Fourteen Adventures With Dad – Make a “Daddy Date” (with Grandpa too!)


As Father’s Day approaches, dads and their kids are beginning to look for the perfect way to celebrate the importance of the paternal bond. Here in California’s North State region, the opportunities for family adventure, education and bonding are endless. Whether it’s exploring wild and scenic natural wonders, learning about the marvels of science and history, or just relaxing in that perfect setting, there’s something to fit every father’s tastes.

1.  If your family can’t get enough of trains and railroad history, you’re sure to find plenty of fun to fill a day or longer in the historic railroad town of Dunsmuir. Nestled in the Sacramento River canyon at the foot of majestic Mt. Shasta and the breathtaking Castle Crags, this charming little town is the home of Railroad Park Resort, located at 100 Railroad Park Rd. 

The resort’s lodging consists of more than 20 vintage train cabooses restored and converted to comfortable rooms, as well as six cabins and an extensive campground with RV hookups. Fine dining is available in the dinner house of converted vintage railroad cars, and don’t miss the 1927 Willamette Shay steam locomotive on display. “My son is 3 and loves trains,” said one visitor. “I decided to bring him here … it was pure magic. This place is great.” Visit or call (530) 235-4440 for pricing and reservations.

2. If you’re looking for a Father’s Day with an exotic flare, families needn’t go far to spend time with some of the world’s most fascinating animals. The Barry Kirshner Wildlife Sanctuary, located at 4995 Durham-Pentz Rd. in Oroville, offers guided or self-guided tours through its menagerie of exotic and domestic wildlife, including big cats, bears, birds, reptiles, canines and deer.

All of the animals are non-releasable and many have special needs or medical conditions. The sanctuary provides special care and stimulation for the animals while giving the public an opportunity to learn about them. Open from 9am-5pm, Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays). To learn more about Barry Kirshner Wildlife Foundation, go to or call (530) 533-1000.

3. Lake Shasta Caverns, located at 20359 Shasta Caverns Rd. in Lakehead, is an exciting educational adventure 250 million years in the making. The tour begins with a boat ride across Shasta Lake and culminates with a guided walk through the cavern, including lessons about its geologic formation, as well as its discovery and history. Admission is $24 for ages 16 and up, $14 for children age 3 to 16, and children under 2 years are free. Tours leave every half hour from 9am-4pm. In addition to an awe-inspiring tour through the cavern, families can top off their experience with a relaxing Lake Shasta Caverns dinner cruise on Shasta Lake.

For more information or to make dinner reservations, visit or call (800) 795-2283.  

4. For fathers who love the outdoors but prefer a more peaceful, sentimental experience, River Romance Cruises in Redding offers gondola-style, guided drift boat trips on the Sacramento River for groups of two to seven people. Three-hour sunset cruises are available seven days a week throughout the spring and summer, and include a full dinner prepared on the boat then served on shore. The cost is $105 per person and includes dinner. For more details or to make a reservation, visit or call (530) 222-2728.     

5. Golf families, and newbies too, will enjoy an afternoon at Aqua Golf where you can practice your swing over the Sacramento River. It’s a great way to combine the fun of a driving range with the beauty of the river. Aqua Golf, located at 2275 Park Marina Dr. in Redding, is open from 10am-9pm Monday through Saturday, and 10am-5pm on Sundays. A bucket of 40 balls is $5 and golf club rentals are available. Call (530) 244-4653 for more information.

6. For many kids growing up in a rural area, fishing trips with dad are a source of memories that last forever. What better time than Father’s Day to walk rivers or streams, hike to an alpine lake, get the boat out on a reservoir, or schedule a father-child fishing adventure with a professional fishing guide? You’re sure to bring home at least a fish story, if not a fish. 

7.  Rafting trips are a thrilling way to get out into nature, and upper California is spilling over with top-notch rivers. River Dancers in Mount Shasta offers exciting family rafting trips to fit a broad range of budgets and skill levels. Prices range from $75 per person for a half day to $630 per person for a 5-day trip.  

River Dancers also offer a very special annual “Fathers, Sons and Daughters” trip, held this year August 1-3, and guided by Marty Sochet, a licensed family therapist. Participants learn relationship skills as well as river skills. “Our trip down the Klamath was a wonderful spiritual adventure,” says participant T. Fletcher of his family’s experience. Tickets for this thrilling, enriching experience will make a Father’s Day gift that keeps on giving through memories you’ll create together. 

Visit or call (800) 926-5002.

8. Thrill seekers who prefer to get their adrenaline boost on solid ground can spend a day at one of several local paintball or airsoft facilities. These exciting tactical sports are a great way for dads and kids to bond as team members, or even as a way to take out some aggression in a safe and fun way. Prices and scheduling vary per company. Visit North State Parent’s resource page at for a list of local paintball and airsoft facilities. 

9. For dads who just want a simple, casual place to blow off some steam, rolling a few frames at the local bowling alley can be a nostalgic and wholesome remedy. It’s affordable and fun for the whole family. If you don’t know where to find a bowling alley near you, go to North State Parent’s resource page at

10. One of the North State’s most iconic Father’s Day events is Aviation Day at Benton Airpark, on the corner of Placer St. and Airpark Dr. in west Redding, June 15 from 7am-2pm. There’s no better place for dads and kids who love aircraft to spend Father’s Day. This free annual event features displays of aircraft: antique, experimental, ultra-light, law enforcement, and military. You can even take dad into the clouds on a helicopter or airplane ride for 15 cents per pound of body weight.  Contact Hillside Aviation at (530) 241-4204 for more information.

And for families that love to learn together, a wide selection of fascinating, fun and interactive museums can be found across the region:

11. Turtle Bay Exploration Park at 844 Sundial Bridge Dr. in Redding is a museum and more. The 300-acre campus features an impressive array of displays and interactive exhibits and activities focusing on science, art and history. The park is open Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm and Sunday 10am-5pm. Admission is $16 for adults, $12 for children ages 4-15, and $12 for seniors age 65 and up. Visit or call (800) 877-8532 for more details.

12. Bolt’s Antique Tool Museum at 1650 Broderick St. in Oroville is open seven days a week, Monday-Friday, 10am-3:45pm, and Sundays from 11:45am-3pm. Adult admission is $3 and children under 12 are free. This unique experience is perfect for anyone with a taste for knowledge about the past. The museum features over 12,000 tools and other antiques including automotive, military, woodworking, plumbing, kitchen, farm and railroad tools to name a few. Special hands-on learning presentations and guided tours are also available. To learn more, visit or call (530) 538-2528.

Daria Hardison of Modesto took her dad to Bolt’s Antique Tool Museum and said, “We had no idea that the Bolt collection would be so vast and inclusive of many different vocations.”

 13. Museums are the perfect place to learn about local history, and the Chico Museum at 141 Salem St. is committed to preserving the history of Chico. Catch a lecture and art exhibit or stroll with Dad through the pages of history; he’ll probably have some stories of his own. Visit their website at or call (530) 891-4336 to learn more. 

14. Just over the Oregon border in Ashland, kids and dads who love science are sure to be amazed by the ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum at 1500 E. Main St. This place has great hands-on science and art exhibits and every interactive station is designed to make learning fun. They’re open every day from 10am-6pm, and admission is only $7 for kids age 2-12, and $9 for teens and adults. Check out their list of exhibits and programs at or call (541) 482-6767.

With the abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities, community events and enriching educational attractions in the North State, there’s a family adventure that’s just right for creating a wonderful experience together. So get out there and take advantage of the richness around us. Make memories you can cherish for a lifetime – that’s what Father’s Day is for.  

John Bowman
About John Bowman

John Bowman is a writer, musician and father living in Siskiyou County where he takes inspiration from the mountains, rivers and communities of the North State region.

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