Your Guide to Downtown Chico
Chico Getaway Artist

Your Guide to Downtown Chico

Just a few minutes off Highway 99, Downtown Chico features dozens of shops and restaurants to explore. Set between the blocks of Salem and Flume from W. 1st Street to W. 6th Street, the heart of Downtown Chico is arguably contained in the nine blocks of Salem and Wall from W. 1st Street to W. 4th Street. Here, the streets are filled with an abundance of delicious restaurants, unique boutiques, gift shops, bars, and more, all within walking distance—just park once, and explore for hours.

There’s plenty to explore, so learn more about the different micro-regions and offerings in Downtown Chico.

Broadway & Main

One-way streets running parallel to each other, Broadway and Main streets are the main thoroughfares in Downtown Chico, with Main bringing you in and Broadway guiding you out. They’re also the streets where you’ll find the most activity year-round.

Anytime of year, Broadway and Main—and the streets connecting them—make a great starting point for downtown adventure, with coffee, dining, and shopping just a few steps away from wherever you park. On Main Street, the Senator Theatre, built in 1928, is a historic feature, while Broadway features the iconic Morehead Building, a Chico institution since 1902 and home to Hotel Diamond, The Rawbar Restaurant & Sushi, and others.

When it comes to events, Broadway between 2nd and 4th (plus 3rd between Salem and Main) turns into a pedestrian paradise for the weekly Thursday Night Market from May through September. This popular event has been showcasing farm-fresh produce, food trucks, vendors, live entertainment, and more to the streets of Downtown Chico since 1997. It’s the perfect place to meet up with friends, check out local goods, and grab dinner.

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, both Broadway and Main close down to cars for the annual Christmas Preview, when Downtown Chico merchants debut their holiday offerings, show off fabulous decorations, and provide refreshments and entertainment. Since 1978, Christmas Preview has been the official kick-off to the holiday season, with carolers, photos with Santa, and more fun for the whole family.

The scenic City Plaza, nestled between the two streets at 4th Street, is also home to many events throughout the year, such as Chico Ice Rink in the Plaza.

Whenever you visit, it’s impossible to visit Downtown Chico without finding yourself on either Broadway or Main.

Chico State

While really its own entity, Chico State’s proximity to and presence in Downtown Chico makes it a must-visit. With just Salem Street separating Downtown from Chico State, the two are intertwined, with the energy in Downtown Chico following the ebbs and flows of the school schedule. The streets are a little more lively when the students are in town, and more mellow when those seasonal breaks occur. In or out of session, you can visit Chico State at any time, and a stroll through campus is always a good idea.

If you’re looking to experience Chico State like a student (or even an alum), start with a stop at Madison Bear Garden or Riley’s Bar, two quintessential collegiate watering holes.

Dining

With no shortage of dining options, whatever type of food you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Downtown Chico.

Those needing caffeine to start their day should check out Stoble Coffee, Naked Lounge, Tin Roof Bakery and Cafe, or the (mostly) vegan Tender Loving Coffee.

For a proper meal, there are dozens of options perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and whatever type of cuisine you could think of. Looking for casual American fare? The Banshee, Burgers and Brew, and Parkside Tap House are popular options for burgers, beer, and more. Want a fancier dining experience? 5th Street Steakhouse and Crush each serve elevated options perfect for date night. Woodstock’s and Celestino’s are perfect pizza parlors, while Aonami Sustainable Sushi and Grana highlight sustainable or locally grown dishes. Even plant-based diners will be able to feast, with Om on the Range, Gogi’s Cafe, and Momona offering robust vegan- and vegetarian-friendly options.

End your time out by satisfying your sweet tooth at Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy, Sweet Chico Confections, La Flor de Michoacán Paleteria y Neveria, or Jon & Bon’s Yogurt Shoppe.

And these are just a few of the delicious Downtown Chico restaurants available! Repeat visits will definitely be needed to taste them all.

Bars & Nightlife

With a variety of walkable spots to choose from, Downtown Chico is one of Upstate California’s best spots for fun bars and nightlife.

Bella’s Sports Pub, Duffy’s Tavern, and DownLo are classic, somewhere-on-the-divey spectrum neighborhood bars, while Argus Bar + Patio is a more elevated cocktail bar. At the swanky dive bar Bill’s Towne Lounge, you can enjoy beers, cocktails, and southern-inspired food, including one of the best fried chicken sandwiches you'll find anywhere.

For mellow daytime tastings, enjoy organic wines at the LaRocca Vineyards Tasting Room.

For more energetic nightlife, Crazy Horse Saloon, VIP Ultra Lounge, and The Beach in Chico offer different club experiences.

Beyond the bar experience, you’ll find Chico nightlife full of live music and other performances. Lost on Main and El Rey Theater showcase a variety of live music acts throughout the year.

Shopping

With dozens of small businesses calling Downtown Chico home, it’s the perfect place to shop for unique and locally made gifts.

Remember your time in Chico with cool clothes from Upper Park Clothing and locally made gifts from Made in Chico. These Chico-specific shops are known for showcasing the best of the city, so you’ll never forget your adventures here. Another iconic shopping spot is Bird in Hand, a gift shop that’s also home to the one-of-a-kind National Yo-Yo Museum.

For cute clothes from unique boutiques, For Elyse, 3 Seas, and Anika Burke are just three of the several options to shop from. For antique enthusiasts, check out Eighth & Main Antique Center, one of the largest antique and home decor malls in the west. At Wild Ink Press, you’ll find hand-pressed stationery for any occasion, while The Bookstore is rightfully known as one of the best used book stores in Northern California. And no trip to Downtown is complete with a stop at Collier Hardware, a locally owned Chico institution since 1871 that can help you with more than just your hardware needs.

And this is just a start—there are plenty of other gift shops, novelty stores, and emporiums waiting to be discovered as you stroll the streets of Downtown Chico.

Arts & Culture

Discover Downtown Chico’s under-the-radar arts and culture scene at a variety of museums, performance spaces, and landmarks.

Fans of the stage can catch live theater performances at Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium or the First Street Theater on, you guessed it, 1st Street. If you prefer the cinema, the Pageant Theater is Chico’s go-to art house for documentaries and independent films.

Museums also abound Downtown. The Chico History Museum celebrates all things Chico history related, while kids will love the Chico Children’s Museum and the Gateway Science Museum (which is technically just outside the true Downtown Chico boundaries, but is part of Chico State). Right next to the Gateway, the Bidwell Mansion State Park is the iconic former home of the city’s founders—enjoy a tour to learn about the Bidwells and their far-reaching influence in Butte County.

You can also enjoy art at several intimate locations. Chico State boasts several galleries open to the public, and places like the Chico Paper Company serve as hybrid gallery and retail spaces. And of course, you’ll often find local artists showcased at various coffee shops throughout the year.

Use this guide as a starting point to exploring Downtown Chico! With hundreds of shops, restaurants, bars, museums, and venues to discover, we couldn’t possibly list them all. For a deeper dive into the area, check out the official Downtown Chico website. Just remember, whatever your interests, there’s something for everyone in Downtown Chico.

Like what you're reading?
Get our latest stories as they're published by .