of Commerce
 

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travel writer Carole Terwilliger Meyers