14+ FUN things to do in Redding, California! (+ 4 day itinerary!)

Redding is one of the best kept secrets in California! In this guide we’re sharing the best things to do in Redding, plus other tips to help you plan your own adventure in this outdoor paradise.

You could easily spend years in California and not see and do it all, and as we spent two months road tripping up California on our journey to Alaska in 2022, we had a lot of tough decisions to make about where to stop. And one of the best choices we made was leaving some of the more popular areas along the coast and heading inland to the city of Redding.

Redding, California hits all of our major criteria for an “A+K approved” city! The city is a manageable small to medium size, there are tons of great local spots to eat and grab coffee, and it’s near so much gorgeous nature. Redding was hands down one of the best surprises of our 2022 travels!

Castle Crags State Park | Things to do in Redding, California

Watch our experience in Redding, California, including hiking, enjoying delicious eats and treats, and more! 

Want to visit this Northern California gem for yourself? In this guide we’re sharing some of the best things to do in Redding, California, plus a four day itinerary, when to visit, where to stay, and more!

Looking for more things to do in California? Check out these guides & videos:

About Redding, California

Redding, California

Nestled smack dab in the middle of Northern California lies the city of Redding. For thousands of years, this area was home to the Wintu tribe of Native Americans, before the area began to change after a land grant was given in 1844.

Over the years, Redding and its economy has ebbed and flowed, which has turned it into what it is today. Redding experienced the introduction of the railroad, a copper and iron mining boom, as well as bust, plus the implementation of dams to help with flooding and harness hydroelectric power.

With the creation of Shasta and Whiskeytown Lakes from these dams, along with close access to Lassen Volcanic National Park, tons of mountains, rivers, waterfalls, caves, and lakes, the Redding area quickly grew into an outdoor paradise. In fact, there are 225 miles of trails within a 15 mile radius of downtown, giving Redding the nickname “Trails Capital of California.”

Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!

These seven principles include planning ahead and preparing, hiking and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly (pack out what you pack in!), understanding campfire rules and always fully extinguishing your fires, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors. 

14+ FUN Things to do in Redding, California

From outdoor adventures, to local eats, and unique activities, there are tons of things to do in Redding, both in town, as well as a short drive away! Below are some of the spots we loved during our visit, plus a handful that are at the top of our list for next time.

Check out a local coffee shop

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know we love visiting local coffee shops. And during our time in Redding, we checked out two solid coffee shops that we recommend visiting for your morning caffeine boost.

Our favorite coffee shop we visited in Redding was Theory Coffee Roasters. Not only was the coffee exceptional, but so were both breakfast items that we tried. Their pastry items are from Eden Bakery and Adam’s breakfast sandwich included a croissant bun that was magnifique, while I got a gluten free cinnamon roll that you would’ve never guessed was gluten free! The inside is spacious and has a modern, but industrial design and they also have a neat outdoor area with a beautiful mural. 

We also stopped by Evergreen Coffee, which is operated by Feast Coffee. The inside was bright, airy, and beautifully decorated with lots of plants. We tried their Horchata Granita, which we don’t think even had coffee in it, but it was deliciously refreshing!

Not only do they have coffee, but they also have delicious looking waffles, plus sell some gift items. On top of all that, they also offer two boutique suites you can rent out, which we will share more about later on in this guide.

Eat at a local restaurant

Wilda's Grill | Things to do in Redding, California

Wilda’s Grill

Wilda’s Grill is a locally owned restaurant that serves multi-ethnic foods including The Buddha Bowl, which has brown rice, red beans, cabbage, avocado, cilantro, jalapenos, garlic chili sauce, asian dressing, and your choice of chicken or tofu. It’s served in a takeout style box and is SO much food! We recommend ripping down the walls of the box to make a plate and mix it up.

We were instantly hooked on this Buddha Bowl and have made a recreation of it several times in the van since!

Yaks on the 5 | Things to do in Northern California

Yak’s on the 5

If there’s one place you eat in the Redding area…make it Yak’s on the 5! Technically in Dunsmuir, which is only about an hour drive from Redding, this burger joint is not only ridiculously delicious, but is a ton of fun!

There are tons of unique burger options (the Make Me Want to Cry Garlic Obsession is spicy, garlicky perfection), but the most fun thing about Yak’s is that when you order you get to pick a name for your order from the bin. They call you by that name when your order is ready and if you’re lucky they might just sing your name like they did for us!

In addition to the burgers, make sure to get the Scott’s Tots (any Office fans out there?), which is a unique mix of spicy, tangy, and sweet flavors, and we hear their sticky buns are to die for!

Taste and See Creamery | Things to do in Redding, California

Taste and See Creamery 

We always have to check out a local ice cream shop when visiting a new city and Taste and See Creamery in Redding was top notch! We loved their variety of flavors, many of which had delicious chunks inside, gluten free and regular waffle cones, and the inside of their newer location (Hilltop) is beautiful!

Redding, California

Other places to eat

We unfortunately couldn’t try every restaurant in Redding, but here are a few others that came highly recommended:

Damburger started back in 1938 when Bud Pennington, 18 at the time, had the idea to set up a tent outside the hiring hall for the construction of the Shasta Dam to sell burgers, a piece of pie, and a cup of coffee for 25 cents to hungry workers. It was so successful that he was able to open up a permanent location in downtown Redding and over the next almost 4 decades Bud and his wife ran the business. Ever since, the burger joint has moved locations a couple times and passed through a couple owner’s hands, but today it’s still a Redding institution!

From The Hearth Kitchen and Pie Shop is another popular spot in Redding that has breakfast items, bowls, sandwiches, and more!

Canelo’s is a hidden gem serving up tacos, breakfast burritos, and other Mexican inspired dishes. We wanted to eat here so badly, but ran out of time! 

Trendy’s Restaurant is a retro diner that is a great choice for a hearty breakfast!

The Park is Redding’s only food truck park and has 6 food trucks and fun games for families.  It is open Wednesday-Saturday 11AM-2PM for lunch and 5PM-9PM for dinner and Sundays 10AM-2PM.

Cinders Wood Fired Pizza for a variety of pizza options!

Check out downtown Redding

Redding, California

See the murals on Market Street

Market Street was our favorite area of downtown Redding! This area was recently redone and reopened in 2021 to vehicles after 50 years, previously being a roofed pedestrian shopping mall. In this area you can find various restaurants, plus a bunch of murals! These murals are unique in the sense that they aren’t directly painted onto the buildings, but rather are placed on the buildings.

The murals all include different elements that make Redding what it is, like fly fishing, mountains, Asphalt Cowboys slinging pancakes, Tiger Field, and more!

Redding, California

Watch a show at the Cascade Theatre

The historic Cascade Theatre in downtown Redding opened in 1935 with 1,348 seats, an art decor exterior, and was even the first air conditioned building in Redding!

While it has changed over time and even closed for years, it still offers a place to watch plays, see musical performances, and attend other events. To find out what is happening at the Cascade Theatre during your visit, check their schedule and buy tickets here!

Sacramento River National Recreation Trail | Things to do in Redding, California

Admire the Sundial Bridge

Quite possibly the most iconic site in Redding is the Sundial Bridge, which is not only a bridge, but also a work of art! This 700 foot long bridge goes over the Sacramento River and was built without footings in the water in order to not harm the nearby salmon spawning habitat. 

There are many interesting things about this bridge, but quite possibly the coolest part is that it is a working sundial and is one of the largest in the world! 

The sundial’s shadow traces such a large arc that it can record only from 11AM-3PM and when visible, it moves one foot per minute. However, it is not accurate in the winter, as the sun is too low and the shadow of the sundial extends too far into the nearby arboretum.

Visiting the Sundial Bridge is a MUST when in Redding, whether it’s just to see it for yourself or as part of your Sacramento River National Recreation Trail adventure, which we will share about next!

Visit Turtle Bay Exploration Park

Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a 300 acre park located right next to the Sundial Bridge and is the perfect place for families, with indoor and outdoor animal exhibits, playgrounds, botanical gardens, and a museum that focuses on the history and nature of the area, including information about the dams, the Wintu people, and caverns. 

You can see current hours and admission fees for the museum here!

Explore the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail

Sacramento River National Recreation Trail | Things to do in Redding, California

The Sacramento River National Recreation Trail is one of the best rail trails in the US and takes you over 17 miles (one way) from the Sundial Bridge all the way to Shasta Dam. And it is an absolute blast!

The trail mostly follows the historic railbed that was originally built primarily by Chinese workers with hand tools and once connected Portland, OR to Oakland, CA. Along the way you’ll ride along the Sacramento River, cross multiple bridges, go through a tunnel, be surrounded by trees, and have mountain views. And you’ll end at the Shasta Dam which you can ride across to view Shasta Lake, Mount Shasta, and see the gorgeous scenery that you just rode through.

We rented e-bikes from Pedego Bikes (say hi to Duane for us!), which is located just 1 block from the trail. The bikes had plenty of power to get us all the way to the dam and back and were super easy to ride. Note: Pedego is not open on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

Besides riding an ebike, you can also ride the trail with a mountain bike or road bike. Just keep in mind that there are some sections that are pretty steep, including a hill aptly named “Heartrate Hill.” We were VERY thankful for our ebike during this climb!

This ride took us about 4 hours, but that included many stops to film, fly our drone, and get photos. We’d say for someone just riding for fun (and not making a video, like us), you should expect to spend about 3 hours or so.

Sacramento River National Recreation Trail | Things to do in Redding, California

A few other important things to know before tackling this ride is that there is limited to no cell service along most of the trail, once you get out of town. Also, along the way there are 3 water fill up stations, plus some restrooms closer to the dam. 

When picking up our bikes, Duane joked that he offers toothbrushes for people when they return because they were smiling so much that bugs hit their teeth. While thankfully we did not get bugs on our teeth, we did have a nonstop smile the entire ride!

Chase Waterfalls

The area around Redding is loaded with beautiful and unique waterfalls! Here are some of the best ones to check out north of Redding, with more mentioned later on in this guide as well!

Note: all of these waterfalls require a 1-1.5 hour drive from Redding, but can all be combined together for a big waterfall road trip!

Burney Falls | Things to do in Northern California

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

Miles (round trip): 1.0
Elevation (feet): 167
Reviews & Current Conditions

Burney Falls is an iconic waterfall in Northern California that is said to be the most beautiful in California! In fact, Teddy Roosevelt dubbed it “the eighth wonder of the world.”

The falls are 129 feet tall and are fed by a spring, which flows at 100 million gallons every day and is around 42ºF. There are tons of streams of spring fed water flowing down moss covered rocks, which makes it look like dozens of waterfalls, all in one!

To view the falls, there is a quick overlook right by the parking area, but we suggest walking down the path to the base of the falls to get a much better look (and feel their mist!). This is a short, but all downhill walk, and if you’d like to add on more hiking, you can do a 1 mile loop trail, which takes you along the river and through the forest. But we felt satisfied just going to the base of the falls!

Some important things to know before visiting:

  • There is a $10 entry fee, as it is a state park and there is a credit card machine to pay at.
  • Dogs are not allowed on trails. They can go to the falls overlook, but the best view is at the base of the falls and they are not allowed.
  • Vehicles over 32 feet are not allowed and there is limited parking for oversized vehicles under 32 feet.
  • The park gets VERY busy April through October. Parking is limited and on some weekends it can reach capacity and visitors will be denied entry. Try to go on a weekday and early in the morning! We had the falls all to ourselves when we went around sunrise on a weekday morning at the very beginning of April.
McCloud Falls | Things to do in Northern California
Middle McCloud Falls

McCloud Falls Waterfall Trail

Miles (round trip): 3.9
Elevation (feet): 337
Reviews & Current Conditions

If you love waterfalls, visiting McCloud Falls is a must! McCloud Falls is about 1.5 hours northeast of Redding and is home to three waterfalls, Lower McCloud Falls, Middle McCloud Falls, and Upper McCloud Falls, all of which are different from the others! 

You can visit each of them individually by driving to them, or combine them all for about a 3.9 mile hike, which we recommend! The hike itself isn’t too hard and takes you to each waterfall, with multiple vantage points for each, plus through a nice forest. While they are all beautiful, our favorite was Middle McCloud Falls, which was super wide and raging!

Hedge Creek Falls

Miles (round trip): 0.6
Elevation (feet): 160
Reviews & Current Conditions

Hedge Creek Falls is a short waterfall located right off of I-5 with a pretty unique feature…you can walk behind it! While not as tall as the other falls above and sometimes low on water, it makes for a fun, quick stop if in the area. 

Potem Falls

Miles (round trip): 0.6
Elevation (feet): 141
Reviews & Current Conditions

Potem Falls is a 70 foot waterfall that makes for another short and sweet waterfall experience close to Redding. To get to Potem Falls you do have to go down a dirt road for a bit, so be prepared to spend a little bit of time getting to the trailhead from Highway 299.

Hike at Castle Crags State Park

Castle Crags State Park | Things to do in Redding, California

One of our favorite stops during our time in Redding was Castle Crags State Park! This park is located in Castella, about 45 minutes north of Redding, but is well worth the drive. At this park you can see majestic, jagged spires and granite domes that are over 170 million years old, plus views of the surrounding area and Mount Shasta. 

To experience its beauty, the park offers 28 miles of hiking trails (including some on the Pacific Crest Trail!), fishing, camping, and climbing. In fact, it’s one of the few California State Parks you can climb in.

Like most California State Parks, there is a fee to enter the park, which is $10 per day. But keep in mind that if you pay for one park, you can visit other parks the same day without paying an additional fee. And if you plan to visit many state parks while in California, you may want to consider the California State Parks Pass.

Crags Trail to Castle Dome

Miles (roundtrip): 5.2
Elevation (feet): 2,066
Reviews & Current Conditions
Dogs not allowed

During our time in Castle Crags State Park we hiked the Crags Trail to Castle Dome and it was insanely epic! While the first part of the hike is through the trees and very steep, once you get above the trees, the trail gets a bit rockier, the views open up, and you’ll wander right by and through the spires.

At the top, you have an up close view of the craggy peaks, which are mind blowing! They are so rocky and rugged and completely unlike anything else in the area. They reminded us a bit of some of the mountains we have seen in the Italian Dolomites or the Wind River Range in Wyoming. You’re able to wander around a bit at the top and see views of the forest and mountains surrounding the park, plus have a front and center view of Mount Shasta. 

Mount Shasta | Things to do in Redding, California

We had never heard of this park or hike before and it completely blew us away. It’s proof that you shouldn’t sleep on state parks when traveling, as they sometimes are just as epic as national parks in terms of views. We also went on a weekday close to sunset and didn’t see anyone else at the top, which only added to the magic. It’s hands down one of the most beautiful hikes we did in the lower 48 in 2022!

Want to get 30% off an AllTrails+ membership? Click this link or use our code aplusk30 (you must redeem this code on the website, not the app)!

We use AllTrails+ on every single hike and it is the most helpful hiking tool out there! Some of the features we love are offline maps (so we can navigate even without cell service), wrong-turn alerts, and its 3D maps feature, so we can get a feel for trails before we hike.

Photo by Francois Olwage on Unsplash

Heart Lake Trail from Castle Lake

Miles (roundtrip): 3.0
Elevation (feet): 813
Reviews & Current Conditions

Hiking the Heart Lake Trail was high up on our list of things to do near Redding, but unfortunately due to snow levels, we had to skip it. While not technically in Castle Crags State Park, it is located in the Castle Crags Wilderness nearby and would be an amazing hike to add on during the same day (if you have the energy)!

This hike starts at Castle Lake and climbs up to Heart Lake, where just past Heart Lake you get a killer view of Castle Lake below, plus Mount Shasta off in the distance. It’s picture perfect!

Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park

Sulphur Works | How to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park in the winter & spring

Lassen Volcanic National Park is located about 1-1.5 hours east of Redding and was formed over time through volcanic activity. While in the park you can experience hydrothermal activity, like steam vents and mud pots, stunning mountain peaks formed through volcanic activity, and all 4 types of volcanoes found in the world. In fact, one of the park’s most popular features, Lassen Peak, is the largest plug dome volcano in the world and the southernmost volcano in the Cascade Range, last erupting in the early 1900s.

The park reminded us a lot of a smaller scale Yellowstone National Park and with 16% of the visitors of California’s most visited national park, Yosemite (which is amazing!), it truly feels like a hidden gem.

We visited the park in April, when the park was still in its winter season, so we were a bit limited on what we could do, but had a great time with what we were able to see and know we would love it even more in the peak summer season. Here are some of the top things to do in Lassen Volcanic National Park!

A few things to know before visiting:
Lassen Volcanic National Park does have a $30 fee, which works for 7 days. However, the America the Beautiful pass works here as well, which is $80 per year and gets you into all National Park Service managed sites and federal lands for free.

Although most of the park is open now, much of the park was affected by the Dixie Fire in 2021 and many affected parts are still closed. Most of the trails east of the park road were affected by the fire and small sections of trails and infrastructure were destroyed. Keep that in mind as you plan your visit. 

Visiting in the winter season as well? Check out our guide to visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park in the offseason for everything you need to know!

Lassen Peak | How to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park in the winter & spring

Summit Lassen Peak

Miles (roundtrip): 5.1
Elevation (feet): 1,968
Reviews & Current Conditions

Mount Lassen is the highest peak in the park and what makes this hike even more cool is that once at the top, you’ll be standing on top of an active volcano! Fun fact: Mount Lassen and Mount St. Helens are the only two volcanoes in the US to erupt in the 20th century.

This trail begins at 8,500 feet and climbs steeply for about 2.5 miles to the top. Because of the short distance and higher altitude, it can be difficult for some, but we hear it is well worth it! This is at the top of the list of things to do when we return to the park!

Bumpass Hell Trail Lassen Volcanic National Park
Photo by Quentin Burgess on Unsplash

Bumpass Hell

Miles (roundtrip): 2.7
Elevation (feet): 426
Reviews & Current Conditions

Sulfur vents, bubbling mud pots, and boiling pools oh my! The trail to Bumpass Hell will make you feel like you’re at Yellowstone! There is tons of hydrothermal activity in this area and Bumpass Hell is the best place to see it.

As with any hydrothermal area, please stay on the trail to avoid damaging the area or hurting yourself. In fact, this trail is named after Kendall Bumpass who learned this the hard way. He is credited with “discovering” the hydrothermal area and as the story goes, he was guiding some folks through the area, all the while cautioning them about where to step, when he broke through some crust severely burning his leg. He returned to the area again some time later and burned his leg again! This time it was burnt so badly it had to be amputated!

Take Mr. Bumpass’ story as a cautionary tale and stay on the boardwalks! There are plenty of great viewpoints along the way to admire the steamy sights.

Sulphur Works | How to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park in the winter & spring

Sulphur Works

Miles (roundtrip): 0.4
Elevation (feet): 45
Reviews & Current Conditions

Sulphur Works is located in the southwest corner of Lassen and is the most accessible hydrothermal area in the park. Many years ago there was a volcano located right by here called Mount Tehama, which was an 11-mile-wide, 11,500-foot-tall volcano, whose eruptive period ended about 360,000 years ago. It has been broken apart and carried away over time by erosion and now has left a large basin, and Sulphur Works is in the general location of its central vent. 

Similar to Bumpass Hell, here you can find steam vents and bubbling mud pots, which form by standing surface water that is acidic enough to dissolve surrounding rock into clay. The thermal water beneath the depression causes steam to rise through the ground, heating the collected surface water and creating the bubbles.

Lassen Peak | How to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park in the winter & spring

Manzanita Lake Loop

Miles (roundtrip): 1.9
Elevation (feet): 52
Reviews & Current Conditions

Manzanita Lake is a beautiful lake with an epic backdrop of Lassen Peak, which towers over the lake and reflects onto its surface. 

Visiting the lake is very accessible, as it’s just a short walk from a parking area. You can just take a quick glimpse at the lake if you’d like, but we suggest doing the Manzanita Lake Loop, which takes you through trees, near some marshier areas, and by the lake, with some epic views of Lassen Peak. 

The best view on the hike is right here and we enjoyed the sunset at this spot where we got to see the colors of Lassen Peak change and get a bit of alpenglow, plus hear tons of birds on the water, without another soul around.

Cinder Cone Trail Lassen Volcanic National Park
Photo by Thomas Fields on Unsplash

Cinder Cone Trail

Miles (roundtrip): 4
Elevation (feet): 1,043
Reviews & Current Conditions

Want to feel like you’re on another planet? Hike the Cinder Cone Trail! This hike takes you to the top of a cinder cone, which is the most common type of volcano in the world, with views of the Painted Dunes and other gorgeous park scenery along the way.

Note: This trail is not located off of the main park road and is about an hour drive from the Manzanita Lake area.

Chaos Crags | How to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park in the winter & spring

Chaos Crags

Miles (roundtrip): 4.0
Elevation (feet): 990
Reviews & Current Conditions

The Chaos Crags are a cluster of six dome volcanoes that last erupted about 1,000 years ago and on this hike you’ll end up at the base of these craggy peaks, which tower above you. We were in awe of just how rugged and rocky these peaks were!

The trail also has great views of the surrounding area, as well as a close up view of the Chaos Jumble, which is a huge field of boulders that are the remains of a rock avalanche. During this rock avalanche, rocks broke off from the mountain and tumbled down the hill at over 100 mph and covered about 2 miles!

There is supposed to be a small lake up here as well, but it was all dried up unfortunately. From the photos we have seen, it looks pretty insane!

Brokeoff Mountain

Miles (roundtrip): 6.9
Elevation (feet): 2,562
Reviews & Current Conditions

Another epic peak to hike besides Lassen peak is Brokeoff Mountain! This is a strenuous hike, but those who conquer it will be rewarded with views of Mount Shasta, Lassen Peak, Chaos Crags, and you can even see the caldera from the former Mount Tehama at the top!

Kings Creek Falls Trail

Miles (roundtrip): 2.8
Elevation (feet): 495
Reviews & Current Conditions

The Kings Creek Falls Trail is a relatively short and easy hike through Lower Kings Creek Meadow to the beautiful Kings Creek Falls! This waterfall cascades down a rocky staircase, surrounded by trees. It looks beautiful!

Explore Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Whiskeytown Lake | Things to do in Redding, California

Located just 15 minutes west of Redding, but feels like worlds away, is Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

The area is loaded with history, dating back centuries with the Wintu Native Americans, before the mid 19th century, when the California Gold Rush caused thousands of people to arrive, looking to score big. This formed the mining town of Whiskeytown. The town got its name when a miner was hauling supplies back to his mine and the pack on his mule’s back broke and a whiskey barrel tumbled down the hillside, breaking and spilling its contents into a creek. The creek came to be known as Whiskey Creek and the settlement next to it became known as Whiskeytown. 

In the 1960s, Whiskeytown Dam was built, creating Whiskeytown Lake, which covered the land once known as Whiskeytown. Shortly after, the area became a National Recreation Area and today this protected land is home to not only Whiskeytown Lake, but also forests, waterfalls, and hiking trails.

Here are some of the more popular things to do in the park! 

A couple things to know before visiting:
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area does have a $25 fee, which works for 7 days. However, the America the Beautiful pass works here as well, which is $80 per year and gets you into all National Park Service managed sites and federal lands for free.

Also, The Carr Fire of 2018 burned through 97% of the park’s forested lands. This caused lots of destruction of natural features and manmade structures in the park, which led to many hazards like falling trees and limbs, abandoned mine features, and loose rocks. Even though much of this has been cleaned up and fixed, it’s important to take extra caution.

Get out on the lake

Whiskeytown Lake has over 5 square miles of water to enjoy, with various shoreline areas to access the water, plus different coves. During our time at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area we hit the water by kayak, launching at the Brandy Creek Boat Ramp.

It was very windy the day we went out, but still so beautiful! The lake is surrounded by mountains and we went on a quiet day, so it felt like we had it all to ourselves. You can also take motorized boats out onto the lake, plus stand up paddle boards, and go swimming!

Whiskeytown Lake | Things to do in Redding, California

Whiskeytown Falls Trail

Miles (roundtrip): 2.7 
Elevation (feet): 761
Reviews & Current Conditions

Remember when we said earlier that we had more waterfalls to share later? Whiskeytown National Recreation Area has a handful of gorgeous waterfalls to check out and Whiskeytown Falls is the tallest waterfall in the park at 220 feet! 

For the longest time this waterfall was only known by a select few people. Before the park was managed by the National Park Service, it was privately owned and was operated by a logging company. Some of the loggers were the only people to know of it and once it became a park, a few park rangers learned of it, but didn’t want to share about it because there wasn’t enough staff to protect it and not enough money to build a trail. Over the years the knowledge of the falls was pretty much lost until 2004 when a couple park natural resource managers rediscovered it from the air and soon funding was secured to build a formal trail to the falls. The trail opened to the public in 2006. 

It is a very popular trail, but the parking lot is very small, so try to arrive early to have the best chance of snagging a spot. 

Crystal Creek Falls

Miles (roundtrip): 0.7 
Elevation (feet): 55
Reviews & Current Conditions

Crystal Creek Falls is a short half mile paved trail that takes you to a two tiered waterfall, with some swimming holes that are popular in the summer!

Boulder Creek Falls

Boulder Creek Falls is a gorgeous 3 tiered, 81 foot waterfall tucked into a box canyon. The trail has been recently rebuilt since the Carr Fire and reopened in April 2022. 

You have two options to hike to Boulder Creek Falls. The first option is via Boulder Creek Trail (from South Shore Drive), which is the longer and much more strenuous option at 7.1 miles with 1,240 feet of elevation gain. Another option is to hike via Mill Creek Road, which is shorter, at 1.9 miles round trip and 209 feet of elevation gain. You can find more information about both routes here, but just a heads up, both of these trails require driving on steep, windy gravel roads to access the trailheads.

Tour Lake Shasta Caverns

Oleg Alexandrov, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

One of the top things to do near Redding is hidden away 900 feet above Lake Shasta…Lake Shasta Caverns! The caverns were officially discovered in 1878 and they have been a public attraction since 1964. To view the caverns, you must go on a guided tour, which will take you on a boat ride across the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake, a bus tour, and a tour inside of the caverns. The tour does require 600 stairs, so keep that in mind!

The caverns, with humidity, are around 68-72ºF, so this makes for a good summer activity, when the temperatures are hot in Redding.

You can see the current tour schedule and buy tickets here

Visit Shasta State Historic Park

Ian Poellet, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

On your way out to Whiskeytown Lake you’ll pass through Shasta State Historic Park. This area was once known as Shasta, the “Queen City of the Northern Mines.” At its height, it was the center of economic activity for Northern California. After only a few years of existence, $2.5 million dollars of gold had passed through the town. Several fires completely destroyed the town and after rebuilding after each fire, the town was finally rebuilt with brick buildings.

Once the gold claims were depleted by the 1860s and the new Central Pacific Railroad bypassed Shasta and placed its terminal in nearby Redding, businesses and the county seat relocated to Redding. 

In the 1920s, a movement grew to preserve these historic buildings and the state park system acquired many of the buildings. Today, you can walk around and among the buildings, plus visit the Courthouse that dates all the way back to 1855 and is restored to its 1861 conditions.

The best time to visit is the summer and fall when there are staff and volunteers present to provide guided tours. 

Go fishing

Things to do in Redding, California

With so many lakes and rivers around Redding the fishing is spectacular, so good even that Redding made Forbes.com’s list of “North America’s Top 10 Trout Fishing Towns!”

The Sacramento River runs right through town, so you won’t have to go far to hook a fish, but if you want to head out of town, Manzanita Lake, Battle Creek, Trinity River, Shasta Lake, and Whiskeytown Lake are a few other good options. 

If you’re looking for a guided experience, there are a bunch of guides in town, including The Fly Shop and AC Fly Fishing, that can get you out on the water.

During our visit we saw plenty of people out on the water fishing and it sure made Adam (who was a hopeful fly fisherman at the time) jealous! 

Sacramento River National Recreation Trail | Things to do in Redding, California

Go Whitewater rafting or kayaking

Redding is also a mecca for kayaking, being recognized by TIME Magazine as the “unofficial capital of kayaking.”

As we mentioned earlier, we took a stab at kayaking on Whiskeytown Lake, but there are other options as well, like Lake Redding right in town and Shasta Lake. And if you want something a bit more exhilarating than kayaking, Trinity River Rafting can take you out for a fun half day or full day on the water. 

4 day Redding, California itinerary

McCloud Falls | Things to do in Northern California

We’ve shared many things to do in Redding and you may be wondering “how the heck do I figure out what to do?” That’s what we are here for! Below is an itinerary, extremely similar to ours from our visit, with different activity options for different interests, to hopefully help you plan your perfect Redding adventure.

Day 1

  • Kickoff your first day in Redding with coffee and breakfast at Theory Coffee Roasters.
  • Wander around the downtown area, checking out the different murals.
  • Head to Pedego to rent e-bikes and ride the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail. Don’t forget to stop by the Sundial Bridge! Biking not your thing? Check out the Turtle Bay Exploration Park instead!
  • Grab a late lunch at Wilda’s and make sure to get the Buddha Bowl.
  • Spend the rest of the day going kayaking on Whiskeytown Lake or on Lake Redding.
  • Enjoy dinner in Redding at one of the restaurants we mentioned.

Day 2

For day two, you have a couple options! You can either spend the entire day chasing waterfalls OR do a mix of waterfalls and mountain views.

Option #1

  • Leave Redding bright and early to go on a waterfall tour! We suggest starting with Potem Falls, then Burney Falls, McCloud Falls, and ending with Hedge Creek Falls. Make sure to start early, as the falls can get busy and parking is limited at some. This waterfall route is about 4.5 hours of driving, so plan to make a whole day of it!
  • Have dinner at Yaks on the 5 and then head back to Redding.

Option #2

  • Instead of doing all of the waterfalls listed in option #1, we suggest focusing solely on Burney Falls and McCloud Falls. Make sure to still get an early start!
  • After visiting the falls, hike either the Crags Trail to Castle Dome at Castle Crags State Park or hike to Heart Lake. 
  • Have dinner at Yaks on the 5 and then head back to Redding. This option is a total of 3.5 hours vs. the 4.5 hours listed above!

Day 3

  • Have breakfast at From the Hearth Kitchen and Pie Shop.
  • Go on a tour of Lake Shasta Caverns.
  • Grab a quick lunch in Redding and then head to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area to check out the park’s waterfalls!
  • Enjoy dinner at Cinders Wood Fired Pizza and then get dessert next door at Taste & See Creamery.

Day 4

Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park! While one day isn’t enough to truly enjoy all it has to offer (in the summer season at least), you can still experience a handful of the park’s top spots, assuming you get an early start. If we could only pick a handful things to do in the park in one day we’d suggest:

  • Summiting Lassen Peak 
  • Visiting Bumpass Hell
  • Driving the park road
  • Seeing the views of Lassen Peak from Manzanita Lake

But you can’t go wrong with any of the hikes we listed!

Getting to + around Redding, California

Redding is located in Northern California, about two and a half hours north of Sacramento, the capital of California and just two hours south of the Oregon border. Here’s how to get to Redding by plane and car! 

Flying to Redding, California

Redding does have a regional airport, Redding Regional (RDD), which is serviced by Alaska Airlines and United, with flights from San Francisco, LA, Seattle, Burbank, and Las Vegas. However, for some, this may not be the best airport to fly into.

The closest international airport, which has more flight options, is the Sacramento International Airport (SMF). This airport is serviced by several major airlines such as Alaska, Delta, United, and Southwest with many more non stop flight options. 

Driving to Redding, California

Driving to Redding instead? Redding is located right on I-5, making it convenient to get to from the north and south! Here is how long you can expect to drive from nearby popular areas:

Sacramento, CA: 2.5 hours (162 miles)
Redwood National & State Parks (CA): 3 hours (131 miles)
San Francisco, CA: 3.5 hours (217 miles)
Reno, NV: 3.5 hours (199 miles)
Portland, OR: 6 hours, 45 minutes (421 miles) 

Getting around Redding, California

Once in Redding, you have some options of how to get around. If you plan to just explore in town, you could get away with Uber or Lyft. But if you want to explore outside of town (which we highly recommend!), you will want to either have your own car or rent a car.

If visiting in the spring through fall, any type of vehicle will work just fine, but if visiting in the winter, it may be a good idea to have an AWD or 4×4 vehicle. For winter visits, make sure to have chains on you, as some mountain passes may require them. We have these chains for our van (make sure to double check which kind your vehicle will need!), but have never had to use them. 

When to visit Redding, California

Mount Shasta | Things to do in Redding, California

Fun fact: Redding is the sunniest city in California and the second sunniest city in the US! The summers in Redding are full of sunshine and practically zero rain. Which may sound nice in theory, but despite Redding being surrounded by mountains, which you typically equate with milder summers, the summers in Redding are HOT! 

With months over 100 degrees, plus ample sunshine, it can be a bit hard to be outdoors in the summer in Redding. Thankfully there are plenty of lakes, rivers, and higher elevation areas to go to to cool off, but it can make being in town itself a bit brutal. But if you don’t mind the heat, this will be the time of the year where everything listed on this guide will be accessible.

However, in our opinion, the best time to visit Redding is in the spring or fall, when the temperatures are milder, but not too cold and most activities will be accessible. We visited Redding at the very end of March/early April and the weather was pretty perfect. However, the difficult part about this timeframe was that some trails were still snow covered and Lassen Volcanic National Park was still mostly closed.

In the future, we’d love to return to Redding in early to mid October, when the temperatures have cooled down a bit and Lassen Volcanic National Park is still fully open. But if visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park is not top priority, visiting in late March or early April, like we did, is pretty perfect to experience most of what the area has to offer.

Where to Stay in Redding, California

Redding, California

Redding offers a wide range of lodging options, including hotels and Airbnbs right in town, plus campsites nearby. Below are just a handful of suggestions of amazing places to stay while in Redding! 


Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge
Hampton Inn & Suites Redding
Americana Modern Hotel


Magnolia May Cottage (2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom): This charming 1940s English Country style cottage looks very inviting. There is a kitchen, wifi, washer and dryer, and an enclosed backyard for your pup that you are allowed to bring along!

Rivercrest Retreat (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom): The Rivercrest Retreat is an attached studio space with everything you’ll need for a relaxing stay. It even comes with its own hot tub that you’ll have exclusive access to! 

Breathtaking Vistas (2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom): How about an Airbnb with killer views? This is the one! From the beautiful back porch of this Airbnb you’ll have views of the mighty Lassen Peak and Redding itself!

Evergreen Boutique Hotel (2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom): Evergreen Coffee offers two boutique hotel rooms above their coffee shop. These are similarly designed as the coffee shop and would be a great place to stay in downtown Redding!

Castle Crags State Park | Things to do in Redding, California


Whiskeytown National Recreation Area 

If you’re planning on lots of outdoor adventures in the area, then you’ll likely spend a decent amount of time in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. At only 15 minutes from town, it’s a convenient (and beautiful) place to stay! Plus, it’s open year round.

Oak Bottom Campground and RV Campground
This is where we stayed during the majority of our time in Redding. It is located right next to Whiskeytown Lake and there is a tent campground and RV campground.

The RV campground is nothing glamorous, as it’s just a parking lot with no RV hookups ($30/night), but it was only us and one or two other people out of the 22 sites, so it was nice and quiet and is right by the lake.

The tent campground has 94 walk-in sites, which are a mix of regular sites ($30/night) and lakefront sites ($35/night). Since they are walk-in sites, you will have to park in a lot and then walk to them. But they are pretty cool sites, each with a fire ring, picnic table, and food storage locker, plus are walking distance to the lake.

We did have cell service here, which made staying here even better, as we had to work at night!

Brandy Creek Campground and RV Campground
The Brandy Creek RV campground is another parking lot campground near Whiskeytown Lake ($20/night) with no hookups, but there is fresh water and a dump station. There is also a tent campground, which has two sites that can be reserved online.

Peltier Bridge Campground
This campground is located a little ways south of Whiskeytown Lake, but several reviews claim this is their favorite tent campground in the area because of its seclusion, peacefulness, and access to Clear Creek. The campground is tent only with 9 sites.

Shasta Lake

Shasta Campground
This campground is a developed BLM campground near the Shasta Dam, right off the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail. It is an OHV area, so it will be loud when it is busy, but with views of the lake, hiking trails nearby, and costing only $10 per night, it looks like a great spot. Some things to be aware of though is that there is not much cell service, you have to check in with the guards to get to the site, and the gates are closed between 10 PM and 6 AM.

Antlers Campground
The Antlers Campground is a popular campground located not far off I-5 above the Sacramento arm of Shasta Lake. There are 59 sites that all come with fire rings, picnic tables, and bear lockers. The campground also has flush toilets and fresh water, but no showers. It costs $23 per night per site.

Castle Crags State Park

Castle Crags State Park has a large campground with 76 sites, flush toilets, showers, and fresh water. We drove through the campground on our way to hike in the park and it was nice and wooded, although some sites were pretty small.

You can make reservations on Reserve California. However, during the off season, only some sites are open and they are first-come, first-served. 

Harvest Hosts

If you’re a Harvest Host member, you’ve got a handful of opportunities for some fun stays in and near Redding, including a rock climbing gym, a few wineries, and a farm nearby!

Not sure what Harvest Hosts is? It is a paid membership for self contained RVers that lets you stay at farms, breweries, wineries, golf courses, and other spots for FREE, with the expectation that you will support the business. While this means you do need to spend some money and it’s not totally free, it’s usually a unique experience and you get to support a local business. 

Want to join Harvest Hosts? Use our link to get 15% off on your membership (make sure to add the code HHFRIENDS15 too)! 

Ready to explore this northern California gem?

Pin this list of things to do in Redding, California to help plan your trip!

about us

Hi y’all! We’re Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple (+ pup!) living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! You can often find us driving all around the US and Canada, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos and ice cream (we’re a 5+ taco and 2+ scoop household), and enjoying nature.


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