NORTHERN CALIFORNIA-Highway 5-Redding
Redding is located 30 miles north of Red Bluff, and 210 miles north of San Francisco.
Built on the Sacramento River, the down-to-earth city of Redding anchors the area’s outdoor recreation venues. Its stores are convenient for stocking up before heading out on a boating, fishing, hunting, or hiking trip. Redding was once home to the country’s largest covered street mall, but the roof has been dismantled and it is now a pleasant outdoor shopping streetscape. The city claims to be the second-sunniest city in the U.S. (Yuma, Arizona is first). Note that it gets hot here in summer. Real hot.
Enterprise Community Park
4300 Victor Ave. Free.
This family-friendly park has two soccer fields, a roller hockey rink, disk golf, basketball courts, and the perfect spots to escape summer heat–Kids Kingdom Playground featuring a volcano that erupts water every few minutes and Fantasy Fountain water playground
Sacramento River Trail
This 16.7-mile trail for cyclists and hikers runs from the Sundial Bridge in Redding to Shasta Dam at Shasta Lake. Like other National Recreation Trails, it is designated for exceptional recreational and scenic values. A shorter 7-mile loop runs from the Sundial Bridge, past the 1915 open-spandrel-arched Diestelhorst Bridge, and back.
Shasta State Historic Park
On Hwy. 299, 10 mi. W of I-5, in Old Shasta. Free. Courthouse Museum: Fee; includes same-day admission to Weaverville Joss House S.H.P.
Prosperous and bustling during the Gold Rush, this gold-mining ghost town is now an interesting collection of restored buildings and picturesque ruins located on either side of the highway. In the 1861 Courthouse Museum, a lovely eclectic collection of California art spanning 1850 through 1950 is displayed Louvre-like– crowded together tightly on the walls. A collection of Modoc Indian baskets and of antique weapons is also displayed. A gallows is just outside the completely restored courtroom, and a basement jail with heavy-duty ironwork and a ghost hologram is 13 steps down. A barn and a large picnic area with tables and grassy expanses are adjacent, and across the highway the old Blumb Bakery, though no longer operating commercially, still has its massive brick oven and sometimes serves up inexpensive baked goods and drinks. Also across the street, the delightful Litsch Store is refitted and stocked to look as it did way back when and is sometimes open for tours. More than 30% of the objects displayed are original to the store, and the rest are convincing replicas.
Turtle Bay Exploration Park
840 Sundial Bridge Dr. Fee; access to the cafe and bridge is free. No dogs.
Stop in at the Visitor Center for an orientation to this diverse, spread-out facility situated on the banks of the Sacramento River. It is composed of several venues—all focusing on life along the river.
●Turtle Bay Museum’s displays run the gamut–from a bevy of Wintu Indian baskets to a collection of atmospheric aquariums filled with local river fish and turtles. Particularly popular with kids is the reproduction of an oak tree with a window in the floor through which they can peer down at its root structure.
●Paul Bunyan’s Forest Camp resembles a 19th-century logging mill and has exhibits about the region’s logging days as well as an extensive collection of live California snakes. A creative outside play area holds a tree-stump maze, an osprey nest climbing structure, and a giant log slide. A live butterfly and bird exhibit is featured May through September.
●McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens covers 200-acres and features 20 acres of display gardens that include a children’s garden, a medicinal garden, several unique water features, and a nursery.
●Sundial Bridge is all-white and for pedestrians only. It was designed by avant-garde Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava–one of the world’s premier bridge designers. Made from steel, glass, and granite, it is designed so that no part of it is in the water disturbing the Sacramento River’s delicate salmon spawning grounds. It features a surface of opaque glass panels that permits viewing the fish below, and its pylon forms the world’s largest working sundial. The bridge connects the main facility to the arboretum. Bridge WEBCAM.
●Turtle Bay Cafe & Bakery features outdoor seating overlooking the bridge.
1275 Dana Dr./Hilltop Dr.
Only burgers, fries, shakes, and soft drinks are on this super-popular, always buzzing spot’s focused menu. Patties are made from fresh beef that has never been frozen. Buns are preservative-free, and fries are made fresh each day from Kennebec potatoes and fried in cholesterol-free oil. Onions are also fresh, and grilling them is a free option. But unfortunately, the veggie burger is basically a grilled cheese.
3425 Placer St., in Placer Heights Shopping Center.
Located about 10 minutes off I-5, this well-designed restaurant has a calming interior. The food is locally sourced, and you are given a list of who supplies what. A full bar provides a good selection of wine as well as craft beer on tap and in bottles. But the food is the main draw. The Goat Tostada was sold out by the time we got here a 1:15 p.m. on a week day, but the Moonstone Burger and Teriyaki Mushroom Swiss Burger were both excellent. The pommes frites are seasoned with herbs and served in a small paper bag. I saw the Tomatillo Verde go by and it looked delicious. No children were present, but I did see a booster chair.
Motel Row Chains galore are situated along Hilltop Drive. A few standouts are:
●Best Western Plus Hilltop Inn
2300 Hilltop Dr. 114 rooms. Heated pool, children’s pool; hot tub. Full breakfast; restaurant; limited room service. No pets.
This contemporary motel provides guests with passes to a nearby health club.
A step above the usual motel restaurant, C. R. Gibbs American Grill operates off the lobby. Items on the expansive menu include pizza from a wood-fired oven and rotisserie chicken, as well as a superb French-dip sandwich and delicious fish tacos. The bar is known for its selection of beers and martinis but also serves up sodas and milkshakes and features live music in the evening April through October. The patio is primo in good weather.
●La Quinta Inn
2180 Hilltop Dr. 141 rooms. Heated pool; hot tub; fitness room. Breakfast; restaurant. Pets ok.
This link in the chair offers large, quiet rooms with wall-to-wall carpeting.
1640 Hilltop Dr., 3 mi. SE of town. 80 rooms. Unheated pool (seasonal).
This chain has three branches in town.
(www.berkeleyandbeyond2.com; copyright Carole Terwilliger Meyers)