Ashland is the artistic and cultural hub of southern Oregon. It is situated in the Rogue Valley and is bestowed with endless greenery and natural beauty. Ashland has majestic mountain ranges, dense forests, breath-taking lakes, broad crystalline rivers, beautiful creeks, magical waterfalls, and a countless variety of wildlife which provide access to numerous outdoor recreational activities. This city also hosts festivals and cultural programs consistently all year round. This beautiful city is undoubtedly one of the best travel destinations on the globe.
The following is a list of the top 21 things to do while you’re visiting Ashland…
Catch a Show at Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival dates back to 1935 and is one of the biggest events in Ashland. This 8 and a half month long event features 11 plays from both classical as well as contemporary playwrights. Offering close to 800 plays annually, this event attracts about 400,000 visitors each year. It is scheduled from February to October with spectacular performances 6 days a week. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is on every tourist’s itinerary in Ashland.
Explore Lithia Park
This 100 acre park with sprawling natural beauty is one of the top tourist hotspots in Ashland. This historic park features Ashland’s creek, centuries old historical landmarks, a Japanese garden, picnic spots, duck ponds, tennis courts, an ice staking rink, a volleyball court, a rose garden, and miles long hiking trails through the woods. It gets its name from lithium oxide which is present in the waters of the mesmerising Ashland’s Creek. The park was built on the site of Ashland’s first building, a 19th century flourmill. Lithia park is a must-visit in this city.
Visit Schneider Museum of Art
This contemporary art museum is affiliated to the Oregon Centre for the Arts. It has a rotating exhibition as well as a permanent collection of thought-provoking art. The museum displays art works by various well-known artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. Entry to the museum is free for everyone and it is open throughout the year. Guided tours are provided on Tuesdays through prior registration.
Trip to Emigrant Lake County Park
This lake is located 6.5 miles ( 10.5 kilometres) from Ashland. It is a popular site for various kinds of outdoor recreational activities such as, camping, rock climbing, fishing, boating, swimming, picnicking, kayaking, hiking, and bonfires. The park has a 300-foot waterslide, several camping sites, a playground, picnic tables, and a snack bar. The lake’s site has two camping areas, RV park and Oak Slope Campground. The former is meant only for Recreational Vehicles and is open throughout the year for a charge of USD 35 per night. The latter offers a more natural camping experience and is open from March to October for a cost of USD 22 per night. Camp here and experience southern Oregon’s breath-taking natural beauty.
Cool Off in the Rogue River
The Rogue River provides countless opportunities for a broad array of water adventures such as, white water rafting, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, boating, and more. These recreational water sports let you experience the incredible Rogue valley wilderness. The river offers magnificent views of richly forested surroundings and crystalline water. Tourist-preferred businesses providing these water sports services are Noah’s River Adventures , Momentum River Expeditions, and Indigo Creek Outfitters.
Visit ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum
This museum aims to help its visitors learn various science concepts through a multitude of fun, innovative, and interactive methods. It caters to all age groups and tries to make learning easy by using practical demonstrations and entertaining activities. They have close to a 100 exhibits. ScienceWorks also offers educational programs and hosts events and parties. This is a great place to visit if you’re travelling with family.
Winter Fun at Mount Ashland
Mt. Ashland is the highest peak in the Siskiyou mountain range. The Mt. Ashland ski area is located 20.4 miles ( 32.8 kilometres) from Ashland city. In winters, it provides great opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, snowshoeing, sledding, cross country skiing, snow hiking, and many more winter recreation activities. In summers, this becomes a popular destination for weddings, reunions, hiking, and star gazing. This place offers picturesque views in all four seasons.
Ashland is world-renowned for its wine. Wine touring is one of the most popular tourist activities in this city. Enjoy a relaxing day exploring vineyards and tasting delicious wine. The best wine tours in Ashland are provided by Main Street Adventure Tours, Wine Hopper Tours, Dana Campbell Vineyards, The Oregon Wine and Farm Tour, and Bravo Outings.
Ashland has a multitude of invigorating hiking trails that let you experience the region’s vast wilderness. The Lithia Park hillside trail is a 5 miles long uphill hiking trail which features a swimming hole, a beautiful creek, towering trees, granite boulders, turkeys, and a herd of deer on the way. It offers stunning views of the wide array of Ashland’s flora and fauna.
The Grizzly Peak Trail is 6 miles long and the trailhead is 12 miles (19.3 kilometres) from Ashland city. The hiking path is covered with brightly-coloured wild flowers in summers, pine trees, and fir trees. The summit has magnificent and unparalleled views of the Cascade Mountain range, Ashland city, Mount Shasta, and the region’s sprawling greenery.
The White Rabbit Trail is 5 miles long and offers panaromic views of the richly forested Rogue Valley. This trail traverses the Siskiyou mountain range. Other popular hiking trails include Oredson Todd Woods, Alice in Wonderland trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail.
Stay Hydrated with Lithia Spring Water
Lithia water is natural spring water rich in lithium salts. This mineral water is known for its healing benefits and bad taste. It is made available to the public for through the water fountains installed in Ashland. There are two such fountains with Lithia water, one is located in the downtown Plaza and the other one in Lithia Park.
Stop by Ashland Artisan Emporium
This is a marketplace selling all things local. It is owned by an Ashlander and is close to a decade old. They offer a variety of goods ranging from furniture, paintings, home décor, apparel, fibre art, books, body care, candles, jewellery, glassware, and more made by over 200 regional artists and artisans. This is the perfect place to get souvenirs and a glimpse of the region’s culture. It is located in Ashland Shopping Centre and is open 7 days a week.
North Mountain Park Nature Centre
It is located by the beautiful Bear Creek. It has beautiful gardens, ponds, a playground, soccer fields, hiking trails, picnic areas, baseball fields, and softball fields. The creek is a home to several turtles, fishes, and ducks. This is a perfect place for a nice summer’s picnic, hiking, and swimming. The grounds are open everyday from dawn to dusk and the nature centre is open on weekdays from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.
Drive to Crater Lake National Park
It is located 77 miles (124 kilometres) from Ashland city and it takes around 1.50 hours to reach there by drive. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in entire southern Oregon and attracts several thousands of visitors each year. This is deepest and clearest lake in the whole country. It is also one of the deepest lakes of the world and is known for its deep blue and crystalline waters. The lake was formed about 7700 years ago when a mountain collapsed after a volcanic eruption forming a crater which was later filled by rains and melting snow. The area offers great scope for various recreational activities such as camping, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, cross country-skiing, cycling. Swimming is possible only in designated areas. The hiking trails provide surreal panaromic views of the lake and the gorgeous sunsets. This is a must-visit tourist spot of this region.
Browse Art at the Gathering Glass Studio
This is a glass art gallery by Keith Gabor. It not only exhibits the works of art by the owner but also provides lessons and demonstrations relating to the process of glassblowing. The studio also takes customised orders from visitors. This is a tourist-loved spot which provides an enjoyable learning experience.
Stay at Ashland Springs Hotel
This historic hotel dates back to 1925 and is located less than half a mile away from Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Formerly named as the Lithia Springs Hotel, it is a well-recognised landmark in southern Oregon. It is a three-star hotel offering scenic views of Ashland and the surrounding magnificent mountain ranges. The rooms are exceptionally clean and aesthetically pleasing. Other popular places to stay in Ashland include Ashland Hills and Suites, The Winchester Inn, Plaza Inn & Suites, The Peerless Hotel, Lithia Springs Resort, and Best Western Windsor Inn.
Visit Oregon Centre for the Arts
This centre is a division of the Southern Oregon University. It organises various artistic live performances throughout the year in Ashland, such as, musical concerts, plays, short film screenings, and more. These events are very popular among Ashlanders as well as tourists.
Attend Ashland Culinary Festival
This festival takes place every year for 4 days in November. It aims to celebrate southern Oregon’s chefs, wine makers, restaurants, brewers, chocolatiers, and farmers. It is participated by the regional culinary professionals, restaurants, and culinary students. It includes events such as, junior chef competition, local restaurant cook-offs, mixology competition, top chef competition, wine tours, award celebrations, and more. The first fest took place in 2007. It is a fun-filled learning and entertaining event which attracts tourists and locals alike.
Shop at Lithia Artisans Market
This is a weekend outdoor artisans’ market located close to Lithia Park in downtown Ashland. It has over 35 stalls selling handcrafted jewellery, pottery, glasswork, fibre art, home décor, photographs, sketches by regional artists and artisans. It also features live music and live sketches. The market is open on every Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm and on Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm from March to October.
Enjoy a Cabaret Act
Oregon Cabaret Theatre is located in a renovated 20th century church, popularly known as “the Old Pink Church”, in downtown Ashland. The theatre dates back to 1986 and currently presents close to 300 performances annually by extremely talented artists. Open from February to December, this theatre schedules 6 shows per week. This is the perfect spot for a wonderful evening’s entertainment and delicious food.
Watch a Movie Marathon
Ashland Independent Film Festival is organised every year in April for 5 days. It presents over a 100 domestic and international short films, documentaries, and features. The festival is hosted at three venues, namely, the Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory, and the Ashland Street Cinemas. Every year thousands of movie fanatics flock to these theatres to attend this event. The festival includes Q&A sessions with producers and directors, award ceremonies, and several parties. Another popular film festival in Ashland is Varsity World Film Week which takes place for 7 days in October.
Sink your fork into Delicious Delicacies
Popular diners and restaurants in Ashland include Greenleaf Restaurant, Peerless Restaurant and Bar, Alchemy Restaurant and Bar, Larks Home Kitchen Cusine, Smithfields Restaurant and Bar, Caldera Brewery and Restaurant, Martolli’s Hand Tossed Pizza, Amuse Restaurant.
Don’t forget to try out the famous breakfast at Morning Glory Restaurant.
Alchemy Restaurant was voted as one of the top 100 American restaurants by OpenTable in the year 2015. It is located very close to Oregon Shakespeare Festival and is known for using locally-sourced ingredients. Smithfields Restaurant and Bar is renowned for its incredibly delicious non-vegetarian dishes.