Turtle Bay Exploration Park
Turtle Bay Exploration Park (840 Auditorium Dr., 800/887-8532, www.turtlebay.org) is also worth your time, though it (along with the rest of Redding) gets blisteringly hot in the summertime. To escape the heat, spend some quality time in the Turtle Bay Museum, with its air conditioning, art and nature displays, Native American exhibits, and traveling exhibits and shows.
Turtle Bay gets great shows, like the Titanic history exhibit and Body Worlds 2. Much of the museum is geared for younger visitors, allowing kids to learn by listening, touching, and occasionally even smelling. Adults might be more fascinated by the information about California’s water usage and management—one of the state’s biggest ongoing natural, environmental, and political issues.
Outside of the museum, the Exploration Park includes the spacious McConnell Arboretum and Gardens, a 20-acre botanical garden that’s perfect for spring and fall strolling, though it gets a bit hot in high summer. Beautiful plantings and areas include a children’s garden, a medicinal garden, and two charming water features. Lots of butterflies are attracted to the flower plantings, so you’ll get to see swallowtails, monarchs, and many other species.
The arboretum is a 200-acre expanse of trees, and you can enjoy their shade as you explore the sustainable forest. The gardens have their own parking area on the west side, or you can reach them from the museum via the Sundial Bridge.
Children enjoy the play areas and equipment in Paul Bunyan’s Forest Camp, and one of the most interesting historical sites is the Monolith—a remnant of one of the plants that helped to build Shasta Dam.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition