Ready for a road trip? Make Redding your next CA destination as it three hours north of the Bay Area and full of activities for kids. With the brand-new Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge literally right over the fence from the Turtle Bay Exploration Park, there are animals you can visit, playgrounds to climb and even a river for fishing. Scroll down for the the 411 on why you should book some time there ASAP!
Redding is about a three-hour drive north from SF or Oakland. It’s not the most exciting drive but the kids will enjoy spotting the cows and horses along I-5. There are many towns along the way for lunch stops or potty breaks. Williams and Willows are right in the middle if you are looking for a spot to split the drive in half.
Redding is a picturesque town right on the Sacramento River near Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen. Boasting over 300 sunny days per year, it’s a great spot to get away from the busy Bay Area and enjoy nature and the outdoors.
Turtle Bay Exploration Park
One of the highlights of a Redding visit is spending a day (or two) at Turtle Bay Exploration Park. This 300-acre property near the stunning Sundial Bridge includes a museum, forestry and wildlife center, arboretum and garden. Enter the park through the museum and you’ll gain access to the wildlife center there. The Park has a playground that is great for even the youngest visitors and they are adding a bigger kids area and zip-line later this summer.
The World’s Largest Dinosaurs
Through September 9, visitors to Turtle Bay can view the new exhibit, The World’s Largest Dinosaurs. Organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the exhibition delves into the amazing biology of a group of uniquely super-sized dinosaurs: the long-necked and long-tailed sauropods. Kids will enjoy the interactive exhibits that allow them to see inside the bodies of these enormous creatures to learn how heart rate, respiration, metabolism and reproduction are linked to size. One of the favorite areas of the exhibit allows kids to don helmets and safety goggles to excavate fossils.
A visit to Turtle Bay would not be complete without some hands-on animal time. The Walk on the Wild Side animal show is back for the summer and you will be amazed at all the tricks the animal handlers get the skunk, fox, badger and birds to do. Then walk through the aviary where you can feed the lorikeets and maybe even get one to land on your hand!
Summer brings back the butterfly exhibit where you can walk through the enclosure to visit with these delicate creatures. You may even have the chance to release one that has recently emerged from a cocoon!
Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge
This brand-new hotel just opened its doors this spring and it is the perfect home base for your Redding adventure. With 130 rooms, you can grab a suite and spread out or choose and regular room that offers a mini fridge and coffee maker for your convenience. Make it extra fun for the kids and do some in-room camping—you will arrive to find a mini tent set up with sleeping bag to give your little one a spot of his own to spread out.
The hotel offers various packages and one of the most popular is the Turtle Bay Family Package that includes tickets for four to Turtle Bay, breakfast each morning, two nectar cups to feed the lorikeets and a special turtle turndown service. With the hotel’s close proximity to Turtle Bay, the package gives you in-and-out access to the grounds so that you can visit in the morning, grab some pizza at the hotel’s on-site restaurant Mosaic for lunch and then back to Turtle Bay for more afternoon fun before a dip in the pool.
Another fun hotel amenity is the afternoon visits in the lobby with the animal ambassadors from Turtle Bay. Kids looking to catch some fish in the Sacramento River nearby can rent fishing poles from the front desk. Book a room with Club access and you’ll get breakfast every morning, snacks throughout the day and complimentary happy hour at night (which includes wine and a light snack).
Other Nearby Activities
The Sundial Bridge is a very short walk from the Sheraton and right next to the entrance to Turtle Bay. This bridge is an architectural wonder and lights up at night. You’ll find people playing live music most nights by the bridge. Cross the river and you can access walking trails and the Arboretum.
The Lake Shasta Caverns are a 30-minute drive from Redding but it is worth the trip to view these natural wonders. Book your tickets online or reserve the Caverns package when you stay at the Sheraton. Drive to the caverns welcome center, take a short boat ride across the lake and then a bus up the mountain to access the caverns. You will be amazed to see the many stalagtites and stalagmites inside the caverns during this guided tour. While all ages are welcome, the caverns are not stroller accessible and are best for kids five and up. There are a lot of stairs so keep that in mind before booking the excursion.
Check out Visit Redding for more information on what to do and see in the area. It’s your one-stop shop to find out about all the special seasonal activities that bring visitors to the area.
What’s your favorite spot in Redding? Let us know!
—story and photos by Kate Loweth
Note: This trip was paid for by Sheraton Redding at the Sundial Bridge, Visit Redding and the Turtle Bay Exploration Park but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.