Things to do in Ashland
Ashland’s downtown corridor features excellent dining, shopping and easy access to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival theaters. Enjoy small-town character along Main Street and The Plaza. Meander around The Railroad District for rich history, art galleries, and quaint dining options. Take some time to wander the lush gardens and ponds of Lithia Park, with beautiful Ashland Creek running through. Here are our top choices for things to do in Ashland, just steps from your room or suite.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a not-for-profit professional theatre company founded in 1935. The season runs from February through early November. They have three theaters, with two indoor stages, the Angus Bowmer Theatre and the Thomas Theatre, and the flagship outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre, which opens in early June and runs through mid-October. OSF offers eleven different plays that always include three or four by Shakespeare and then more by other famous writers, in addition to contemporary works and world premieres. When planning your visit, you can assume it’ll be easy to see one or two plays over a weekend, or that you’ll catch most shows playing if you stay an entire week.
Ashland’s historic Plaza, just two blocks from The Bard’s Inn, is the nucleus of the Ashland scene. From here, it’s a casual stroll to Lithia Park, the theaters, or the downtown shopping district. The Plaza is home to small, independent shops, restaurants and pubs, or you can even sign up for a rafting adventure with Noah’s River Adventures in their Plaza kiosk. Behind the Plaza, find Calle Guanajuato, a spacious and shady creekside walk that hosts the Ashland Saturday Market. At the center of the Plaza itself is a large drinking fountain connected to a natural spring of Lithia Water: a fizzy carbonated beverage that takes the whole concept of “sparkling mineral water” to a new level.
In summer, the Lithia Park is a shady refuge. In spring and fall, riots of color reflect in the many pools of Lithia Creek. Year round, Lithia Park is a delight; a network of easy trails amid views of the creek. Wander among duck ponds, fountains and sculpture, decorative gardens, plants, and various secluded picnic areas. A large playground is situated inside the park, about a block from the Plaza, and further in you’ll find tennis courts and a swimming reservoir perfect for hot sunny days. Breathtaking views of the hills reward hikers who enter the network of trails and vehicle-free roads south of Lithia Park.
Main Street and Lithia Way
From the Plaza up to 3rd Street, Ashland’s Main Street is a boutique shopping district where you can buy anything from fossils to fiddles. Truly, there is something for everybody in this eclectic mix. Stop in for homemade, all-natural ice cream at Zoey’s Cafe, or take in a movie at the Varsity Theatre. Wander among the Ashland Art Center’s three floors of artistic studios and galleries, and take in all of Ashland’s fine galleries during the monthly First Friday Art Walk. Cripple Creek Music Co. has musical instruments for all occasions, and the Ashland Outdoor Store gives access to the great outdoors of Southern Oregon. Finally, pick up some reading material at the Ashland Library, located at far edge of the downtown corridor.
Just three blocks north of East Main Street, you’ll arrive at quaint neighborhoods bordering the railway. The warehouses and depot buildings which once served Ashland’s rail stop have been repurposed as eclectic shops, art galleries, spas, and cafes. Natural and organic foods, including daily hot-deli specials, are available at the Ashland Food Co-op, and pet supplies can be had at the neighboring Grange Co-op. At the West end of A street, near the railroad tracks and bike path, you’ll find Railroad Park with a grassy lawn and playground.