Editor’s note: Face coverings (ages 5 and up) are required at all indoor public spaces statewide, regardless of vaccination status. Learn more here. It’s also wildfire season — plan ahead and do your part to prevent wildfires.
Between its gold-rush history and its picturesque beauty, Jacksonville — set in the lush Rogue Valley, about three hours from Eugene and Bend — is as slow-paced or fast-paced as you’d like it to be. The historic town is world-famous for its lively music, arts, wine and culinary scene, but you can also sit back and take a seat while riding an old-fashioned trolley or horse-drawn wagon through town. There are so many ways to experience Jacksonville with your crew — whether it’s a girls’ getaway, family trip or overdue vacation with your sweetie. Here are six hidden treasures not to miss.
1. Summer Sounds in a Stunning Amphitheater
After a pause during 2020 due to COVID-19, the Britt Music & Arts Festival is back in full force with a premier lineup of artists including The Beach Boys, Lee Brice, Chris Isaak, Pat Benatar and more. Each year thousands of music lovers flock to the festival for its destination-worthy summer concerts housed in a natural amphitheater among the woodland hillside estate of 19th-century photographer Peter Britt. Enjoy dinner in town before catching a complimentary trolley ride to the festival on Britt Hill. Both traditional seating and lawn seats are available to concert-goers.
2. Live Music, Farm Animals and Family Fun at Local Wineries
If you’ve come to taste the Rogue Valley’s unique terroir, know that the local wineries here are fabulously family friendly, with much more to do than just sip and swirl. DANCIN Vineyards features a koi pond, live music and a full food menu, where wood-fired pizzas are the star. At Rellik Winery, you can say hello to the friendly alpacas right next to the tasting room. Hummingbird Estate is another favorite spot for live music and exceptional wines. At South Stage Cellars, one of the many wine bars in the heart of downtown Jacksonville, you can catch live music on the weekends and during their Wednesday Wine and Dine event.
3. Old West Flavor on a Horse-Drawn Wagon Tour
Have kids in tow? Looking for a little old-fashioned romance? Consider a horse-drawn wagon tour — a great way to immerse yourself in the charms of this Old West town. Cozy up in the covered wagon, pulled by local Amish workhorses Tonka and Mato, and choose one of two tours. One meanders through the serene Sweet Rose Farm, 2 miles from town, with some of the best views of the Rogue Valley. The other visits two different wineries, traversing the vineyards with a different perspective. You can also book a trip for a ride through downtown. Call (541) 660-4835 to make a reservation.
4. Vibrant, Walkable Art Scene
Jacksonville is home to more than just performing arts. The visual arts, too, are part of the fabric of this town, with at least half a dozen local galleries to browse in the compact walking district. Visit Art Presence Art Center on the grounds of the historic courthouse Fridays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. to see local artists’ mixed-media works, including fiber arts, calligraphy, paintings and more. During Second Saturday Art Walks (July through October), check out more than a dozen retailers displaying local artists’ work by looking for the yellow flags on the street. Stop into shops like Artist & Gardner for original art by the owner, stunning wooden bowls, pretty planters and more. Consider taking home a piece of local art as a lasting memory of your trip and a great way to support local artists.
5. Trolley Tours Highlight Local Charms
Need a break from your shopping and adventuring? Sit back, relax, take in the gorgeously reproduced late-1800s architecture, and hear the stories about local culture and history as they come alive during a narrated trolley tour through downtown Jacksonville. The 45-minute ride departs from the Jacksonville Visitor Information Center daily June through September, and Friday through Monday in May and October. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children 10 and under; purchase tickets at the Visitor Information Center.
6. Haunted History Comes Alive
Join costumed tour guides as they share haunted pioneer tales on an hour-long guided walk through town. These aren’t fictional ghost stories with special effects, though — the tours are based on real accounts of restless souls according to historical accounts. On the Britt Hill Tour, you’ll hear tales of arson, saloons and Oregon’s first Chinatown. On the Courthouse Tour, you’ll hear stories of brothels, epidemics and hangings. Tours are $10 per person and run June through October, beginning at the Visitor Information Center. Check the website for dates and times, and book a reservation in advance.
If You Go:
Jacksonville is full of blissful lodging options, from luxury to family friendly. When you book a minimum two-night stay in town through October 2021, you’ll receive a $100 gift certificate to use while shopping or dining at local establishments in Jacksonville. Whether it’s excellent pizza, pasta, tacos, steaks, omelets, coffee or pastries you’re seeking, Jacksonville’s dining establishments have you covered with some of the region’s best local and seasonal cuisine.