There are so many things to do in Redding—it’s a nature lover’s playground! Located in northern California, visitors have endless hikes, caves, waterfalls, meadows, and lakes to discover.
Redding may be the biggest city north of Sacramento in California, but as soon as you step out, trip after trip can be found, exploring the vast Shasta Cascades and the beauty it brings.
City person or not, visiting Redding is a great idea as there are so many things to do in the surrounding area, making it a great base for adventurers.
Things to Do in Redding
1. Lake Shasta Caverns
Nestled deep within the mountains lies the natural curiosity of Lake Shasta Caverns. The unique rock formations of the caverns can be found hundreds of feet inside the McCloud Limestone Mountain Range.
Getting there is half the fun, as they are accessed via a boat ride across the McCloud alarm of the lake. From here, you will be guided through this subterranean wonderland made up of 38 different cave formations, Jurassic fossils, and incredible underground features.
The best way to experience the caverns and the lake is to take one of the guided tours. There are a few different options to choose from, some of which include added extras like a dinner cruise! It is, without a doubt, one of the more unique things to do in Redding.
2. Shasta Lake (Popular Things to Do in Redding!)
At 30,000 acres, there is plenty of room for everyone at Shasta Lake and plenty of ways to spend your day. Expect the waters to be peppered with jet skis, innertubes, kayaks, rowing boats, fishing boats, and all sorts of small crafts, most of which can be rented from around the lake.
With incredible views of Mount Shasta, it is a scenic spot to give water sports a go, or laze around the shore in the sun, drinking in the views and drinking up the beers! You can take a tour of the dam and pop into the visitor center for an insight into how the lake and dam were created.
Many trails to choose from allow you to see the lake and surrounding landscape, although many will hug the shore for at least a section of the hike.
The best are Bailey Cove, Packers Bay, and Clikapudi Trail, so check them out if you have the time, and definitely put Shasta Lake on your list of things to do in Redding.
RELATED: 15 Must-Do Mount Shasta Hikes!
3. Bailey Cove Loop
Distance: 2.6 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Elevation Gain: 226 ft
Following the shoreline of Lake Shasta, you will find the Bailey Cove Trail, a perfect loop that showcases a beautiful portion of the lake shore and surrounding area. As a wooded trail, you can expect plenty of shade as you wind in and out of the trees along a triangle-shaped peninsula that juts out into the lake.
The hike handily starts and ends at the Bailey Cove day-use area, so you don’t have to worry about adding additional miles to get back to your car.
It is an incredibly scenic section of the lake, with ferns, mosses, and Douglas fir joining you on one side of the trail and Knobcone pines and live oaks on the other. As you round the peninsula, the lake opens up before you, so have a moment to take it all in before you continue.
4. Waters Gultch Loop
Distance: 3.4 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Elevation Gain: 580 ft
The Waters Gulch Loop Trail is just one of many wonderful ways to enjoy the beauty of Shasta Lake. As the largest artificial lake in California, there is much to explore.
From the trailhead, you will wander down to the shore via a serene cove, following the shoreline until you reach an outlook where you can take in the stunning waters of Shasta Lake and the surrounding foothills.
The hike has a little bit of everything, as before and after you traverse the lake shore, you’ll head through a diverse oak-conifer forest, following bubbling streams and admiring the show the leaves put on in the fall (if that’s the time of year you choose to hike).
If you have the time, take the spur trail leading to Vista Point for even more beautiful views.
5. Chamise Peak
You won’t be disappointed if you hike the Chamise Peak Trail. It is a great hike to tackle if you want the opportunity to take everything that the Shasta area offers from one epic viewpoint.
From this lofty vantage point, it is possible to see Shasta Lake, Shasta Dam, Mount Shasta, and the town of Shasta Lake (all the Shastas, if you will…).
You will also see the Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento River snaking its way through the mountains. Reaching an incredible viewpoint at the top of a mountain doesn’t have to take all day, and Chamise Peak is a great example of the sensational payoff you can get from a just under 5-mile hike.
6. MT Bike Trail
Plenty of trails allow you to get out and about on a bike in the area, but one of the best has to be the Sundial Bridge to Shasta Dam Trail. It is a long one, but nothing says you have to do it all in one go.
The path takes you through the center of Redding from the bridge before taking you up to the top of the dam, where you can take in the expansive views of Shasta Lake and snow-topped Mt Shasta.
The views along the whole trail are incredible as you follow along the path of a historic railroad. As the trail is paved, taking your bike and covering more distance is easy, although some parts can be steep.
7. Lake Redding Park
Lake Redding Park offers a lot for a small city park. It is located along a stretch of the Sacramento River. Take a picnic, and enjoy a leisurely lunch on one of the scattered picnic tables. Have a game of horseshoes or basketball or simply let the children loose on the playground.
It’s conveniently located close to downtown Redding, yet with the Sacramento River views and winding river trails, you could be a million miles away.
8. Shasta State Historic Park (Best Thing to Do in Redding for History Lovers!)
You can visit a ghost town just 5 miles from Redding. How cool is that? The ghost town remains what was once one of the state’s busiest towns during the gold rush.
You can now visit the town and inspect the buildings, imagine what it would have been like back in the day, with plenty of informative signs to tell you more about what they once were.
From blacksmiths to a brewery, you’ll get a sense of how this important town used to operate. With easy, free access right off the highway, it is well worth a visit and one of the best things to do in Redding.
If you are interested in the history of the area, be sure to take the Ruins Trail, which heads behind the building and allows you to witness some of the destruction of the 2018 Carr Fire.
9. Anderson River Park
Sitting beside the Sacramento River lies the beautiful Anderson River Park. Spend your day cooking a delicious BBQ at one of the outdoor grills, play basketball or tennis, or spend some time on the river.
The park boasts a pretty epic disc golf course and scenic trails that wind their way through the woods and river banks. Check the calendar of events before you visit, as the park often hosts festivals and other community events, which can be great fun.
10. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
You haven’t done summer right if you haven’t fit in a wild swim somewhere. The clear waters of Whiskeytown Lake make an excellent choice. The lake is vast, with 36 miles of shoreline, meaning there is enough room for everyone to enjoy the serenity that the lake has to offer.
There are plenty of other options for water-based exploration, such as windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, or trying your luck with a fishing rod.
Or, if all of that sounds like a lot of effort, pack up the BBQ gear and head to Brandy Cove for an incredible day relaxing on the beach. The area also offers a spectacular hike to Whiskeytown Falls, which tumbles 220 feet.
11. Crystal Creek Falls
Outside the city, you’ll find an easy-to-visit waterfall perfect for a day trip. Sure, it might be human-made, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful, and the walk is short and paved, making it very accessible and one of the best things to do in Redding.
From the parking lot, you will easily be able to see the path that makes its way down to the falls, and after about a quarter of a mile of hiking, you will arrive at a picturesque rest area, complete with BBQ and picnic tables.
You can then continue on the main path to see the falls from the road or take the smaller path down to the falls themselves and get close enough to feel the spray on your face.
If you haven’t finished waterfall hunting for the day, there are four waterfalls in the Whiskeytown Lake area, so you can see if you can find them all. Here, we’ll help…
12. Brandy Creek Falls
The trail to Brandy Creek is moderately steep, but seeing as you end at an epic waterfall, it is well worth it. To reach the falls, you will have to traverse an old logging road, a forest, and a narrow box canyon before you get the vantage point of the falls.
After taking in the natural beauty of the falls, you can continue along the trail for another 0.25 miles to Upper Falls, crossing a few plank bridges along the way.
Things can get a little scary here, as this next bit is not for the faint of heart. You will literally have to rock climb, using the footholds in the rock and the iron railings to pull yourself up to the Upper Falls.
Your reward? An incredible 50-foot waterfall. Although the lower falls are pretty, this is the real gem, set in an awe-inspiring landscape. You will be glad you put in the effort to reach it.
Things To Do Near Redding
You’re not too far from even more epic things to do in Redding! Either day trip to these spots or make it your next location after leaving Redding…
13. Mt. Shasta
If you are staying in the Redding area, you have the enviable position of being close to Mt. Shasta. The area boasts some incredible things to do, is home to several breathtaking hikes, and the town of Mt. Shasta is well worth a visit too.
Depending on the time of year, make sure you get out and about hiking on or around Mt. Shasta; for example, the Panther Meadow Loop, Bunny Flat Trails, Horse Camp Trail, and Old Ski Bowl Trail cover just a bit of the incredible terrain.
You can delve into lava caves, paddle on lakes, or spend your days at a ski resort, to list just a bit of what the area offers budding adventure-goers and nature lovers. The town is brimming with activity, with plenty of places to grab a bite or spend the night.
There are too many things to list here, but luckily we have a whole post on things to do in the Mt. Shasta area, so check it out.
14. Lassen National Park (One of The Best Things to Do from Redding for Adventurers!)
Step into a world of volcanoes and geothermal magic at Lassen Volcanoes National Park. You will almost feel like the land here is alive as it bubbles and fizzes around you. The park is home to 4 types of volcanoes, and although the steam and roaring earth could seem a little scary, it’s stunning!
And luckily, you have the choice of solely witnessing the peaceful meadows and stunning lake that’s here instead if that’s more your thing (although we recommend it all!).
There are plenty of ways to spend the day in the park, which include taking a cruise out onto the shimmering waters, hiring a paddle board, or taking the Ridge Lakes Trail for epic views. Most people only head to the area for one thing: to experience the sheer power of the earth beneath them.
Whether you take the Bumpass Hell Trail to get up close and personal with some boiling mud pots or head to Sulphur works to witness the powerful steam vents, you can’t go wrong.
One of the best trails is the Devil’s Kitchen Trail, which crosses some picturesque meadows before reaching the park’s second-largest hydrothermal area. For some waterfall fun, the King Creek Hike is a great shot, but keep your eyes open for bears!
15. Crags State Park
Tucked neatly between Mount Shasta and the city of Redding sits the scenic gem of Castle Crags State Park. The unique rock formations that helped the park get its name are the biggest draw, jutting dramatically out of the rich green trees.
It is an incredible sight, which is strange considering the park receives relatively few visitors year-round, mainly because it is only open for a short time in the summer due to snow.
If you only do one thing while on Castle Crags, visit Vista Point, which can be reached via car or hiking. It provides one of the best views of the crags in the park, complete with picnic tables.
Some exciting hikes include the challenging Castle Dome Trail, which requires serious climbing, or Bob’s Hat for spectacular views. If exploring this lesser-known park seems like a good option, consider using the park’s campground so you can get an early start in the morning.
We hope this helped you find some of the best things to do in Redding, enjoy your visit!
I embark on expeditions around the world but can’t get enough of California or the PNW. I’m a VW nerd with a Bug and a Bus. You can probably find me surfing or snowboarding somewhere.