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What Ashland activities do you recommend?

Ashland is our hometown, and we love it! I’m sure you’ll enjoy a visit. Without knowing your interests, I can tell you that we believe the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to be a must-do; this season of high quality plays and performances run nearly year-round and peak in the spring through summer. I recommend seeing at least one play.

Of course, Ashland is also known as a shopping and food scene, so take time to stroll around downtown (all very walkable) and check out the shops and dining venues. I’d be happy to give you specific dining recommendations, but in general, I always recommend Pie + Vine, Caldera Brewing, and Amuse. Lithia Park is located downtown, and is lovely to visit during any time of year. In the winter, an ice skating rink is a centerpiece, and in fall, the changing colors are magnificent. There are hiking trails and single track mountain biking trails connecting the park to a large network of outdoor recreation in the hills above town.What Ashland activities do you recommend?

If you’re wine lovers, the Rogue Valley has several excellent wine trails: I recommend the Applegate Wine Trail and the Upper Rogue Wine Trail. There’s also outdoor recreation just a short drive from town at Hyatt Lake, Howard Prairie Lake, or Lake of the Woods. We also have river rafting on the Rogue. In Ashland, you can book a day trip from Noah’s Rafting, right downtown. I also recommend hiking near Mt. Ashland, where the Pacific Crest Trail can take you right down to Callahan’s Lodge, a wonderful place to stay a few nights. Otherwise, for lodging, I recommend the Ashland Hills Hotel.

Answered by Amy Whitley, Ask Oregon Southern Oregon Expert on December 29th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Where do you suggest taking out-of-state friends for a wine-tasting lunch near Salem?

Lucky for you, it’s very hard to go wrong with any wineries in the Salem area! Here are a few fun ones:

Brooks Winery

Brooks has a wonderful blend of elegant wines and a welcoming atmosphere. It’s an absolutely gorgeous space with great views of the Cascades and a fun outside area with picnic tables and outdoor games. They even have local beer on tap if there’s someone in your group who likes microbrews more than wine! The only thing they don’t have is a regular food service — they have great cheese plates and they cook up wood-fired pizza on special event days. I would call ahead and check on food availability and perhaps bring a picnic lunch if they will not have food on the day you hope to go.

Ankeny Vineyard

Just south of Salem, Ankeny is a great boutique winery with views out over a local wildlife refuge. They have a cozy tasting room and a beautiful deck that’s great for relaxing with a glass of wine. They even have a friendly winery dog that likes to come say hello to guests. They have delicious custom wood-fired pizza, salads, and desserts available on the weekends.

Willamette Valley Vineyards

Also just south of Salem, Willamette Valley Vineyards is a much more polished and upscale wine tasting experience than the previous two wineries, though still not stuffy or pretentious (you’ll have a hard time finding an Oregon winery that is stuffy or pretentious — they tend to be pretty friendly!). However, they have a large and beautiful facility with views of the Coast Range, and they are also the only winery in the Salem area, and one of the few in Oregon, to offer a full food menu. Their in-house chef makes amazing dishes that are specifically designed to pair with their wines. Definitely worth a visit.

If none of those sound like just what you’re thinking of, visit www.OregonWineCountry.org or www.TravelSalem.com — both of them have lots of information on local wineries and should help you find the perfect spot.

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Coming from California with three days to travel, how much of the Coast can I see?

With three days on the Oregon Coast, I would suggest spending a good portion of your first day between Brookings and Gold Beach. The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor extends about 12 miles north from Brookings and includes several easy stops with rewarding views. My favorites are Whaleshead Beach, Natural Bridges and the Arch Rock Viewpoint, though if you want a great short hike, the short walk to Thunder Rock Cove is a great one and can be extended to Secret Beach at Miner’s Creek.

A great second day would include a drive north to Port Orford where Battle Rock Park is a nice highway side-stop and Port Orford Heads State Park offers great views along some short trails. You can continue north for a quick side trip to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse in a beautiful setting. I would spend my second night in Bandon where you should save time to enjoy the beautiful beach and its remarkable rock formations. Walking this beach is spectacular and viewpoints, including Face Rock and Coquille Point, are stunning.

I would suggest going as far north as Cape Arago by following the Bandon to Charleston Tour Route. There are three Oregon State Parks on Cape Arago that offer some of the best views and experiences on the Oregon Coast. Shore Acres State Park is one of my favorites, especially when the surf is up. The nearby Simpson Reef overlook is one of the best places to see seals and sea lions in their natural habitat.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on December 21st, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What are the top 3 places to snowboard in Oregon?

Thank you for the hardest question I have been asked… This is a tough one. Taking into consideration all types of riders, resort and accommodations, the top three — in my humble opinion — would be…

  1. Timberline, most historic and 1 hour from Portland: http://www.timberlinelodge.com/
  1. Mt. Bachelor, located in beautiful Central Oregon and the widest amount of terrain for all abilities: http://www.mtbachelor.com/
  1. Mt. Hood Meadows, most expert terrain in Oregon and just over an hour from Portland: https://www.skihood.com/
Answered by Asit Rathod, Ask Oregon Snow Sports Expert on December 16th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Are there hikes near Rogue River (the city) that reach an elevation of 1,500 feet?

I love your question! Like you, I must have elevation hiking, and I live near Rogue River. My Adam Sawyer has written a book on waterfall hikes in Southern Oregon; he also wrote a Travel Oregon story about specific waterfall hikes along the Umpqua and Rogue River.

You can also go the other direction from Rogue River, and hike at elevation around Mt. Ashland and Pilot Rock. My favorite hike is along the Pacific Crest Trail, which can be accessed at the Siskiyou Pass just off I-5. At Callahan’s Lodge, go right toward Mt. Ashland and you’ll see the PCT signage. The PCT goes north toward Hyatt Lake (lower elevation), but south to the top of Mt. Ashland and over toward the CA border. It’s a beautiful hike, and along the way, you’ll see a ready made shelter for you just past the Mt. Ashland campground.

You can also hike Pilot Rock (also a side trail of the PCT), which you can access within about 30 minutes from Rogue River. Get directions here. While you will need to be free of a fear of heights to hike Pilot Rock, even those not wanting to accent to the top can enjoy the views at the base. I also like Grizzly Peak, which is nearby of Highway 66. Get directions here.

Answered by Amy Whitley, Ask Oregon Southern Oregon Expert on December 13th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Where should our family go for a Christmas getaway near Bend?

Hello! It’s hard to say about the weather for sure, but there’s a good chance it’ll be cold in Central Oregon. Still, there are plenty of great places to visit. The High Desert Museum is great for families. The resorts Black Butte Ranch and Sunriver are also good choices. You can still walk the river trail in town and get outdoors. Smith Rock is a lovely place to see/hike. Plenty of great dining and culture too — holiday fairs at the Museum and Fairgrounds, and music and theatre around town. Seventh Mountain Resort is another choice — there is an ice rink there. Have a wonderful getaway.

What are the less-traveled agate beaches around Port Orford and Cape Blanco?

The beaches between Port Orford and Cape Blanco are, in general, less traveled relative to many other Oregon Coast beaches and this stretch of beach is known for good agate hunting. There are two primary public beach access areas in this area. Paradise Point State Recreation Site in the north end of Port Orford offers beach access as far north as Elk River. Cape Blanco State Park offers access to beaches both north and south of the cape. The beach north of the cape is accessed by a trail from the parking area outside the gate to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse. Be sure to check tide tables for this area since high tides can cover the entire beach in some stretches, especially during fall and winter.

In general, any beach adjacent to a cliffside offers potential for agate hunters in Oregon, but great agate hunting is more often determined by beach conditions and sand levels. Even on the best agate hunting beaches, rocky deposits containing agates can be covered by sand. Typically, sand builds up on beaches during the summer and covers rocky deposits containing agates, while winter storms loosen agates from cliff sides and strip the sand off beaches to reveal these deposits. This usually makes November to March the best time to discover significant agate deposits. The quieter seasons of the year are also the best for agate hunters since there is less competition for the prized stones.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on December 5th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Which wineries near Dundee are open on weekdays in December?

That’s a good question because several wineries cut back on their hours during the winter months. A few in that general area that should be open include:

  • Stoller Vineyard
  • Ponzi Vineyard
  • Sokol Blosser
  • Anne Amie Vineyard
  • Argyle Winery
  • Domaine Serene and Domaine Drouhin (both are across the street from each other)
  • Soter Vineyards is available by appointment and are definitely worth the visit!

You might also want to plan a trip to the town of Carlton (not far from Dundee). There are a few tasting rooms along the downtown main street that might be open. It’s a cute town with some good winery tasting rooms.

Additionally, the town of McMinnville has several tasting rooms in the downtown area that will likely be open too.

A good resource for finding out current winery openings during the wintertime is Oregon Wine Press. You can see an online version of the publication here.

And when you get to town most wineries carry the print version. They have maps of all the wineries and any events that might be going on that month, along with their current hours and open days.

Answered by Mary Cressler, Ask Oregon Wine Expert on November 28th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What is the best fishing area near Portland in December?

Fishing in the Mount Hood area can be tough in December because the lakes can be snowed in or frozen, however, Pine Hollow is a little east of Mt Hood and worth checking out.

In December on the Oregon Coast the ocean is usually too rough to fish and also December is our wettest month of the year so a lot of the time all the streams are high and muddy. But there are salmon and steelhead available. Focus on the smaller streams with fish hatcherys for steelhead such as North Fork Nehalem River and Cedar Creek. For salmon, the Wilson, Elk and Sixes rivers are the main rivers that have salmon in December.

Answered by David Johnson, Ask Oregon Fishing Expert on November 22nd, 2016 - Post Your Answer

With only three days to visit, should we ski Mt. Bachelor or Mt. Hood?

It sounds like you already have an idea of some of the best things to do in Oregon (skiing!), and you really can’t go wrong with either option, but I can offer some more details that might help you decide.

March tends to be the best month for skiing in the Cascades! We usually get quite a bit of snow in February and March. You’ll want to make sure to factor this into your travel plans and be prepared for snow conditions if you drive to Sisters or even up to Mt. Hood via Hwy 26. Bend is about three hours from the Portland area in good conditions, but it is a gorgeous drive over the mountains. Sisters, Bend, and Sunriver are all great options in terms of small towns with shops, good restaurants and breweries, though Bend and Sisters have a little bit more to offer simply due to their larger size. Bend and Sunriver are closer to Mt. Bachelor, which is convenient especially if the weather is inclement. I love exploring the little shops in both Bend and Sisters and I would be happy to recommend places to eat or drink if you’re interested.

If you opt for Mt. Hood, you certainly won’t have to drive as far and it would be easy to ski one day and check out the Columbia River Gorge for another day or two. Sandy and Government Camp are cute small towns, and Government Camp has some yummy food options and also the feeling of being in a real mountain town. For small shops to check out, I’d suggest Hood River. It’s a great town at the base of Mt. Hood and right on the Columbia River. There are plenty of quaint shops, cafés, breweries and restaurants, and there’s a nice path for walking along the river. It’s also close to both Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area and many of the best Columbia River Gorge hiking trails.

If I were you, with three days to spend after flying into PDX, I would probably head for Hood River and ski Mt. Hood Meadows, then check out Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge. I think you could do the most from there. However, like I said, you really can’t go wrong with either option!

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