Explore Chester, California
Chester is a quaint Northern California town mostly known as a home base for exploring Lake Almanor and Lassen Volcanic National Park. However, if you just limit yourself to these two famous attractions, you will be missing out. Chester may be small, but it is filled with many great options for eating, drinking, shopping, sightseeing, or just relaxing. During your stay with us, don’t just limit yourself to Lassen and Lake Almanor. Take some time to explore Chester too, even if it just for an afternoon. We promise you will be as charmed as we are.
Eat & Drink
For a small town, Chester has a surprising number of tasty dining options. We like to start our day off at the Coffee Station with a nice cup of joe and the best cinnamon rolls in town (though many locals will try to argue that they are the best in the world.) This friendly and casual spot is a great place to spend a few hours reading, planning your day, or savouring some good conversation. It also just so happens to be endorsed by Chuck Norris, a Chester native!
Cravings is another great spot for breakfast, lunch, and baked goods. All the items on the Cravings menu are locally sourced and home-made. Enjoy breakfast favorites like omelettes, Belgian waffles, and buttermilk biscuits, and for lunch, choose from a wide selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches. Cravings is our favorite place to grab lunch after an early morning hike or swim.
If you are in the mood for the classic American diner experience, head to the Kopper Kettle Cafe. Whether you come for a hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can’t go wrong at this authentic greasy spoon. If you enjoy Chinese food, check out Happy Garden. You should also try the Burger Depot, one of the oldest restaurants in Chester. Make sure you see the train that runs throughout the building.
For drinks, we suggest visiting the Ranch House, where you can play shuffleboard and horseshoes.
Chester has many unique shops to spend the day strolling through. You will not find the same old touristy souvenir in each shop. Each proprietor works hard to carry truly unique and one of a kind items you will not find in other stores in the area or, most likely, at home either.
If you enjoy browsing thrift stores, Chester has several to visit. Forget-Me-Not Thrift Store is a second-hand store that specializes in one-of-a-kind antiques, clothing, and other used goods. You can spend an entire afternoon wandering through its jam-packed isles. Each day has a Special where you can find excellent discounts on all their already inexpensive stuff! Tuesday is Clothing & Accessories, Wednesday is Furniture, and Friday is Dishware & Decor. But whatever day you go, we promise you’ll find something special to bring home. Right next door is Another Man’s Treasures; make sure not to miss their back building.
We also love the Lassen Gift Company & Soda Fountain, one of the last true soda fountains in Northern California. It has even been featured in Sunset Magazine. Come to enjoy tasty milkshakes, banana splits, freezes, and ice-cream sundaes. At their gift shop, they sell everything, and we do mean everything: dishware, homegoods, fur hats, purses, clothing, holiday decorations, and so much more. You can find some amazing Christmas decorations in the back room year-round. Visit often; Sharon is always bringing in new items. You will not only find treasures to remind you of your visit but also great gifts to take home for family and friends.
If you are a bibliophile, head to B&B Booksellers. This cozy bookshop sells the hottest bestsellers as well as used classics and children’s books. Cravings is located in the same building, Stover Landing, as the bookstore. If you need brochures, directions, or more information on the area, this is the place to ask. B&B Booksellers has many local guidebooks on the area, so we recommend you pick one up and relax in the coffee shop, where there is plenty of space to read and reflect. The bookstore also has a selection of fine games, toys and gifts.
Two newer shops downtown, and right next to Lassen Gifts, are Tattered Rose and Rusty Chandelier. The Tattered Rose carries hand-made jewelry and a selection of accessories for every occasion. If you enjoy making your own accessories, they carry semi-precious gems and beads to get you started. Rusty Chandelier is a great place for vintage and antique items. They also carry new items to decorate your home. Let them know you are a veteran and get 10% off your purchase year-round.
If you looking for something truly one of a kind, stop in at Be Dazzled. Donna makes all of her jewelry and also has unusual handbags and NFL logo items.
At the far end of Chester is The Giggling Crow. It has new owners and boasts a great selection of slightly used and new clothes as well as unique home and cabin décor. If it has been a while since you stopped in, make sure to visit again. The new owners are bringing in several new lines and will be designing and making many one-of-a-kind items.
At Mountain Custom Framing & Gifts, besides great custom framing, you will find a unique collection of gifts, essential oils, pottery, baskets, and a collection of original watercolors.
If you are looking for local handmade log furniture, hand-painted saw blades, painted deer hides, redwood murals, carved bears and trees, make sure to stop in at Morning Star Log Furniture at the corner of Hwy 89 and 36. If you are lucky you may even see a piece of furniture in progress.
For a variety of amazing artwork from local artists, make sure to visit Blue Goose Gallery. They sell photography, pottery, baskets, woodwork, and more. Spend some time on the first Fridays of the month (May – October), when the gallery hosts an art show. You’ll find artists doing demonstrations of their work and sharing their tools and methods. Check the website for summer workshops held on the weekends.
Because we are surrounded by both Lassen National Forest and Lassen Volcanic National Park, many people forget about the many great trails that start right from Chester.
Collins Pine Nature Trail starts at the west end of Chester Park. This is a nice loop trail along the North Fork of the Feather River. Four benches are placed along the trail to stop and enjoy the views. Pick-up a flyer at the beginning of the trail which has twelve corresponding posts along the route identifying points of interest.
Highway 36 Causeway over Lake Almanor starts just east of Chester. You can park on Mellissa Drive and walk through the Meadow past the Olsen Barn to the lake’s edge, or pull off on the south side of the causeway and walk to the lake. This is one of the best places in the area to see large numbers of waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds, including Canada Goose, Tundra Swan, dabbling and diving ducks, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, American White Pelican, Bald Eagle, Osprey. Take note of the special Grebe nesting boxes. Make sure to look northwest at Lassen Peak. This is one of my favorite views of Lassen.
Locherman Canyon & Mike McCollum Nature Trail is just west of Chester off of Stover Mountain Road. This is an easy loop through several different habitats. Pick up a flyer at the trailhead and watch for the twelve marked posts along the trail.
Make sure to stop in at Bodfish Bicycles and Quiet Mountain Sports to rent a bicycle for a few hours or the day. Chuck can set you up with a route suited to your ability and time you have available.
A few easy rides are:
- The Vanilla Ice Cream Trail
- Old Wagon Road
- Last Chance Loop
- Domingo Springs
- Stover Mountain
Maps are available at St. Bernard Lodge and Bodfish Bicycles.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the region, head to the Chester/Lake Almanor Museum. The museum is located in a charming log building and features a fascinating photographic history of the town and a wide array of other artifacts and historical materials.
Pick up a Chester History Tour Brochure at the museum or St. Bernard Lodge, or by downloading from their webpage. Have fun comparing pictures of the past with current buildings. There are 45 stops starting with the Olsen Barn property on the east end of Chester and the St. Bernard Lodge 10 miles west of Chester on Hwy 36. Stop number 41 is the Collins Pine Company which is a working lumber mill and the Collins Museum. Terry Collins can usually be found at the museum Wed. – Sat. mid-May to mid-October and can answer anything you want to know about the logging industry.
After all the hiking, boating, and shopping, you may want to just relax. Treat yourself at Upstairs Day Spa or A Balanced Touch. If a massage or spa services will be part of your vacations plans, call early to make an appointment.
At the St. Bernard Lodge, we are proud to call Chester home. Our small Northern California town doesn’t just offer easy access to Lake Almanor and Lassen Volcanic National Park. It is also filled with many great places to eat, shop, drink, and play. If you have a little extra time during your trip, we highly recommend taking time to find out what makes Chester shine.
Planning a trip to Lake Almanor or Lassen Volcanic National Park? Book a stay at the St. Bernard Lodge to enjoy our convenient location, warm hospitality, and beautiful views.