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13 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Redding, CA

Written by Brad Lane
Updated Feb 15, 2022

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Redding is a scenic city in Northern California, surrounded by several natural attractions and things to do outside. The Sacramento River runs right through the middle of the city, paralleled by the postcard-perfect Sacramento River Trail. Take some time to visit the 217-foot-tall Sundial Bridge, serving as the gateway to the Sacramento River Trail and downtown Redding.

Near the Sundial Bridge, the centerpiece family attraction of the city is Turtle Bay Exploration Park. fun things to do at Turtle Bay Exploration Park include regular animal shows, an interactive museum, and access to the well-manicured 20 acres of McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

Redding is also a central city for adventure sports. Wild and scenic rivers, high mountain peaks, and active volcanic areas are all reached from Redding in less than an hour's drive. Shasta Lake–California's largest man-made reservoir is a nearby adventure not to miss. Other notable locales include the likes of Lassen Peak and Mount Shasta.

Popular day trips and things to do on the weekend from Redding include mountain biking, backpacking, cavern exploring, and all things paddle sports. And with over 300 days of sunshine each year, there's plenty of chance to get outside. Things to do on the few rainy days in Redding include catching shows at the Cascade Theatre or checking out regional artworks at the Old City Hall Arts Center.

Plan your sightseeing with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Redding, CA.

1. Turtle Bay Exploration Park

Turtle Bay Exploration Park Museum
Turtle Bay Exploration Park Museum | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a 300-acre park and campus on the banks of the Sacramento River, and it's the number one stop in Redding for family fun. The Turtle Bay Museum is the park's central attraction, featuring numerous interactive exhibits detailing the connection between the city and its natural surroundings.

Attractions at the museum include a Visible River Aquarium, a recreated cave system, and a main Exhibition Hall featuring artwork from around the world. Several exhibits offer interactive components alongside detailed visual displays. Numerous educational programs and events take place on the campus, including children's discovery camps and professional development workshops for adults.

Animal experiences occur regularly at the Paul Bunyan Forest Camp within the park, including a "Walk on the Wild Side" animal show at the Forest Amphitheater. A large butterfly house also tends to be popular between May and June, and special meet-and-greet experiences with the resident North American beavers can be scheduled ahead of any visit. An interactive Parrot Playhouse is also on campus, as well as themed play structures and historical steam engines.

Other top attractions of the city stem outwards from the park. The striking Sundial Bridge spanning the Sacramento River is at the museum's backdoor, giving entrance to the Sacramento River Trail. And across the river, the lush acreage found at the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens offers a full afternoon of exploring.

Address: 844 Sundial Bridge Drive, Redding, California

Official site: https://www.turtlebay.org

2. Sundial Bridge

Sundial Bridge
Sundial Bridge | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Within Turtle Bay Exploration Park and spanning the Sacramento River, the Sundial Bridge is an eye-catching and useful piece of urban engineering. This striking timepiece is considered the gateway to downtown and the Sacramento River Trail. And alongside great views of the river, the bridge also casts the correct time of day throughout the afternoon.

When exploring Redding, the Sundial Bridge is hard to miss. Several community attractions stem from either side, including the rest of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park campus. On the opposite side of the river, the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens offer a bountiful set of walkways to peruse, and plazas on both sides of the bridge offer an easy place to enjoy the tranquil riparian habitat.

Official site: https://www.turtlebay.org/sundial-bridge

3. Sacramento River Trail

Sacramento River Trail
Sacramento River Trail | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Scenic attractions line the shady Sacramento River Trail, extending from the eye-catching Sundial Bridge near downtown up to the Keswick Dam. It's paved the entire way and is popular with walkers, cyclists, and strollers. It's also popular with dog owners looking to burn off some extra pet energy. The trail also features numerous trailheads, restrooms, and park benches along the route.

For extended adventures, the trail connects with the Sacramento River Rail Trail and follows converted railroad tracks all the way to Shasta Dam. This 17-mile route from the Sundial Bridge to Lake Shasta is a popular all-day bicycling route, including a refreshing dip in Lake Shasta at the turnaround point. The Sacramento River Trail and Sacramento River Rail Trail combined comprise the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail.

4. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Whiskeytown Lake
Whiskeytown Lake | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The massive expanse of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is centered around Whiskeytown Lake, an easy 15-minute drive west of Redding. Water-based activities are popular things to do at this National Recreation Area, which encompasses over 30 miles of shoreline. Common activities include swimming, fishing, and boating.

Whiskeytown covers over 40,000 acres in total, lending toward plenty of land-based activities, too. Hiking, biking, and horse riding are a few popular ways to explore the abundant natural space. The recreation area is also home to four waterfall hikes, including a 2.7-mile round trip to Whiskeytown Falls.

Whiskeytown originated and takes its name from a mid-1800s Gold Rush community. Its latest chapter in its history comes from the devastating 2018 Carr Fire, which burned over 90 percent of the forest within the recreation area. Cleanup and recovery efforts began almost immediately.

Visitors are welcome to check out the natural environment at Whiskeytown, which has bounced back after fires. Visitors are encouraged to check the official website prior to visiting for a guide to area closures.

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/whis/index.htm

5. Shasta State Historic Park

Shasta State Historic Park
Shasta State Historic Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Much of what remains of the historic city of Shasta are the remnants and ruins within this public park. Once known as the "Queen of the Northern Mines," Shasta State Historic Park now provides interesting insight into the California Gold Rush.

Visitors to Shasta State Historic Park should start their exploration at the Courthouse Museum. Restored to resemble its 1860 appearance, the Courthouse Museum is filled with numerous artifacts, displays, and information regarding this 19th-century gold-mining town.

After the courthouse, wander at leisure, stopping at any interpretive information that catches the eye. Several picnic tables are also available for a meal outside.

Address: 15312 CA-299, Redding, California

Official site: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=456

6. McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

This 20-acre arboretum and garden space features living demonstrations of the local flora. It's part of Turtle Bay Exploration Park, across the Sacramento River from the museum via the Sundial Bridge.

The grounds of McConnell Arboretum are simply fun to stroll and enjoy the day. Take note of the extensive landscaping and primarily Mediterranean garden displays. The gardens are a popular place to start or end a bike ride, as they lend easy access to the nearby Sacramento River Trail.

Address: 1125 Arboretum Drive, Redding, California

Official site: https://www.turtlebay.org/gardens

7. Downtown Redding

Redding's revitalized downtown district is worth some time on any trip to the city. This walkable area starts near the river and the Sundial Bridge, and spans south, encompassing several city blocks. Among the attractions in this part of town are restaurants, shopping, and several cultural institutions, including museums and community centers.

The best way to explore downtown is on foot, and many parking spots are available to ditch the car. Let your senses guide you to whichever restaurant's menu catches the most attention. A few notable eateries to check out include Déjà vu and Café Paradisio.

8. Shasta Lake

View of Mount Shasta from Shasta Lake
View of Mount Shasta from Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake is a massive reservoir with many fingers and the state's largest man-made water feature, with over 360 miles of shoreline. Numerous coves, access points, and secret pull-off spots line this massive lake, providing many things to do and ways to enjoy the water.

Boating is by far the most popular activity at Shasta Lake, especially come summer. Hundreds of vessels, ranging from one-person kayaks to houseboats, each finding space to explore this time of year. It's a 20-minute drive from Redding to some of the southern shores of Lake Shasta, making this valuable water resource practically in the backyard of the city.

With stunning views of the perpetually snow-covered Mount Shasta glistening on the horizon, Shasta Lake is surrounded by other adventurous things to do. Only accessible via a guided boat ride and tour, Lake Shasta Caverns is a popular trip for the whole family to enjoy, only 20 miles from Redding.

9. Lassen Volcanic National Park

The Painted Dunes at  Lassen Volcanic National Park
The Painted Dunes at Lassen Volcanic National Park

The active environment of Lassen Volcanic National Park is a great day trip from Redding. It's accessible from the city in less-than-hour's drive. The park features numerous things to do outdoors, including hiking on the 150-mile trail system. Other popular activities include stargazing throughout the park's many campgrounds and walking the boardwalks lined with fumaroles, mud pots, and boiling pools.

Popular hiking trails at Lassen Volcanic National Park include Echo Lake, Devils Kitchen, and Lassen Peak, all within different regions of the park. Several hikes are snow covered throughout the year, and parking is limited at popular trailheads throughout the summer.The nation-spanning Pacific Crest Trail travels 17 miles through the park, leading to a collection of thru-hikers congregating outside the Lassen Café within the park.

With an average of 30 feet of snow in the winter, Lassen is also popular for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The Manzanita Lake area is one of the most popular areas for snow sports, offering a relatively flat landscape for every level of athlete to enjoy.

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/lavo/index.htm

10. Cascade Theatre

Cascade Theatre
Cascade Theatre | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Entertaining the community since 1935 and now on the National Register of Historic Places, this community favorite venue continues to put on great shows. Regional and nationally touring performances in music, theater, and comedy fill the event listings of the Cascade Theatre, all backdropped brilliantly by the preserved 1930s Art Deco interior design. For cinephiles, film and movie titles also adorn the historic marquee.

Address: 1731 Market Street, Redding, California

Official site: https://cascadetheatre.org

11. Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Shasta-Trinity National Forest

The ample acreage of Shasta-Trinity National Forest is within a short drive north of the city, offering several excellent day trips or extended weekend getaways. The forest encompasses over two million acres, including wild and scenic rivers, hundreds of trail miles, and five designated wilderness areas.

Popular things to do within the national forest rotate throughout the seasons. Activities range from mountain climbing to cross-country skiing and including backpacking, fishing, and horseback riding. Throughout the winter, downhill and cross-country skiing reign supreme.

Castle Crags State Park, surrounded byShasta-Trinity National Forest north of Redding, is a popular day-trip destination or overnight travel spot, with a campground available. The campground has over 70 campsites available for tents and RVs, backdropped by impressive 6,000-foot mountains. And one of the best day hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail passes through Castle Crags State Park.

Official site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/stnf/home

12. Old City Hall Arts Center

Old City Hall Arts Center
Old City Hall Arts Center | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Originally constructed in 1907 and now administered by the Shasta County Arts Council, the Old City Hall Arts Center is a creative community space open for the public to enjoy. It's a great spot for a rainy day or a creative afternoon spent indoors.

The gallery within the Old City Hall Arts Center features local and regional artists with regularly rotating exhibitions. And numerous classes, camps, and open studio times take place at the Art Center throughout the year.

Address: 1313 Market Street, Redding, California

Official site: https://www.shastaartscouncil.org/old-city-hall/

13. Swasey Recreation Area

Operated by the Bureau of Land Management, Swasey Recreation Area offers 17 miles of woodland trails to explore southwest of the city. It's a popular spot with trail runners and mountain bikers, with some trails including special features like berms, bumps, and jumps.

The adjacent Mule Ridge Trail increases the exploration possibilities at Swasey Recreation Area. Wildflowers, wildlife, and excellent views of Mount Shasta define this scenic footpath, as well as remnants of historic gold mining encampments.

Official site: https://www.blm.gov/visit/swasey-recreation-area

Where to Stay in Redding, California for Sightseeing

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • The Oxford Suites Redding is one of the most popular stays in Redding. It offers convenient access to Interstate 5 and a large selection of comfortable accommodations. The hotel has standard rooms and suites, including a spacious presidential suite that enables small get-togethers. A few of the hotel's complimentary amenities include fast internet access, airport transportation, and a grab-and-go breakfast available every morning.
  • Overlooking the Sacramento River toward the south side of the city, the Hilton Garden Inn Redding is another dependable hotel at a moderate rate. It features free airport transportation and easy access to area attractions. Rooms and spacious suites are available, with every overnight accommodation equipped with coffee makers, work desks, and high-definition TVs. Other on-site amenities include an outdoor pool; fitness center; and dining at The Shop, which features casual fare throughout the day.
  • The Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge has arguably one of the best locations of any hotel in Redding. It's right next to Turtle Bay Exploration Park and across the Sacramento River from McConnell Arboretum. Redding's famous Sundial Bridge connects these two kid-friendly attractions near the hotel. And this prime location makes the Sheraton popular for family travel. The comfort of each room also adds to the value. Overnight accommodations include standard guest rooms, executive suites, and presidential suites.
  • North of downtown along Interstate 5, Fairfield Inn & Suites Redding features over 70 rooms in a quiet location. Alongside comfortable bedding, every overnight accommodation comes with a coffee maker, an ergonomic work desk, and a 32-inch TV with premium movie channels. The hotel also offers complimentary continental breakfast in the morning, and guests tend to take advantage of the outdoor pool and indoor fitness studio. Select rooms at the hotel are pet-friendly with a deposit.
  • The Hampton Inn & Suites Redding, on the east side of the Sacramento River from downtown, has every amenity needed for just about every type of travel. From a fully equipped business center to family-sized suites, every guest enjoys the hotel's clean and comfortable atmosphere. Free parking is available, as well as free internet, and the entire property is smoke-free. The hotel's proximity to Interstate 5 makes exploring the surrounding region easy.

Budget Hotels:

  • One of the best deals in town, Travelodge by Wyndham Redding CA, offers competitive rates and clean rooms. The hotel has an excellent reputation for its comfortable rooms and convenient location, just north of the Sundial Bridge and McConnell Arboretum. Other amenities that encourage repeat visits include an outdoor pool, high-speed internet, and complimentary breakfast. Standard rooms and more spacious suites are available.
  • At the heart of downtown, Thunderbird Lodge offers a great rate in a prime location. This roadside hotel has provided rooms for several decades and today has a nostalgic feel alongside modern amenities. Standard king and double-queen rooms are available, as well as accommodations with a small kitchenette, including an electric stovetop. Alongside the low overnight rate, complimentary parking is also available, which is a real value in this busy downtown area.
  • The Super 8 by Wyndham Redding, east of downtown on the Interstate 5 corridor, offers another reputable place to stay with low overnight rates. This pet-friendly hotel features clean and comfortable standard rooms, with a combination of bedding available. Each room comes with a coffee maker, air-conditioning, and a high-definition TV. Complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi is also available throughout the property.

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