In Spanish, Chico means “little,” as in “Welcome to Little, Calif.” Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Besides, it’s no longer accurate. With its 100,000 residents, Chico is a good-sized city by any reckoning.
The name comes from Rancho del Arroyo Chico (“Little Creek Ranch”), the Mexican land grant Chico’s founder, Gen. John Bidwell, purchased more than 150 years ago. The “Chico” part stuck but not the “Arroyo” part, which is why we now have both a Big Chico (“Big Little”) Creek and a Little Chico (“Little Little”) Creek flowing through town.
Nonsensical names aside, Chico still retains its small-town feel, despite its growth. Its friendly people, beautiful university campus, charming downtown, thriving arts scene and spectacular Bidwell Park combine to give Chico a unique and immensely attractive identity. Many who come to visit or attend school end up making Chico their home, which is why this Visitor Guide, brought to you by the News & Review, Chico’s award-winning weekly newspaper, includes information for those looking to settle here permanently.
While this community may be cozy, there’s no lack of things to do. Use this guide to find special events, everyday adventures and our favorite places to get away from it all.
Welcome to our big little town.
Fall and Winter Highlights
The air may have a chill but a season full of events still brings a thrill. Here’s your itinerary for fun.
Chico Creek Nature Center
The best place to begin any tour of Bidwell Park is this facility located in the heart of Lower Park.
New to town? Don’t worry. This is a primer on your new home’s vital statistics, plus a guide to needs as varied as bus-riding to bill-paying.
You’ll hear again and again that downtown is the heart and soul of Chico, and it’s true. This is where the action is, from shopping to students to late-night adventure.
Chico State University is what gives the town its vitality and drives much of the local economy. Plus, there are educational opportunities galore.
Parents of the K-12 set have many choices of where to send their kids to school. We offer an overview of the public system as well as several private schools.
Chico is the perfect jumping-off point for day trips of all kinds. Whether you’re into hiking, picnicking, golfing or just exploring, this area has what you’re looking for.
You’ve gotta stay somewhere, and it won’t be our house. Check out an ample list of motels and bed-and-breakfast inns.
The jewel of Chico, Bidwell Park is where locals bring out-of-town guests and where out-of-town guests ask to return. We’ll show you why.
*Health and Wellness
If you’re ailing or just want to keep in tip-top shape, Chico has a range of health and wellness options, from alternative healing to a skilled trauma center.
We love the nightlife and, yes, we love to boogie. Whatever your entertainment style and interest, it’s likely happening at one of Chico’s venues.
No need to travel to the “big city” for quality wares. Chico has a wide variety of shops, from mom-and-pop boutiques to trendy mall offerings.
From the animal-head fountains at Caper Acres to the Toyland-style trolleys, Chico has what it takes to make the little ones feel at home.
Chico Community Observatory
One of the newest additions to Bidwell Park is this small but high-powered observatory located in Upper Park, where you can view the stars and solar system at no charge.
Wine & Dine
Hungry? Good. Chico’s got food. Boy, does Chico have food. Our list is categorized for your convenience.
* These “Relocation Guide” sections are especially for readers new to town.