On day 2 of our trip we covered 170 miles, traveling from Sacramento to Redding. Many would argue that this is one of the most boring stretches of I-5 but we found plenty to do. Here are six highlights from our day:
1) California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento.
We started our day at this museum in Old Town. We took our kids here about two years ago, when my son was 3 years old and obsessed with Thomas the Train. Now that my kids are older, ages 5 and 7, they’re actually interested in the stories behind the dozens of trains housed here.
Our favorite story was about the No. 1 Gov. Stanford, a 40-ton wood-burning steam locomotive that was the pioneer engine of the Central Pacific Railroad. It was built in 1862, then disassembled, put in crates and shipped around Cape Horn from Boston to San Francisco.
A docent named Glenn explained that the steam locomotive was retired in 1895 and eventually put on display at Stanford University. During World War II, trains were being turned into scrap metal but someone had the sense to hide the Gov. Stanford behind a brick wall in a warehouse. Today, this beautifully restored engine is the first train you encounter inside the museum.
2) Granzella’s Williams, Calif.
In 2007, this popular family-owned Italian restaurant and deli, an hour north of Sacramento, burned to the ground. It recently reopened and many travelers argue that the newer, shinier version lacks the charm of the original old wood building. But this isn’t stopping people from pulling off the freeway because when we visited on Saturday afternoon, I could hardly find a parking spot.
The Reuben sandwich my husband and I shared was delicious. It was layered with corned beef, sauerkraut, peppers, and melted Swiss cheese. My kids sandwich was stuffed with thick slices of peppery salami.
3) Hot Rod Show, Williams, Calif.
Downtown Williams, where we stopped for lunch at Granzella’s, was hosting a Hot Rod Show. We walked along the main drag lined with an array of eye-popping cars.
4) Sundial Bridge, Redding, Calif.
This ultramodern $23 million bridge designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava spans the Sacramento River, and it’s breathtaking.
We stopped by in the afternoon (pictured) and later returned in the evening when a jazz band was playing at a cafe overlooking the bridge. The sounds of Miles Davis could be heard clear across the other side of the bridge. The night was warm and muggy, yet the Trinity Alps in the distance were capped with snow. Swarms of swallows were circling the bridge, and a parade of Indian men wearing suits and women wearing gorgeous saris were walking across the bridge on their way to a wedding. Let’s just say that we didn’t feel as if we were in Redding.
5) Damburger, Redding, Calif.
In 1938, Bud Pennington had the enterprising idea to sell hamburgers from a tent outside the hiring hall for the construction of Shasta Dam. He was 18 years old. At that time customers could buy a “Damburger,” a piece of pie and a cup of coffee for 25 cents.
Today, his business lives on at this restaurant, where the hamburgers are pounded flat like a pancake and cooked until the edges are crispy. My daughter said, “It tastes like bacon.”
Hours in car: 3
- Breakfast: free at hotel
- Lunch: $14.63 (Granzella’s)
- Dinner: $25 (Damburger)
- Entertainment: $22 (train museum)
- Parking: $5 (Old Town Sac)
- Hotel: $115 (Best Western Twin View Suites)
- Miles: 290
- Hours in car: 6
- Expenses: $299.63