August 11, 2023


Redding is famously known for the Sundial Bridge over the Sacramento River

Nestled against a scenic backdrop of stunning mountain ranges, densely-forested recreation areas, and majestic lakes, Redding offers visitors a surprising variety of unique attractions and activities.

While many travelers know Redding, California as a convenient stopping point along Interstate 5, this beautiful city has made a name for itself with an array of natural landmarks, recreational opportunities, and historic sites.

Have you ever wondered what makes Redding a renowned paradise for adventurers? Let’s delve in and find out.

Top 10 Attractions and Fun Facts that Make Redding, California Famous

A man and woman on Redding Bikeshare ebikes on the Sacramento River Trail looking at the Sundial Bridge

1) The Sundial Bridge, an Architectural Wonder

The Sundial Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Sacramento River near the city’s Turtle Bay Exploration Park, providing visitors access between downtown Redding and scenic trails along the Sacramento River.

Fun Facts:
  • Constructed from steel and glass, the bridge stretches 700 feet across the river and stands 217 feet tall at its highest point.
  • The Sundial Bridge cost approximately $26 million to build and was inaugurated on July 4, 2004, after 3 years of construction.
  • The Sundial Bridge was designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who is known for his stunning bridges, stations, and public spaces worldwide. (You may recognize the similarities between the Sundial Bridge and Calatrava’s World Trade Center Oculus in New York City.)
  • The bridge functions as a working sundial, with its north-to-south orientation and a gnomon (shadow caster) built into the support tower. On the summer solstice, it accurately tells time.
  • The Sundial Bridge has become an iconic symbol of Redding. It draws visitors from around the world and frequently appears in photos and depictions of the city.
  • The bridge provides pedestrian access between downtown Redding and the scenic trails of Turtle Bay Exploration Park along the Sacramento River.
  • Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge uniquely blends engineering and natural beauty, making it a globally recognized landmark for Redding. It demonstrates how functional infrastructure can also serve as civic art.

Drone shot of the Sacramento River weaving through Redding, California with fall foliage

2) The Longest River: The Sacramento River

The Sacramento River carves a scenic ribbon through Redding while supporting wildlife, recreation, and agriculture – all of which have shaped the region’s culture and identity.

Fun Facts:
  • Originating from the Klamath Mountains, the Sacramento River stretches over 300 miles through Northern California before reaching the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
  • As California’s largest and longest river, the Sacramento River provides vital water supply and irrigation for agriculture in the Sacramento Valley.
  • Within Redding city limits, the Sacramento River stretches around 9 miles, flowing north to south through the downtown region.
  • The Sacramento River is known for its cold, clear water fed by glacial mountain runoff. This makes for excellent river recreation, including popular sports like fishing, kayaking, tubing, and swimming.
  • Riverside parks and trails like the Sacramento River Trail allow hikers, joggers, and cyclists to enjoy the river’s natural beauty within Redding.
  • The Sacramento River enhances Redding’s appeal for outdoor enthusiasts as a basecamp for adventure. The river’s presence contributes to the city’s colloquial nickname as the “Kayak Capital of the World.”
  • Fly fishing is also popular on the Sacramento near Redding, owing to its cold, clean flow and abundant rainbow trout.

3) Triple Treat: The Three Shastas

The Three Shastas—which includes Mt. Shasta, Lake Shasta, and Shasta Dam—provide hydroelectric power, water supply, and spectacular scenery that make the region unique.

Fun Facts:
  • One of the best views of the Three Shastas is from Chamise Peak.
  • Mt. Shasta is a potentially active volcano and the second-highest peak in the Cascade Range at 14,179 feet. Its striking snow-capped cone can be seen from Redding on clear days.
  • Shasta Lake is California’s largest reservoir, with 370 miles of shoreline. It offers excellent recreational opportunities like houseboating, fishing, swimming, and water sports.
  • Shasta Dam is one of the tallest dams in the United States, measuring 602 feet high and over 3,460 feet long. Its tremendous size and structural brilliance make it an engineering marvel.
  • Over 15,000 workers labored to construct Shasta Dam over a 5-year period in the 1930s and 40s. The dam cost $110 million at the time.
  • The dam can hold over 4.5 million acre-feet of water, and its reservoirs have a shoreline longer than California’s coastline.
  • Shasta Dam’s spillway is 487 feet tall, making it the highest overflow point of any dam in the world. It creates a roaring cascade of water larger than Niagara Falls.
  • There is enough concrete in Shasta Dam to span the equator with a 3-foot wide sidewalk and enough steel to build 3 modern warships.

Two men high-fiving as they ride bikes side-by-side on the Sacramento River Trail in Redding, CA

4) The Trail Capital of California

With over 200 miles of trails, Redding has rightfully earned the title “Trail Capital of California.” The trail system here is a major draw for outdoor enthusiasts. As the second sunniest city in the continental U.S., Redding’s trails allow you to soak up the sunshine while surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Fun Facts:
  • Redding is surrounded by miles of trails weaving through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, appealing to hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers.
  • Popular trails like the Sacramento River Trail, Middle Creek Trail, and Swasey Recreation Area offer beautiful rivers, canyons, and forest scenery.
  • For mountain bikers, Redding is considered a premier destination. Enticer, Snail Trail, and Princess Ditch Trail offer challenging single-track routes.
  • The Redding Trail Alliance, the City of Redding, and the National Park Service maintain and expand Redding’s trails, hosting annual events such as the Lemurian Classic and the Bigfoot Adventure Challenge.
  • Close trail access right from downtown allows for quick getaways into nature. Trails can be combined for epic day hikes or bike trips.

5) California’s Sunniest City

As the sunniest city in California, Redding promises more time to bask, play, and relax under the warm California sun than anywhere else in the state. Abundant sunshine makes Redding ideal for sunny outdoor activities year-round, like biking, hiking, water sports, golf, and enjoying parks.

Fun Facts:
  • With over 250 days of sun annually, Redding averages more clear, sunny days per year than any other city in California.
  • Located far inland and protected by mountains, Redding receives very little marine fog or cloud cover. This allows the sun to shine through almost daily.
  • Redding enjoys an average possible sunshine of 88% – meaning the sun shines during 88% of daylight hours.
  • Measuring over 4,400 hours of bright sunshine annually, Redding trails only Yuma, Arizona, for total annual sunlight hours in the continental U.S.
  • Redding’s peak sunshine occurs in July and August. In mid-summer, sunshine duration can exceed 14-15 hours per day.
  • Winters are also sunnier than coastal areas – averaging nearly 60% possible sunshine even in December and January.
  • The sunniest months see high temperatures often surpassing 100°F. Redding’s inland valley location and sparse tree cover add to the summer heat.

Kayakers gliding under the Sundial Bridge on the Sacramento River during the Sundial Splash

6) Unofficial Capital of Kayaking

The Sacramento River provides miles of pristine paddling right through the heart of Redding, offering convenient urban access to water trails. With its unique river access and two major lakes, Redding has embraced kayaking as both recreation and lifestyle.

Fun Facts:
  • USA Today voted The Sacramento River in Redding the second-best urban kayaking spot in the United States in 2023.
  • Additional rivers like the McCloud and Pit Rivers near Redding boast rapids for whitewater kayaking, appealing to paddlers of all skill levels.
  • Whiskeytown Lake and Shasta Lake are massive bodies of water close to Redding, ideal for kayak adventures – from day trips to weeklong excursions.
  • Paddling classes, races, and events organized by the Shasta Paddlers Club foster an active kayaking community.
  • Redding’s sunny, temperate climate allows for kayaking year-round – though the best seasons are spring through fall.


7) Houseboat Capital of the World

Shasta Lake, located in Redding, has earned the prestigious Houseboat Capital of the World title, offering leisure and luxury in equal measures.

Fun Facts:
  • Shasta Lake is one of the largest man-made lakes in California. The lake has over 300 miles of shoreline and is famous for recreational boating and houseboating. Many houseboats are docked along the shorelines and coves of Shasta Lake.
  • The climate in Redding is warm and sunny for much of the year, making it ideal for houseboating. Summers are hot and dry, and winters are mild.
  • Several full-service marinas around Lake Shasta cater to houseboaters, providing houseboat rentals, moorage, maintenance, and other services. Some popular marinas include Bridge Bay Resort, Jones Valley Resort, Silverthorn Resort, and Shasta Marina at Packer’s Bay.
  • For a houseboating hot spot, Redding has the inland advantage, unlike coastal locations susceptible to fog and ocean swells.
  • Redding has a thriving houseboat culture and community. There are houseboat tours, restaurants, and events centered around houseboating. The culture attracts many houseboat enthusiasts.

8) Sacramento River National Recreation Trail

This beloved trail is deemed a National Recreation Trail, perfect for those seeking a blend of exercise and sightseeing.

Fun Facts:
  • The Sacramento River Trail and Rail Trail were inducted into the 2023 Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Hall of Fame for their “outstanding scenic value, experience and use, connectivity, amenities, historical significance, and community benefit.”
  • The Sacramento River Trail showcases the natural beauty of Redding’s riverfront and provides easy access to enjoy recreation and relaxation along the Sacramento River.
  • The trail is a paved cycling and walking path along the Sacramento River for over 17 miles within Redding city limits.
  • It received the designation of National Recreation Trail by the Department of the Interior due to its scenic beauty and recreational amenities.
  • The trail provides easy access to the river, parks, Turtle Bay Exploration Park, and the Sundial Bridge from downtown Redding.
  • The Sacramento River Trail is paved, flat in some sections, and wheelchair/stroller accessible, making it popular for casual walks, jogs, and bike rides.
  • Interpretive signs along the trail describe the Sacramento River’s ecology, wildlife, and history.
  • The trail offers excellent opportunities for birdwatching, fishing, picnicking, and observing the Sacramento River.
  • As part of a more extensive network of trails, it connects cyclists and pedestrians to other areas like the Sacramento River Rail Trail.

9) Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Whether it’s beach lounging, waterfall chasing, trail hiking, or mountain biking, the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area has something for every outdoor enthusiast.

Fun Facts:
  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area encompasses 42,000 acres of forest, lakes, and streams, including Whiskeytown Lake and Shasta Bally.
  • It was established in 1965, and one of President John F. Kennedy’s last acts was designating it as a National Recreation Area.
  • The John F. Kennedy Memorial stands at the visitors center commemorating JFK’s conservation efforts and his last official dedication speech at the site in 1963.
  • The recreation area features 39 miles of hiking trails, including trails to Whiskeytown Falls, Brandy Creek Falls, and Boulder Creek Falls.
  • Crystal clear waters provide cold-water habitat for rainbow and brown trout, attracting fishermen.
  • Oak woodlands, conifer forests, and riparian habitats along creeks support black bears, deer, owls, eagles, and over 200 species of birds.
  • Diving and snorkeling sites allow you to explore the remains of mining equipment and other relics under the lake’s waters.
  • As a National Recreation Area, Whiskeytown preserves exceptional scenery, ecosystems, and historic heritage while offering year-round outdoor fun.

A woman wading in the Sacramento River and fly fishing

10) Top 10 Trout Fishing Town

Redding, California is the only city on the West Coast recognized as a top 10 trout fishing town in North America. Whether casting from the shores of Whiskeytown Lake or wading into the Sacramento River, Redding is a fisherman’s paradise.

Fun Facts:
  • Redding sits along prime salmon and trout fishing stretches of the Sacramento River, earning its “Top 10 Trout Fishing Town” designation.
  • The Sacramento River in Redding is considered one of the top 3 trout fisheries in the world for its cold, clean waters and abundant rainbow trout.
  • Fly fishing is world-class on the Sacramento River, with The Fly Shop in Redding operating as the largest fly fishing outfitter on the planet.
  • Whiskeytown Lake is hailed for its kokanee salmon fishing, rated as some of the best landlocked salmon fishing in the western states.
  • Fishing guides and outfitters offer specialized trips for novices and experts on the rivers, lakes, and creeks around Redding.
  • The Sacramento River and its tributaries offer over 250 miles of fishable water teeming with wild native rainbow trout.
  • Redding’s temperate climate allows for comfortable fishing year-round. Each season offers a unique catch.

In a nutshell, Redding is a vibrant blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and architectural marvels. Whether you’re a nature lover, an avid adventurer, or a casual traveler, Redding has an unforgettable experience waiting just for you! Stay a little longer to enjoy more of Redding’s top attractions.

Frequently Asked Questions about Redding, California:

Q: Where is Redding located?

A: Redding is located in Northern California, about 150 miles north of Sacramento and 200 miles south of the Oregon border. It sits at the northern end of the Sacramento Valley.

Q: What is the population of Redding?

A: The population of Redding is approximately 90,000 residents within the city limits. The greater Redding metro area has over 200,000 residents.

Q: What are some tourist attractions in Redding?

A: Top attractions include the Sundial Bridge, Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Whiskeytown Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Shasta Lake, Shasta Dam, and miles of trails for hiking and biking.

Q: What activities are popular in Redding?

A: Redding is excellent for outdoor recreation like hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, boating, and more. Cultural activities include attending plays and concerts at the Cascade Theatre or the Redding Civic Auditorium or visiting art shows at The Art Hunger.

Q: What is the weather like in Redding?

A: Redding has a hot, dry climate in the summer, with temperatures often exceeding 100°F. Winters are mild, with some rain and highs in the 50s. There is very little snowfall.

Q: Why is Redding so hot?

A: Redding’s inland valley location, lack of cooling coastal breezes, sparse tree cover, long summer daylight hours, and urban heat island effect all contribute to making it one of the hottest places in Northern California during the summer months.

Q: What are some annual events in Redding?

A: Popular annual events include the Redding Rodeo, Kool April Nites classic car show, Holiday Light Parade, Garden of Lights, and Redding Beer Week.

Q: How do I get to Redding?

A: You can fly into Redding Municipal Airport or drive to Redding via Interstate 5. It is about a 3-hour drive north of Sacramento.

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