Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Grants Pass, OR

  • Published 2022/02/02

Located in the heart of Josephine County, Grants Pass is particularly known for its enormous variety of fun activities and outdoorsy staples within the area.

It’s nestled right along Interstate 5 and bordered by the Rogue River to the north and east.

Many unique parks and spaces dot Grants Pass’ landscape as well.

Grants Pass celebrates First Friday Art Night each and every month.

On the first Friday of every month, downtown businesses such as galleries and shops are open and throwing inexpensive yet free parties to celebrate the opening of a new show and to expose local art to thousands of patrons.

If you’re interested to know more about this place, read on.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Grants Pass, Oregon:

Have a Fun Family Day at Riverside Park

View of Riverside Park in Oregon

Rob7 24, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located at 304 E Park St, Grants Pass, Riverside Park overlooks the Rogue River and is a favorite spot among locals and visitors.

The landscaped paths are wonderful, and you can swing by the duck ponds, where you may see some geese and mallards.

Playing chess in this park is a relaxing experience for people of all levels and will allow your mind to rest as you talk with others leisurely.

View of Riverside Park in Oregon

Rob7 24, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Riverside Park is excellent if you want to enjoy large, well-redone lawns, lots of mature trees, sports fields, chess games, and fun activities to do with children.

Aside from being an entertainment mecca, it’s also very scenic.

Bring a picnic lunch or enjoy one of many family-friendly restaurants nearby, then have fun exploring!

Sip, Smell, and Swill Wines at Schmidt Family Vineyards

Situated on what used to be the old Bennett Ranch, Schmidt Family Vineyards is a family-owned vineyard and an excellent place for winery tours and tastings.

Family-operated since 2000, Schmidt Family Vineyards has been one of the most well-known wineries in Oregon.

They also serve delicious wood-fired pizza in their full-service restaurant.

It is a beautiful setting with lush, perfectly landscaped gardens.

Explore their award-winning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines while taking a tour of one of Oregon’s finest wineries.

They also hold free live music by a local artist every Friday night.

If you are looking for something fun to do on your vacation to Oregon or if you’re passing through and want to explore local vineyards and sample their wines, then make a stop at Schmidt Family Vineyards.

Visit the Wildlife Images Rehabilitation & Education Center

Wildlife Images Rehabilitation & Education Center (WIREC) isn’t your typical animal rehab center—it’s a place where injured and orphaned animals receive care until they’re able to return to their natural habitats.

Wildlife rehabilitator J. David Siddon founded WIREC in 1981 as a non-profit corporation in order to provide care for wildlife.

Since then, the center has expanded to provide educational programs to schools and organizations regarding conservation, wildlife, and the environment while still providing care for ill, injured, or orphaned animals from the wild.

The center is also home to an impressive zoo of exotic animals, including wolves, cougars, eagles, and more.

Some animal residents here have been released back into their natural environments, but many others have stayed on at Wildlife Images, including two juvenile owls who were born after their mother was hit by a car.

Conquer B Street Jumps at Loveless Park

Loveless Park is a small park, but it’s for many reasons much more special than all of the others nearby.

This two-acre park on the Northwest side of Grants Pass has an exciting play structure that neighborhood kids have been enjoying for many years.

It is home to “The B Street Jumps.”

Often referred to as one of the most famous hidden gems in town, kids come up here to enjoy the small playground and the beautiful off-road bike trails surrounding it.

The park features a play structure for children accompanied by some gentle slopes perfect for bike riding.

There are no public restrooms, but don’t worry — a short meander into the scenic wooded area behind Loveless Park will lead one to a peaceful creek, perfect for enjoying a quiet moment.

Unknown to most people, Loveless Park doubles as an unofficial off-road RC car launch sequence that sees just as much action as The B Street Jumps.

How incredible is that?

Fish at Rogue River with Travis Malone Guide Services

You’ve probably heard that there’s plenty of fish in the sea, but did you know that some species of fish pack a hardy punch as they make their way into your line?

Every angler knows that when you land a superbly spirited Steelhead, you know it.

It’s in the same way you feel your rod vibrating with the fight of a Salmon, or the bass hitting your line so hard she feels more like cod than a largemouth.

If you haven’t experienced it yet, it’s something to get excited about!

With over 23 years of experience and knowledge of these incredible fish, Travis Malone Guide Services can provide guided fishing tours to experience quality time on the water while landing one of these spectacularly exciting angling experiences.

Using local knowledge and state-of-the-art equipment, they’ll get you hooked on the premier Southern Oregon rivers.

You’ll be fishing at the North Umpqua, South Umpqua, Sixes, Chetco, Elk, Coquille, and of course, Rogue River!

Appreciate Art at Grants Pass Museum of Art

Grants Pass Museum of Art is the main source for you to come and enjoy various kinds of art from around the world since 1979.

They provide you with wonderful opportunities for learning and help in your self-introspection.

You can visit their office at the heart of Historic Old Town for amazing chances to learn about art pieces.

Their goal is to allow individuals from all walks of life to access art for themselves firsthand by offering museum exhibitions and other arts-related events.

The idea is to communicate the truth that art is a language people can all understand in its glory and splendor.

The museum’s permanent collection includes pieces from renowned artists such as Tracy Fredrickson, Judy Crum, Daniel Desmond, and Ted Demetriades.

Watch Live Musical Perfomances at the Historic Rogue Theater

Dating back to 1938, The Rogue Theatre is one of the only performing arts theaters built during the Great Depression.

It hosted performances from some of Hollywood’s greatest, including Marlene Dietrich, Spencer Tracy, and Clark Gable.

Today, The Rogue Theater isn’t just a place where you can live shows; they also host a wide range of arts in several disciplines like film, concerts, theater, and dance!

This beautiful theater is a National Historic Landmark and a non-profit charity organization.

Performances from past seasons, such as Robert Cray, Queensryche, academy award winner Billy Bob Thornton, and King of the Blues B.B. King were very popular with tourists and locals.

If you want a different kind of play experience than what’s offered by most big cities on either coast, you can’t go wrong with any production at Rogue Theater.

Revisit the Past at Schmidt House Museum & Library

For anyone in Josephine County, there’s a local museum that holds an extensive collection of historical antiques and artifacts.

Eager to share them with the world, they often sponsor public events in which they invite guests to check out their galleries of rare treasures.

The Josephine County Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and research of regional history.

It was a group of concerned citizens with a passion for the olden days who got together and decided to start the Society in May of 1960.

The Society’s Research Library is on one corner of 5th and K streets, just a stone’s throw from the Schmidt House.

If you’re interested in checking it out, the Josephine County Historical Society can be found at 512 SW 5th Street, Grants Pass, Oregon.

Find Fresh Produce at Fort Vannoy Farms

A great way to spend a day outdoors with your family is at Fort Vannoy Farms.

Fort Vannoy Farms began as the Crouse Farm at the end of the 19th century.

The land that comprises Fort Vannoy Farms is rich and fertile, with topsoil that is perfect for growing all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and other crops.

Fort Vannoy Farms sits in a breathtakingly beautiful location on the Rogue River, with mountains rising up on either side.

With a long history of farming experience, you can trust that their products will feed your family year-round.

This local farm offers a variety of fresh produce and plants, as well as U-pick berries and garden vegetables.

A large selection of pumpkins is also available year-round.

Enjoy the Northwest’s #1 River Trip with Hellgate Jetboat Excursions

As one of the West’s premiere jetboat operators, Hellgate Jetboat Excursions offers their service during the fall season and has done it since the company’s inception in 1959.

There couldn’t be a more perfect way to experience America’s wilderness than gliding inches above the water and enjoying 360° spins through sunny skies.

By working with your local Parks Department, Hellgate Jetboat Excursions cleans up the rivers to help keep them as beautiful as possible for visiting tourists by setting new industry standards.

For those who are not able to experience the river in a more conventional way, jet boat tours offered by Hellgate Jetboat Excursions are a great way to see Oregon’s beautiful scenery.

People who have mobility problems or feel anxious about traveling on water may enjoy the magic of being above the raging waters safely.

Now, under second-generation family ownership, they’re proud to offer you trained river guides who will make your trip in a smooth-running boat an experience of a lifetime.

Score a Hole-in-One at the Dutcher Creek Golf Course

On the west side of Grants Pass, Oregon, there’s a picturesque golf course created amidst the beautiful Rogue Valley.

Enclosed by the Siskiyou and Grayback Mountain Ranges, Dutcher Creek Golf Course is a delightful, 18-hole par 70 golf course that lies among open grazing land.

You’ll find all of this tranquility will encircle you but barely any other sounds besides geese overhead and your club striking a ball dropping into an actual hole.

Dutcher Creek got one of the widest open fairways you can imagine.

But there are some of those tree-lined chutes that’ll challenge your game.

The clubhouse offers everything from equipment to clothes and snacks to beverages.

And for those who just want to stop for a quick rest break, the patio outside lets you observe a panoramic view of the entire course.

For both the novice and experienced golfer alike, Dutcher Creek is a great way to spend your day out here in Southern Oregon.

Buy Fresh Produce from Grants Pass Growers Market

Located in Grants Pass, OR, and founded in 1980, the Growers’ Market has become a Saturday morning tradition for 35 years.

The farmers that attend this vibrant market bring the freshest of locally grown fruits, plants, vegetables, specialty foods, seasonings, flowers, baked goods, and decorative items similar to what one might find at a traditional farmers’ market.

The Growers’ Market boasts of being the oldest and also the largest outdoor market in generating fresh produce in Southern Oregon.

Here you’ll find farmers who specialize in crops, like asparagus and zucchini.

Take a Selfie with Grants Pass’ Caveman

It’s not every day that you stumble upon a small rural community with a gigantic Neanderthal as its symbol.

But Grants Pass makes up for it!

Years ago, Grants Pass was home to the Oregon Caves National Monument, which happens to be one of the most visited caves in the country, thanks to it being the second-longest in North America.

It’s just so cool that this place is where an actual Caveman Club used to come and crash public ceremonies uninvited before abruptly changing into roadside billboards.

That’s when they realized how much darn fun they could have while making great memories nobody would soon forget!

Dozens of professions, including those of four future U.S. Presidents – Hoover, Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan – drank “sabertooth blood” out of the end of a stuffed skunk to join the Cavemen Club.

The Cavemen phenomena in Grants Pass have spawned numerous other tributes to the statues.

In 1971, a member of the Cavemen Club raised $10,000 through fundraising to pay International Fiberglass to create a giant figure modeled after one of the Cavemen.

It took them around two weeks to complete, and it stands close to 16 feet tall.

Watch a Show at Barnstormers Theater

Barnstormers Theater is a non-profit Oregon theater that has been around for nearly 70 years.

Though they have a very small staff and everyone involved is a volunteer, they manage to produce an abundance of plays each year.

Mike Spooner founded Barnstormers Theater in 1952, and the theater has already done more than 300 plays.

It’s still going strong today, but it did stage plays in schools, parks, basements, and other venues in the past.

A season starts from August to June, where there are six to eight exciting plays produced.

Each season showcases an eclectic mix of genres: comedy, drama, family-friendly, edgy, classical, and contemporary.

Barnstormers also provide opportunities for community members to stay engaged by offering monthly workshops and a summer camp.

During such events, participants can learn all about the process of theatrical production from concept to stage.

Try Rogue Creamery Dairy Farm’s Cheese

Perched atop a hill, the Rogue Creamery Dairy farm provides a soothing setting for their cows, wading in the nearby Rogue River.

For those venturing over to visit their organic farms, you’ll be able to meet these excellent beasts and see them in action before they are taken on further down the line during the cheesemaking process.

Since its creation, Rogue Creamery has seen a great deal of national and global success.

In the 1920s, it was considered one of the most well-known dairies in the United States.

Today, nearly a century after its inception, Rogue Creamery cheese can be found at some of the most popular cheese counters and restaurants on both coasts, along with stores abroad in Europe and Japan.

While you can certainly buy its products at grocery stores throughout Southern Oregon and even enjoy tours and events on select days, the cheese factory boasts one of Rogue Valley’s best-kept secrets: free tasting.

As long as you’re willing to commit for a bit of a wait (upwards of 45 minutes during peak times), visit up to three times per month, know that a free tour is included in your trip.

Final Thoughts

Grants Pass can satisfy those looking for a unique vacation to remember.

Whether out and about exploring an engaging city or situated at the comfort of your own bed, you will be delighted by all that this fair city has to offer.

From wine tastings at famous wineries to riding a jet boat for a fun river trip, Grants Pass is full of activities and luxurious options.

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