The center of Chico culture and commerce

A slice of Chico

A slice of Chico

Photo By Tom Angel

Most of the storefronts in historic downtown Chico date to the 1880s, when founding father John Bidwell had a general store there. Several have been restored and granted landmark status.

Spring and summer practically invite evening strolls through downtown Chico, the center of culture and commerce that defines the character of the city.

If you’re a people-watcher, downtown is your movie screen.

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’ market continue to thrive with seasonal food offerings, plus 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 50, and “Wine and Dine,” page 55, for more information).

Here are some of the sights you might want to be on the lookout for as you stroll downtown.

Downtown murals
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.

Stansbury Home
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.

Bidwell Mansion
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 and everyone else is free. For more information, call 895-6144.

Downtown Plaza
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.

Chico Museum
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.

Yo-Yo Museum
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.

1078 Gallery
This artist-managed, non-profit gallery is a showcase for experimental, progressive and “not necessarily commercial” art. 738 W. 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.