The Best Small Cities In America

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by DEBBIE STRONG

Ashland, Oregon

Here are the small American charmers, as voted on by Condé Nast Traveler readers. All have populations of under 100,000, and often as much to offer as cities ten times their size.

At the base of the Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges, the scenery here is second to none--and the town's year-round mild weather doesn't disappoint, either. Despite being thousands of miles from England, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival draws major crowds, and the Ashland Springs Hotel has a distinctively European flair in its 70 rooms.

Read the full report on Condé Nast Traveler >

Bucolic Ashland, Ore., is a Shakespeare-steeped literary retreat

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By CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS

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Salt needs pepper. Romeo needs Juliet. And your epic nature trip to Crater Lake might need a cultural detour.

Enter Ashland, Ore., which sits in the bucolic Bear Creek Valley about 90 miles southwest of Crater Lake and 16 miles north of the California border.

It was born in the 19th century as a mill town on the banks of Ashland Creek. But things took a turn in the early 1890s.

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Oregon Wine Experience returns to Jacksonville in August

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The Oregon Wine Experience, Oregon’s newest destination event, will be held August 17 to 23 at Bigham Knoll in Jacksonville, Ore. Sponsored by the Asante Foundation and Southern Oregon wineries, this will be a spectacular week of extraordinary wines and fabulous meals served in a backdrop of some of the Northwest’s most dramatic and beautiful wine country.

The Oregon Wine Experience will showcase what many critics have called the next great wine region, and it will feature wine talks, tastings and sensory classes, intimate vintner dinners, wine competition, and auctions crowned by an outdoor salmon bake with music and dancing under starlit skies.

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Ashland, Oregon, rests and the Rogue River roars

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By CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS

Rogue River Gorge lies about 70 miles north of Ashland in Oregon.

This video takes us about 20 miles north of the California-Oregon border to Ashland, which has more smarts and style than your average town of 21,000. It’s the headquarters of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival -- an enormous enterprise that brings legions of dramatically inclined visitors -- and the home of Southern Oregon University.

I showed up on a Monday, when all the Shakespearean stages were dark. But plenty of musicians were out, working the sidewalk or playing the open-mic night at Oberon’s Tavern or serenading the upstairs diners at Martino’s Restaurant.

The last bit of the video comes from a nature walk along the narrow, roaring Rogue River Gorge, about 70 miles north of Ashland along Oregon Route 62. (Other stretches of the river, near the town of Gold Hill north of Medford, are popular spots for rafting outfitters.)

“A Minute Away” is a video series in which nothing much happens -- except you see the world, and hear it, and get a respite from workaday life. We’ve covered Machu Picchu, Red Square, the Yucatan, the Alamo, an Alaskan float plane and the reading room of the New York Public Library, among other places. Since early 2013, we've been adding a new minute every week (and some of those “minutes” are closer to 120 seconds. So if you’d prefer an hour or two away, we've got more than enough here for you…

Read the original report and watch the video on LATimes.com

Getting wild on Oregon's Rogue River

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Photo from Rogue Wilderness Adventures

Standing on the banks of the Rogue River, Rogue Wilderness Adventures owner Brad Niva gave our rafting group a safety briefing on things to do and things to avoid, a reminder to stay hydrated and an advisory: "There's absolutely no cell service in the canyon, so you may as well turn your phones off now." My girls, Cassidy and Annabel, had been forewarned but still looked mildly dejected.

They might not admit it, but I'm pretty sure their media-deprived state was forgotten by the second rapid.

The Rogue rises near Crater Lake in Oregon's Cascade Mountains and flows 215 miles in a generally westerly direction, before reaching the Siskiyou Mountains and finally entering the Pacific at the town of Gold Beach.

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Southern Oregon gets two new State Scenic Bikeways

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Photo by Muuqi Maxwell courtesy of RideOregonRide.com

Cyclists have two new State Scenic Bikewayswith this week's approval of two more in southern Oregon by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission. The Cascade Siskiyou Scenic Bikeway, based at Ashland, and the Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway, based at Port Orford, are both long, winding routes into the mountains.

The Cascade Siskiyou Scenic Bikeway incorporates 5,000 feet of steep and winding climbing through oak savannah into fir forests, showcasing the ecologically diverse ecosystem of the region.

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72 Hours: Ashland

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By JULIET GRABLE

FROM A DISTANCE, Ashland is a storybook town: a village cradled by steep forested slopes on one side and hills that change from green to tawny, to white and snowy on the other. The illusion doesn’t fade with proximity. Wellpreserved historic Craftsman and Victorian houses perch in the hills above a picturesque downtown. Its centerpieces are a bustling plaza, the jewel of Lithia Park and the economic engine that is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In summer, Ashland is jammed with theatergoers, buskers, Pacific Crest Trail throughhikers and other travelers. Loyal visitors make the pilgrimage year after year to catch the new season of plays, revisit favorite restaurants and stay in bed and breakfasts.

While dinner-and-a-play makes for a satisfying outing, there is also excellent hiking and mountain biking, spas, vineyards and rapids ranging from Class I to IV on the nearby Rogue and Upper Klamath rivers.

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