How to Spend 24 Hours in Redding, CA

I haven’t been more uncomfortably hot than I was in Redding, California this past weekend. With temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees, it was a chore just to step out of the house or the nice air conditioned car. So we had to come up with unique ways to see the town of Redding, have some fun with an old high school friend and not die from overheating.

But first, why Redding?

As Luke’s boss would say, there is only one good thing about Redding- it’s close to Mount Shasta.

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Gorgeous Mt. Shasta. PC of SummitPost.

He isn’t completely wrong. Sorry for anyone who is from Redding, but the town is not great. It’s small, rundown and there isn’t much to do. To me it felt like a town straight out of the middle of Kansas (and for someone who lived and has family from the Sunflower state, I feel comfortable saying that Kansas kind of sucks).

But we were there to see an old friend who had flown in from North Carolina, where he was now living. He had com back to get his car, which had been stolen the year before (that’s Redding for ya). We only had about a full day with him after figuring out driving and everything (Redding is four hours from San Jose–without traffic).

We left around two on the Friday before and met up with a couple friends who were passing through San Francisco. After a couple drinks, some good conversation and a tour of their new van, we figured it was time to get on the road.

We drove for another two hours before heading into the Mendocino National Forest where we could camp on one of the many side roads. It was completely dark by the time we arrived, but we still made sure we were far enough back from the main highway. Just in case someone got mad about us sleeping in the car. Eventually, we got to a big enough pull-off with views of the valley below. It was already past 10:30, but the temperature still read 85 degrees. This seemed to be an omen of what we were getting ourselves into.

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The pretty side of the Mendocino National Forest. PC of USDA Forest Service. 

The next morning we woke with the sun, laid around a bit and then attempted a quick run. We didn’t get very far– the temperatures, even at 8 AM were already brutal. Plus, we were both pretty dehydrated. We like to run, but we didn’t want to pass out up there where no one would find us. So we turned around, got back in the car, turned the A/C to full blast and headed for Highway 5 once again.

After a quick breakfast at Black Bear Diner— not my favorite I must say– we were finally ready to get to Redding.

How to Spend 24 Hours in Redding, CA

Our friend Oliver was waiting for us when we arrived. Luke had gotten the brilliant idea of tubing the large Sacramento River that twists around the town, but Oliver and I weren’t completely sold. So we decided to try to water temperature out first and see if tubing was actually doable.

I had been to Redding once before, but that had just been to pass through it on the way to other destinations. This time though, I wanted to see some of the “bigger” sites. So to the Sundial Bridge we went.

Stop 1: Sundial BridgeSundial Bridge

You can see this interesting landmark from seemingly all points of town, and especially from the highways that criss-cross Redding. It is the largest sundial in the world and definitely worth a look. It’s free and takes about 10-15 minutes to explore. This is also a good place to go for a walk or bike ride (when it isn’t ungodly hot) for the main bike trails run right next to it.

We checked out the water and figured it would be too cold to tube down for a couple hours, so instead we headed a bit farther up the river to a swimming spot Oliver used to go to as a kid.

Stop 2: Cooling off near the Sacramento Trail

I can’t give an exact location to where the swimming spot is, but if you park right after the Keswick Dam (there will be a parking lot there) and head down the Sacramento River Bike trail across the street (not up higher), you will quickly come to a bridge next to the river. From here there is a small path down that is slightly overgrown, but still manageable to maneuver. This trail will take you to a very obvious swimming spot. In the late springtime–April and May–a waterfall glides over the rock wall that sits under the bridge you crossed earlier. From here it tumbles into a deep pool, surrounded by smooth rocks– perfect for laying out on after taking a nice, cool dip.

After jumping in and swimming around a couple times, each of us taking turns to cool off in the icy water, we made the short, but hot, trek back up to our car.

Now we all felt it was time for some food… and maybe a couple cold beers.

Stop 3: Wildcard Brewery

A cute, airy brewery in downtown Redding, Wildcard is a great place to meet up with some friends, grab a couple microbrews and get a little too competitive in board games. Our game of choice: Carcassonne, a similar game to the vastly popular Settlers of Catan, just shorter and easier.

One of the great things about Wildcard is that they allow you to bring your own food in (plus it has A+ A/C). So we grabbed some salads and chicken at a nearby Safeway and settled in for a couple hours of fun.

After trying out a few different beers, and taking turns winning in Carcassonne, we decided it was finally cool enough to play Frisbee Golf, Luke’s recent favorite activity.

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Wildcard Brewery, the Tied House. PC of Film Shasta.

Stop 4: Frisbee Golf at Enterprise Park

Located on the southern end of town, Enterprise Park is a great place to spend a couple of hours. The Frisbee golf course, though a bit smaller than most, was still a lot of fun. We got there just after 8 PM (and the temperature was still over 90 degrees, ahhh), so we quickly having to race the daylight. It was Oliver’s first time playing and he took to it quite naturally, if not a bit hilariously. We got through ten holes before calling it due to lack of light.

***One suggestion I would give though, is to wear long pants and closed toed shoes, for there are some pretty scratchy plants out in the fields.

After Frisbee golf we headed back to Wildcard to meet up with some of Oliver’s friends, before calling it a night.

Stop 5: Breakfast at Heavenly Donuts

Even though I love to eat healthy, sometimes you just need a good donut. Oliver had spoken highly of this Redding landmark and we thought we might as well give it a try. So after choosing between a few delicious looking treats, I chose a simple glaze (sometimes less is best) and a strawberry filled, sugar-coated one. Both were quite tasty, but like all donuts, they didn’t fill me up very much. Either way, I highly recommend a stop off here before leaving town (they are also open 24 hours so…).

After our quick breakfast stop we were back on Highway 5, this time headed north to Castle Crags State Park.

Stop 6: Hiking at Castle Crags SP

About an hour outside of Redding, this park is a great place to go to escape the heat. With tall trees and great unobstructed views of Mt. Shasta, Castle Crags was a nice way to spend our last couple hours in Redding.

We hiked up to the dome, about 2.8 miles one-way, where we did a bit of climbing. The hike is relatively easy, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to get some fresh air and views of the surrounding mountains.

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We got back to Redding around noon, just enough time to grab lunch at Mod Pizza before saying goodbye to Oliver and hitting the road. We wanted to beat the traffic as well as possibly get in a run somewhere down by the city where it would be cooler.


While Redding is not necessarily a place I would seek out, it is a nice enough place to hang-out with old friends and partake in a few fun activities. If you are considering hitting up Redding, either as a stop-off on your way to Oregon, Lassen National Park or Mt. Shasta, definitely check out a few of these places.

 

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