Let's be honest, Redding has not historically been the hippest of destinations. But what was once written off as a rural wasteland has now evolved into a hopping little city that serves as a convenient jumpoff point for Mount Shasta escapades. Here are our recommendations for the next time you happen to be passing through.
Stay: Local gal Janelle Pierson fulfilled a lifelong dream of running a B&B when she opened Bridgehouse down by the Sacramento River in early 2007. Her personal taste and involvement in the design process are impressive (Martha Stewart's got nothing on Pierson), and her cooking is to die for, too, with a full-on breakfast served up to patrons each morning at the long banquet table in the dining room (concoctions like Bananas Foster French Toast will have you ready to book your next visit back). All four rooms feature luxurious amenities like flat-screen TVs, 500-thread-count sheets and spa robes. The sprawling, upstairs Sundial Bridge Room is the most desirable and a personal favorite, with a king bed, double pedestal sink, Bain Ultra thermo massage tub, and balcony offering a view of the river and nearby train trestle. The downstairs living room is incredibly cozy with a piano, plush couches and a shrine to country music stars like Keith Urban, many of whom she knows personally.
Eat: You wouldn’t stumble upon Gironda’s unless you were specifically looking for it, as it's tucked away in a particularly residential part of town. The seven varieties of ravioli come highly recommended, like the sundried tomato and egg or florentine and ricotta drenched in creamy basil pesto, as do the Chicago-style pizza pies. Seafood lovers have ample options like the fish, mussels, prawn, and clam cioppino or shrimp piccata, and you'd be crazy to pass on the fried artichoke starter dipped in beer batter and served with gorgonzola sauce.
Other popular Redding dining staples include Jack's Grill, where you'll spend more time waiting than you do dining, and Cheesecakes Unlimited, which has recently relocated from its original downtown locale. If you're in search of a more big city-like dwelling, Moonstone Bistro is the new trendy kid on the block. Particularly popular for Sunday brunch, you'll quench your hunger and thirst with a basket of baked goods paired with a Spicy Bloody Mary, Moonstone Sorbet Cocktail or classic mimosa.
Do: You'll find most of Redding's action alongside the Sacramento River Trail. A recent addition, the architecturally-stunning Sundial Bridge keeps things hopping with ample activity built up around the monstrosity. The 710-foot-long, 21-story-tall pylon bridge with a translucent glass surface spans the river without footings in the water and is the largest sundial structure in the world.
Just across the bridge, Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a $15 million, 34,000-square-foot educational playground that provides a hands-on experience of the natural world.
If you want a full guided tour of the river area, stop by and see Bruce at Shasta Glide ‘n Ride. An innovator in the area, Bruce brought the first segway company to Shasta County (and is even a local icon for his tendency to cruise around town on his own personal electric-powered device). Gliders are given a brief segway tutorial and provided with helmets and cooling vests on hot summer days. Tours are one, two, or three hours in length several times a day and pass over the Sun Dial Bridge, throught the arboretum and by the turtle pond. Night Glides are offered on Friday and Saturday nights in summer months. “Free 'fer Fridays” mean that all daytime tours are buy one get one free (though these sell out quickly, so call well in advance). Bruce also offers special rates for groups of eight to 10 gliders, and bike rentals, as well.
Fly-fishing is another popular pastime in the neighborhood; stop in at the Fly Shop for information, rentals and licenses.