Redding, California: Downtown to the Outdoors in Under 60 Minutes

We were lucky to be in Redding on a First Friday where artists lined the streets and the shops stayed open late. The following morning we ate fresh tamales and drank locally roasted coffee from vendors at the Redding Farmer's Market.
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I love playing outside and getting dirty, but I also love having a comfortable basecamp to return to. Redding, California offers just that! With a cute downtown and outdoor adventures at our fingertips, I thoroughly enjoyed using Redding as a hub to explore UpState California. These are some of my favorite experiences within easy reach of downtown Redding.

This story was created in partnership with the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, California. Photography by Emily Sierra Photography.

22 Minutes from Redding, California: Shasta Lake

The best way to explore Shasta Lake’s 365 miles of shoreline and trails is simply from the comfort of a houseboat. With Shasta Marina at Packers Bay you can rent houseboats accommodating up to 20 people, and smaller ones are available. The drive from downtown Redding to the door of your houseboat is a whopping 22 minutes! For insider tips to enhance your houseboat adventure, be sure to check out the Shasta Marina Insider.

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Before you head up to Shasta Lake, swing by Savemart in Redding and stock up on groceries or freshly prepared meals featuring locally sourced produce. While you’re there, you can have lunch in their cafe, grab an ice cream cone, or sip on a freshly prepared smoothie.

14 Minutes from Redding: Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

The massive Whiskeytown National Recreation Area became a reservoir in 1963. There are dozens of hiking trails to explore, but in the summer you’ll want to be on the water. Headwaters Adventure Company has guides leading kayak, canoe, and SUP (stand up paddle board) trips on the water, helping visitors get better acquainted with areas they might not discover on their own.

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A short, 0.3 mile paved walk at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area leads to the beautiful Crystal Creek Falls. The shallow pool at the base of the waterfall is a popular spot for cooling off from the summer heat.

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49 Minutes from Redding: Castle Crags State Park

When traveling north on Interstate 5, you’ll see massive granite crags suddenly rise steeply out of the forest. Driving by Castle Crags State Park alone is mesmerizing, but before you cause an accident on the highway, it’s worth taking the exit at Castella and spending time in the park. The most popular and physically demanding trail is the Crags Trail to Castle Dome (roughly 5.5 miles and 2,000’ of elevation gain), and worth every step for the stunning views along the way.

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0 Minutes Drive: Redding, California

Redding is a city of just under 100,000 people. There’s a regional airport in town and larger, international airports within two hour’s reach. Once in Redding, find comfort in your hotel, like that offered at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott. Downtown, belly up to a locally sourced meal and a craft beer. We were lucky to be in Redding on a First Friday where artists lined the streets and the shops stayed open late. The following morning we ate fresh tamales and drank locally roasted coffee from vendors at the Redding Farmer’s Market.

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Redding Dragstrip

This experience is unlike the others, but still a fun reason to base your travels in Redding. The Redding Dragstrip is the oldest NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) sanctioned dragstrip in the USA (since 1953!). Everything from vintage Mustangs and old Ford trucks to a Volvo Station Wagon with a ski box on top face off at the strip. The crowds and commentary keep the races exciting and it’s a fun place to rest your legs after outdoor adventures.

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With more time in UpState California, I’d love to explore other nearby outdoor attractions such as Lassen Volcanic National Park and the Lake Shasta Caverns National Landmark. Locals in the area also left me itching to return for some world class mountain biking and fly fishing. Another trip!

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Seeking more road trip inspiration in UpState California? Read up on Whitney James’ adventure there: Escape the Crowds with a Road Trip in UpState California

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