23 Best Sights in The Far North, California

Castle Crags State Park

Fodor's choice

Named for its 2,000–6,500-foot glacier-polished crags, formed by volcanic activity centuries ago, this park offers fishing on the upper Sacramento River, hiking in the backcountry, and a view of Mt. Shasta. The 4,350-acre park has 28 miles of trails, including a 2¾-mile access trail to Castle Crags Wilderness, part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The excellent trails at lower altitudes include the ¼-mile Vista Point Trail (near the entrance), which leads to views of Castle Crags and Mt. Shasta.

Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark

Fodor's choice

Stalagmites, stalactites, flowstone deposits, and crystals entice visitors to the Lake Shasta Caverns. To see this impressive spectacle, you must take the two-hour tour, which includes a catamaran ride across the McCloud arm of Lake Shasta and a bus ride up North Grey Rocks Mountain to the cavern entrance. The temperature in the caverns is 58°F year-round, making them a cool retreat on a hot summer day. The most awe-inspiring of the limestone rock formations is the glistening Cathedral Room, which appears to be gilded.  In summer, it's wise to purchase tickets online a day or more ahead of your visit.

McArthur–Burney Falls Memorial State Park

Fodor's choice

Just inside this park's southern boundary, Burney Creek wells up from the ground and divides into two falls that cascade over a 129-foot cliff into a pool below. Countless ribbon-like streams pour from hidden moss-covered crevices; resident bald eagles are frequently seen soaring overhead. You can walk a self-guided nature trail that descends to the foot of the falls, which Theodore Roosevelt—according to legend—called "the eighth wonder of the world." On warm days, swim at Lake Britton; lounge on the beach; rent motorboats, paddleboats, and canoes; or relax at one of the campsites or picnic areas.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Mt. Shasta

Fodor's choice

The crown jewel of the 2½-million-acre Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Mt. Shasta, a 14,179-foot-high dormant volcano, is a mecca for day hikers. It's especially enticing in spring, when fragrant Shasta lilies and other flowers adorn the rocky slopes. A paved road, the Everitt Memorial Highway, reaches only as far as the timberline; the final 6,000 feet are a strenuous climb of rubble, ice, and snow (the summit is perpetually ice-packed). Hiking enthusiasts include this trek with those to the peaks of Kilimanjaro and Mt. Fuji in lists of iconic must-do mountain hikes. Always check weather predictions; sudden storms—with snow and freezing temperatures—have trapped climbers.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Fodor's choice

This pioneer of the microbrewery movement still has a hands-on approach to beer making. The Brewhouse Tour surveys production—from sorting hops through fermentation and bottling—and concludes with a tasting. The Beyond the Pale Tour delves even deeper into creating craft beers, Sierra Nevada's history, and the company's sustainability initiatives.

1075 E. 20th St., Chico, CA, 95928, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Tours (includes tasting) from $9, No tours Mon. and Tues. (bar and restaurant open daily)

Turtle Bay Exploration Park

Fodor's choice

This peaceful downtown park has 300 acres of walking trails, an aquarium, an arboretum and botanical gardens, and many interactive exhibits for kids. The main draw is the stunning Santiago Calatrava–designed Sundial Bridge, a metal and translucent glass pedestrian walkway, suspended by cables from a single tower and spanning a broad bend in the Sacramento River. On sunny days the 217-foot tower lives up to the bridge's name, casting a shadow on the ground below to mark time. Access to the bridge and some trails is free, but the museum and gardens charge admission.

844 Sundial Bridge Dr., Redding, CA, 96001, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Museum $18, gardens $5 suggested, Museum closed Mon. and Tues. (except holidays) early Sept.–Apr.

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway

Fodor's choice

The byway is a 500-mile scenic drive connecting Lassen with Oregon's Crater Lake National Park. The route's southern loop begins in Chester and winds for about 185 miles through the forests, volcanic peaks, hydrothermal springs, and lava fields of Lassen National Forest and Lassen Volcanic National Park. The all-day excursion into dramatic wilderness includes a detour north to 129-foot-tall Burney Falls. Note, though, that the Dixie Fire of 2021 scorched the forested areas along Highway 36 and Lassen National Park Highway near Chester.

Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park

Fodor's choice

Weaverville's main attraction is the Joss House, a Taoist temple built in 1874 and called Won Lim Miao ("the temple of the forest beneath the clouds") by Chinese miners. The oldest continuously used Chinese temple in California, it attracts worshippers from around the world. With its golden altar, antique weaponry, and carved wooden canopies, the Joss House is a piece of California history best appreciated on a guided 30-minute tour.

Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park

Built between 1865 and 1868 by General John Bidwell, the founder of Chico, this mansion was designed by Henry W. Cleaveland, a San Francisco architect. Bidwell and his wife, Annie, welcomed many distinguished guests to their pink Italianate home, including President Rutherford B. Hayes, naturalist John Muir, suffragist Susan B. Anthony, and General William T. Sherman. One-hour tours take in most of the three-story mansion's 26 rooms.

Bidwell Park

The 3,670-acre park straddles Big Chico Creek, where scenes from Gone With the Wind (1939) and Robin Hood (1938), starring Errol Flynn, were filmed. The region's recreational hub has a golf course; "the best urban swimming holes in California"; and biking, hiking, horseback riding, and skating trails. Chico Creek Nature Center serves as the official information site.

Bizz Johnson Trail

This trail follows a defunct line of the Southern Pacific Railroad for 25 miles. Known to locals as the Bizz, the trail is open for hikers, walkers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers. It skirts the Susan River through a scenic landscape of canyons, bridges, and forests abundant with wildlife.

Chico Museum

Immerse yourself in all things Chico at this small but engaging museum near Chico State University. Past exhibits have surveyed the city's American Indian legacy, its former Chinatowns, and area movers and shakers.

Hal Goodyear Historical Park

For a vivid sense of Weaverville's past, visit this outdoor park of old mining equipment, and step inside the adjacent Jake Jackson Memorial Museum. A blacksmith shop and a stamp mill (where ore is crushed) from the 1890s are still in use during certain community events.

Lake Shasta

Created when Shasta Dam corralled the Sacramento River in the 1940s, Lake Shasta evolved into a habitat for numerous types of fish, including rainbow trout, salmon, bass, brown trout, and catfish. The region also supports a large nesting population of bald eagles. You can rent houseboats, fishing boats, ski boats, sailboats, canoes, paddleboats, Jet Skis, and windsurfing boards at marinas and resorts along the 370-mile shoreline.

Moseley Family Cellars

The Moseleys make their wines in Redding and present them downtown, but the grapes come from vineyards as far afield as Napa, Sonoma, Lodi, and Oregon's Rogue Valley. There's usually a Chardonnay, and the reds include Pinot Noir, old-vine Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The tasting room, in an area emerging as a mini wine hub, occupies one of Redding's oldest residences.

Museum of Northern California Art

The Veterans Memorial Building, a handsome 1927 Classical Revival structure designed by a local architectural firm, houses this engaging museum of contemporary art. The focus is on works by artists from San Jose north to Oregon.

900 Esplanade, Chico, CA, 95926, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $5, Closed Mon.–Wed.

National Yo-Yo Museum

Spanning multiple decades, this yo-yo collection occupies the back of a toy and novelty shop. If you've ever aspired to Walk the Dog or venture Around the World, you'll find the museum a diverting brief stop. Highlights include the 256-pound No-Jive 3-in-1 yo-yo and comedian Tom Smothers's collection.

New Clairvaux Vineyard

History converges in fascinating ways at this winery and vineyard, whose tale involves pioneer-rancher Peter Lassen (Mt. Lassen is named for him), railroad baron Leland Stanford, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, the Napa Valley's five-generation Nichelini wine-making family, and current owners the Trappist-Cistercian monks. In the 1890s, the rambling redbrick tasting room, erected by Stanford, stored 2 million gallons of wine. These days the hosts pour Albariño, Viognier, Tempranillo, Barbera, Syrah, and other small-lot bottlings from grapes mostly grown nearby. The on-site chapel (the Hearst connection) has a convoluted story all its own. A second tasting room in downtown Redding was scheduled to open before the end of 2023.

Olive Pit

Three generations of the Craig family run this combination café and store, where you can learn about California olive production and purchase olive products, craft beers, small-lot wines, and artisanal foods. Sandwich selections at the café include muffulettas and messy-good olive burgers. Tickle your palate with a balsamic shake in flavors that include peach, fig, coconut, strawberry, and chocolate.

Shasta Dam

Road-trippers traveling along I–5 often stop at the second-largest concrete dam in the United States—only Grand Coulee in Washington is bigger than Shasta Dam, completed in 1945. The visitor center's 20-minute film and exhibits explain the engineering and construction, but even if the facility isn't open, the photogenic view north to snowcapped Mt. Shasta makes the dam worth the detour. The landmark's history-laden guided tours were set to resume by 2024.

Shasta State Historic Park

Six miles west of downtown and straddling Highway 299 lies the former town of Shasta City, which thrived in the mid- to late 1800s. This park's 19 acres of half-ruined brick buildings, accessed via trails, are a reminder of the glory days of the California gold rush. The former county courthouse building (whose exhibits include rare California landscape paintings), jail, and gallows have been restored to their 1860s appearance. The Litsch General Store (1850–1950), now a museum, displays items once sold here.  Next to the store in a wooden shack, family-run Shorty's Eatery (closed Monday and Tuesday) serves up good sandwiches and Filipino dishes.

Sulphur Works Thermal Area

Proof of Lassen Peak's volatility becomes evident shortly after you enter the park at the southwest entrance. Sidewalks skirt boiling springs and sulfur-emitting steam vents. This area is usually the last site to close in winter, but even when the road is closed, you can access the area via a 2-mile round-trip hike through the snow.

Trinity County Courthouse

Built in 1856 as a store, office building, and hotel, this structure was turned over to the county in 1865. It's among the oldest courthouses still in use in California.