Downtown: Where Chico comes together
Chico’s downtown is a lively, vital place filled with interesting things to do and see. Life doesn’t slow down in downtown Chico in summers—hot though they are. From the fry-an-egg-on-the sidewalk days to the cooler evenings, visitors and locals don’t want to miss out on any of the action. The Thursday Night Market and Saturday morning farmers’ markets continue to thrive with seasonal food offerings, along with gifts and live entertainment.
With its host of watering holes and restaurants for every taste and budget, downtown Chico is as alive by night as by day. (See “Entertainment,” page 45, and “Wine and Dine,” page 53, for more information.)
Here are some of the sights you might want to be on the lookout for as you stroll downtown.
There is something in Chico that detests a blank wall. Turn almost any corner downtown and you’ll see a mural. Look for a portrait of the Bidwells near the corner of Second and Broadway, a remarkable “trompe l’oeil” mural at First and Salem, and others. If you stand on the steps of the City Council chambers at Fourth and Main and look north, you’ll see the newest mural, of Chico’s first town hall. It was done earlier this year by Scott Teeple, who’s created many of the murals downtown.
Chico’s best-preserved example of Victorian architecture, located on the corner of West Fifth and Salem streets, is a journey into the past. Tours, which are given most Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 p.m, cost $2 for adults, $1 for students and children under 10 are free. Call 895-3848 for more information.
Chico’s most famous home is the three-story, pink-and-brown mansion its founder, John Bidwell, built for his wife Annie. This restored jewel of a home, located at 525 The Esplanade, across the creek from Children’s Playground, is now a state park and offers hourly tours Mon.-Fri., noon-4 p.m., and weekends, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tours cost $1 for those 16 and older; everyone else is free. For more information, call 895-6144.
This one-block park in the heart of downtown (it is bounded by Fourth and Fifth and Main and Broadway) is a great place to people-watch or just rest your feet. The new Chico Municipal Center and Chico City Council chambers are just across Main Street, the historic downtown post office is just across Fifth, and the beautifully restored Silberstein Building is across Broadway.
Housed in the former 1904 Carnegie Library at Second and Salem streets, the museum has three parts: a historical museum, which includes a permanent Chico collection; a re-creation of a Taoist temple altar much like one formerly found in Chico; and a rotating exhibit. Entry is free, but donations are appreciated. Open Wed.-Sun. noon-4 p.m. 891-4336.
The world-class National Yo-Yo Museum is housed in the Bird In Hand store at 320 Broadway. Among the exhibits is “Big Yo,” the largest yo-yo in the world. Open daily, with no admission charge.
This artist-managed, non-profit gallery is a showcase for experimental, progressive and “not necessarily commercial” art. 738 West Fifth St. Hours: Tues.-Fri. 3-5:30 p.m., Sat. 2-5 p.m. 343-1973.
Vagabond Rose Gallery
Located downtown on Main Street between Second and Third streets, this business features exhibits from local artists that rotate on a monthly basis. Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.