Ask anyone what the best things to do and attractions to visit in Medford are, and you’re likely to get a different answer each time. That’s because there are just so many great things to do in this wonderful city. And, with new things popping up all the time, there’s always something new to discover. So no matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find something that appeals to you. In this article, I’ll share 15 of the best things to do in Medford and attractions. Read on.
1. Visit the Applegate Lake
A hidden gem in the Rogue Valley, Applegate Lake is a reservoir created by the construction of the Applegate Dam in 1980. The lake sits in a beautiful canyon and is surrounded by hiking trails, making it one of the best Medford attractions to visit.
Every summer, the lake is a popular spot for swimming, boating, and fishing. Anglers can try their luck at catching rainbow trout, bass, and catfish. There are also several boat ramps and marinas around the lake for those who want to bring their own boats or jet skis. If you’re looking for a more leisurely experience, there are several scenic spots along the shoreline where you can relax and take in the stunning views.
2. Boat or Raft the Rogue River
The Rogue River is one of Oregon’s best-loved rivers and a favorite destination for rafters and kayakers. The river flows 215 miles (346 kilometers) from its headwaters in the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. A section of the Rogue River is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, which means it is protected from development. This makes it one of the best places in Oregon to experience the state’s natural beauty.
Medford also happens to be one of the best places to put in for a Rogue River rafting trip. As the river flows through the city, it provides some of the best whitewater rapids in the state. Several companies offer guided rafting trips, so you can sit back and enjoy the ride while your guide does all the work. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also rent a kayak or canoe and go it alone. Just be sure to take all the necessary safety precautions and get a good map of the river before you go.
So whether you choose to raft, kayak, or just float down the river on an inner tube, a trip on the Rogue River is definitely one of the best things to do in Medford.
3. Crater Lake National Park
Just an hour and a half north of Medford is one of the crown jewels of the national park system: Crater Lake National Park. The centerpiece of the park is, of course, Crater Lake itself. This deep blue lake was formed 7,700 years ago when the 12,000-foot Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed in on itself. The result is a caldera or crater that is now filled with rain and snowmelt. At 1,949 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the deepest in the world.
The best way to experience the lake is by taking the 33-mile (53-kilometer) Rim Drive around its perimeter. This road provides stunning panoramic views of the lake and Wizard Island, a cinder cone that erupted from Mt. Mazama after its collapse. There are numerous pullouts and lookout points along the way where you can stop to snap photos and just take in the view.
The best time to visit Crater Lake is during the summer when all the park roads and facilities are open. However, keep in mind that because of the high elevation (the lake sits at 6,178 feet), snow can linger into July.
Inside the park are several short hiking trails leading to waterfalls and other natural features. So you’ll never be far from an adventure when visiting this park.
4. Downtown Medford Shopping and Dining
The best things to do in Medford are often found downtown, and if you’re looking for a place to shop or dine, look no further. This city’s historic downtown area is chock-full of charming shops, family-owned restaurants, and lively bars and breweries.
Start your day with a cup of coffee from one of the many local coffee shops, such as The Black Rock Coffee Bar. Then, enjoy some retail therapy as you stroll down Main Street, popping into cute malls like Rogue Valley Mall and The Village at Medford Center.
For lunch or dinner, enjoy a meal at one of downtown Medford’s many restaurants, such as The Rosario’s Italian Restaurant, Porters-Dining At The Depot, or Noho’s Hawaiian Cafe. And to finish off your night, enjoy a drink or two at one of the area’s many bars, such as Howiee’s on Front or at Grape Street Bar and Grill.
5. Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve
There are only a handful of caves open to the public in Oregon, and the best one is right here in Medford. The Oregon Caves are a marble cave system that was formed over millions of years by the dissolving of underlying bedrock by acidic rainwater. Located in the Siskiyou Mountains, this National Monument & Preserve is today one of Medford’s top tourist attractions for its uniqueness and spectacular cave features.
The best way to experience the Oregon Caves is on the guided tour, which lasts about an hour and a half, and takes you through half a mile of the cave system. You’ll learn all about the caves’ history and geology as you walk and see some of the unique cave formations up close.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, sign up for a spelunking tour and explore the caves in their natural, unspoiled state. You’ll need to be in good physical condition and have prior caving experience, but it’s an unforgettable experience. You can also camp overnight in the monuments Cave Creek campground if you want to make a weekend out of it.
6. Visit the Oregon Wine Country
Few people know that Oregon produces some of the best wines in the world. In fact, Oregon’s wine country has been gaining a lot of attention in recent years and was even named one of the best wine regions to visit in 2019 by Wine Enthusiast.
Today, there are over 80 wineries in Medford, and over 30 of them are located within the Rogue Valley. The climate here is perfect for growing grapes, and the volcanic soil provides nutrients that are ideal for vineyards.
There are many ways to explore the wineries of the Medford region. The best way to sample the wines is on a guided tour with one of the local companies like, Rogue Valley Wine Tours, which offers both group and private tours. For those looking for a more independent experience, the Applegate Valley Wine Trail and the Rogue Valley Wine Trail are great ways to sample the best of what Oregon wine country has to offer.
So if you’re a wine lover, or even if you just enjoy drinking the occasional glass of wine, be sure to add a wine tour to your list of things to do in Medford.
7. Explore Jacksonville’s Historic Charm
Ask anybody in Medford where to go for a day trip, and they’ll likely tell you about Jacksonville, Oregon. This quaint former gold-rush town is located just 20 minutes west of Medford and is best known for its well-preserved historic downtown area.
The best way to explore Jacksonville’s past is on a walking tour of the historic district, where you can learn about the city’s gold-mining origins, Chinese immigrant history, and more. Be sure to visit the Jacksonville Museum to see gold-rush-era artifacts as well as rotating exhibitions on local history. When you’re ready for a break from all the walking, enjoy a leisurely lunch or some retail therapy in one of Jacksonville’s many cute Main Street shops.
No visit to Jacksonville is complete without enjoying a show at the world-renowned Britt Festival. This outdoor concert series takes place every summer and features an eclectic mix of musical genres, from country to classical. Past performers include Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, and the Steve Miller Band.
Overall, Jacksonville is one of the best places to visit in Medford if you’re looking to step back in time and experience some of the state’s rich history.
8. Take in the view at upper and lower Table Rocks
Nature lovers will want to put Table Rocks high on their list of best things to do in Medford. These two mesas, each about 800 feet high, sit on the outskirts of town and offer up sweeping views of the Rogue Valley. The best way to experience the mesas is by hiking a 2-mile trail to the summit of Upper Table Rock. This is a moderate hike with some elevation gain, but it’s well worth it for the views. On a clear day, you can see for miles in every direction.
The best time to hike Table Rocks is during the spring and fall when the weather is cooler. In the summer, the heat can be intense, and in the winter, the trails may be covered in snow and ice.
9. Craterian Theater at the Collier Center for the Performing Arts
Thinking about attending a show while in Medford? Then you absolutely have to go to the Collier Center for the Performing Arts, professionally known as the Craterian Theater.
The Craterian first opened its doors in 1924 as a vaudeville theater. During the late 70s and early 80s, the theater was in danger of being torn down. However, the local community rallied together to save and restore the Craterian, which is now a National Historic Place.
This state-of-the-art theater now plays host to numerous Broadway musicals, ballets, operas, concerts, and stand-up comedians. And being one of the famous attractions in Medford, the theater regularly attracts big names. Past performers include Liza Minelli, Jerry Seinfeld, Itzhak Perlman, and Bill Cosby.
10. Pick your own fruit at a Medford U-pick Farm
Medford is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, and that includes some of the best fruits and vegetables you’ll find anywhere. The climate here is perfect for growing just about anything, and the fertile soil produces some of the tastiest fruits and vegetables you’ll ever eat.
In the summer, there are many U-pick farms where you can go to pick your own fruits and veggies. Some of the most popular items to pick are berries, cherries, and peaches, but you can also find apples, pears, and a variety of vegetables depending on the farm.
I had the chance to visit Leonard Apple Farm with some friends, and we had a blast picking our own apples. The farm specializes in growing different varieties of apples, and they have a wide selection of sizes, colors, and tastes.
There are several U-pick farms in and around Medford, so be sure to do some research to find the best one for you. But overall, picking your own fruit is one of the best things to do in Medford and a great way to spend a day.
11. Medford Railroad Park
The Medford Railroad Park is a great place to take the kids for a day of learning and fun. The park features several interactive exhibits about the history of trains and railroads in the Rogue Valley. Kids can climb aboard a real caboose, play in the sandbox, or explore the miniature train village. There are also picnic tables and a playground, making it the perfect spot for a family outing. The park is open on the second and fourth Sunday of every month. And the best part? Admission is free!
12. Marvel at the Natural Bridge at Rogue River
Wonders of the natural world abound in Medford, and one of the best examples is the Natural Bridge. This unique spectacle is created when the fast-flowing waters of the Rogue River make a sharp turn and flow under an ancient lava tube. It’s like the river disappears and then re-emerges downstream.
The best way to see the Natural Bridge is via a short but moderately challenging hike at the Natural Bridge Loop. The round trip is only about two miles, but it features several hundred feet of elevation change. Along the way, you’ll get great views of the river as well as the surrounding Cascade Mountains.
This is one of the most famous places in Medford that is worth a visit. And, if you’re feeling up for more adventure, there are many other great hikes in the area, including Rogue River Trail, which follows the river for 40 miles.
13. Learn to Climb at the Rogue Rock Gym
Do you like to rock climb? Or, do you want to learn how to rock climb? Either way, you should check out the Rogue Rock Gym. A visit to this gym is one of the best things to do in Medford if you’re looking for an adventurous activity.
The Rogue Rock Gym is the largest indoor climbing gym in Oregon and offers more than 6,000 square feet of climbable surfaces. They offer beginner to advanced belaying, bouldering, and lead climbing classes. In addition to being a lot of fun, these workouts will leave you feeling accomplished and proud.
In addition to climbing, the gym also offers an extensive fitness center and yoga studio, making it a great place to work out even if you don’t want to climb. And with a cafe on site, you can refuel after your workout with a healthy meal or snack.
14. Stroll through Valley of the Rogue State Park
The best way to get your nature fix near Medford is to visit Valley of the Rogue State Park. This state park sits along the Rogue River and is a prime spot for bird-watching, hiking, camping, and picnicking. The best part? It’s only a short drive from Medford, making it the perfect spot for a quick nature break.
The park features a 1.25-mile paved path that offers sweeping views of the Rogue River. This is a great spot for an easy stroll or a leisurely bike ride. If you’re feeling more adventurous, this trail also connects to Rogue River Greenway Trail, which is perfect for a longer hike or runs.
If you wish to stay overnight, the park has both RV and tent camping sites available. There are also several picnic areas throughout the park, making it a great spot to enjoy a packed lunch or dinner. In addition, the park is located close to interesting museums, friendly local shops, and other Medford attractions that are worth exploring.
15. Take the Little Ones to The Children’s Museum of Southern Oregon
The Children’s Museum of Southern Oregon is an amazing place for both kids and adults. Located in historic downtown Medford, the museum is full of hands-on exhibits that focus on art, science, and history. There are also plenty of opportunities for creative plays which are focused on developing imagination and problem-solving skills.
In addition to the games, the museum also hosts numerous events and workshops throughout the year. These are often themed around holidays or current topics in education. And no matter when you visit, there’s sure to be something fun and educational happening.
Whether you’re seeking thrills or simply looking to enjoy some time in nature, Medford is a great place to visit. With its close proximity to Crater Lake National Park and the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, this town offers visitors plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore. And with this list of things to do in Medford, you’re sure to have a great time. Plus, the town itself is full of friendly locals, great shops, and delicious restaurants, making it the perfect place to relax after a day of adventure.