Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Redding delights with fine B&B, great Italian food and a unique bridge

The beautiful Sundial Bridge in Redding, California, draws visitors from throughout the world. 
The Bridgehouse Bed and Breakfast in Redding is a unique B&B.

I'D NEVER SPENT time in Redding, Calif., but the opportunity seemed too good to miss when our travels took us to Mount Shasta for a friend's 60th birthday party.
Dara Engelhardt and Logan Engelhardt are part of the family
enterprise that is Gironda's Restaurant and Bar, a fun find in Redding.
We spent time on their houseboat, enjoying the water and their family, took a side trip to our beloved Ashland, Oregon, for an all-female production of "Two Gentlemen of Verona," and had a night to indulge ourselves before heading to the Redding airport for our flight back to San Diego.
Keller found a fabulous Bed and Breakfast, and I located a delightful Italian restaurant. They were only blocks apart -- conveniently -- and each equaled anything we've sampled in the Americas or Europe.
Who knew?

REDDING'S MAIN attraction is
Keller, in silhouette, pauses at the base
of the Sundial Bridge in Redding.
the spectacular Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay, which crosses the lovely Sacramento River in the middle of town.  Locals are rightly proud of the bridge, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.  Designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the 700-foot long steel, glass and granite walking bridge is a lively local landmark and a conduit to hiking and biking trails and the river's own National Recreation Trail, a 10-mile path running along both sides of the mighty Sacramento.  We walked a half mile or so, and enjoyed an Italian ice from a young vendor working her way through college to be a kindergarten teacher.
THE THRILL of finding a first-rate Italian restaurant near our B&B was as exciting as discovering the bridge.
In fact, our whole "Redding experience" was one delightful surprise after the other.
Gironda's Restaurant and Bar is a family operation and Colton and Terri Engelhardt have cultivated a loyal local clientele and a steady stream of appreciative tourists.  Their ambitious menu includes tasty appetizers such as crispy calamari and steamer clams, fried raviolis and artichoke and spinach dip (all fantastic).
THEN CHOOSE your entree from a delightful offering of pastas, beef and chicken entrees, pizzas, salads, raviolis and more than a dozen vegetarian entrees.
Gironda's, a family run Italian restaurant, is a huge hit, a real find. 
If you love Italian and homemade sauces, you won't do better in this part of California, or for that matter, in Italy! The eggplant parmesan was, the best we've had anywhere -- zesty, with just the right combo of veggie, sauce, cheeses and spices.
The Engelhardts maintain a family spirit which engenders loyalty, quality. 
Rich creamy desserts can be sampled, and labeled!
Cookie reads up on her next day's
schedule before retiring at Bridgehouse.

Artful touches abound on the patio and indoors at
Bridgehouse Bed and Breakfast in Redding, Calif.
SERVICE IS attentive but not intrusive, the decor and background music are welcoming and subtle and the food is superb. Happy hour extends from 4 p.m. on and we toasted with a fine, inexpensive carafe of the house red wine. Our servers, Katie Bramblett and Amy Pick, were cordial and helpful and although we arrived late -- and lingered -- we were never rushed.  Yummy homemade desserts include a classic tiramisu, a wonderful lemon berry mascarpone crumb cake and a creamy family recipe cheesecake.
THE NEARBY Bridgehouse Bed and Breakfast is a cozy eight-room, two-house enterprise run by country music fan Janelle Pierson, who has decorated her artful hallways and music room with signed posters of her favorite singers.  The homes are handsome and welcoming, appointed with flair and thoughtful regard for all the amenities one expects in a high-end boutique hotel.
REDDING IS suffering from a serious drought, like much of California, so the yards and gardens are dry.  Still, the lovely McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are impressive and this pretty town has everything a larger city offers, plus a small-town friendly feel. Parks, theaters, galleries, restaurants, mining and railroad history, flowers, wildlife and bird watching are plentiful, and nearby sites beckon, such as the 1945 Shasta Dam, the largest center overflow dam in the world.

B Bryan Preserve in northern California is helping save endangered species.
THE WHISKEYTOWN National Recreation area is eight miles west of the city and offers additional opportunities for water sports, hiking, biking and horseback riding.
Other noteworthy bridges include Stress Ribbon, the state's first significant pedestrian bridge.
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UP NEXT: Point Arena, California, offers the charm of a laid-back northern California coastal community, with an unusual wildlife preserve nearby. Come with us to the B Bryan Preserve which raises and nurtures endangered African wildlife.  We're about travel with a sense of fun and adventure.  Join us Wednesdays and weekends at: www.whereiscookie.com

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