Discover Northern California
Downtown Chico California

You Will Definitely Want to Spend Time
in Downtown Chico!

Did you know that John Bidwell designed downtown Chico? Chicoans are very proud to claim John Bidwell and his wife, Annie, as the founding couple of beautiful Chico, California! With their contributions to the design of the town, their own beautiful mansion, the donation of land for Chico Normal School, and the gift of Bidwell Park to the community, the Bidwells helped to guide Chico toward the future.

Bidwell was one of the first emigrants on the California Trail, worked for John Sutter, found the first gold on the Feather River, served in the Mexican-American War, and was a member of Congress from 1865-1867.

He married Annie in 1868 while in Washington, D.C., and brought her home to Chico where they involved themselves in improving their community.

Both of the Bidwells were ahead of their time on all of the important social issues that have continued to evolve throughout our country's history: local, state, and federal politics; innovation in agricultural methods; the treatment of Native Americans; women's suffrage; the temperance movement - visit Bidwell Mansion SHP on your next visit to Chico to learn more about this interesting couple.

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The Bidwell Legacy: Downtown Chico Today

Broadway and 3rd in Chico; Photo by Suzi RosenbergBroadway & 3rd in Chico; by Suzi Rosenberg

Since that time, Chico has prospered and flourished and is, today, one of the most unique downtowns in all of California.

Chico's downtown is alive with one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques, restaurants, an historic hotel, and arts venues.

Walk the streets of Chico most anytime of the day or night and you'll find college students, parents and children, business people, and Baby Boomers -all enjoying the downtown ambiance.

Visit during one of the many downtown events scheduled throughout the year and you'll find absolute crowds of people, getting together to enjoy their town!

There are two defining streets: Main Street, which is going roughly north, and Broadway, which is one-way going roughly south.

Dissecting these two are the numbered streets that start at Chico State and increase as you go south, so it's relatively easy to find your way around the downtown area.

Don't confuse the numbered streets with The Avenues, which are also numbered and run parallel to the streets but are north of Chico State.

If you're getting directions or looking at a map, be sure to make the distinction between First Street and First Avenue, Second Street and Second Avenue, and so forth.

Once you get downtown, you'll see that Chico is really a walking town, so you'll want to park your car and hoof it to experience the full small-town flavor of Chico.

In fact, pick up a copy of the Chico Chamber of Commerce's brochure, Historic Walking Tour, at the Chamber office, 300 Salem Street. You'll be glad you did!

For a sneak preview of some of the things to see and do in downtown Chico, check out these articles:

  • Chico Shopping
    In Chico's charming downtown you'll have the ultimate shopping experience - because you'll find things that are truly original!
  • Chico Culture
    Museums, public art, performing arts, and a new city plaza - it's all in downtown Chico!

And for more about Chico:

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