15 Best Things to Do in Southern Oregon

Southern Oregon mountain view sunset
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Southern Oregon is a region where its past is greatly treasured through its food, culture, arts, and natural wonders.

This region flourished during the 'Gold Rush' era and didn't lose its old beauty even centuries later.

Today, Southern Oregon is filled with mesmerizing things that make outdoor adventurers, art aficionados, and foodies come back for more.

Its cities and towns have a vibrant art community of theaters, music festivals, art exhibits, and museums.

For nature lovers and outdoor adventurers, their untamed natural wonders are perfect for activities such as hiking, cycling, mountain climbing, camping, watersports, and fishing.

The region’s biggest city, Medford, is home to around 80,000 people.

The city is also the home to the famous Craterian Theater where most of Southern Oregon's music festivals, concerts, and plays are held.

The city is not short of trails, waterways, and mountains, perfect for outdoor activities.

So, if you're planning to escape city life, Southern Oregon should be your next destination.

Driving a car is the most convenient way to get there through Highway 101.

While heading there, your constant backdrops are beautiful coasts and beaches while the opposite side offers you cascading lush green hills.

To help you make the best itinerary for your adventure there, we've listed down the 15 most mesmerizing things to do in Southern Oregon.

Witness Crater Lake National Park's Breathtaking View

Crater Lake National Park's Breathtaking View
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First opened to the public on May 22, 1902, this iconic tourist spot in Southern Oregon's Kalamath County has so many interesting facts waiting for you to learn.

First off, the entire lake was the result of Mount Mazama's eruption 7,700 years ago.

Vidae Waterfall at Crater Lake National Park
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The volcano was once 12,000-foot tall, but the eruption turned it into a majestic crater lake that now serves as a national park and is inhabited with thriving wildlife.

The entire park is known for its stunning blue lake nicknamed by locals as the "Lake Majesty'.

A Woman Watching the Crater Lake National Park
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To have a perfect view of the entire lake, you must climb the Pinnacles Overlook wherein visitors get a bird’s eye view of this famous natural wonder.

Aside from sightseeing, the area is also very popular for skiing and snowboarding during winter while hiking and cycling are popular activities in summer and spring.

Paradise Island in Crater Lake National Park
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Set for a Food Adventure at the Great Umpqua Food Trail

Farm-fresh produce is what makes Southern Oregon a recommended destination to treat your tastebuds.

From fresh fruits, vegetables, gourmet dishes, and craft beers, the Great Umpqua Food Trail will never run out of delicious food.

Around 45 businesses comprised of breweries, wineries, restaurants, farm stands, and farmers markets make up the entire Great Umpqua Food Trail.

The entire food tour is pretty easy to get around as most of them are just short detours off of Interstate 5 located in small and very hospitable towns in Douglas County.

Be Amazed by Arch Rock's Bridges

View of the Arch Rock's Bridges
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Arch Rock is one of the widely-known tourist spots along the picturesque stretch of the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor.

It's located between Brookings and Gold Beach.

The natural rock formation with arches formed from wave-cuts will greet upon arriving there.

View of the Arch Rock's Bridges
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The rock formation measures up to 500 feet and is situated a few meters away from the shoreline.

It has a flat top and is seated beside a tiny island while further up north is a series of rock formations known as 'sea stacks' making the area more stunning.

Conquer Mount Ashland's Summit

This popular outdoor destination in Southern Oregon is best visited after the winter when the ice and snow start melting.

Mt. Ashland is located in Jackson County.

Its tallest peak, the Siskiyou Mountain Range has a steep elevation of 7,400 feet wherein hikers and climbers need to endure towards the summit.

However, you will be rewarded with a picturesque view upon arriving there with the view featuring the neighboring mountains of Mt. McLoughlin, Mt. Shasta, and Pilot Rock.

Despite its challenging trail, mountain bikers who want to have an adrenaline-pumping adventure can ascend to the summit and enjoy a downhill ride through Mt. Ashland's Super D Trail.

For those who want to chill and appreciate nature, they can bring a pair of binoculars for wildlife watching at the Pacific Crest Trail around Mt. Ashland's lower area.

Cherish Nature's Beauty at Table Rocks

View of Table Rocks
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A volcanic eruption seven million years ago gave birth to Southern Oregon's Table Rocks.

Due to land erosion after the eruption, it formed two distinct plateaus that have very unique formations.

To simply describe it, the Table Rocks are like two flat-top islands in a sea of green since it is surrounded by lush green vegetation.

View of Table Rocks
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It has an elevation of 800 feet from the ground and is located in Jackson County.

More than 200 species of exotic plants and flowers thrive around Table Rocks' valley including the dwarf woolly meadowfoam that is extremely rare to find.

With that in mind, visitors who wish to hike Table Rocks' trails or climb its peak need to coordinate first with the Bureau of Land Management for proper guidance.

Don't Miss the Lights and Sounds of the Britt Music & Arts Festival

The famous Britt Festival has a series of concerts, art exhibits, and music festivals year-round around Southern Oregon.

This nonprofit group is considered as the Pacific Northwest's most reputable performing arts festival every summer.

Thousands of arts and music fans around the Pacific Northwest flock to its various venues around Southern Oregon to join the festivities.

The Britt Festival is known for featuring famous artists, musicians, and celebrities.

What makes it a recommended activity is its casual atmosphere compared to other music festivals that are too loud and full of rowdy spectators.

If you're into orchestra and plays, Britt Festival also has a series of activities of them.

Treat Your Palate With Delectable Wines at the Rogue Valley Vineyards and Winery

View of Rogue Valley Vineyards and Winery
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If you're a lowkey 'wine connoisseur', head down to the Rogue Valley Vineyards and Winery for its famous wine-tasting tours.

Most of the vineyards and wine businesses there are family-owned.

This tourist destination is part of the Bear Creek Wine Trail that serves as the state of Oregon's most famous wine-growing area.

To start your wine tour, just follow the route that spans 21 miles featuring more than a dozen tasting rooms from Central Point up to Ashland's northern area.

Meanwhile, the Applegate Valley Wine Trail offers a longer tour with 19 tasting rooms stretching from Jacksonville to Grant Pass's northwest area.

Just make sure to drink in moderation.

Score Great Finds at Rogue Valley Farmer's Market

Southern Oregon is widely known not just for its iconic natural attractions, but also its reputation in agriculture.

The region is gifted with the perfect soil to grow delicious pears, water radishes, and grapevines that produce great quality products.

To enjoy all of these, visit the Rogue Valley Farmer's Market.

It's a must-visit place because of its inclusion on USA Today's Top 10 best farmers market in the country.

But more to that, it has a collection of 150 local farmers, growers, and food makers packed in an open-air market.

The farmers market opens up in Medford and Ashland from March to November annually.

During winter, the farmers market goes indoors from December to February.

Catch Trout in Klamath County's Waterways

View of Williamson River
Bobjgalindo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For those who want to flex their reeling skills to catch big trouts, then head to Klamath County’s lakes and waterways for fishing.

The Klamath Basin is as huge as Maryland, making it a very popular fishing destination for anglers across the country.

However, before casting your reels, it would be best to consult the locals in the city of Klamath Falls for fishing guidelines.

Gaze Upon Celestial Wonders in Lake County

If you have more energy to spend touring around Southern Oregon, don't miss the stargazing activity in Lake County at nighttime.

Lake County is a popular camping destination because of the stars that light up the night sky.

This vastly remote area is also the home to the Burns Paiute Tribe and is considered as the Continental United States' most pristine dark-sky for stargazing.

Astronomers, stargazers, and campers alike gather here to witness the milky way and other galaxies hovering above the clear sky almost every night.

Learn Southern Oregon's History at the Kerbyville Museum & History Center

The Kerbyville Museum itself is a piece of historic structure that the town Kerby holds dear.

It was built and opened in the 1880s.

Today, the museum houses a collection of significant items from the pioneers that first situated the town.

Also, it has an exhibit of Native American items, mining equipment, documents, and Vietnam War memorabilia.

Discover the Underground World of the Oregon Caves National Monument

A Sign at Oregon Caves National Monument
Acroterion, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you're looking for a different kind of adventure, try caving expeditions at the Oregon Caves National Monument in the city of Cave Junction.

At first glance, this popular tourist destination looks pretty much like other outdoor sceneries.

However, beneath the earth's surface is a vast cave system that's waiting for you to discover.

Inside View of Oregon Caves National Monument
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Majestic passages made from marbles formed through thousands of years of dissolution will greet you upon entering the cave system while entering mysterious chambers around the cave system.

In addition, family-guided tours are also available which makes it more fun for a family adventure.

The Oregon Caves National Monument cave tours are available seasonally from April to November.

Get Entertained at the Famous Craterian Theater

The famous Craterian Theater is located at the Collier Center.

It’s the most sophisticated performing arts center in Medford and in Southern Oregon.

It’s sophisticated because of its top-notch sightlines, audio, and acoustics that take the theater experience to a whole new level.

It’s also where most of the major concerts, live performances, and musical plays in Southern Oregon are held.

The auditorium can fit in 750 patrons comfortably while it can accommodate more for concerts and music festivals.

The Craterian Theater is also a witness to Medford's changing landscape which turned this small town built in 1883 into a bustling city today.

Get Mystified by the Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery

A Sign in Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery
James Wellington from Cottage Grove, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mindboggling would be the first word that comes to your mind when you visit the Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery in the City of Gold Hill.

Locals claimed that the area is surrounded by a mysterious vortex that makes everyone there standing in an inclined position towards the north.

Native Americans discovered this place a hundred years ago and considered it as a 'forbidden ground.'

However, scientists debunked any magic behind the place and concluded that it's just an optical illusion that causes the distortion.

Have a Closer Look at the Fluffy Alpacas in Alpacas at Lone Ranch

In White City, there is a ranch that particularly farms alpaca wool called the Alpacas at Lone Ranch.

Since alpacas are irresistibly cute, the owners Richard and Renate Gyuro turned their ranch into a tourist destination wherein thousands of visitors take photos with the alpacas.

Around 50 alpacas are roaming around the ranch freely.

What makes it cooler is that the ranch has its own alpaca ambassador Kimaree who greets and gamely takes pictures with visitors.

To complete your alpaca experience, head to the ranch's gift shop where you can buy sweaters, cardigans, and other garments made from alpaca wool sourced humanely from its resident alpacas.

Enjoy the Calm Sea Breeze at the Whaleshead Beach

View of Whaleshead Beach
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Whaleshead Beach boasts a mile of scenic beach area along the Oregon Coast Highway, south of Samuel H. Boardman Corridor.

It's the longest coastline along the corridor.

Its name comes from a massive rock formation a few hundred meters away from the shoreline called "Whaleshead Island".

View of Whaleshead Beach
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The beach is perfect for relaxation and a stopover for cross-country travelers.

Hiking there lets you enjoy the fresh sea breeze while the area also has several restaurants that serve fresh seafood and an RV campsite.

Step Back Into Time at the Jacksonville Cemetery

The Jacksonville cemetery holds historical significance to the people of the city.

This, as most of its first residents, rest there eternally.

However, the cemetery is a popular destination because of its location.

It is located at a hilltop covered by rich vegetation and mossy trees and will give you a bird’s eye view of the entire Jacksonville.

In addition, the headstones' carvings have their unique interpretation about the lives of those who are buried there.

Final Thoughts

From craters, trails, mountains, museums, food, and music festivals, Southern Oregon virtually has it all.

Our list is just a teaser of what Southern Oregon has to offer.

With seemingly endless choices of adventures and sightseeing, Southern Oregon is truly mesmerizing.