Redding is Ripe for (Re)discoveryApr 18, 2018 12:34PM ● By Fran Miller
BY FRAN ENDICOTT MILLER
When planning a weekend getaway, many East Bay residents readily look to Carmel, Napa, or Tahoe. Even Sacramento beckons with its re-energized downtown and a new arena boasting the best in entertainment. But Redding? The largest town in California’s northern most region is not traditionally top-of-mind when plotting a little R&R. It should be. Boasting a multitude of recreational activities and only about a three hour drive from the East Bay, Redding is ripe for (re)discovery. For travelers who’ve never been, now is the time to explore. And those who’ve visited in the past will find themselves pleasantly surprised with the area’s recent revitalization.
WHERE TO STAY:
Key to the town’s reinvigoration is the new Sheraton Redding at the Sundial Bridge. The first four-star level hotel in the region, this beautiful lodging addition imparts a welcome luxe quotient and, hence the name, is adjacent to Redding’s most iconic landmark. This exceptional LEED-certified property offers stylish, lushly appointed guest rooms and resort-style accommodations including a heated swimming pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and creative family amenities such as tents and sleeping bags which staff will set-up in-room upon request. S’mores kits can be purchased at the front desk for use at the outdoor fire pit, and fishing poles are also available for those hoping to reel-one-in on the Sacramento River.
The hotel’s sleek décor is accented by natural wood, rich textiles, and creative artworks by California artists such as Healdsburg-based Bob Nugent who was commissioned to paint the lobby’s extraordinary 11’ x 11’ showstopper. The 130 guest rooms (including six suites) all boast floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the property’s lush grounds and adjacent Turtle Bay Exploration Park, from whence Turtle Bay animal ambassadors emerge on Fridays and Saturdays to greet resort guests in the hotel lobby.
WHAT TO DO:
Steps from the Sheraton is the spectacular Sundial Bridge, a beautiful, sky-soaring beacon that spans the Sacramento River. The bridge – designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava – is one of the world’s largest working sundials and is a day and night communal gathering spot for all ages. Steel, glass, and granite combine to create the stunning structure that alone is worth a visit.
The bridge connects the north and south sides of the also Sheraton-adjacent Turtle Bay Exploration Park, 300-acres of natural wonder including botanical gardens, an interactive museum, and a forestry and wildlife center filled with 64 different animal species, most of which are of non-releasable rescue status. Visitors are charmed by Spike the porcupine, Whisper the bobcat, and Sweet Pea the skunk. For an additional fee, guests can commune with Timber the beaver who readily hops into laps in exchange for treats. During the early summer months, wander through the Butterfly House and observe Monarchs emerging from their cocoons. Deck yourself in colorful lorikeets at The Parrot Playhouse, an interactive aviary where guests become a parrot perch.
Turtle Bay’s 200-acre arboretum is a peaceful sanctuary of native trees and plants. A one-mile walking loop trail surrounds the arboretum and directly links to the award-winning Sacramento River Trail. The botanical garden comprises 25 acres of Mediterranean climate display gardens, a children’s garden, a medicinal garden, two unique water features, and a seasonal pond that is home to many animals.
While Turtle Bay Exploration Park provides enough entertainment to fill a weekend, those seeking additional pursuits have plenty of options. The Redding area boasts a variety of winter and summer outdoor activities including skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, cycling, boating, rafting, backpacking, and bird watching. From your Sheraton home base, take an excursion to Whiskeytown Lake, Mount Shasta, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Shasta Dam, or Lake Shasta Caverns, a geological limestone wonder accessed via scenic boat ride across Lake Shasta. Tour chambers featuring multicolored columns, tall stone draperies, stalactites and stalagmites, glistening crystals, and limestone and marble formations.
WHERE TO DINE:
In addition to bringing four-star level service to Redding, Sheraton heralds the arrival of destination dining with its Mosaic Restaurant, named for the white mosaic tiles lining the Sundial Bridge. Mosaic’s talented executive chef James Vereb delivers big-city cuisine at this Italian inspired hot spot that has quickly become a favorite gathering place for both locals and tourists. The stylishly rustic interior is casual yet elegant. Two outdoor patios allow for view-friendly al fresco dining, and a private chef’s table permits guests to experience the full breadth of Vereb’s creative culinary artistry, which extends well beyond Mosaic’s tasty menu items such as artisan wood fired pizzas, shareable appetizers, hearty salads and pastas, all made with local, farm fresh ingredients. Mosaic also boasts a vibrant bar scene; enjoy craft beers, creatively crafted cocktails, and curated local wines. Mosaic is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.