Ashland, Oregon: Everything but Shakespeare

P1090275When my friend Cassie asked if we’d like to join her and a friend on a getaway to Ashland, Oregon, I said, “absolutely!” I’d only driven through Ashland by way of I-5 and had never really explored what it had to offer.

Cassie rented an Airbnb for us at one of Ashland’s premier Victorian homes. The gardens and landscaping were incredible and the carriage house where we stayed was perfect. The hosts were so sweet, chatting with us here and there, and my favorite parts about the place were the unique loft space, the daily visits from local deer, and the amazing private courtyard dining area. Daniel and I spent most of our time reading and hanging out there.

P1090304Ashland is cute and friendly. There is a pretty good nightlife for travelers through town, and plenty of interesting shops to explore for a day or two. Lithia Park became our daily walking location. Strolling through the park, watching the ducks, and laying in the grass to read: these were all the things a person needs to relax and slow down. We enjoyed the weekend artist markets, where there were plenty of really beautiful handmade crafts. Our favorite shops to explore were the art gallery, Thomas Lee Fine Arts, featuring Dr. Suess’ Original works of art and many other very interesting pieces; and an eclectic gift store called Cracker Jax where you can find unusual and unique gifts and home decor.

Scenic float trip in the Rogue River in Southern OregonFor a bit more adventure, the four of us embarked on a scenic float trip with Noah’s Rafting and Fishing. The rapids were easy to navigate, and the boats were perfect. I was glad the day wasn’t too hot and sunny, because we were on the river for a few hours and would have been totally fried by the time we came out. A long day on the river gave us all a hunger for the dinner hour.

Cassie made reservations for us at Amuse to celebrate her friend’s birthday. The small, intimate restaurant offered fine dining, great wine selections and drinks, and amazingly delicious food. I went for the unusual and had the sweetbreads for an appetizer and was so impressed. A little spicy, savory, and I loved the tenderness of the meat. Their pork chop with grilled avocado was refreshing and cooked perfectly with a light caramelized flavor from the browned edges of the meat. So juicy! I can’t even tell you how good their molten chocolate cake was, but I can say I didn’t bother to take a photo, I was too busy eating it and enjoying the company.

One night on our own, we made a reservation for two at LARKS. Dan had the fried chicken and mashed potatoes while I tried the duck. The food was pretty good, portions were large, and the dining experience was OK. We were seated at a large round table in wicker chairs. They weren’t all that comfortable and were very large. All in all, we had a good experience. It was a safe dinner option, but it wasn’t really something I would push an Ashland visitor toward.

After a weekend of blissful relaxation, adventure, and great food in the company of good friends, we had only missed one of Ashland’s major attractions: the theater. Most of the people we met in Ashland suggested it. We considered it for a moment, but none of us felt as if we had missed a thing by not going.

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