I thank our guest writer, Lisa, for sharing her family’s adventures in Redding, Lake Shasta Caverns, and the Railroad Park Resort. We hope to copy her mini vacation very soon! Because of Covid-19, a few of these recommendations are closed. They will be noted below.
For a recent school holiday, our family of four made a two-night trip North and slept in a real train caboose. By day, we explored a science museum, playground, and the caverns at Lake Shasta. I highly recommend this getaway for Bay Area families.
For accommodations, we made a reservation at the Railroad Park Resort in Dunsmuir, CA. The Railroad Park Resort has renovated train cabooses, cabins, tent and RV sites. We selected Caboose #10 for our family of four (kids age 7 ½ and 4 ½). The largest ones sleep up to five people with a queen bed and smaller bunks.
Turtle Bay Exploration Park and gardens
We left Saturday morning for Redding, about three hours from Berkeley, to break up the drive as we couldn’t check in to the caboose until 3 pm. We ordered our lunch online for take-out at Dam Burger with the nicely-sized 1/6 pound burger, and then headed over to the Turtle Bay Turtle Bay Exploration Park.
In addition to the exhibits and the animal shows, we also walked across the engineering marvel, Sun Dial Bridge, to the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, which has a small suggested donation. We spent three hours touring both the Exploratorium and the gardens.
Pro tip: Turtle Bay Exploration Park has reciprocity with other ASTM facilities (e.g., UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science), so our entry and parking were FREE with our membership.
The Railroad Park Resort with our kids
Railroad Park Resort Amenities
From Redding, the drive to the Railroad Park was slightly less than an hour, and we stopped at a market in Dunsmuir for a few groceries. The front desk attendant in the gift shop was incredibly nice and helpful. After check-in, we explored the grounds which included a small pond, stream, outdoor games like giant connect four, and short hiking trails. During warmer months, there is a pool and hot tub to use, and the towel service is free.
Sleeping in a converted train caboose
Our sleeper caboose at Railroad Park had two twin beds and a queen bed, a full bath, small fridge, coffee maker, flat screen TV with free cable and wifi, and AC and heat. Book Caboose #10 directly via AirBnB >
Meals at Railroad Park
We made dinner reservations the first night in the dining car. You get a 10% discount on your meal if you are staying onsite. For simplicity and expediency, we brought breakfast foods with us and ate in the caboose (BYO dishes!). Our second night, we ordered pizza online for pick up from the Pizza Factory, about five minutes from the RV Park.
Covid-19 Update: Both of these recommended restaurants is still open with limited indoor seating and takeout available.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest with kids
Our explorations of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest kept very close to I-5. We drove up and down with Dunsmuir as our base to several attractions.
Lake Shasta Caverns
Lake Shasta Caverns is about a 30 min drive south from the RV park. We skipped some of the activities because our 4 ½ year old needed a nap; we decided not to take the 10-minute boat ride to the short bus ride for the tour ($28 for adults, $16 for kids age 3-15 years), but you might love it.
After naptime, both kids panned for fossils and gems in the Sandy Creek Mining Sluice ($9 per large bag- we bought 2 of each!). There was also a small playground and picnic tables where we ate lunch.
Covid-19 Update: The tours are limiting capacity but are happening, and are pretty great.
Mt. Shasta Fish Hatchery – closed to public for Covid-19
After our fun at Lake Shasta Caverns, we headed back north on I-5, a bit past the RV park, to feed fish at the Mt. Shasta Fish Hatchery. Open 7 am to 3:30 pm.
The on site Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum has peculiar hours (so please check in advance!) and we didn’t have time to visit. I suspect it would likely have paid big dividends in entertaining the kids for a small donation.
Castle Crags State Park – open for day use during Covid-19
On Monday, rounded out our long weekend getaway with a brief hike before heading home. Our gang took a ¼ mile hike to the vista point at Castle Crags State Park and then headed home to Berkeley with a stop in Davis for lunch.
How fun was this trip?! I’m hoping to use Whitney’s tip of leveraging atypical school holidays to plan my own family getaway. Thank you to Lisa and her family.
[All photos Lisa Sharp, used with permission, all rights reserved]