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Getaway Guide: Shasta Cascade

Getaway Guide: Shasta Cascade

Looking for somewhere to go near Redding? Towering mountains, lush forests, and a laid back lifestyle await in Shasta Cascade.


6 min read

November 08, 2022

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Towering mountains, beautifully lush forests, and a relaxed way of life embody the familiar feeling that surrounds you as you enter the Northern California town of Redding. An air of nostalgia wafts over from the Shasta Cascades to the riverbanks and along the hiking trails that make the region feel like home even during your first visit. This comforting, small-town vibe blankets Shasta County and makes it incredibly hard to leave.


Along the drive from Sacramento to Redding, the Califorian foliage begins to change and it becomes clear that the adventure has begun. The nearly three-hour journey takes you past endless farm towns, undisturbed plots of land, and unending beauty.

After spending several hours focusing on the road, head over to Gaia Hotel & Spa. Nestled along the serene banks of the Sacramento River, the hotel offers a relaxing experience you’d expect from a Northern California vacation. The luxe, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-the certified hotel has it all—from a hot tub and a heated pool to an outdoor fire pit and lush gardens—so it’s easy to have a rejuvenating stay and save the planet.

Day 1


Mount Shasta stands so majestically above the region that you'd never guess it was a volcano. As the fifth-highest summit in California, Mount Shasta is a magnificent site to see.

Lunch at Mosaic

With the bags dropped off and a short respite at the hotel, it's time to head over toward Sundial Bridge to try a local favorite–Mosaic. The eatery’s industrial-meets-farmhouse decor perfectly fits the town’s complex character. Modern architecture melds with wooden accents for an aesthetic that feels equally comforting and luxurious. 

Overlooking a manicured drought-resistant garden, the windows and the patio allow the dishes to draw your focus inward. A bowl of mixed olives and a plate of shishito peppers with smoked salt, freshly squeezed lime juice, and chipotle crema arrive at the table first, easing us into Shasta County’s fresh flair and simple elegance. Relish the chopped chicken caesar salad with shaved Parmesan and focaccia croutons for the perfect companion with the handmade mushroom pizza covered with Bianca sauce and a mixture of wild mushrooms.

Sundial Bridge crosses the Sacramento River and is an incredible piece of architecture. Visit during the day to see the turquoise tiles mirror the flowing waters below, but don't miss the chance to see it at night when the tiles light up.

Sundial Bridge

Stuffed from such decadent lunch pairings, and with Redding’s major attractions under your nose, the next step is of the most fitting things to do in Shasta County. Being in such close proximity to Sundial Bridge, there is no better place to continue the day. Spanning 710 feet across the Sacramento River, this bridge is one of the world’s largest working sundials and garners plenty of attention. Regardless of the flocks of tourists, the beautiful architectural feat is worth seeing. Sundial Bridge was consciously built to protect the salmon living beneath it and to also provide access to Redding’s massive trail system. Though the structure’s glass deck sounds terrifying to those of us with a fear of heights, it’s surprisingly easy to look past, especially at night when the panels light up.

Hike the Hilltop Trailhead

But the day is young, and the Hilltop Trailhead is just the right distance for an afternoon hike. At a 4.2 miles round-trip, this Shasta hike provides a steady 200-foot elevation gain on the way back. Sloping down from magnificent Shasta Cascades, the trail is an out-and-back path, dusted with plant life year-round. Especially beautiful in the spring, bask in the field of greenery punctuated by wildflowers and mountainous sceneries.


Back to the Hotel

Walking back to the car after such a refreshing outdoor excursion feels like a shame, but it’s time to cruise through downtown Redding, check in to the hotel, and take it easy. The deluxe bungalow will make you feel like you’ve won the lottery as soon as you sit on your private patio overlooking the river. The surroundings are so calming that it’s hard to believe the town of Redding is close by. But it’s really the spa that seals the deal. Transform into an entirely new person after a hot-stone massage and the rosemary facial, mani-pedi package.

If the manicured gardens and soothing water features around the Gaia Hotel & Spa weren't enough to make you relax, the spa definitely will. Add hot stones to your massage for an unforgettable experience. 

Day 2


Breakfast at the Hotel

Feeling rejuvenated from the spa treatments and a great night’s sleep, it’s time to grab a bite to eat before tackling the day. Heading to the hotel’s farm-to-table restaurant, Woodside Grill, you’ll be greeted with fresh scents of breakfast foods. While the avocado smash, and biscuits and gravy combo sound all too tempting, the Anderson Eggs Benedict is undoubtedly calling your name. Satiated from the lingering cravings, 

drive up to Redding for a cup of incredible coffee at Theory Collaborative. Sit on the bar stools by the window and take some time to unwind as you think about your next stop.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Sipping hot coffee, start your engine and stir towards Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, one of the California National Parks you can see for free. This expanse features 36 miles of shoreline, historic mines, buildings from the Gold Rush era, and plenty of space for water recreation. It’s so serene in these shrublands by the waterfront that the area feels akin to Lake Tahoe’s relaxed beauty, even though it lies hundreds of miles away. Climb to the highest peaks of the Shasta Bally summit and watch the prestigious waterfalls as you explore this unique park. Sulk in the freshness of the air and the divine view that is Mount Shasta. 


Shasta Dam

With several hours of daylight left, venture off to the next fantastic destination–Shasta Dam. The largest reservoir in the state, the well-known dam is built for the purpose of storing water in Shasta Lake and protecting it against floods. Take in the views, while in the fascination of the human ability to create structures so massive as to stop the forces of nature. But even more shocking is just how high up it seems as you stand on the bridge that crosses the dam.

Peering over the edge of Shasta Dam is exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. But it is the lake's beauty that overwhelms the senses. 

Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark

And with the jaw-dropping views in your eyesight, it's time for the most exciting spot of the trip! Highlighting the Shasta Cascades is the divine formation of Mount Shasta. Beckoning spirituality seekers, hikers, and paddlers alike, the volcano governs the entire region with its cloudy atmosphere. Adventures never cease to amaze visitors in this area which was mostly formed by volcanic activity. Discover the existence of a plethora of 800-plus caverns forged by tubes of lava–including the Lake Shasta Caverns National Monument Landmark. Enjoy a boat ride down the stream with a charming backdrop of scenery, and finally head to the ancient limestone caverns to explore the natural wonders of California.

Do not miss the opportunity to go chasing waterfalls - make a pitstop at the Mossbrae Falls in the Shasta Cascade area.


Dinner and a Show

After a long ride back to the hotel, a short rest and some refreshments can do the trick to recover energy and continue the evening with dinner and a show. While catching a show can feel off a tourist’s itinerary, it helps you soak up the regional vibes. Travel to downtown Redding to find Vintage Public House right by the Cascade Theater. A fuzzy and exciting interior invites you in, along with the scent of freshly prepared dishes floating through the air. And as hunger strikes, grab the starters from the menu before ordering the wonton-wrapped Gruyère cheese with mushrooms, rosemary, and garlic. Top it off with the roasted jalapeños, candied bacon, and chipotle cream cheese of the burger, and seal the action-packed day with the mouth-watering Cobb Salad. Stroll down to the Cascade Theater just around the corner to walk off your hearty dinner and catch an amazing show in the heart of Cascade County.

With much care and attention dedicated to preserving this auditorium established in the 1930s, the theater’s Art Deco interior is the epitome of SoCal's historic movie theaters.

Day 3


With the vastness of Shasta Cascade, it's difficult to cover the numerous miles of trails, caverns, lakes, and other natural wonders found in the area. But with so many stones unturned, another vacation in Shasta naturally unravels in your future plans. Hold on to the unearthly relaxation you have discovered this weekend as you pack your bags and hit the road. 

Spaning nearly 4,000 square miles, the Shasta Cascade region offers so much to see. Plan trips in the fall and spring for the best weather and smaller crowds.

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