Shasta State Historic Park
Head back in time when you visit Shasta State Historic Park. The park is all that remains of Shasta City – the queen city of the Northern California gold rush. The fully restored courthouse houses a museum filled with historical exhibits and an unparalleled collection of historic California artwork, and the old general store is still stocked with genuine items from the 19th century. The park’s rounded out with a historic cemetery, trails, and a row of half-ruined brick buildings that make for great photo ops! Don’t forget lunch – the historic Blum Bakery now houses Shorty’s Eatery, which offers a variety of sandwiches and snacks.
Once you’re done with Shasta State Historic Park, head down the road to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. The park’s a hub for all sort of outdoor recreation, but it’s also no slouch when it comes to history. Check out the Camden House – built in 1852 – and learn how pioneers Charles Camden and Levi Tower reshaped the landscape to create an oasis for many travelers during and after the California Gold Rush. During the summer you can enjoy ranger-led tours of the home’s interior, but the exterior of the house is open year-round. After you’ve finished exploring, head to the nearby creek and try your hand at gold panning yourself! (Gold panning permit and equipment is available to purchase at the Whiskeytown Visitors Center.)
Turtle Bay Exploration Park
Spend the the rest of your day in Redding – learn more about local history at Turtle Bay Exploration Park and have dinner at the neighboring restaurant, Mosaic. Or plan your trip to coincide with the annual Redding Rodeo (it’s in May), for a rootin’ tootin’ good time with plenty of western flair!
Head over to Trinity County via the Trinity River Scenic Byway, where you can walk in the footsteps of early American mountain men. Make your first stop of the day at Weaverville – this historic town still features buildings from the gold rush. While today they’re populated with cafes, shops and antique stores, walking down Weaverville’s main street will still have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time. Don’t forget to check out Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park, the oldest continuously used Chinese temple in California.
Fuel up while you’re in Weaverville, then hit the Trinity Alps – this area offers amazing hiking trails, and you’ll be able to see the same unspoiled views as the pioneers of yore. See lakes, mountains, and forests – the options are practically endless, and there are routes for all skill levels. Once you’re done hiking, head over to Strawhouse Resorts & Café for dinner and a multitude of lodging options right along the Trinity River.
William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park
For your last day head south and stop in Red Bluff to visit William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park. The park reflects the hard work it took to maintain life away from California's urban centers in mid-19th century, and still features the old adobe home and blacksmith shop from that time.
Bidwell Mansion State Park
Continue down south to Chico and take a tour of Bidwell Mansion State Park. This opulent 1800’s home was constructed by town leaders John and Annie Bidwell and was state-of-the-art in it’s day, with the era’s best plumbing, gas lighting and water systems. After you’ve explored the mansion, check out Bidwell Park – Annie Bidwell donated the land for what would become the State of California’s third largest municipal park in 1905, and it remains a highlight of the town to this day with acres of forest, trails, and swimming holes.