Woman at Castle Crags State Park
Bikers on the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California
Woman at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
The Park Food Truck Hub in Redding, California
Woman at Castle Crags State Park
Bikers on the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California
Woman at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
The Park Food Truck Hub in Redding, California
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10 Activities for the Whole Family in Redding, California

By Zach O'Brien | 07/14/2022

The summer has arrived in Northern California, meaning it’s time to start planning those fun family vacations you look forward to all year. There’s plenty of great places to take your family in California, but for our money, Redding might have the best family-friendly experiences around.

Let’s explore some of the great family activities you can do during your trip to Redding, California.

While most people head to Shasta Lake for sunny vibes, there’s also an awesome experience you can find underground. Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark is a network of caves located right off Interstate 5 just north of Redding and is one of the most unforgettable cave adventures found in the country.

The tour begins with a long downhill hike to the patio boat that carries you to the other side of the McCloud River arm of the Shasta Lake. After you arrive at water level, the boat ride is wonderful. Once you take the bus up the hill and enter the cave, you may be shocked by how otherworldly it is. 

Inside the cave you are ushered through chambers of all sizes, some up a flight of stairs, some down. Each cavern has a name, and a story. There is so much to see and too many great stories to listen to. The tour takes at least an hour, and the time flies.

Of all the experiences inside the city limits of Redding, the 30-acre campus of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park might be the most fun for the whole family.

The park tells the stories of the region through its rotating museum exhibits, underground aquarium, Native American historical exhibits, outdoor wildlife shows and exhibits, California’s largest North American butterfly house and the popular Paul Bunyan Forest Camp. This is the quintessential Redding experience for families, seated right along the Sacramento River where you can walk along the Sundial Bridge and visit the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. There’s so much to do in this area.

In the mid-1800’s, the town of Shasta was the largest town in the county. The mining community was a bustling settlement of Forty-Niners looking for their shot at the millions of dollars in Gold Rush riches from the 1850’s to 1880’s. At its peak, 3,500 residents shared a blacksmith shop, general store and courthouse near what is now the beautiful waters of Whiskeytown Lake.

Today, the ruins of the once vibrant Gold Rush town sit in “Old Shasta,” with restorations allowing visitors to take a walk through what was once called the “Queen City” of California’s northern mining district.

The grounds of Shasta today are incorporated in the Shasta State Historic Park, which sits about 6 miles northwest of Redding. The park includes a courthouse museum, 19th-century brick ruins, a post office, a church, a cemetery and the historic bakery. Walking through this site will give you a unique glimpse into the past of Northern California, and you can enjoy it during a brief afternoon or immerse yourself in its history for an entire day.

Do your kids have a lot of energy? The Rare Air Trampoline Park is a great place to wear them out.

Rare Air is a 10,000 square foot trampoline facility that includes dodgeball arenas, airbag pits, a rock-climbing wall and a full arcade. The main court trampoline area is perfect for trying different jumps, or you can take the little ones to the Junior Jump Zone for some mini adventures. You’re guaranteed to have a blast!

It’s not everyday you get to visit a 200-feet-tall working sundial. In Redding, you can see that along with stellar views of the beautiful Sacramento River.

The Sundial Bridge was designed by Santiago Calatrava and opened to the public in 2004, becoming the central destination for visitors of the city. Standing over the fragile spawning beds for Sacramento River salmon, the bridge was carefully designed to not touch the floor of the river in order to protect the fish. During fishing season, you’re bound to see fly fishermen catching beautiful rainbow trout in the water below.

Along the Sacramento River in Redding is one of the great parks in Northern California, fully-equipped with a skatepark, bike track, public pool and boat access to the river. You can access the park just outside of downtown Redding via car or bike-in on the Sacramento River Trail.

Caldwell Park is a favorite among Redding locals to take the whole family and enjoy a sunny day. The park was specifically built for family activities, including a Recreation Center, Teen Center, art gallery, soccer fields, horseshoe pits, a junior bike park, a fish viewing facility, aquatic center, and an art walk. Picnic and BBQ facilities are also available as well as wheelchair accessible fishing access.

If there’s one place to take the whole family on a hot summer day, Waterworks Park might be the best place to beat the heat.

Redding’s premier water park has seen huge expansion over the past 10 years, now including four giant waterslides, the Raging River Run, the Avalanche Slide, the Cyclone, a Wave Pool and a Lazy River. There’s also a kiddie area for the youngins. You can rent a cabana for a relaxing day or book a full birthday party for you and your friends.

It’s hard to discuss fun activities in the area without mentioning Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park, sitting just an hour east of Redding, was called “Yellowstone without the crowds” by the San Francisco Chronicle and features a long list of stunning destinations and outdoor experiences. Bring your kids along for a beautiful and educational adventure!

There are plenty of kids activities at the visitors centers in the park, and you’re likely to see some wildlife during your visit. You can summit a volcano, visit a waterfall, discover a hydrothermal area or simply wander around with your friends and family. There’s no shortage of adventure in Lassen!

A lot of hype is targeted around local destinations like Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mt. Shasta or Shasta Lake. But if you ask any local about their favorite local destination, they’ll likely say Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

The National Recreation Area just outside of Redding features a stunning lake, waterfalls, hiking opportunities, and some of the best biking trails in California. It’s truly one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the region.

There’s something for everyone at Whiskeytown, especially the kids. You can hike a peak, visit a waterfall, go for a swim, enjoy the lake from a boat, go fishing, lounge on the beach or even do some water skiing. For a first-timer, we recommend spending a day at Brandy Creek Beach or hiking to a waterfall, like Whiskeytown Falls or Crystal Creek Falls.

The Sacramento River Trail is one of the most underrated features in the area for lovers of the outdoors. Used by a wide variety of people from casual hikers to hard-core runners, bikers, birdwatchers and even anglers, the trail connects with several other trail systems and offers one of the quintessential North State experiences.

The tree lined trail, which follows the Sacramento River all the way up from the Sundial Bridge to Shasta Dam, spans 17 miles up to Shasta Lake with plenty of sights along the way. You’ll see the Sundial Bridge, Diestelhorst Bridge, Ribbon Bridge, Keswick Reservoir, and go through a historic train tunnel in the process. Keep an eye out for wildlife, and depending on the season, there will surely be some fishermen looking for the world-famous rainbow trout in the river.

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