This relaxed city has some secret gems that make a pleasing start to your trip. Start at Sundial Bridge, a functional work of art, the remarkable pedestrian bridge, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, spans the tree-lined, trout-filled Sacramento River in Redding’s Turtle Bay Exploration Park. The 700-foot/213-meter-long span is undeniably striking, with its glass block walkway and soaring white tower and suspension cables forming a functioning sundial-- a nod to human creativity and ingenuity, both important themes of the 300-acre park.
Before you cross the bridge, visit the adjacent visitor center. Outside, Paul Bunyan’s Forest Camp lets kids learn about what it was like to be an early logger in the region; there are also recreations of a traditional Native American bark house. Inside, interpretive displays shed light on local wildlife and natural history.
Now walk across Sundial Bridge—if there are fly fishermen nearby wait a few minutes and you’ll probably see them snag a fish or two. (The river here alive with trout.) On the far side of the bridge, opposite the museum, is the relax in the California native and drought-tolerant gardens in the 200-acre/81-hectare McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, or rent bikes or join a guided Segway tour to follow paths along the riverfront.
Your trip next takes you to a collection of farms and artisanal food purveyors discovered along shaded country roads.