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Have you heard of Redding, California? Aside from the summer 2018 wildfires, probably not. When many people think of the Golden State, San Francisco, Napa and Los Angeles come to mind. Then there’s the misconception that Northern California begins and ends with the San Francisco Bay Area. But some 200 miles north of San Francisco lies one of California’s best kept secrets—Redding and Shasta County. A treasure trove of natural wonders, the region is billing itself as UpState CA. Here’s why you’ll soon be hearing that name more often.

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Photo courtesy of Visit Redding

It’s as pretty as California gets

In Shasta County, there’s plenty to put in the spotlight. First and foremost, Mother Nature is the star attraction. There are five national and six state parks in and around Redding including more than 225 miles of trails ideal for biking, walking and hiking—all within a 15-mile radius. You’ll have your pick of water-fueled fun like kayaking, standup paddle boarding, water skiing, sailing, swimming, boating and fishing at spots like Whiskeytown (which was significantly damaged by the wildfires) and Shasta Lakes.

Lassen Volcanic National Park | Photo courtesy of Visit Redding

It causes visitors to erupt with joy

And then there’s Lassen Volcanic National Park, the only place in the universe where you’ll find all four types of volcanoes—shield, plug dome, cinder cone and composite. The mountain scenery is magical and sets the stage for numerous walks and hikes. Another plus is that Lassen hasn’t yet been overrun with tourists like other National Parks. It’s all about the serenity, especially at Summit and Manzanita Lakes, where the clean air unclogs the brain. Be sure to see the Sulphur Works with its boiling mudpots and steam vents. You can view it safely from the sidewalk.

Photo courtesy of Visit Redding

The underground scene is amazing

Get your geologic groove on with a two-hour tour of the Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark. Ride a catamaran across Shasta Lake, likely to be the greenest water you’ve ever seen. Once ashore, ride a bus up steep, windy roads to the caverns, home to limestone caves that have been called some of the most beautiful in the U.S.

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MCCloud Middle Water Falls in McCloud California | Photo courtesy of Visit Redding

It’s falls are worth falling for

The region, though, is much beloved because it is a waterfall wonderland. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park’s waterfall pumps more than 100 gallons of water daily down a 129-foot drop. You will just stare in amazement or do like many people and at least dip your feet in, or like bolder ones go for a quick plunge. If you have time, there are Lower McCloud Falls, Middle McCloud Falls and Hedge Creek Falls among others.

Sundial Bridge | Photo courtesy of Visit Redding

It packs a mighty entertainment punch

Redding, with just over 91,000 residents, may be a small town, but it serves up big fun, be it Waterworks Park, Oasis Fun Center, Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Schreder Planetarium, Shasta Rock Club (a rock climbing facility), or the Rare Air Trampoline Park. While you won’t find wild nightlife comparable to Los Angeles or San Francisco, you can find casinos, live music, breweries and wine bars.

The dining scene is farm-to-fabulous

Moseley Family Cellars tasting room is worth a stop: It’s been voted the Best of the North State’s top red and white wines for the past two years. Beer lovers will want to hit Woody’s Brewing Company, a favorite of locals, not only for the brewskies but the garlicky tater tots that are straight up addictive. Redding boasts more than 300 restaurants. One of the newest is Mosaic, serving California cuisine at its yummiest. You’ll have dreams about the Mosaic Burger, topped with smoked gouda, caramelized onions, kale, tomato jam, rosemary fries and pretzel bun. The artisanal pizzas will do the same. Think innovative pies with toppings like grilled peaches, local fromage blanc, bacon, arugula, red onion, serrano honey and crushed chili. Moonstone Bistro is another hotspot. The fare is organic, fresh, local, with cage-free meats and sustainable line-caught fish. Indulge guilt-free, especially on fish tacos.

Photo courtesy of the Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge

It won’t bust your bank

Not only is good food plentiful, but it’s also affordable, much like the wide choice of accommodations you’ll find here. Reasonably priced hotels such as Oxford Suites Redding and Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge are recommended for a good night’s rest, and help make Redding not just an off-the-radar beauty, but also a bargain.

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Tagged: California

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Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl is a writer and editor, specializing in travel, personal finance, business and career topics. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, Money, DailyFinance.com, Forbes.com, ABCNews.com, Upscale Magazine, Essence, Black Enterprise and others.

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