16 Things to do in Redding CA (By a Local)
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Surprisingly, Redding is one of Northern California’s best-kept secrets. Nestled in the Shasta Cascade Region of the North State, this vibrant city is an outdoor lover’s paradise.
It has even been called “The Trail Capital of California” with over 100 miles of trails within the city limits. While there is no shortage of trails and outdoor adventures, Redding has so much more to offer.
Whether you are looking for waterfalls, lakes, museums, or simply want to soak up the sun, this city has something for everyone!
Since I have been a Redding local for over 10 years I have spent many weekends exploring the area. Here is my guide to the Best things to do in Redding California. All these attractions and places to see are within one hour of downtown.
What to do Near Redding California
1. Sundial Bridge
You can’t visit Redding and not go see The Sundial Bridge, this is the city’s most popular attraction. Located just minutes from downtown Redding, this is a one-of-a-kind pedestrian bridge that crosses the Sacramento River.
This bridge has a glass bottom and is designed in the shape of a working sundial. The Sundial Bridge is located next to the Turtle Bay Exploration Park and connects both sides of the Sacramento River Trail.
While the Turtle Bay Park is a separate paid attraction, exploring the Bridge and the connecting River Trail system is free to the public. The bridge is open from 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily.
When you are visiting Redding you should make time to take a stroll across The Sundial. This bridge is also one of the best places to watch the sunset.
Once it gets dark, make sure you return, because at night the bridge lights up and it’s a completely different experience. Depending on the time of year, the bridge is lit with different colors.
2. Turtle Bay Exploration Park
The Turtle Bay Exploration Park covers 300 acres. It features a Museum, an aquarium, animal exhibits, forest-themed playgrounds, and learning activities for kids.
The museum offers different exhibits from the region and around the world. There are over 64 different species of animals. Turtle Bay is one of the top Redding attractions for families.
They also have a “Parrot Playhouse” which is a walk-through live aviary where you can interact and hand feed Lorikeets and Australian birds. We have done this a few times and it’s fun for the kids and the adults!
At certain times during the year, they have special events and exhibits such as the Wings of Summer Butterfly display where you can walk into a cover filled with butterflies.
3. Sacramento River Trail
While Redding is home to hundreds of miles of trails for walking and biking, by far the most visited trail is The Sacramento River Trail.
The paved 17-mile-long River Trail runs along both sides of the Sacramento River which flows right through Redding.
Locals and visitors enjoy using this trail for walking, biking and running. There are many different trailheads, and places to park, and enter along the River Trail. Two of the busiest areas on the trail are near The Sundial Bridge and Cadwell Park.
Most people don’t complete the entire trail but just enjoy 1-2 mile sections. If you were to follow the full-length trail it runs north to The Shasta Dam.
With a view of the river and chances to see wildlife, it’s easy to see why so many people love the Sacramento River Trail.
4. McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
The McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are on the north side of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park across from the Sundial Bridge. If you want to get away from the city and enjoy a quieter pace, then this is the perfect spot for you.
Pathways lead through different species of plants, and there are water displays and interesting artwork along the way.
There is also a children’s garden and picnic grove that has a beautiful mosaic display and tunnels that go through bamboo trees for the kids to explore.
The garden is open daily from 7:15 am to dusk and there is a drop box with a suggested donation of $5.00. If you are at the Sundial Bridge and want to see some interesting plants from around the world then you should visit.
Note: If you visit in November or December, then the gardens might be closed down for the Garden of Lights holiday display. While you won’t be able to explore the gardens, the Garden of Lights features over one million holiday lights that I highly recommend getting tickets to attend.
5. Explore Downtown Redding
In recent years Redding has put a lot of work into building and renovating their downtown area. Today Downtown Redding is a great place for locals and visitors to enjoy new and historic restaurants, bars & breweries, shopping, and art displays.
Many of Reddings top-rated restaurants are located near downtown. If you head downtown to eat, make sure you take some time to walk around and explore.
From seeing some historic buildings such as the Cascade Theater to exploring some of the nearby murals that local artists have painted, it’s worth a visit.
6. The Park – Redding’s Food Truck Hub
A local favorite is “The Park” which is Reddings Food Truck Hub located in the heart of downtown.
With different delicious food trucks to choose from, live music, beer, and wine this is a fun place to check out for the entire family. There is also plenty of seating, tables, and fire pits for you to sit down and enjoy your food.
The Park has a fun family atmosphere and there are large games for the kids, bocce ball courts, and Cornhole. The kids can play while you sit down, enjoy live music and relax.
Make sure that you check their updated schedule before visiting because The Park is only open seasonally from March – November depending on the weather and certain days of the week (Wed-Sat evenings).
7. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Whiskeytown Lake and Recreation Area is another local favorite. Just a quick 15-minute drive from downtown Redding, this is the perfect place to explore the outdoors.
The main attraction is the incredible lake which is a great location for swimming, boating, and watersports during the summer. The best swimming beaches in the park included Brandy Creek Beach and Oak Bottom Beach.
Both swimming beaches have bathrooms, snack bars, and a sandy shoreline. There are also places to rent kayaks, paddle boards, and boats.
The park is also home to many different hiking trails, four major waterfalls, and a few campgrounds.
8. Waterworks Park
If you are visiting Redding during the summer with kids, then you should visit Waterworks Park. This is the perfect spot for kids to cool off and have some fun in the hot Redding sun!
Waterworks is a water park that is open seasonally starting after Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
The waterpark is perfect for all ages and features many different rides and slides. Younger kids will enjoy the kiddie playground, the wave pool, and the lazy lagoon. Older kids will enjoy the raging river raft ride, the cyclone, and more!
If you visit, I highly suggest booking a shaded cabana for the day. While it does cost extra, the convenience of having your shaded private area to relax and store your belongings is worth the cost.
9. Shasta Caverns
Shasta Caverns is a tourist attraction and National Natural Landmark located right on the shores of Shasta Lake. Tours last about 2 hours and include a 10-minute boat ride across Shasta Lake, a 10-minute bus ride up to the Caverns, and a 45 to a 60-minute guided tour through the caves.
I loved visiting Shasta Caverns. It was like three adventures in one! I would recommend this for kids and adults.
Just know that while you are walking through the caverns there are a ton of steps, over 600 to be exact. The caves are also about 60 degrees inside, so make sure you bring a sweatshirt or jacket.
10. Lake Shasta / Shasta Dam
At over 30,000 acres Shasta Lake is the largest reservoir in the State of California. It is most known as a top destination for boating, watersports, fishing, camping, and lakeside vacations.
The lake is so massive that many different arms of the lake stretch out to total about 360 miles of shoreline. There are also a few waterfalls and hiking trails around the lake.
If you want to get a glimpse of Shasta Lake, I would recommend visiting Shasta Dam. Shasta Dam is a quick 20-minute drive from Redding and there is no cost to park or explore the grounds.
The area near Shasta Dam offers some of the best views of Lake Shasta.
Shasta Dam is one of the world’s tallest dams at 602 feet. There is a free visitor center that has information about the history of Shasta Dam that is open to the public.
They used to offer tours that take you down inside the dam, while the tours have been put on hold, I have heard that they might start again in the spring of 2023.
11. Aqua Golf Driving Range
This Redding business has been family owned and operated for the last 30 years. In my years of living in Redding, I have only recently tried Aqua Golf, and it was so fun!
This tiny little driving range is located right on the Sacramento River, so you get to enjoy incredible views and golf all at once.
If you have never golfed before, don’t worry this is the perfect spot for your beginners and pros. It’s also a perfect spot for kids and adults to have some fun while hitting golf balls into the river.
It will probably only take about a half hour to an hour, so if you need to kill some time before dinner or a movie, this is the perfect quick and exciting activity located not far from downtown.
12. Burney Falls
Burney Falls is one of California’s must-see natural wonders. This massive waterfall is over 120 feet tall. This incredible waterfall is located in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park.
There is a $10 fee for vehicles. Also, this waterfall gets busy. So busy that sometimes the parking area fills up in the summer and they temporarily close down while they are at capacity. I recommend that you try to get there early before the crowds.
There is an easy 0.3-mile walk from the parking area to get to the base of the falls. There is also a 1.2-mile loop trail if you want to stay and explore. I have been to Burney Falls more than once and I am always in awe each time I visit.
13. McCloud Falls
This waterfall is not just one but three waterfalls in one. Located about a 1.5-hour drive from Redding, CA, this is another great waterfall that I recommend visiting. It’s free to enter the park and see the waterfalls.
McCloud Falls consists of three waterfalls (Lower Falls, Middle Falls, and Upper Falls). If you want to see them all you can drive to each one, or you can hike the 3.5-mile round-trip loop to see them on foot.
If you can only see one, I recommend lower falls. This one is also the busiest and you will need to arrive early for parking. Lower falls aren’t as big as the middle or upper falls, but it’s just steps from the parking area and you get to see the waterfall up close.
Lower falls are also the safest for kids. If you go to Middle falls with kids, just be careful because there are some steep unmarked drop-offs near the viewing area.
14. Lassen Volcanic National Park
This is the place to visit if you want to see volcanic activity. Lassen National park is about an hour’s drive from Redding.
The park is home to Mt. Lassen, which is an active volcano. Most people take the Bumpass Hell Trail, a 3-mile round trip hike that ends on a boardwalk over boiling mud pots and turquoise blue steaming water.
There are also many hiking trails, mountain lakes, meadows full of wildflowers, and so much more to see at this National Park.
15. Sacramento River
The beautiful Sacramento River runs right through the heart of Redding. If you are visiting some of the other places to see on this list like the River Trail or The Sundial Bridge, you will get a chance to see this river.
If you are looking for a little more fun on the river, then you might want to book a guided river rafting trip. This is a fun way to cool off, see some wildlife, and experience the river from a different point of view.
16. Shasta State Historic Park
Another popular Redding attraction is The Shasta State Historic Park. Located about a ten-minute drive from Redding, during the gold rush this town was once a booming commercial area and mining district, today it is a “ghost town”.
It is free to visit the old town and you can walk through the historic buildings and see what life once was in this area.
The town is always open to walk through and see the buildings, but if you want to enter the Court House Museum and gift shop they are open Thursday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There is a blacksmith shop, courthouse, brewery, and more. There is also a large picnic area. It’s the perfect spot to bring your lunch and take a step back in time and explore a historic town.
If you are heading to Whiskeytown Lake from Redding you will pass right by the Shasta State Historic Park. You could always make a quick stop to explore this historic town on your way to or from the lake.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to visit Redding, CA?
With an average of 300 days of sun a year, Redding is one of the sunniest cities in the United States! So you don’t have to worry about too much rain even during the winter.
But you should know that with all the sunny days, Redding has very hot summers. The hottest months are normally July and August. Where it’s common to see temperatures above 100 degrees.
While there are plenty of activities to cool off during the hot summer, if you don’t like the heat, you might want to visit during other months of the year. I would say the best time to visit would be anytime in the spring, early summer, or fall.
Also, in the past few years, Northern California has had quite a few wildfires. With these fires, the air quality can sometimes get smoky. If you are planning on visiting anytime from August through November (fire season) I would suggest checking the air quality first.
What is Redding California best known for?
Redding is best known for its iconic Sundial Bridge, boating on Lake Shasta, year-round sunny weather, and as an outdoor adventure destination. Here are just a few fun facts about Redding, California.
- Redding has been called “The Trails Capital of California”
- With over 300 days of sunshine, Redding is the 2nd sunniest city in the U.S.
- Lake Shasta has been named one of the “Top 10 House Boating Spots in the Nation”
- The Sundial Bridge is one of the largest working sundials in the world.
- Redding is known as a “Top 10 Fishing Town in North America” by Forbes Magazine
- Time Magazine called Redding as the “Unofficial Capital of Kayaking”
Where is Redding, CA?
With a population of about 90,000, Redding is the largest city north of Sacramento. Oregon is a 2-hour drive North, Sacramento is a 2.5-hour drive South, and the closest coastal beach is almost a 3-hour drive west to Arcata.
Have you visited Redding, what was your favorite thing to do? Feel free to leave a comment below.