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 Kid-Friendly Outdoor Adventures in Redding, CA

By Choose Redding | 08/02/2019

Tucked away at the top of California in the Shasta-Cascade region, Redding is a great spot to take your kids for an outdoor family adventure. Parents will find lakes, rivers, hiking trails, culture, and gold-mining history a-plenty—all ready to be enjoyed by the whole family. Here are 10 of the best family-friendly outdoor activities not to be missed:

This sprawling indoor and outdoor park adjacent to Redding’s iconic Sundial Bridge is home to natural history and science museums, botanical gardens, live-animal exhibits, butterfly gardens, and walking trails. Young kids will find playgrounds and interactive exhibits, and older kids will love the miles of trail. Visit the aquarium with fish from the Sacramento River and exhibits that explain the area’s rich mining history. Another favorite with kids is the river lab, which offers hands-on displays about watersheds and the nearby Shasta Dam.

For a another family adventure, Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark offers geological tours daily in summer. This natural cavern system is located near Shasta Lake, and the excitement starts with a boat ride across the lake to access the caves. Allow for at least two hours (the tour is one hour, plus a short but fun catamaran ride across Shasta Lake and quick bus ride). There’s a playground on-site, too, so bring a picnic and enjoy the grounds after your tour.

Northern California is filled with memorable waterfalls, but one of the most family-friendly is Crystal Creek Falls due to ease of accessibility. The waterfall is one of several in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and the 0.25-mile hike each way is on a paved trail, which is rare for a waterfall to be wheelchair accessible. Not only that but it's perfect for short bike rides, strollers or skateboards, which can speed up the short hike to the waterfall. Lower Crystal Creek Falls might not be the most majestic in the area but the pool at its base is just deep enough to cool off your feet or have the little ones take a quick dip. There are no lifeguards on duty to please recreate responsibly. 

Redding is located near the stunning Mt. Shasta, so it’s no wonder this is a hiking mecca. If you don’t want to venture far out of town, head to the Lema Ranch Trails, which offer paved paths through an old farm, ponds, and a persimmon grove. The Sacramento River National Recreation Trail stretches 17.4 miles from the Sundial Bridge to Shasta Dam, and the winding trail is perfect for a bike ride or casual walk. You’ll enjoy beautiful views of the river, and parks, bathrooms, and other conveniences along the way make this an excellent option for those with younger kids. For something more challenging (best for older kids), the Lower Sacramento Ditch Trail and Hornbeck Trail provide a 5.5-mile loop along an abandoned narrow-gauge railroad. Riding bikes? The Middle Creek Trail is another paved rail-trail that follows the Sacramento River.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is only about 20 minutes from Redding and offers both lake access and miles of trails with creeks and waterfalls. An easy place to start is the Shasta Divide Nature Trail, which is short and great for all members of the family. The .4-mile trail starts at the Visitor Center parking and brings you right down to the shores of the lake. There are a variety of other longer, moderate to difficult hikes as well if your crew is looking to try something more challenging.

You can also check out historic buildings and mining artifacts at Tower House Historic District, which is in the northwest section of the park and accessed via Highway 299. It features the homestead and mining claim of pioneering friends Charles Camden and Levi Tower. You can tour their orchards, Tower’s gravesite, the El Dorado Mine (on the Mill Creek Trail), and the hotel and homestead. Shasta Lake is a slightly longer drive (but still under 35 minutes) and offers houseboating, water sports, and swimming. Families have their pick of marinas and swimming beaches. You can also rent boats, kayaks, or paddleboards by the day or hour.

Located just six miles west of Redding (on the way to Whiskeytown), Shasta State Historic Park features the remains of the brick buildings that made up Shasta City, a mining town that had a rather notorious reputation during the wild-west days. These ruins and cemeteries in the area are all reminders of the California gold rush and how it thrived in the state’s northern mining district. The main attraction is the county courthouse, which has been restored to its 1861 glory, but families can wander around many of the old buildings. Note: The museum is opened Thursday through Sundays.

Located in the heart of Redding on Sundial Bridge Drive, the arboretum and gardens are part of Turtle Bay Exploration Park. It makes sense for families to pair these outings together, adding a picnic lunch to the mix. The gardens boast 20 acres of Mediterranean-climate display gardens, a children’s garden, a medicinal garden, and two beautiful and unique water features, with the arboretum adding another 200 acres with direct access to the Sacramento River Trail.

Very popular in the fall harvest season, Hawes Farm just a few miles away in nearby Anderson, California, offers old-fashioned family fun with a corn maze, a pumpkin patch, zipline, haunted tours for Halloween, and more. It’s open from September through Halloween.

Redding’s outdoor water park draws visitors from all over the northern end of the state and Southern Oregon, with a wave pool, lazy river, water slides for all ages and abilities, and a kids’ area. Families can rent cabanas for the day, which offer a nice space to relax during a long day outside.

This large city park spans several city blocks in Redding, with green spaces, playgrounds, and barbecue pits. The highlight for families may be Kid’s Kingdom, a modernized play structure fun for all ages. You’ll find a fun splash/water feature with a concrete rocky mountain, sprinkler archways, and a padded floor surface, and lots of mature trees to climb.

Written by Amy Whitley for Matcha in partnership with Redding CVB.

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