Long drives with children can be an adventure. An understatement, to say the least. Before having babies, a road trip meant throwing a bunch of clothes and junk food in the car, cranking up the radio, and taking off. With a toddler, a road trip is an intensely planned and well-supplied orchestration in constant entertainment. Toddlers do not bear boredom well. So every time we head up north on I-5 from San Francisco to see family in Oregon, we dread the 8 hour drive.
Then we discovered Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, CA.
It's rare to find an attraction as perfectly suited for both adults and children as Turtle Bay. The bridge that spans the river at the park was designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava who for some reason (apologies to anyone who loves Redding) decided to create his first American bridge in this random California town. The bridge is a masterpiece, and worth a stop for anyone who appreciates good architecture.
But the bridge is only one of the attractions here. There's a butterfly garden, a children's museum with an aquarium and various exhibits, an arboreteum spanning over 200 acres with gardens and flowers, and a play structure area with mazes, water play, and massive wood tunnels and slides. Plus, the restaurant is quite good, and if you're lucky and here in the summer, you'll catch live music on the patio.
A far cry -- and excellent alternative -- to the usual Burger King road stop.