In September, we drove up to Southern Oregon to visit some dear friends who live in Central Point – a little town just north of Medford. We spent a few days up there, and visited their town, a little bit of Medford, and the towns of Jacksonville and Ashland.
So we thought we’d share some of our favorite things about queer Ashland and Southern Oregon!
We’ll break it down below by food, shopping, and entertainment.
There are some great food choices here in the Ashland/Medford area. We only tried a few, but had a few stand-outs:
Lillie Belle Farms
We liked this place as soon as we saw the purple building that hosues it. It’s filled with delectable chocolate offerings, including the chocolate covered mint oreos (I took home a small bag) and the hot pepper chocolate (take a bite and wait for it!). Everything we tried here was good, and they stack up favorably against chocolatiers in the big cities we’ve visited.
Located right next to Lillie Belle is a fantastic creamery that sells one opf my favorite things in the whole world – cheese curds! These are the randomly-shaped pieces of cheese that are then pressed into bars or cheese, and they are fricking delicious! Pro-tip – pop one (or half a dozen) into your microwave for about seven seconts, then eat them quickly for a squeaky-melty treat. Best when eaten fresh.
Best All-Around Restaurant
The stand-out restaurant of our trip – we went there twice. The food was fantastic – my bread pudding dessert the second visit was one of the best I’ve had in ages. I wanted to lick the plate (actually, I might have LOL). But the star here is the absolutely gorgeous courtyard at the back of this place. Don’t come to Bella Union and sit inside.
Buttercloud Bakery and Cafe
Best Breakfast (tie)
Oh my god, the decadence. This is one of our friends Nick and Kolby’s favorite breakfast places, and it’s easy to see why. The biscuits are world-famous, and so full of butter you might have a heart attack just breathing the wonderful buttery air.
Best Breakfast (tie)
Another great breakfast option, this one on the south side of Ashland. It’s a bit out of town, but the food is great, and they have some of the biggest coffee cups we’ve ever seen.They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, made with fresh, organic ingredients. And those muffins… Hey Kolby!
If anyone asks you what the secret to a great pizza is, it’s the cheese. And this pizza place has the best cheese we’ve had since Pizzeria Aurora in Sorrento, Italy – tasty, stretch cheese that you just want to rub all over your body and… but I digress. No one should stop in Medford without a visit to this place, and the cheesy bread is absolutely divine, too, as Kolby (below) will attest to. Sorry I ate half the Hawaiian pizza…
Ostras! Tapas & Bottleshop
We only ate at one place in Ashland, and it was good but not fantastic. The tapas were tasty, but expensive for the portions offered. Then again, it’s in the hard of Ashland, right across from the square. And it’s really cool inside…
We found a few great shopping opportunities in the area, and we’ll share them with you below:
Really cool knick-knacks
I love this store – so many cool little things, and such a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
The Miners Bazaar
We stopped into this eclectic cafe for a quick drink and found a strange mix of museum, cafe and shop, perfect for Jacksonville’s quirky spirit. Plus it’s the perfect place to sit in a rocking chair on the porch and watch the passersby. And check out this awesome fashion panel. Who says high fashion is only in Milan, London, Paris and new York City?
Lithia Artisan’s Market
Great collection of local artists
Along the edge of the Lithia Creek in downtown Ashland, there’s a great outdoor market on the weekends. We found all kinds of cool things here, from paintings to decorative outlet covers to animals made out of wool – the artist was creating a giraffe right before our eyes. It’s a fun outdoor market, and the perfect place to snag something cool to take back home. And while you’re there, check out the colorful mural that runs along part of the market.
Manzanita Home & Flowers
Really cool kitchen stuff and the sexiest bunnies I’ve ever seen
This is an awesome home store on Main Street with two of the sexiest bunnies you’ll find in Ashland.. and some really clever kitchen ware, among other things. I haven;t seen that good a “come hither” look since Elsa in the Lion King.
Great costume shop
This is a simply awesome costume shop in the heart of Ashland that gets extra points for the pink fuzzy monster slippers, the steampunk helmet and goggles, and the rainbow stairs we found inside.
Treehouse Secret World Vault
My new favorite bookstore…
This cute little bookstore/toy store reminded me of the favorite bookstore of my youth – te Haunted Book Shop – in Tucson Arizona. Like that one, this little store is full of fascinating things for kids, from the toadstool stool to the little doorways that reward the curious who dare to open them. A really cool shop for the kid in all of us.
There’s also a lot to see… we just scratched the surface in the few days we were there.
Bum Around Jacksonville
Jacksonville is just east of Medford, nestled against the hills of the Rogue Valley. It’s a cute, quirky town that reminded us of Nevada City, California. There’s lots of antique shopping and a number of galleries.
Plus it’s full of history:
There’s even a ghost tour some evenings.
Walk up to Britt Gardens – it was once the home of one of the founding fathers of the city, and is now a beautiful outdoor concert venue. We were wandering around up there and ran into a family of deer. One of them as less than ten feet from me, and stood really still as if she hoped I wouldn’t see her.
Picnic in Lithia Park
Ashland’s Lithia Park is a gorgeous creekside park with charming bridges and walkways and wide open grassy areas perfect for a picnic. So grab some cheese and crackers at the Rogue Creamery and some chocolates at Lillie Belle, and head down to the park in Ashland. We spent an hour laying on the grass, munching and talking about life and the universe. One of my favorite parts of the trip.
See a Shakespeare Play
Did you know that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival offers fifty percent discounts on same day play purchases? We saw a play – Alice in Wonderland – in the gorgeous outdoor Elizabethan Theatre. And while I can honestly say it was one of the worst plays I have seen in a long time, the experience itself was great.
There are so many things to do in the Ashland area, and we’ve only shared a few. We’ll be back again to find more the next time we visit Nick and Kolby. But we’ll leave you with this little gem from Jacksonville. Have fun exploring!