Posted by Ben Olberg
February 16, 2018
Downtown Chico is a great place to grab lunch, shop, or meet friends for happy hour. For those lucky enough to live in a Chico apartment within walking distance to downtown, parking probably isn’t an issue, but there are a limited number of apartments that close. Sometimes, especially when all the Chico State students are in town, it can be a challenge to find parking. If you just head blindly into downtown you might get lucky, but odds are you are going to circle the block a few times searching for a spot close to your destination and then have to backtrack and look farther out. If you want to be able to get in and out of Downtown Chico quickly, you have to know these parking secrets.
Smart Meter Parking: Up to 2-hour time limit Pay by credit card or coin
Metered Parking: 2-10 hour time limit Pay by coin only
Unmetered Parking: Time limits vary
Smart Parking Lot: 2-10 hour time limit Pay at kiosk with credit card, cash, or coin
Metered Lot/Structure: 2-10 hour time limit Pay by coin only
The Smart Parking lots at 1st & Wall St. and 2nd & Flume St. are both good options with lot’s of spots. They are close enough to central downtown so that most destinations are a short walk, but since they are on the edge of the downtown district they don’t fill up as quickly as street parking. The 2nd & Flume lot is closed on Saturdays for the Farmers Market until after 1:00 PM. You can often find available unmetered parking near the water towers around E. 3rd St. & Orient St. For those of you who are parallel parking challenged there are diagonal street parking spaces on 2nd street or Wall street. The 3rd floor of the Chico Parking Garage on 3rd & Salem St. is often available as well.
Chico is doing a great job at upgrading to smart meters in most areas, but there are still some old-fashioned coin operated meters. Make sure your coin tray is full before you head downtown, this might actually give you an edge in finding a parking space where those other coin-less people have failed. Pay special attention to the areas on the parking map that are marked as metered parking with a black line indicating that they are pay by coin only.
Chico State has a list of both on-campus and off-campus parking for students and visitors to the college. You’ll find helpful information on the different permits and zones as well as maps of the campus. There is a Chico State parking structure on 2nd & Normal Ave. It’s called the University Police and Parking Structure II. During the week it is a busier paid structure, but on the weekends it’s often wide open and it’s free!
There is so much to do in downtown Chico. It’s really worth exploring all the hidden gems hidden away down there. Many businesses have been a part of the community for decades, but there are also fresh new businesses popping up all the time. The City of Chico has done a good job working to keep the downtown area a fun place where businesses can thrive. In an attempt to promote downtown shopping during the holidays, the city even made Fridays free parking for the entire month of December. Below is a list of other free parking holidays for 2018.
Parking Holidays 2018
- January 1 - New Year's Day
- January 15 - Martin Luther King's Birthday
- February 19 - President's Day
- May 28 - Memorial Day
- July 4 - Independence Day
- September 3 - Labor Day
- November 12 - Veteran's Day (observed)
- November 22 & 23 - Thanksgiving Holidays
- December 24 & 25 - Christmas Holidays
The City of Chico monitors downtown parking very closely. Don’t just park somewhere you know you shouldn’t and hope to get away with it. The parking enforcement staff has no sympathy for people who park illegally or don’t pay the meter. If you happen to “accidentally” commit a parking violation you can find answers about how to pay your ticket or even contest the citation here.
If You Don’t Feel Like Parking
Don’t want to worry about finding or paying for parking? Downtown Chico is very pedestrian and bike friendly. You can also take a local taxi or request a ride with Uber or Lyft. Chico State Students, Faculty and Staff can ride the B-Line Bus for free. Just slide your student ID card along the magnetic stripe reader and if it is a current, valid ID the farebox will accept the card as payment for your fare. Route maps and a schedule for the B-Line can be found here.
No matter where your Chico apartment is, you’ll have lots to explore around you. Check out this great guide to finding food, services and fun in your neighborhood. Funner Than The Phonebook Directory.
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