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I’m coming to Ashland to see the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I want to check out some breweries, some wineries, some natural wonders…. I’d LOVE some ‘local’ (that is, somewhat off-the-obvious-path) suggestions of things to check out. -Kristin G.

You’re on the right track with plans to partake of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland’s claim to fame. If you haven’t already, see the Mail Tribune newspaper’s guide to the festival for news and reviews.

If you want to take in the region’s primary natural wonders, plan a day to visit Crater Lake, Oregon’s only national park, or Oregon Caves, the state’s first national monument. I always recommend both, but they are several hours’ drive apart. Here’s a recent story from the Mail Tribune to help you decide.

You could spend a couple of days on wineries alone. The Rogue region boasts dozens between Ashland and Medford, known as Bear Creek Boutique Wines. The Applegate Valley has its own “wine trail,” as does the Upper-Rogue region. See the Mail Tribune’s complete guide to wine tasting, as well as local wine coverage by columnist Janet Eastman.

Ashland has a few popular breweries, including Standing Stone and Caldera, but the up-and-comers are in Medford. Check out Southern Oregon Brewing and Walkabout, which is opening its taphouse in July. While you’re in Medford, eat at Downtown Market Co., the town’s No. 1 restaurant on TripAdvisor and one of my personal favorites.

Most of my “locals-only” tips center around food and dining. Ashland is replete with restaurants, particularly around the plaza, but some of the best (and more affordable) dining is removed from the downtown core. I always make a point of eating at Morning Glory for breakfast, Happy Falafel for a fast, inexpensive lunch and a newcomer, called Sauce, for really flavorful, healthy food.

It sounds a little strange, but Ashland Food Co-op in the railroad district does more food-service business than anywhere else in town. It has a salad bar, hot bar and deli that’s fresh, fast and can accommodate any type of diet.

Check out all my Ashland-area dining coverage here.

Answered by Sarah Lemon on July 13th, 2012 - Post Your Answer

We are planning a business trip to Ashland in late July. Could you tell me of interesting sites in that area? Any ideas for day trips? Any wineries?

If you’re planning a trip to Ashland, don’t miss Oregon Shakespeare Festival, arguably the town’s claim to fame. See the Mail Tribune newspaper’s guide to the festival.

A nice day trip from Ashland is Jacksonville, a national historic landmark that hosts the outdoor Britt Music Festival concert series into October. Or go on an artisan-food tasting tour in Central Point, home to Rogue Creamery and Lillie Belle Farms.

You could spend a couple of days on wineries alone. The Rogue region boasts dozens of wineries between Ashland and Medford, known as Bear Creek Boutique Wines. The Applegate Valley has its own “wine trail,” as does the Upper-Rogue region. See the Mail Tribune’s complete guide to wine tasting, as well as local wine coverage by columnist Janet Eastman.

Answered by Sarah Lemon on July 13th, 2012 - Post Your Answer

We’re touring by car from Vancouver, British Columbia and have 3-4 days available to see some of the highlights of Oregon. Are there any quaint and atmopheric towns in Oregon? We’d like to see mountains, lakes and the coast too. Can you suggest any must-see destinations?

I’m not sure how far into Oregon you were planning on driving, but if you’re looking for atmosphere in the southern part of the state, Ashland is the town for you. Surrounded by mountains (Cascades and Siskiyous), its vibe is about as European as you’ll find almost anywhere in Oregon.

Just off Interstate 5 and just north of the California border, Ashland arguably is the region’s main tourist destination. The small, walkable downtown area is full of historical buildings, along with the Railroad District, which is an easy walk of several blocks. Lithia Park is one of locals’
favorite spots for easy, picturesque hiking. Ashland has a wide variety of restaurants and accommodations from bed-and-breakfasts to high-end hotels, plus the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Cabaret Theater and a vibrant arts scene.

Ashland makes a good home base for exploring the region’s other attractions. I couldn’t agree more that Crater Lake is a must. The drive from Ashland to the national park takes about two hours.

Answered by Sarah Lemon on May 15th, 2012 - Post Your Answer

Want to take my wife on a short three day getaway. Would like for her to see a Bald Eagle and have a romantic view of the mountains, ccean, or lake. Any suggestions?

There’s one place that stands above all the other nationwide for viewing bald eagles. That’s the Klamath Basin region of Southern Oregon. While late winter is the prime time to see them, you stand a good chance during other times of the year.  Here is a great story in the Mail Tribune about viewing bald eagles in the region. Contact the folks at Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge for more specifics. As far as inspiring landscapes, the region has plenty of lakes and mountains. The ocean is many hours’ drive away. You could fly to Klamath Falls by way of Portland or San Francisco on United Airlines.

Answered by Sarah Lemon on May 14th, 2012 - Post Your Answer

What’s the best place to golf near Medford? – K.D.

There are two really great public play courses I would recommend you check out. One is Eagle Point Golf Course. This is a Robert Trent Jones design and one of his last pieces of work done in his storied career.  It is not expensive and good pace of play.  They are going through bankruptcy but that in no way is effecting the conditions or quality of play at the course.  The other course is Centennial Golf Club.  This is a John Fought design – very wide open and much like a links styled course in the middle of Medford.  They have a great restaurant attached to the pro shop and the head pro there, Vince Domenzian, will take great care of you.

As part of your planning, visit the Southern Oregon Visitor Association’s website. They can tell you a lot about the Southern Oregon area
including all the golf that is to be played.  And if you pick up the latest Golf Digest May issue, there is a six page story on Oregon Golf and it has a lot of great information.

Answered by Noel Lucky, Ask Oregon Golf Expert on April 20th, 2012 - Post Your Answer
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Hi, I live in San Francisco and would like to plan a 3-day road trip with my son, who is 18. We wanted to see the Crater Lake but found out it is closed for the winter. Can you please suggest an April destination that is driveable from Northern California, offers nature, hikes? – Oksana W.

Glad to hear you planned a trip to Crater Lake, Oregon’s only national park. To clarify, it’s not closed. Some of the road and facilities are closed. But it’s well worth seeing in wintertime, when there are some unique opportunities for exploring the park. Snowshoe hikes on the weekends are free through April 29, and the park even provides the snowshoes. I personally have done the snowshoe hike and wrote about it for the Medford Mail Tribune newspaper. Just make sure to register in advance because the hikes do fill up.  As you probably gathered, Crater Lake is in a very remote area of the state. The closest lodging this time of year is about an hour away in Prospect. I have never stayed at the Prospect Hotel, but I hear good things about it.

If you don’t feel up for a trek in the snow, Southern Oregon has plenty more to offer. The Table Rocks are locals’ favorite for hiking, particularly in April, when wildflowers paint the landscape with fleeting colors. Free, guided hikes are offered through the Bureau of Land Management and other conservation groups. For more outdoor activities in the region, check the Medford Mail Tribune’s weekly Oregon Outdoors section.

Depending on what time of day you get into Oregon from San Francisco or head for home, you may want to stop for the night in Ashland, which is several hours’ drive away from Crater Lake. Ashland has the most lodging and dining options of any town in the region, ranging from budget motels, bed-and-breakfasts to luxury accommodations. The historical Ashland Springs Hotel is among the best-known landmarks. It was renovated and completely redone several years ago. Rooms are small but charming and comfortable, and the restaurant downstairs is very good.

Answered by Sarah Lemon on April 19th, 2012 - Post Your Answer

What is the best time of the year to golf?

As far as best timing for golf in Oregon, the summer through early fall is generally reliable. But often the state of Oregon and the Portland area gets a bad wrap about being raining because that is usually the thought associated with the area. That is just not the case. There are many sun filled days through out the year. I particularly love the golf experience in the early fall. The trees with their colors and the smell of nature and its beauty wraps around your mind as you track around the course.  Really a fantastic experience.

One of the most reliable areas to travel for golf with assurance of super weather is Central and Southern Oregon. Central Oregon has over 30 some courses with a wide variety of designs and price points for greens fees. And, it is filled with sunny days.  Southern Oregon too has a super collection of courses and more reliable weather in and around the Medford area.

Answered by Noel Lucky, Ask Oregon Golf Expert on April 19th, 2012 - Post Your Answer
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We’re taking a roadtrip from California to Oregon. I would like to do the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway and stay there for a few days to really enjoy it. I would like to stay around the area for 3-4 days, to do some rafting, and definitely hiking and see all the waterfalls. If we can also visit some wineries along the way that would be great. – Priscilla N.

I live right on this scenic byway and can attest to its beauty. It’s indeed worth a few days of your time.

This byway is named for two rivers: the Rogue (in my backyard) and the Umpqua. Of the two, the Rogue is regarded more for its rafting. The Medford Mail Tribune readers picked Noah’s River Adventures as their favorite guide service last year in an annual poll.

There are many other companies in Jackson and Josephine counties that operate rafting trips. If you’re driving Highway 1 up from California, you should take Highway 199 into Oregon, and you will pass right by Grants Pass, a major jumping-off point for river trips and the gateway to the Rogue’s Wild and Scenic section.

You’ll want to do your wine tasting early on, as most wineries on the byway are in the Gold Hill/Sams Valley areas. Del Rio is one of the area’s best, just a couple of miles from Gold Hill, where the byway begins. Folin and Cliff Creek cellars and Agate Ridge all are in the Sams Valley area, which surrounds the byway near the Table Rocks. Make sure to stop for a hike on these mesas, locals’ favorite hiking trails.

Finally, Crater Lake Cellars in Shady Cove is one of the last stops on the area’s wine-tasting trail. See the Mail Tribune’s complete guide to wine tasting in the region.

As far as lodging goes, there is a variety, from hotels and country inns to camping. The Edgewater Inn in Shady Cove has reasonably nice accommodations. Between that town and Diamond Lake, Prospect Hotel is about the only lodging.

Additionally, here is a story from the Mail Tribune about a few of the waterfalls on the byway.

Answered by Sarah Lemon on April 19th, 2012 - Post Your Answer
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I’m looking for a 5-star place to stay for one night as close as possible to the California border, but I can’t seem to find anything.

If on I-5, stay in Ashland at the Ashland Creek Inn. Tu Tu Tun in Gold Beach is close to California on the map but a long drive on rural roads.

Answered by Sarah Lemon on March 12th, 2012 - Post Your Answer
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We only have about 9 days to spend in Oregon. We enjoy the outdoors and can handle full days. Any recommendations as to where to focus our trip to get the most out of our limited time? Also, what is the best summer month to visit?

I have to tout Oregon’s only national park, Crater Lake, which is located in my region. It’s beautiful in all seasons but most accessible in summer. If you’re flying into Portland, you probably will want to take into account four to five hours of driving time to the southern part of the state.

The best summer month to visit most of Oregon is August. However, Southern Oregon is much warmer than other parts of the state with a dry climate and temperatures usually in the 90s, peaking in the 100s, but that makes Crater Lake with its elevation a great place to cool off (although lots of mosquitoes come out at night there).

Southern Oregon also boasts great whitewater rafting on the Rogue River, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, outdoor Britt Festivals concerts in historic Jacksonville, hiking, biking, fishing, wine tasting, and world-famous artisan foods. Enjoy your stay.

Answered by Sarah Lemon on March 6th, 2012 - Post Your Answer
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