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A bike ride across the Sundial Bridge in Redding, Ca
Two people hiking next to a lake at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Kayaking and paddleboarding at Shasta Lake
Middle McCloud Falls
Kyle Sheppard
A family at Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark in Redding, CA.

10 Reasons To Enjoy Redding, According to the Locals

By Redding CVB | 07/08/2020 | Biking, Boating, Caves, Cultural District, Downtown Attractions, Family Friendly , Fishing, Food and Drink, Fun and Free, Great Outdoors, Lakes, Paddling, Parks & Gardens, Rafting, Rivers, State & National Parks, Swimming, Things to See and Do, Top-Sights, Tours, Trails, Waterfalls, Watersports

When you want to explore the outdoor beauty and open spaces of Northern California, Redding is the place to go. The town serves as the perfect base camp for adventure, as it’s surrounded by mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests. You’ll find state and national parks, waterfalls, whitewater—and a charming town filled with all the urban amenities you could need, including great restaurants and a thriving arts community. A weekend—or even a weeklong—trip is hardly enough time to see it all.

So what are the must-sees on a trip to Redding? We surveyed a group of people who know best—the people who live there—to give you a highlight list. You probably can’t hit them all in one visit, but you can’t go wrong with any of these 10 activities on your next trip to Redding. Please remember to follow social distancing guidelines and remember to #RecreateResponsibly.

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1. Waterfall Hiking


There are dozens of waterfalls in and around Redding that you can hike to see such as Whiskeytown Falls. (Photo by @arunbulchandani on Instagram)

The area around Redding features dozens of different waterfalls to enjoy. Some require a significant hike, while others are just a short walk from a parking lot. Depending on the amount of time you have, you can design a waterfall drive to hit many that are within an hour’s drive of Redding. But ask around and most people will list Whiskeytown Falls just west of Redding as one you will want to see.

The 220-foot cascade is the tallest in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. It was re-discovered in 2004 after being kept secret since 1967. This usually misty trail offers a change in climate which invites unique plants and animals and the trail connects to the Mill Creek Trail. This waterfall is accessible by a strenuous 1.7 mile hike (3.4 miles roundtrip) on the James K. Carr Trail. The trail follows some steep sections of old logging roads and climbs approximately 700 feet to the falls. Offering good exercise, shade, views through the mixed conifer forest, and a backcountry experience, the James K. Carr Trail to Whiskeytown Falls is the most popular trail in the park. At the base of the waterfall, be sure and carefully climb up the cement stairs to the upper viewing platform. Please don't forget to purchase a park pass at the Whiskeytown Visitor Center.

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2. Whitewater Rafting


Want to combine the great outdoors with a thrilling ride? Whitewater rafting is an unforgettable way to see the wild side of Northern California. The Sacramento River runs right through Redding, and you’ll find a relaxing trip on its waters with up to Class III rapids during its high season.

For a bit more excitement, rafting guide Brianna Carreira suggests heading to the Trinity River. It’s there that she leads groups through Bigfoot Rafting, and you can take 4- to 6-hour day trips or even up to 5-day excursions. “The best time to go is between May and September,” she says.

The emerald waters of the Trinity River feature up to Class V rapids when it’s running high, but you can find a trip to suit your interests.

Other favorite spots with guided trips include the South Fork, the Cal Salmon, and the Upper Klamath Rivers.

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3. Boating on Whiskeytown Lake


Just 8 miles west of Redding, Whiskeytown Lake is the go-to spot for locals who want to spend time on the water. The Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is filled with opportunity for activities and Suzanne Russell, the owner of Carousel, a women’s clothing boutique in Redding, was one of the many locals who listed Whiskeytown as the go-to spot for relaxing time outside.

When it comes to boating, ski boats, deck boats, pontoon boats, party barges, fishing boats, canoes, and kayaks are all available for rent—find the best bet for you and enjoy exploring the nearly 3,500-acre lake.

The area has more to do than boating, however, so don’t forget about the 39,000 acres of surrounding land that features four waterfalls, mountain creeks, and miles and miles of trails for hiking and biking.

Please note that due to the 2018 Carr Fire some of the trails and bridges are still being reconstructed and there is currently no access to Brandy Creek Falls and Boulder Creek Falls at this time. You can check the Whiskeytown website for updated information about what trails are open.

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4. Climbing at Castle Crags State Park

Castle Crags State Park

Whether or not rock climbing is your thing, you will enjoy the rugged beauty at Castle Crags State Park. About a 40-minute drive from Redding, the park is a well-known rock climbing destination, with granite domes, spires, and walls that range in height from 20 feet to more than 900 feet.

You don’t need to be a climber to find something to enjoy here, as the 6,000-foot tall glacier-polished crags are a sight to behold even if you don’t want to climb them. Take advantage of the 28 miles of hiking trails and incredible views of Mt. Shasta in the park. There’s also excellent fishing and swimming in the Sacramento River here.

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5. Bike on the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail

Sacramento River National Recreation Trail
Discover Redding from the saddle of a bike as you ride across the Sundial Bridge and along the Sacramento National Recreation Trail.

The best way to explore Redding and the surrounding area may be to take a ride on the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail, a 17.2-mile route that takes cyclists, runners, or walkers from the world-famous Sundial Bridge to the Shasta Dam. It’s a resource that’s just as popular with the locals as it is with tourists. For many, it’s a convenient way to get in your daily exercise on a paved path with plenty of trailheads, bathrooms, and water along the route. Visitors will be blown away by the views of the Sacramento River and surrounding mountains. Not to mention, the San Francisco Chronicle called the trail the "Gem of the U.S. Trail System."

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6. Enjoy Some of the Country’s Best Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing by the Fly Shop
Photo courtesy of The Fly Shop on Instagram @the_fly_shop

Northern California is one of the country’s best fishing destinations, and fishing guide David Neal gets to meet people from around the world as he treats them to great spots near Redding. The best places to go depends on the time of the year, but visitors will find excellent fly fishing for trout on both the Upper and Lower Sacramento River. Some of the best steelhead fishing on the West Coast is on the Trinity River. Other popular spots include the McCloud River, Pit River, Fall River, Upper Klamath River, and Hat Creek. Where you go depends on the time of year and what you like to fish for, but you’ll find year-round options within a short drive of Redding. Take advantage of guide services to help you find exactly where the fish are biting on a visit.

Plus, Forbes named Redding as a Top 10 Trout Fishing Town in North America, and the only location on the west coast in the United States. For more information on fly fishing, read A Fly Fishing Guide to Redding, CA

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7. Turtle Bay Exploration Park


Traveling to Redding with the family? Then be sure to check out the Turtle Bay Exploration Park, a 300-acre campus that’s part museum, part nature center, part zoo—and all right along the Sacramento River and Sundial Bridge on one of the city's most scenic spots. The museum tells the story of the history of the region, from the first Native American inhabitants to the gold rush miners and lumberjacks, who would later help build Redding. There’s California’s largest indoor butterfly house, and numerous interactions with live animals with educators on site. See what’s beneath the Sacramento River in the aquarium, or just let the kids play at the Forest Adventure Playground. You can also tour the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.

Please be advised due to COVID-19, reservations must be made online on Turtle Bay's website prior to entering the museum. 

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8. Dining Around Town


Outdoor seating at Mosaic Restaurant gives you shaded views into Turtle Bay Exploration Park. (Photo by Turtle Bay Exploration Park)

After a day outside, nothing is better than sitting down to a meal at a great restaurant. Luckily, Redding is filled with options. Jack’s Bar and Grill has been a staple in the community for more than 80 years, and steak is the name of the game here. If you are looking for a tasty filet mignon, Jack’s is your place. Moonstone Bistro is another favorite. They use local and seasonal produce, free-range meats, and line-caught fish from local farmers and suppliers to create an unforgettable meal. Clearie’s offers a fine-dining experience, but it’s also a great place to stop for cocktails in the evening. Kobe Steak & Seafood offers a fusion of Japanese, Thai, and Korean food, while View 202 features contemporary American cuisine and has one of the most impressive outdoor dining patios you’ll ever find. The Mosaic Restaurant is steps away from both the world-famous Sundial Bridge and Turtle Bay Exploration Park and also features an outdoor seating area to look into Turtle Bay. Following the outdoor theme, The Park, Redding’s food truck hub, is a more casual, though still lip-smacking outdoor dining experience for all ages.

NOTE: Due to COVID-19, please check with the restaurant's safety protocols, updated hours and dining options ahead of arrival. Other Redding original restaurants options can be found on our website.

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9. Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark


Generations of Redding locals and visitors have enjoyed a trip to see the Lake Shasta Caverns, the most beautiful limestone caves in the country. Formed by flowing water over 200 million years, the caverns have been one of Redding’s top tourist destinations since the 1960s. On the two-hour guided tour, you can see a wide variety of rock formations and eight “cathedral rooms” in the cave system. Visitors take a short catamaran cruise across Shasta Lake, followed by a short bus ride up a mountain road to access the caves.

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10. Have a Drink at a Local Brewery


The craft brewery movement is going strong in Redding, and you can choose from four area brewers that offer unique creations on tap. Woody’s, Final Draft, Cedar Crest, and the Fall River Taphouse all feature award-winning beers and ales to try. After so much activity, sometimes all you want to do is sit on the patio and enjoy a cold drink. Chances are, there will be a local sitting right next to you—who can give you some tips on what to do the next day. Please advise to following similar procedures as restaurants and check with the establishment for safety protocols and guidelines ahead of arrival.

Written by Jeff Banowetz for Matcha in partnership with Redding CVB.

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