Travel & Destinations

Uncover the Best Things to Do in Redding, California

Photos by Doug Bardwell except as marked.

Redding is a California getaway destination that checks all the boxes for seniors or seniors with grandkids. Despite being full of firsts, biggest, and bests, Redding has retained its small hometown charm.

Easy to get to

Flying into Redding is a treat in itself. Redding Regional Airport serves major airlines like United and Alaska Air, but you can walk the length of the airport terminal in less than 500 feet. Security line wait times are in the single digits or non-existent. Major car rental companies serve the airport, with cars outside the door and no shuttle buses. If you need to wait, upstairs is a highly-rated, delicious Chinese restaurant – Peter Chu’s Skyroom.

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Looking north to Mount Shasta.

Picturesque location

Redding is at the north end of California’s Central Valley, surrounded by mountain ranges to the west, north, and east. Look north from many places around town, and you’ll marvel at the snow-capped, 14,000-foot-tall Mount Shasta.

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The Sundial Bridge is the gateway to Redding’s extensive trail network.

The Sundial Bridge is a must-experience!

The pedestrian Sundial Bridge is the city’s most iconic destination and an engineering marvel wrapped in one. Designed by world-famous engineer and architect Santiago Calatrava, this 700-foot bridge spans the width of the Sacramento River without touching the water, protecting the Chinook salmon spawning grounds below.

Fourth of July Fun

July 4, 2024, marks the 20th anniversary of the bridge. All types of free events are planned from June 28 through July 4, including an art show, performances by the fantastic aerial artists of BANDALOOP, a kayak race and float, DJ Dun Gun dance party, and concluding an enormous fireworks show (one of the biggest in California) over the holiday.

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The shadow from the Sundial Bridge creates a working sundial in the summertime.

More to see and do

(If you miss the anniversary events)  

The Sundial Bridge is open 24/7/365, so feel free to stroll across any time throughout your visit. During the day, pedestrians can visit the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, which has a fanciful Children’s Garden on the north side of the bridge. Be sure to look down at the bridge’s north end, and you’ll notice that the bridge is a working sundial in the summertime. By the way, Redding is the 2nd sunniest city in the United States, so you’ll have plenty of chances to see the sundial’s shadow.

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Walk across the bridge to explore Turtle Bay Exploration Park.

Walk the bridge and explore the park.

Coming across the bridge, you’ll be at the front door of Turtle Bay Exploration Park, enjoyable for children and adults. There’s a natural history museum with rotating exhibits and an opportunity to go “Behind the Scenes” and meet wild animals up close and personal (reservation needed).

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‘Timber,’ the beaver, will sit on your lap and let you feed him.

Get friendly with the creatures.

Meet dozens of wildlife in their natural environments, like a friendly beaver, a turtle, or a snake. There are also two separate buildings where you interact with butterflies or lorikeets (Australian parrots).

Across the parking lot, you’ll find the Redding Civic Auditorium, home to music, comedians, and more. Click here for the event calendar.

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Part of the 200+ miles of scenic trails in and around Redding.

Looking for more outdoor action?

Redding is known as the “Trails Capital of California” for runners, hikers, skaters, and cyclists, and for good reason—there are more than 200 miles of trails along the Sacramento River, through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and out to Whiskeytown.

This writer’s favorite thing in Redding is riding their well-maintained trail system on a rental e-bike. You can find rentals for reasonable prices from Pedego Redding,  Adventure Hub, or Shasta Living Streets.

The Sacramento River, California’s largest and longest, surrounds the city with many recreational opportunities. Time Magazine calls Redding the “Unofficial Capital of Kayaking,” USA Today rates it second in the country for “Best Urban Kayaking. The city’s website has suggested places to kayak, and rental companies are at each site.

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A rainbow trout caught and released on the Lower Sacramento River.

It’s a great place to cast a line.

If fishing is more to your liking, Redding is listed in the “Top 10 Fishing Towns in North America” by Forbes. Due to the abundance of rainbow trout, the Sacramento River is rated as one of the top three trout fisheries in the world.

I tried fly fishing before and never landed a fish, but we went drift fishing with a guide from AC Fly Fishing. I landed my first beautiful rainbow trout on a catch-and-release barbless hook within an hour. It was exciting.

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The Three Shasta’s: Shasta Dam, Shasta Lake, and Shasta Mountain.

Shasta Lake Adventure

Redding is also known as the Houseboat Capital of the World if you want to spend even more time on the water. Rent a houseboat for a unique stay on Shasta Lake, one of the largest man-made lakes in California.

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The interior of Lake Shasta Caverns.

A Unique Experience

For another magnificent adventure, sail over to Lake Shasta Caverns and see the breathtaking caverns, which date back two million years and are 850 feet above Lake Shasta.

For more travel inspiration, see the Visit Redding website. (All photos are by Doug Bardwell except as marked.)


Doug Bardwell

Doug Bardwell is a writer, photojournalist, and FAA-licensed drone pilot. He has articles and photos published worldwide. His work has been featured on Examiner, CBS Online, CNN, HuffPost, Chicago Parent, North Coast 50 Plus, Medium, No Boundaries for Us, and more. When not traveling with his wife, Maureen, they keep busy following the adventures of their seven children and 19 grandchildren. You can follow his travels and product reviews at

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