Take a Walk through the Chico Avenues

One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods is home to quintessential Chico charm

Warm summer evenings, scented by orange blossoms and wild roses. The breeze in your hair as you meander on your cruiser bike past old Victorians and classic Craftsman homes. Neighbors rocking slowly on the cozy front porches, people watching or nose-down in a good book.

The Chico Avenues are one of Chico’s most timeless treasures, a neighborhood known for nostalgia and incredible architecture.

As one of Chico’s oldest neighborhoods, the Avenues (affectionally called “The Aves”) was originally known as Chico Vecino. John Bidwell first created this subdivision in 1887, with development beginning soon after. Today, the neighborhood runs from Big Chico Creek to Lindo Channel and spans from 1st Avenue-11th Avenue, intersected by Esplanade and Mangrove Avenues. 

Photo of Chico Vecino in the back; courtesy of Chico History Museum.

In true Chico fashion, of course, the city is also home to 1st-23rd Street, which means people new to Chico often mix up avenues and streets and end up on 8th Ave when they need 8th Street. Both locations offer a unique experience (and sometimes a fun surprise!), but if you do end up in the Avenues, you’ll be rewarded with a trip to Chico past. For the first 50 years of its life, the Avenues were guides to the trolleys rolling down the Esplanade, as the Northern Electric interurban trains ferried riders around town and onwards to Sacramento and San Francisco until 1947. 

While the streetcars are long gone, there are still reminders of history in the form of carefully preserved homes from the late 19th and 20th centuries. Thanks to the work of the Chico Avenues Neighborhood Association, they have helped locals understand the importance of historic structure preservation and rehabilitating residences. 

There are some stunning examples of late Victorian architecture tucked away in the Avenues. Architectural treasures like the Bidwell Mansion done in an Italianate style mingle with Queen Anne homes. Perhaps the most popular examples are the simple Craftsman bungalows that have stood for a century or more in the shade of this urban forest. 

The Avenues is also home to commercial properties, too, and many have put down roots in converted historic homes. The walkability of the neighborhood and its proximity to downtown make it an ideal spot for businesses to thrive. In recent decades, the area has become an economic hub.  Institutions like the Enloe Medical Center along with primary and secondary schools such as Chico High School have only increased the appeal of this charming neighborhood. All of these elements combined have made it the diverse and unique place it is today. 

Picture courtesy of Enloe Medical Center

Whether you live there or are just cruisin’ by, the Chico Avenues are the perfect place for an afternoon walk or a Saturday stroll. Come see for yourself!