Downtown Chico was founded in 1860, when John Bidwell requested that the county send a surveyor to lay out the city grid. Up until this time all improvements to the land were on the Bidwell Ranch, north of the Big Chico Creek. The downtown is notable for its numerous restored historic buildings. Downtown is host to a wide range of businesses, architecture and public art, including many murals and art benches. The downtown area is located adjacent to the Chico State campus and the historic South Campus Neighborhood. Downtown offers cafes, restaurants, clothing stores, and a diverse assortment of treasures.

There is a strong sense of community spirit in Chico generally, and people come downtown to gather and participate in our dynamic local culture. There are frequent community events held in various places downtown; in the City Plaza, Children's Playground, on the sidewalks, and even on closed streets. The area is the epicenter of Chico's night life.

Downtown is often the site of many festivals and other fun events, many courtesy of the Downtown Chico Business Association or the Chamber of Commerce. These Chico traditions range from the Taste of Chico and Christmas Preview, to the Friday Night Concert, as well as the Thursday Night Market and annual Slice of Chico.

One of the most prominent events held each Thursday in warm months is the Thursday Night Market for which several streets are closed. There is also the Saturday Farmer's Market which has great produce, crafts, entertainment, and community outreach groups.


Try biking downtown: there is plenty of parking and it's always free! Parking Downtown has been a thorny issue for some time. But if you're patient and don't mind walking two or three blocks, you can almost always find parking. On downtown streets, vehicles may park for up to two hours between the hours of 7:30am and 6pm, except Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

Meter Holidays for 2009 1. January 1 - New Year's Day January 19 - Martin Luther King's Birthday February 16 - President's Day May 25 - Memorial Day July 4 - Independence Day (Saturday) September 7 - Labor Day November 11 - Veteran's Day November 24 & 25 - Thanksgiving Holidays December 24 & 25 - Christmas Holidays December 31 - New Year's Eve

Between the hours of 2am and 7am, vehicles may park for up to 30 minutes. On Broadway St., between 3rd and 5th, parking is not allowed on Thursdays between the times of 5pm and 10pm during the months of April through September. This is necessary for the Thursday Night Market.

Meter Rates

6 minutes 5 cents
12 minutes 10 cents
30 minutes 25 cents

Authorities enforcing parking meter use are very diligent in Chico, so don't think for a moment that you can get away with "one minute more" in a cozy cafe. Parking meter fees go to subsidize a downtown employees transit pass program, maintenance of meters, and servicing the debt on the existing Downtown Parking Structure.

The city is implementing a suite of new parking management strategies, in collaboration with the Downtown Chico Business Association. On July 15, 2008, the City Council directed staff to implement the recommendations in the DCBA's white paper WalkableDowntown.pdf.


See Downtown Restaurants


See Cafes for more places to grab some caffeine in Chico.




See Banks.


Clothing Stores

Hardware Stores

Food Markets

Novelty Stores

Record Stores

Smoke Shops/Head Shops/Hookah



See Hotels & Motels for more places to stay in Chico

Shopping Centers

See Shopping Centers for more places to shop in Chico.


Also see Entertainment.

Downtown Public Art

See also Public Art

Downtown Murals

Downtown Sculpture

Luminary Art Benches and Pedestals

See Luminary Art Benches

Public Facilities


For more, see Organizations.


Formerly downtown

Downtown Buildings