I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Ashland, Oregon recently. This charming town is located in the heart of southern Oregon’s wine country and is home to the acclaimed Oregon Shakespeare Festival. While in Ashland, I was able to explore the town and experience some of the best things it has to offer. So if you’re ever in the area, here is a list of the 20 Best Things to Do in Ashland!
1. Have Fun at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is one of the biggest attractions to Ashland. This world-renowned festival takes place from February to October and features over 700 performances of 11 different plays. These shows are spread across three stages in downtown Ashland: The outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre and the two indoor spaces, the Thomas Theatre and the Angus Bowmer Theatre.
I attended two plays while at the festival, “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Comedy of Errors.” Both were excellent, and I was really impressed with the acting, sets, and costumes. So be sure to check out the Oregon Shakespeare Festival website (https://www.osfashland.org) for tickets, a list of plays, and performance schedules.
2. Tour Downtown Ashland
A trip to Ashland has to include a tour of the town’s downtown area. This vibrant and historic district is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and theaters. And no matter what time of year you visit, there’s always something going on.
You can start your day by exploring the many shops and boutiques. Ashland is home to a number of unique shops, including antique stores, bookstores, and clothing stores. And if you’re looking for souvenirs, there are plenty of options as well.
After you’ve had your fill of shopping, grab lunch at one of the many restaurants downtown. I highly recommend the pasta at Cucina Biazzi or the curry at Taj Indian Cuisine. And if you’re in the mood for something sweet, be sure to stop by Dutch Bros for a cup of coffee and a slice of pie.
In the afternoon, take some time to explore the grounds of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Even if there’s no performance going on, the grounds are beautiful and worth exploring. And if you’re looking for things to do in the evening, there are plenty of bars and clubs downtown that offer live music and entertainment.
3. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
How about taking things to new heights with a hot air balloon ride? Of course, there’s no better way to see the beauty of Ashland than from high above. And with several companies offering balloon rides, it’s easy to find one that fits your schedule and budget.
I took a hot air balloon ride with Ashland Balloon Rides on a Wednesday afternoon, and it was an incredible experience. After a short safety briefing, we hopped in the basket and took off. For the next hour, we floated above Ashland and the surrounding countryside. We got a bird’s eye view of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival grounds, Ashland University, and the city of Ashland. It was an unforgettable experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for the best things to do in Ashland.
4. Visit Lithia Park
Lithia Park is one of Oregon’s most beautiful parks that’s worth a visit while in Ashland. Located in the heart of downtown Ashland, this 93-acre park is filled with towering trees, bubbling streams, and beautiful flowers.
There are plenty of things to do in Lithia Park, including hiking, picnicking, and bird watching. In fact, the park has over 12 miles of trails, which wind through the forest and offer stunning views of the surrounding area. Most trails are relatively easy to hike and perfect for a leisurely stroll. And if you’re looking for a place to relax, the park also has several benches and shady areas where you can sit and enjoy the views.
In general, Lithia Park is one of the best places to visit in Ashland. It’s a great place to get some fresh air, explore the outdoors, and relax in the beauty of nature.
5. Explore Ashland’s Vibrant Food Scene
Ashland is home to a thriving food scene that offers something for everyone. From farm-to-table restaurants to gourmet food trucks, there’s no shortage of places to eat in this town.
I was lucky enough to try a few of Ashland’s best restaurants during my stay, and I was not disappointed. The first restaurant I visited was the Brickroom, which is known for its delicious burgers and handcrafted cocktails. The next restaurant I visited was Umami Sushi & Asian Cuisine, which offers a variety of traditional Asian dishes. And the last restaurant I visited was Greenleaf Restaurant, a vegan restaurant offering an array of plant-based dishes.
So if you’re looking for fun things to do in Ashland that involve food, you won’t be disappointed. There are dozens of great restaurants to choose from, so be sure to try as many as you can. And if you’re looking for something a little different, Ashland also has a number of food trucks that offer a variety of cuisines.
6. Scienceworks Hands-On Museum
The Scienceworks Hands-On Museum is a great place to take kids (or adults!) of all ages. This interactive museum is designed to teach visitors about the science of the world around them. The museum has a wide variety of exhibits, each designed to be educational and fun. The museum also offers a number of activities, such as workshops and hands-on experiments, which are perfect for kids.
7. Schneider Museum of Art
Next on my list of the best things to do in Ashland is visiting the Schneider Museum of Art. This museum is located on the campus of Southern Oregon University and focuses on visual displays, contemporary art, and works by regional artists. The Schneider Museum of Art is small but incredibly well-curated. The exhibitions change frequently, so there’s always something new to see. And best of all, admission to the museum is free.
8. Pay a Visit to North Mountain Park Nature Centre
Do you love the outdoors? If so, you’ll want to add North Mountain Park Nature Centre to your list of places to visit in Ashland. This nature center is located just minutes from downtown and offers stunning views of the city. It boasts beautiful gardens, miles of hiking trails, a playground, picnic areas, soccer fields, softball fields, baseball fields, and a variety of wildlife.
Take a tour time to explore the nature center and learn about the plants and animals that call it home. Then, head out on one of the hiking trails for a peaceful walk in nature. And be sure to bring your camera, as there are plenty of photo opportunities throughout the park. And after a day spent exploring the park, you’ll see why it’s one of the top attractions in Ashland.
9. Rogue River Rafting
One thing that Oregon is most known for is its outdoor recreation. And one of the top activities to do in Ashland is go rafting on the Rogue River. This is one of the most popular whitewater rivers in Oregon and offers a variety of different rafting experiences. And whether you’re looking for a leisurely float or an adrenaline-pumping ride, there’s a trip for you.
There are several companies that offer rafting trips on the Rogue River, so be sure to do your research and choose one that’s right for you. I went with Orange Torpedo Trips which offers a variety of different trip options. I chose the half-day trip, which took us through some of the most beautiful scenery in the area. We even had the chance to stop and swim in the river, which was a blast.
10. Take a Scenic Drive
Another one of the best things to do in Ashland is to take a scenic drive. There are plenty of beautiful roads and highways to explore in the area. And no matter which route you take, you’re sure to be treated to stunning views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and forests.
One of Ashland’s most popular scenic drives is the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Scenic Byway. This byway winds its way through the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and offers incredible views of the forest, rivers, and mountains.
Another popular scenic drive is from Ashland to Medford. This drive takes you through several attractions in Ashland, including the stunning views of the Rogue Valley. And along the way, you’ll be treated to bigger collections of hotels, shopping, and restaurants. And if you have the time, be sure to explore the backroads of southern Oregon. You never know what you’ll find around the next bend.
11. Ashland library
Why not spend a day enriching your mind at the Ashland library? After all, what could be better than spending a day surrounded by books?
The Ashland library was established in 1912 and is one of the oldest libraries in Oregon. This beautiful building is located in the heart of downtown and offers a variety of resources for both locals and visitors. Inside the library, you’ll find a large selection of books, magazines, and newspapers. And if you need a break from reading, the library also offers free Wi-Fi and computers.
In addition, the library also hosts a variety of events and programs. During my visit, I was able to attend a poetry reading and an art exhibit. In addition, the library also hosts a variety of events and programs. During my visit, I was able to attend a poetry reading and an art exhibit. And if you’re traveling with kids, be sure to check out the library’s calendar of events, as they also offer a variety of programs specifically for children.
12. Hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,650-mile long hiking trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada. And while you can’t hike the entire trail in a day, you can hike a small section of it while in Ashland. The access point to the trail is located at the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Ashland.
Here, you can hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail and experience some of the most beautiful scenery in Oregon. The trail winds through forests, meadows, and mountains and offers stunning views of the Cascade Range.
Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is definitely one of the best things to do in Ashland. So I recommend getting an early start, packing plenty of water and snacks, and enjoying the incredible scenery of southern Oregon.
13. Visit Crater Lake National Park
Are you looking for things to do outside of Ashland? If so, consider making the short drive to Crater Lake National Park. Located just an hour and a half away, Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful places in Oregon.
The lake was formed over 7,000 years ago when the volcano Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed. Today, the lake is a stunning blue color and is one of the deepest lakes in North America.
And being one of the top attractions in Ashland, there’s no shortage of things to do here. You can take a boat tour of the lake (during summer), hike one of the many trails, or simply take in the stunning views. And if you want to extend your stay, there are plenty of camping options available.
14. Pamper yourself at Ashland Springs Hotel
One of the things I was most excited about before my trip to Ashland was the chance to stay at the Ashland Springs Hotel. This historic hotel is located in the heart of downtown and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The hotel is also home to a spa, which offers a variety of treatments and services.
I was lucky enough to experience one of the hotel’s signature treatments, the Ashland Springs Stone Massage. This massage uses heated basalt stones to relax the muscles and promote circulation. It was an incredible experience, and I left feeling completely rejuvenated.
So if you’re looking for the best things to do in Ashland that will help you relax and unwind, a visit to the Ashland Springs Hotel is a must. In addition to the spa, the hotel also offers a fitness center, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant. And if you’re looking for even more relaxation, be sure to book a room with a view of the mountains.
15. Take a trip to Emigrant Lake County Park
There’s no better place to visit in summer than Emigrant Lake County Park. This beautiful park is located just outside of town and offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy.
The park’s centerpiece is Emigrant Lake, a great place to swim, paddleboard, and fish. There are also several hiking trails located around the lake, which offer stunning views of the surrounding area. In addition to the lake, Emigrant Lake County Park also offers a playground and picnic areas. So whether you’re looking to cool off on a hot day or explore the great outdoors, Emigrant Lake County Park is a great place to visit.
16. Shop at the Ashland Farmers Market
You don’t have to look far to find activities to do in Ashland on a Saturday morning. Every Saturday from May through October (9 am to 12 pm), the Ashland Farmers Market takes over the downtown Plaza. This is a great place to find fresh produce, artisan goods, and local food. And with over 60 vendors, there’s something for everyone. And in addition to the great food, the market also features live music and entertainment. So whether you’re looking to do some shopping or simply want to enjoy a Saturday morning in Ashland, this market is a great option.
17. Take a Scenic Drive on the Cascade-Siskiyou National Scenic Bikeway
One of the best things to do in Ashland is to take a scenic bike tour on the Cascade-Siskiyou National Scenic bikeway. This 85.1 km loop takes you through the stunning views of the mountains, rivers, and valleys below.
This trail has a total elevation gain of 5000 feet, so it’s not for the faint of heart. But if you’re up for a challenge, this bike tour is an incredible way to see some of Oregon’s most beautiful scenery. And if you’re not a fan of biking, don’t worry. The Cascade-Siskiyou National Scenic bikeway is also open to hikers and horseback riders. So no matter how you choose to explore the trail, you’re sure to be impressed by the incredible views.
18. Oredson-Todd Woods
The Oredson-Todd Woods is a beautiful forest located just outside of town. This forest is home to a variety of biking/hiking trails, making it the perfect place to go if you’re looking to explore the great outdoors. The forest is filled with towering trees and lush vegetation, and the trails are well-maintained and easy to follow.
The most popular trail in the Oredson-Todd Woods is the White Rabbit Trail. This is a moderate trail that takes you through the heart of the forest. Along the way, you’ll see a variety of plant and animal life, and you may even catch a glimpse of the white rabbits that call this forest home.
19. Have Some Winter Fun at Mt. Ashland
Want to have some winter fun? Then head to Mt. Ashland, which is just a short drive from downtown Ashland. This popular ski resort offers 23 trails for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Take a lesson at the ski school or just hit the slopes and enjoy the fresh powder.
This is a great place to spend a day or two, especially if you’re looking for things to do in Ashland during winter. And if you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, you can still enjoy the stunning views of the mountains from the comfort of the lodge. The resort also offers a variety of activities for kids, including a tubing hill and snowman-building contest. And if you need a break from the cold, you can warm up in the lodge with a cup of hot chocolate.
20. Shop at Lithia Artisans Market
The Lithia Artisans Market is one of the best places in Ashland to find local art and handmade goods in Ashland. This open-air market features over 30 booths selling everything from paintings and pottery to jewelry and clothing. The market is open every Saturday and Sunday, making it the perfect place to find souvenirs for your friends and family.
I was impressed with the quality of the goods at this. The artists and craftspeople who sell their wares here are incredibly talented, and the prices are very reasonable. I was able to find several unique gifts for my loved ones, as well as a few things for myself.
Ashland is a beautiful town with plenty to do. From world-renowned theaters to stunning nature parks, there’s something for everyone in Ashland. So, whether you’re looking for things to do in Ashland or just looking for a beautiful place to relax, be sure to add some of the ideas from this list to your itinerary.