Time: 3 hours
What You Get: Mountains, lakes, waterfalls, volcanoes galore
Not only are the Shasta Cascades a heated choice (quite literally) for a summer getaway, but an affordable alternative to more tourist-infested spots like the Central Coast. With posh inn addition, Bridgehouse B&B, to the Redding lodging scene, you can sleep in style after spending the day admiring architectural marvel Sundial Bridge, perusing the Turtle Bay Exploration Park and cruising the Sacramento Riverside by means of guided segway tour via Shasta Glide n’ Ride. Grab a bite at Moonstone Bistro or Jack’s Grill before hitting the hay and preparing for another day of fun in the sun.
From Redding, head out west to Whiskeytown Lake or north up Mount Shasta. Just slather on the sunscreen before you go, as it’s not uncommon for the mercury to climb above 110 at the height of summer. En route to Mount Shasta, stop by the lake of the same name and take a two-hour tour of the stalactite and stalagmite formations, accessed by a brief ferry ride, including the soaring 60-foot-wide curtains of the Cathedral Room, at the Lake Shasta Caverns. Once atop the mountain, check in to the kitschy Strawberry Valley Inn before hopping across the street to Lily’s for dinner.
On your way back home on Sunday, detour through Lassen Volcanic Park to ooh and ahh at the towering craters, stopping first to take it the breathtaking Burney Falls, a 129-foot cascade. Hike the Headwaters Trail, which loops around along Burney Creek, for great vantage points of the falls, as well as direct access points to cool off. Then get back on the road and be sure to allot a couple hours for exploring Lassen, as it encompasses 108,00 acres of volcanic destruction. Don’t worry too much about summer crowds, however; ironically, one of the country’s most diverse national parks is also one of the least visited.