When you think of Northern California, sun and heat is probably not the first climate to come to mind. The rare exception is Redding, one of the sunniest and hottest cities in the country, located just an hour flight north of San Francisco. While the summer can be too hot for some, for others, it offers perfect conditions for taking in all the outdoor activities this underrated city has to offer.
Over 225 miles of trails attract hikers, cyclists and mountain bikers year-round while the peaceful Sacramento River is perfect for paddle-boarding and kayaking. More adventurous water sports, like wakeboarding, water skiing and tubing, await on nearby Shasta Lake.
Back on land, indoor wellness looks like massages in a salt cave and a rejuvenating flow at one of the city’s welcoming yoga studios. A bourgeoning coffee scene offers some of the best brews in the state while farm-to-table restaurants are dishing up refined plates with warm, small town hospitality. This guide will cover where to eat and stay, and what to do in this up and coming city.
Explore Turtle Bay Exploration Park
Set at the entrance to the Sacramento River Trails, this outdoor playground is teeming with opportunities to get up and close and personal with wildlife. It’s the only place in the country that offers an interactive experience with a beaver, and is home to 64 different species of animals to explore. Most of the animals here are rescues, and proceeds from your ticket go to supporting their rehabilitation. But it’s not only about animals here—the park is also home to Redding’s famous Sundial Bridge, a museum, arboretum and botanical gardens.
Bike the trails
Whether you prefer to bike on your own or be guided on a tour, Shasta Living Streets is your go-to for biking guidance. The non-profit group is working to make Redding more bike-friendly and walkable by building bike lanes and bike share stations around the city. Their customized e-bike tours are used by locals to learn of the safe routes to take for their work commutes while visitors can enjoy their educational tours of the Sacramento River Trail. Even if you’d prefer to walk, Redding’s 225 miles of trails, which are within a 15-mile radius of downtown, are not to be missed.
Kayak the Sacramento River
The largest river in California winds its way through Redding, making for a peaceful kayak or boat ride in the heart of the city. Whether you prefer to raft, canoe, kayak or paddle board, Headwater Adventure Co. has you covered. While locals can be frequently found on Redding’s 225 miles of trails, the river is less utilized. This tour operator is working to change that with their kayaking and SUP classes, and guided fishing groups and tours.
Go Kokanee Fishing
As one of California’s most popular destinations for fly fishing, you’d be remiss to not get out on the water to bring home your own catch. From Trinity River to Whiskeytown Lake, Lower Sacramento River to Shasta Lake—The Trinity Guide knows all the best spots to find fish. Whether you’re an amateur or a pro, you’re sure to learn something on a fishing tour with The Trinity Guide. Even if you don’t have a good catch, a day spent out on the water makes for a relaxing experience.
Take a yoga or dance class
From glow-in-the-dark yoga to sound baths, locals are drawn to Simply Rooted Yoga for their yoga-inspired events. But even if you aren’t checking out the studio as a venue for the latest events, it’s worth stopping by for one of their many classes on offer. From basic yoga to line dancing; acro yoga to boxing—they’ve got something for everyone. An airy space and kind staff make it a welcoming environment to connect with your body.
Pamper yourself with a spa treatment
While Redding isn’t the most obvious spa destination, there are a few hidden gems in the city. One such spa is Capturing The Essence Salt Cave, which features two salt rooms lined with 2,000 granules of Himalayan Salt to help clean your sinuses, relax sore muscles, boost the immune system and relieve stress. Better yet, take the benefits to the next level by booking a massage in one of the salt rooms. Next door, a mineral bath soak awaits at Healing Waters Wellness Center. For those who prefer a facial over body treatments, Holistic Skin by Jen offers natural products in her treatments where the facial fascia is massaged to promote lymphatic drainage.
Hike the surrounding mountains
With Mount Shasta and overlooking Redding, the nearby mountains call locals and visitors alike out to their trails. As one of the sunniest cities in the country, you would be remiss to not take advantage of the region’s natural wonders with hiking day trips out of the city. One hour north of Redding, the iconic Mount Shasta offers challenging hiking routes and mountain climbing opportunities. One hour east of Redding lands you at Lassen Volcanic National Park where you’ll find the highest point in the Cascade Mountains, plus steam vents, hot springs and volcanoes. More into waterfalls? Head to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area for a moderately challenging 3.4-mile loop on the James K. Carr Trail that leads you to Whiskeytown Falls.
When the pandemic threatened to shut down this local favorite, Redding rallied together and turned the Starbucks drive-through next door into a patio for this restaurant—a testament to the restaurant’s popularity. Moonstone Bistro was the first to bring farm-to-table to Redding 16 years ago, and continues to churn out farm fresh cuisine today. Antibiotic-free, free-range meats sourced from within 100 miles anchor dishes like the organic filet mignon topped with a pineapple jalapeno bacon salsa. While vegetables are equally as celebrated in seasonal preparations like roasted gold and red beets braised in garlic butter.
With Redding’s small town feel, you would never guess they’re brewing some of the most sophisticated coffee in the state. What began in farmers markets and grocery stores has since expanded to multiple brick-and-mortar locations around the city. Their fair trade beans are sourced from underserved communities and syrups are made in-house. Ranking their beans from ‘comfortable’ to ‘adventurous,’ they’ve got a brew for every taste. It’s no wonder they’ve won multiple awards and been named one of the top roasters in the United States by Food and Wine.
A Redding resident for over 25 years, owner Marshall Glashan has been providing locals with a refined restaurant experience since opening Café Paradisio 9 years ago. With local art on the walls and friendly staff, this restaurant, tucked away on Yuba Street just a stone’s throw from downtown Redding, exudes a small town feel. But with ingredients made in-house and sourced from local purveyors, and executed with skill by chef Mike Hallead, the dishes here are anything but ordinary. The menu is Italian-meets-California cuisine with unique twists like pork belly rubbed in lavender and wild sockeye salmon topped with toasted coconut.
Set on the banks of the Sacramento River, arguably no restaurant in Redding has a view like the aptly named View 202. Equally as impressive are the dishes that utilize local produce like microgreens from Little Sprouts Micro-Farm like the calamari served with a smoked tomato sauce and market sea bass coated in a parmesan herb cream sauce. The extensive food menu is complimented with an equally thorough drinks list which includes an extensive selection of California wines.
Arguably no steakhouse compares to Redding’s most historic—Jack’s Bar and Grill, which opened in 1938. But for those looking for a more modern, laidback affair, this downtown local hotspot is a must. Take your pick of steak cut with your choice of side (which range from fettuccine alfredo to wilted spinach), or opt instead for a wrap, rice bowl or burger—they’ve got something for everyone. Whiskey fans will appreciate the whiskey bar where cocktails like the ‘Tennesse Mudslide’ blend Werther’s caramel-infused whiskey with kahlua and cold brew espresso.
With one dollar from each bag going to fair trade farms, Evergreen Coffee is a business you can feel good about supporting. Since opening in 2016, they’ve developed a loyal local following and expanded to ship their roasts to all 50 states. Coffee enthusiasts will want to book one of their experiences, which range from barista classes (think, latte art) to tasting classes to brewing classes for home brewers and baristas. More of a beginner? A cupping class schools you on the flavor profiles of their diverse range of brews. You’ll want to order ‘for here’ to linger in their bright and airy café, or better yet, wake up to the smell of coffee by booking a stay in their upstairs apartments.
Located on the outskirts of Redding’s quaint downtown core, the city’s only four-star hotel is undoubtedly the most luxurious accommodation in the city. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the easy access to the Sacramento River and several of the city’s trails, not to mention the hotel’s extensive botanical gardens. The hotel’s partnership with adjacent Turtle Bay Exploration Park means proceeds from your bill support wildlife conservation and there’s fun for the whole family just steps from your room. Spacious suites offer floor-to-ceiling views of the park and city and pillow-top mattresses provide a good night’s rest. Don’t skip out on the onsite restaurant Mosaic, which attracts locals and visitors alike for its hearty pastas and brick oven pizzas.
Arguably no accommodation in Redding makes you feel like a local more than these rental apartments. The two suites are located above the beloved Evergreen coffee shop, so you can wake up to the smell of fresh coffee each morning (and taste it too, with the complimentary Evergreen gift cards provided with your stay). What this accommodation lacks in service, it makes up for in aesthetic. The design maintains that of the café below, with boho-chic décor and large windows streaming in the bright Redding sunlight (it is the sunniest city in California after-all).