The Perfect Autumn Getaway: Ashland, Oregon

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By ANDREA MINARCEK

Ashland, Oregon
Early autumn in Ashland may be the best time of year to visit the southern Oregon town: The leaves are turning, and this year, its legendary Shakespeare fest is as lively as ever. We sent writer Christopher Hall to check it out. Here are his picks for the five perfect components to an autumn Ashland visit.

Play time

During the first season of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival 80 years ago, Ashland residents and students served as actors on a simple stage that also hosted boxing matches. Now the Tony Award-winning company has three state-of-the-art theaters—and not a fist-swinging bout in sight. It produces everything from the Bard (Richard III runs through October 10) to modern musicals (Into the Woods runs through October 11). It also stages its own new commissions during a season that goes from February to November. September offers a full slate of performances, including an outdoor series that seems perfectly timed to the weather: Days this month stay mostly sunny, even as a nip starts to spice the air each evening around curtain time.

Go-to fall foliage

Picnickers, Frisbee tossers, and kids on swings populate the busy end of Lithia Park (pictured below), near Ashland’s downtown plaza and the Shakespeare Festival complex. But deeper inside this 93-acre oasis, tranquility prevails along the forested paths that follow Ashland Creek through a wooded canyon. September is especially scenic. “That’s when our fall color starts, usually with the maples in the Japanese garden,” says park superintendent Bruce Dickens.

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