15 Free Things to Do in Redding, CA

Free Things to Do in Redding, CA
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Redding is one of the most famous cities in northern California, located in Shasta County.

Considered the economic and cultural powerhouse of this region, Redding offers plenty of activities, even free ones.

The place is also near several famous attractions from neighboring cities, most prominently Sacramento.

Various places here make Redding a prime attraction spot in California, spearheaded by the Sacramento River Trail, Sundial Bridge, and various state parks.

Here’s a list of the 15 free things to do in Redding, California, to get you started in your budget-friendly itinerary:

Take Photos of the Iconic Sundial Bridge

People walking along the Sundial Bridge
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Whether visiting the Turtle Bay Exploration Park or hitting the Sacramento River Trail, the iconic Sundial Bridge is a must-visit in Redding.

A modern and functional work of art by world-renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, you can stroll along this pedestrian bridge for stunning views of the Sacramento River.

The beautiful setting is perfect for appreciating nature, and you can sit at the river’s edge at the bridge’s north-side plaza to relax.

Walkway of the Sundial Bridge
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Beyond natural sights, you’ll be in awe of the bridge’s stunning array of steel, glass, and granite—not to mention the giant functioning steel sundial that gives it its name.

Be sure to visit Sundial Bridge later in the day for its famous sunset views, and don’t forget to stick around to watch it light up beautifully at night!

Aerial view of the Sundial Bridge
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Climb Up to Chamise Peak

Lovers of the great outdoors shouldn’t miss climbing up to Chamise Peak for a moderately challenging hike with stunning views.

With a modest slope and shade, this seven-kilometer trail is easygoing enough to take the whole family.

Dogs are also welcome!

Lined with oak, pine, and manzanita trees and dotted with wildflowers, this scenic trail is also popular for birdwatching and horseback riding.

Make it up to the lookout point at 1,628 feet high, and you’ll be rewarded with a 360-degree view of Shasta Dam, Mount Shasta, and the Sacramento River.

To climb up to the summit, start at the Flannagan Trail until you reach the beginning of the Chamise Peak Trail.

Go for a Run at Lema Ranch

Once a working mule ranch in the 1950s, Lema Ranch is home to the McConnell Foundation and its beautiful trails perfect for jogging and running.

Open from dawn to dusk, Lema Ranch’s two main trails take you through 200 acres of beautiful scenery.

The Lema Ranch Trail spans four miles of paved paths lined with beautiful weeping willows and oak trees.

This also takes you along Lema Ranch’s five ponds, where you can spot ducks, egrets, and otters in the winter.

The adjacent Churn Creek trails are partially unpaved and take you through classic blue oak woodland, with sections passing by Churn Creek itself.

Take note that the Lema Ranch Trail does not allow dogs or bicycles to protect wildlife.

These are, however, welcome on the Churn Creek trails.

Let Your Dogs Play at Benton Dog Park

Adjacent to Benton Airport, Benton Dog Park offers a safe space to take your dog off-leash to run and play.

This fenced-in dog park spans two acres, with a separate area reserved especially for smaller dogs to play safely with others their size.

You’ll find plenty of shade here with this spacious park’s many trees and numerous seating areas.

There is also a water spout and community bowl with fresh water to keep your dog hydrated for a day of play.

If you prefer to take your dog out at night, Benton Dog Park keeps its spaces well-lit for evening visitors.

Cycle along the Sacramento River Trail

Bridge along the Sacramento River Trail
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Great for anyone who loves adventure, the Sacramento River Trail is perfect for hiking, trekking, and cycling.

Running along the banks of the Sacramento River, this trail is almost 17 miles long—all of it is paved, making it perfect for a bicycle ride.

The river trail takes you along serene, wooded areas along the river and opens to clearings offering stunning views of the Trinity Mountains.

The view along Sacramento River Trail
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The Sacramento River Trail is also a great way to explore Redding, as it takes you past Turtle Bay Exploration Park, McConnell Arboretum, and the Sundial Bridge.

If you’re looking for even more adventure, keep pedaling: this trail connects to the Sacramento River Rail Trail, which leads you to Shasta Dam.

Appreciate Art Outdoors at The Sculpture Park at City Hall

While Redding is known for its outdoor activities, it’s home to over 70 public art sites, one of which is the beautiful Sculpture Park at City Hall.

Located behind city hall, this 2.5-acre park displays a unique collection of sculptures.

Some are on permanent display, while others are on tour.

These sculptures are displayed along a winding trail through the garden’s scenic landscaping and fountains.

Don’t miss the giant sculptures The Wave and The Fish, both made entirely of reclaimed wood.

If you plan to take a stroll around Redding to take in its sights, stop by the Sculpture Park at City Hall for a short break.

Redding is home to a tight-knit community of visual artists, all of whom get a chance to showcase their works at North Valley Art League’s Carter House Gallery.

Year-round, you’ll find artworks by artists from Redding and Northern California on display.

However, the exhibits are ever-changing: new fine arts shows are hung monthly.

That means what’s on display can be completely different with each visit!

Time your visit, and you may also be able to catch artist lectures, demonstrations, and even hands-on activities open to the public.

If you find an artist whose works you love, the Carter House Gallery Gift Shop features everything from ceramics and sculpture to prints and metalwork that you can take home.

Travel Back in Time at the Behrens-Eaton House Museum

To discover Redding’s colorful history, visit the Behrens-Eaton House Museum, which has stood since 1895.

The museum was once the family home of the distinguished Judge Richard B. Eaton, who preserved it to become a place for the Shasta County citizens to learn about local history.

The museum’s extensive collection of original Victorian-era furnishings, antiques, and fashion gives a glimpse of life in the early 1900s.

The four generations who lived in the house were also avid collectors of local history, and their collection today paints a unique picture of Redding’s past.

History lovers should also take extra time to read at the museum’s library, which is home to Judge Eaton’s writings and antique books.

You can find the museum on West Street.

Learn about the Gold Rush at Shasta State Historic Park

Farming equipments at Shasta State Historic Park
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Just six miles east of downtown Redding is what was once the picturesque gold mining town of Shasta, known today as the Shasta State Historic Park.

Once the center of the buzzing Gold Rush in the 1800s, the town still has many of its original brick buildings, the ruins of which are still picturesque.

History buffs and families can stroll through the old cemetery, sites, and ruins to learn about the daily lives of the merchants, miners, and families in the 19th Century.

A bakery at Shasta State Historic Park
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Some areas, like the gallows and bakery, have been restored to how they originally looked.

The old courthouse and jail, now also restored, houses a museum with an excellent exhibit of life in Shasta.

Ruins at Shasta State Historic Park
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Play Sports at Enterprise Park

Spanning almost 90 acres, Redding’s Enterprise Park is filled with spaces perfect for you to join the local community in getting physical outdoors.

The park is packed with spaces for sports.

These include everything from spacious basketball courts and soccer fields to an outdoor roller hockey rink.

Even fans of more niche sports can find something fun to do here.

Enterprise Park has a special 18-hole disc golf course complete with basket targets, as well as a court built just for pickleball.

Families can also relax and have a barbecue party in the park’s spacious picnic area, which is moderately wooded for just the right amount of shade.

Enterprise Park also welcomes dogs on leashes.

You can find it on Victor Avenue.

Go Skateboarding at the Redding Skate Park

In Caldwell Park, Redding Skate Park is the center of the community’s tight-knit skating scene.

Whether you prefer bikes, skateboards, or roller skates, this skate park is the perfect spot for pumping, carving, and hitting jumps.

The skate park is a huge outdoor concrete skate and BMX structure featuring three large bowls and one-half pipe, making it challenging and fun for skaters at different levels.

After the Redding Skate Park’s latest renovations—designed and built by California SkateParks—it now has a low rail, a high rail, and even an 11-foot vertical wall perfect for tricks!

After a fun afternoon at the park, you can cool down in the shade of Caldwell Park.

Take Your Kids for a Splash at Fantasy Fountain

When Redding’s intense summer heat kicks in and your kids need to cool down, take them to Fantasy Fountain.

Located in Enterprise Park, Fantasy Fountain is a free small water spray park where kids can have fun with the multiple water features.

Fantasy Fountain’s main attraction is its water volcano.

While your kids play in the water and cool down on the imitation rocks, you can find a spot on one of the many benches and picnic tables.

If your kids still aren’t tired after playing in the water, you can also take them to the adjacent playground.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Enjoy the Clear Waters of Shasta Lake

Aerial view of Shasta Lake
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Located just 10 miles north of Redding—about a 20-minute drive—is Shasta Lake, California’s largest reservoir at 30,000 acres.

The clear blue waters make for the perfect spot to cool down and swim, all while enjoying the stunning view of Mt. Shasta’s snow-capped peak over 14,000 feet high.

The lake is also popular for its houseboats and jet ski rentals available at the many marinas and resorts around the lake.

The waters of Shasta Lake
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Many day-use areas, including Dekkas Rock, Fisherman’s Point, and McCloud Ridge, are open year-round to relax in for free.

If you don’t plan to get into the water, Shasta Lake is also a popular spot for fishing, full of bass, sturgeon, and catfish.

Boats docked on Shasta Lake
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Relax by the River at Anderson River Park

Just a 15- to 20-minute drive from Redding lies Anderson River Park, one of the best places to relax near the city.

Situated right along the Sacramento River, Anderson River Park is a peaceful oasis in the heart of its namesake city.

It's a sizable park that has plenty of activities, such as disc golf and the occasional community events hosted by Anderson, which usually take place at its amphitheater.

While it can get busy with families during the weekends, Anderson River Park is a great place to relax if you visit on a dead day.

While equipped with plenty of amenities, the park's natural area is thriving, thanks to the locals' conservation efforts.

Explore the Powerhouse at Shasta Dam

Aerial view of the Shasta Dam
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Providing both beautiful views of Mt. Shasta and hydroelectric power to nearby cities, the Shasta Dam is a must-visit and is only a 20-minute drive from Redding.

A curved gravity dam across the Sacramento River, the dam has provided electricity to Californian cities since 1945 and has also helped conserve and distribute water to the Central Valley.

There are free guided tours of Shasta Dam all year long, each lasting one to two hours.

Waters from Shasta Dam
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During these tours, you can take a 428-foot elevator ride down to Shasta Dam’s base and even explore the inner galleries and powerhouses.

You can visit for the whole day and picnic and cycle on the lawns and trails adjacent to the dam.

The structure of Shasta Dam
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Final Thoughts

Redding is a fantastic tourist spot in northern California that deserves its own dedicated itinerary.

It’s packed full of free things to do, particularly ones focused on the outdoors.

Furthermore, there are many free city attractions, such as art galleries and state parks.

A great place to save some travel expenses, this list of the free things to do in Redding, California, is sure to excite any adventurer.

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