Serene Ashland, Oregon is famous for its city parks, superb dining, and world-class theater. This home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a beautiful place to settle back and sink into cultural delights. With its unique shopping opportunities, riverside dining, and the luxurious grasslands of Lithia Park, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in this small town.
Theater thrives in Ashland. The Shakespeare Festival takes center stage, offering afternoon and evening plays in three different theaters including the open-air replica of Will Shakespeare’s own Fortune Theatre. This Elizabethan Theatre seats 1,200 in a magical wonderland of Renaissance pomp and circumstance. Arrive early to hear the minstrels sing Elizabethan ballads, then settle back for the opening lines with a glass of white wine or an English toffee.
The Festival puts on at least three of Shakespeare’s plays every year, with two showing in late evening slots in the Elizabethan Theatre. The others—and a variety of contemporary plays—are shown in the 600-seat Angus Bowmer Theatre and the cutting-edge New Theater. There are behind-the-scenes tours available as well as views of the luxurious costumes and the Elizabethan Theatre stage.
After you’ve taken in all of the Festival offerings, you’re ready for the Oregon Cabaret Theatre shows. Ashland’s “other” theater company specializes in musical theater, revues, and comedies, all held in a renovated Baptist church. Once you’ve had your fill of plays and theater, head into Ashland to explore the quaint town center or to read a book near the pond in rambling Lithia Park.
Ashland has a number of excellent bookstores, boutiques, and terrific delis and European-style bistros. Whether you’re seduced by the outdoor BBQ joint or decide to take a picnic to a scenic spot along the river, you can top it all off with an evening of exploring the Ashland streets, admiring the roses and hanging baskets. You’ll find plenty of locally-made jewelry, crafts, pottery, and artwork in the galleries and shops. And be sure not to miss the Children’s Museum and Southern Oregon Historical Society’s original exhibits.
On the first Friday of every month, Ashland hosts an Art Walk sponsored by the Gallery Association. This is a terrific way to explore the art galleries, sipping wine while you view the artwork. In the spring, be sure to visit for the Taste of Ashland, sampling fresh local delicacies. You may also enjoy a walking tour of the town’s Historic Railroad District.
For fun in the great outdoors, make a day trip to the rolling waters of the nearby Rogue, Klamath, Umpqua, and Salmon Rivers. You’ll find superb river floating, inner tubing, kayaking, and thrilling white water rafting. These are also amazing fishing rivers.
Ashland is in the heart of fertile farm country. You’ll find plenty of hobby farms in the city limits and artisans making homemade honey, goat cheese, body lotion, and other herbals. The Rogue Valley is rich with farms and wineries. You can join Ashland Wine Tours and let them drive you through Southern Oregon’s stunning wine country or take a historic tour of the wineries of Jackson County. The area also includes historic orchards, mills, farms, and much more.