Headquarters for outdoor adventures
CREATED BY MINING and the railroads in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this city of 90,000 in the far northern reaches of California has diversified its economy and culture in recent years to emerge as an engaging travel destination.
Located three-hours’ drive northeast of San Francisco on Interstate 5 beside the Sacramento River, Redding takes full advantage of its many nearby natural wonders. It’s an ideal base for exploring Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen, Mount Lassen Volcanic National Park and Trinity-shasta National Park. These prime attractions offer cycling, hiking, climbing, fishing and camping. The 11-mile Sacramento River National Recreation Trail, an asphalt path for walkers and cyclists, follows the river.
Turtle Bay Exploration Park, located near downtown, is anchored by one of California’s best examples of contemporary architecture and engineering: Sundial Bridge, designed by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. A striking, cantilevered beauty for walkers and cyclists, with a translucent, hardened glass walkway, it premiered in 2004 and became an instant icon of Redding. At one end of the white, 700-foot-long bridge is the span’s namesake: a sundial, one of the largest in the world. Turtle Bay Exploration Park also includes the Redding Visitor Center at 844 Sundial Drive.
With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Redding is first and foremost an outdoor recreation hub. The Sacramento River and nearby lakes help locals and visitors alike to beat the area’s summer heat with ample opportunities for swimming, kayaking and other watersports; 30,000acre Shasta Lake is an especially popular place to chill. Taking free guided tours and walking across 602-foot-high Shasta Dam are popular, too.
Views of 14,179-foot Mount Shasta are amply available in city and countryside. Beholding the snowcapped volcanic peak in 1874, naturalist John Muir exclaimed, “When I first caught sight of it, I was weary and 50 miles away and afoot. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since.’’
Redding does not neglect indoor fun. Performances are staged year-round in the beautifully restored Cascade Theatre, a 997seat city landmark built in Art Deco style and opened in 1934.
SUNDIAL BRIDGE top; Shasta Lake Dam, below.