School Programs

General Information

Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park continues to host school groups from across the north state. Students cherish for years their memories of touring the Bidwell’s home and learning about a vital piece of their State’s history. Many come back years later as adults to tell us about what an impression their trip had made. Meanwhile, teachers appreciate the educational foundation of the trips, designed to align with current social studies content standards.

Mansion tours are designed specifically with 3rd and 4th grade California Content Standards in mind. Students are taken through the historic home of John and Annie Bidwell, where they learn about the lives and accomplishments of these significant figures in California history. Tours take one hour and are free.

In addition to the mansion tour, we offer three interactive programs. These programs take approximately 45 minutes and can be scheduled in conjunction with, or independent of, a mansion tour.  The cost of adding a program is $50 per class.

Reservations are required, and can only be made through appropriate Bidwell Mansion staff via email at or by calling the mansion visitors center at 530-895-6144. You can also use the School Tour Inquiry Form to send your request to Mansion Staff.

View the School Tours Calendar to view available trip dates. Dates will be available for reservation on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from September until June. Tours and programs are scheduled to begin at 9:30 am. When calling to book your program, have your school’s phone number and your email address ready. As space is limited and fills up quickly, have your calendar handy so you can be flexible with dates. While it is acceptable to have one teacher book for multiple classes, if you are booking for other colleagues, you will need to have their email address as well.

We make every effort to accommodate all groups. Please contact mansion staff if you have any particular scheduling or logistical issues that prevent you from attending.

Available School Programs

Mansion Tour
Designed specifically for 3rd and 4th graders, students will hear the story of John Bidwell’s journey to California and his early life adventures.  While using the historic home as a guide, we will explore the lives of John and Annie Bidwell in the 1800s.

1800s Gadgets
This program is an interactive program that allows the class to step back in time to the 1800s. We will discuss how our morning routine differed from the routine in a 1860s household. We will show unusual kitchen and household gadgets and discuss their function. Students will play a game called "Guess the Gadget" where they will break into small groups and attempt to guess what their gadget was used for.

Gold Rush
This program is designed to allow the students to feel the thrill of discovering gold. We will discuss how and where gold was discovered. We will also talk about the lifestyle of the average miner. The class will be divided into teams and each group will receive a pan that has been salted with gold. Imagine the excitement of yelling "Eureka" each time a flake of gold is discovered.

This program focuses on the unique relationship the Mechoopda Maidu Native Americans had with the Bidwells and Mechoopda culture. Students learn about Mechoopda culture at Chico Rancheria and how it has changed.

Students gain an understanding of how integral natural resources were to Mechoopda culture by participating in a natural resource-artifact matching game. Time allowing, we’ll go outside to observe natural resources the Mechoopda used, in their native habitat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of the program?
There is a flat fee of $50.00 per class for the programs.  Mansion Tours are free.

How many adults should I bring?
For a tour only, no extra adults are needed. For the 1800s Gadget and the Gold Rush programs we recommend 4 to 5 adults including the teacher. No more than 4 adults plus the teacher will be allowed in the Mansion during the tour.  Please notify us if you are using parents for transportation.

How long are the Programs?
Each program is approximately 60 minutes in length. The tour is approximately 60 minutes.

Do we see the entire Mansion on the tour?
No. The tour will cover the majority of the first and second floor.

Can the students buy souvenirs?
Yes, the Visitor Center includes a gift shop with many items under $5.00.

What if I need to reschedule?
Our staff is scheduled specifically to present your program and tour. Therefore, if you must reschedule, let us know as soon as possible. We will do our best to accommodate your group with a new date, but availability is very limited.