If it has been more than a few years since your last visit you would be amazed by all the changes to the downtown area. While several historic buildings remain, a successful revitalization has created a vibrant, eclectic style and many new establishments.
Charming, historic downtown Modesto is an enjoyable place to shop, dine and meet friends in the heart of the city. Downtown will greet you with unexpected finds and uncommon treasures. The pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined streets offer a vibrant blend of parks and historic buildings, specialty shops and service businesses, fine dining and coffee shops.
The pedestrian only 10th Street Plaza is home to Brendan Theaters, an 18-screen movie theater, restaurants and live music on many summer nights. From pizza to Asian-Italian Fusion to Ice Cream and chocolate, whatever your culinary taste, you can find it on the plaza.
Many of Modesto’s landmarks are located downtown. The historical Modesto Arch, located at Ninth and I Streets, was erected by the Modesto Business Men's Association in 1912 to promote economic development. A contest was held for a slogan to put on the arch. The winning entry,” Nobody’s got Modesto’s Goat”, was bypassed in favor of the second place, and present slogan, "Water Wealth Contentment Health", was chosen.
Constructed in 1915 in Mission Style, The Southern Pacific Depot’s striking porticos and long platform have been preserved as reminders of the city’s early romance with the railway system. Located at 9th and J Streets, this facility now serves as the city’s transportation center.
Modesto Garden Club members add to the city’s charm with their unmatched creativity in flower arrangements. Hanging flower baskets and pots line the streets and the working flower clock is one of the hallmarks of the city. This timepiece measures 20 feet in diameter and, except for the clock mechanism is entirely made of flowers. Twice a year the garden club plants approximately 25,000 flowers to keep the clock colorful and seasonal. Being the largest club in the country, the garden club has more than enough members to take on this large task. Located on K Street below the Modesto Centre Plaza fountain, this clock is one of only twelve in the United States.
The Lucas Plaza Statue located at the intersections of Downey, 17th, McHenry and J Streets (five points), features two teenagers from the early 60’s leaning against the fender of a ’57 Chevy. This bronze statue is a tribute to Modesto’s most favorite son, director/producer George Lucas.
The Historic McHenry Mansion and the McHenry Museum are both listed on the Nation Register of Historic Places and are available for tours.
Across from the Mansion is lovely McClatchy Square. This quarter-acre park is home to the “The Paper Boy”, a bronze statue of a young boy delivering copies of “The Bee” with a dog at his side. Also in the park is the Gallo Rose Garden, named in honor of the late Julio & Aileen Gallo (E. & J. Gallo Winery).
On the grounds of the Stanislaus County Courthouse is a fountain and statue of Chief Estanislao. This life-size bronze statue stands in honor of Stanislaus County’s namesake. Located at 11th and I streets.
Looking for unique vintage and antique pieces? Downtown is the place for you. Many of the antique shops and boutiques are clustered in an easily walkable area. Discover cool keepsakes, off the wall heirlooms and priceless mementos while touring these shops.
Modesto is justifiably proud of its artistic side. Five galleries are located in the Downtown area, specializing in everything from traditional and contemporary art to ethnic and cultural artifacts. The Third Thursday of each month all downtown galleries open for an art walk. Admission is free and light refreshments are served.
Downtown Modesto's restaurants offer a variety of menus to please every palate. Whether you prefer California Cuisine or Continental, a casual cafe, or romantic dinner setting, you will find it here. With over 50 dining establishments within a ten-block radius you will find the dining choices are virtually endless.
Downtown Modesto comes alive after dark, with residents and visitors enjoying the nightlife. The Fat Cat Music House and Lounge is a thirties-era show house, featuring some of the valley’s best live entertainment. Catch a live concert, a comedy show or just relax in front of a fire in their beautiful lounge.
The historic State Theater is a great location to catch some big name acts in a very intimate setting. With only 580 seats it’s a great opportunity to get up close and personal with your favorite artist.
Also downtown are the Townsend Opera Players who present four fabulous productions a year, the Central West Ballet performs three amazing ballet’s, the Modesto Symphony Orchestra features six concerts in and around downtown Modesto and Modesto’s MoBand performs in Graceada Park for six weeks through the summer.
So leave your car, a world of dining and entertainment is only a short walk away.