Discovering the World
Ashland Oregon

Travel to Ashland Oregon

Ashland is the ultimate walking town! Stay in the city center of this Southern Oregon town as we did, and you'll have no reason to ever take your car out of the hotel parking lot!

Walk to the city's award-winning Lithia Park, the Oregon Cabaret Theatre, galleries galore, specialty shops, and numerous scrumptious restaurants and eateries.

And - if you've heard rumors of an Oregon Shakespeare Festival - you've heard right. Only now...

You may be surprised to learn that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has grown into an eight-and-a-half-month-long season that produces eleven plays per year in three separate theatre venues. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is so much more than just a festival!

5 Things To Do in Ashland Oregon

America's 1st Elizabethan Theatre by Wolf RosenbergAmerica's 1st Elizabethan Theatre
by Wolf Rosenberg

#1: First and foremost to do is the famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival!

Every year a group of us takes a little road trip to somewhere new. This year our trip found us in Ashland with tickets to Troilus and Cressida.

Produced in the New Theater, this
Shakespeare play gets a modern twist - it's the Trojan War played out against a backdrop of today's Middle Eastern conflicts.

While honoring its roots, the play managed to bring immediacy to the drama's theme: the futility of long drawn-out wars and their affects on the human condition.

Other entertainment options the weekend we were there included Romeo and Juliet; slapstick Animal Crackers; World Premier of The White Snake; the intertwined, Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella; and the 19th-century Russian drama, Seagull.

New offerings will be introduced starting in June of 2012 - find out more at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, then hie Ye to Oregon for an e'en well spent with The Bard!

#2: Bordering Ashland Creek - which, by the way, provides 95 percent of the city's drinking water - you'll discover beautiful Lithia Park, spread out along the natural canyon of the water course.

Designed by John McLaren, designer of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, it's organic in nature, offering a combination of strolling and hiking options, playground equipment for the kidlettes, bird watching opportunities, and also - historic sites such as the Lithia Water Fountain, Butler-Perozzi Fountain Terrace, and Upper Duck Pond.

Established in 1908, and designed by McLaren around 1914, Lithia Park - having fallen into disrepair along the way - was restored after the flood of 1997 to the centerpiece of the town that it is today and of which, residents are so justifiably proud!

If you'd like to see photographs of Lithia Park, be sure to visit our Facebook Album!

#3: Take a wine tasting tour of the area where the Rogue Valley produces some of the finest bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Malbec, and Syrah that you'll find anywhere!

Now admittedly, this isn't within walking distance, but there are four wineries within an hour's drive of Ashland that are worthy of a visit. Take your car (don't forget to designate a driver) or take a chauffeured tour to the following:

  • Weisinger's  Winery - family owned, boutique winery with a tradition of artisan wine making,
  • Ashland Vineyards and Winery - excellent yet affordable wines under their label, but also more upscale wines under the Shakespeare labels,
  • Paschal Winery & Vineyard, Talent Oregon - balancing the use of traditional and state-of-the-art wine making techniques, Paschal produces superior hand-crafted wines,
  • Roxy Ann Winery, Medford - utilizing sustainable land management practices to produce wines that are distinctly Southern Oregon

#4: Some of you might put this one in the Number 1 or Number 2 slot, but that's okay. Feel free to rearrange the five into your order of preference. For me, shopping is Number 4. For my girlfriends, it was Number 1!

However - that being said - Ashland has some mighty fine shopping available in its downtown area and within walking distance of the hotels, theatres, and park! Enough shopping in fact, to satisfy even you shopaholics out there! Come on, you know who you are!

We discovered many locally-owned boutiques and specialty shops which cater to the home chef, the avid reader, the fashionista, and the interior designer in us all!

Shops like 250 Main, Inc. (women's designer clothing and accessories), Bloomsbury Books (an independent bookstore), FlowerTyme (florist and unique gift shop), Kixx (women's clothing and accessories), Travel Essentials (for the World Traveler in us all), and Ashland Envy, LLC (a unique line of clothing representing the city's unique character).

#5: Explore the fine art galleries, artist studios, and unique shops of the Historic Railroad District.

Beyond Main Street, you'll discover the historic center of the city - the site of the original railroad station with its many historic buildings, the Historic Railroad Museum, and the many galleries and studios, restaurants and inns nestled among them!

Downtown Restaurants in Ashland Oregon

Winchester Inn & Restaurant by Wolf RosenbergWinchester Inn & Restaurant by Wolf Rosenberg

Upon arriving in Ashland, we delightfully discovered this year's trip organizers had scouted out and made reservations for lunches and dinners at various local restaurants.

Standing Stone Brewing Company featured six different locally brewed beers - we saw several Tasting Flights pass us by as we perused the rather extensive menu. With its rustic, industrial interior, open display kitchen for pizza making, full bar, and outdoor seating with Summer Music on the Patio, it's a fun choice for n lunch or dinner!

My lunch selection - There were many specials offered on the chalkboard, and I always think choosing one of the chef's specials is a wise choice. Since we were there in the Spring and Spring is artichoke season, I selected the artichoke appetizer with melted butter and garlic aioli. Yummy!

None of us ordered the Tasting Flights as we needed to keep our wits about us for some afternoon shopping!

Amuse Restaurant was a delightful discovery, serving up a Northwest-French fusion of delectable dishes created using local organic products. It's one of those places where your waiter surprises you with a little, specially prepared treat from the kitchen before you've even ordered your meal!

My dinner selection - The Truffle Roasted Game Hen (How many times do I get to have truffles - I ask you!), fingerling potatoes with truffle butter, and Italian kale were an excellent choice! Also, the Green Garlic Soup first course was amazing!

Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine is located inside the Ashland Springs Hotel (more about that later). Larks celebrates Oregon farms, orchards, vineyards, cheese makers, and chocolatiers by using the freshest local ingredients in the preparation of its comfort food meals from scratch! The name, by the way, derives from the Western Meadowlark - Oregon's State Bird.

My lunch selection - How could I resist the Kalua Pork Sloppy Joe (I lived in Hawaii for three years and enjoyed many a Kalua pig roasted in the ground!), served with Tillamook Cheddar and Cabbage Slaw on a Cornmeal Bun with Smoked Garlic French Fries on the side! Fantastic!

Beasy's on the Creek describes itself as "Texas Mediterranean Seafood, Steaks & Pasta." Beasy's was an excellent choice for our post-play dinner! The food was fresh, well-prepared, and exceedingly tasty, and the friendly, efficient, and often humorous service was a treat!

My dinner selection - I often like to order small plates or appetizers for my meal, which is what I did at Beasy's. The fresh steamed asparagus was a perfect accompaniment to the Spicy Pacific Rim Crab Cakes! Imagine my surprise when our friendly waiter also brought me a lovely cup of Harvey's Homemade Clam Chowder - just as I was about to say I hadn't ordered the soup (thinking it must belong to one of my companions), he said with a quirky grin, "Eat it, it's free!"

Winchester Inn and Restaurant - The name is a nod to the mystery surrounding the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California because in the 1960s the owners of Winchester Inn discovered that many doors in the building were walled over, stairs were hidden inside closets, and windows had been boarded up.

The Winchester Restaurant (which has since morphed into Alchemy Restaurant & Bar) was happily the scene of our Farewell Sunday Brunch, which we enjoyed while seated congenially in one of the lovely Victorian dining areas of the main building.

My brunch selection - Eggs Winchester (how could I not choose the dish named for the Inn!), which involve artichoke bottoms and spinach topped with poached eggs and béarnaise sauce. Included with the meal were tender and delectable fresh-made scones with a nutty compound-butter spread. An excellent choice all around!

Downtown Hotels in Ashland Oregon

Hotel by Wolf RosenbergHotel by Wolf Rosenberg

We stayed at the Ashland Springs Hotel on this visit, and I cannot say enough in praise! It's historic, it's elegant and beautiful, and when this hotel says, "We Are At Your Service," they truly mean they are at your service!

Located on East Main Street, the hotel is in the middle of the downtown area, and within easy walking distance of the Shakespeare Festival center, Lithia Park, galleries, boutique shopping, the walk along Ashland Creek, and gourmet restaurants.

Other excellent hotel options include:

The Winchester Inn - with its Victorian grandeur and luxurious amenities... This is an inn that has been lovingly restored, operated and built upon by Laurie and Michael Gibbs since 1983. Be sure to stroll the lovely gardens!

Plaza Inn & Suites - offering timeless style and modern luxury... You'll love the Shakespearean-themed decor throughout the hotel!

The Stratford Inn - offers clean, comfortable, family-friendly lodging at reasonable prices... Another family-owned and -run lodging option, the Stratford Inn endeavors to be your home away from home!

These lodgings all have the advantage of being central to downtown Ashland Oregon with Walk Scores in the 80s and 90s, which means no-driving-necessary!

Come back often as we'll be adding more trips from outside our little bailiwick here in Northern California. Trips like:

  • An Escorted Tour of Ireland
  • Cruising the Mediterranean
  • On Safari in Kenya
  • From Sydney to The Outback to Cairns, Australia
  • Cruising the Amazon and Exploring Lima, Peru

In the meantime, if you'd like to see more pictures from our visit to Ashland, please follow this link to our Ashland Facebook Album.

Please continue your exploration of what Northern California has to offer by using the Nav Bars in the left and right columns or by using the links at the bottom of the page.

Like what you're finding here at Discovering Northern California? Then please share with the Social Network of your choice.

And thanks for coming!

Related Articles
Our World Travels

Discover the World

Related Articles
Our U.S. Travels

Discover Ashland, Oregon

Related Articles
California's Central Valley

Central Valley
Fresno County

Related Articles
Gold Country

Calaveras County
CA Gold Rush

Related Pages
Wine Country

Napa County
Sonoma County