The Friendliest Cities in the U.S.



Over the last five years, we've asked our readers to rate a city's "friendliness" in the Readers’ Choice Awards survey, especially with respect to where you felt welcome. Did an outgoing local show you the way? Was the city easy to navigate? More than 300,000 people took the survey in 2016—see what you had to say about the friendliest cities in the U.S. (and why we're not calling out the unfriendliest cities for the first time).
This article has been updated with the latest winners.

Ashland, Oregon
We love that our readers called out Ashland this year—it means they're making an effort to venture to this kinda-out-of-the-way town near the border of California. It usually takes two flights and a drive to get anywhere near the place, but you're rewarded once you're there. Life slows down to a stroll and locals welcome visitors with open arms, even during the busy and buzzy Oregon Shakespeare Festival. "Ashland delivers when it comes to the arts! A beautiful and culturally rich small city to visit."

Read the full article in Conde Nast Traveler >

Southern Oregon wine country: Wineries, Shakespeare and outdoor adventures



Southern Oregon is a naturalists’ playground. Its wild rivers, mountains and forests make for a fun, rustic vacation. And its wines, which have recently emerged on the national stage, offer surprising flavors. Southern Oregon’s wine country is expansive, and comes complete with jaw-dropping views as it follows the rivers that wind throughout the countryside.

Read the full report in The Arizona Republic >

5 small towns in Oregon that are worth a visit



Who doesn't enjoy visiting small towns and taking in the scenic beauty, discovering local shops and businesses and exploring festivals and events? These small towns reflect the best of what Oregon has to offer for a memorable day trip, whether you're visiting the state's rugged coast, the home of a century old "Real West" rodeo, picturesque wine country renowned for its pinot noir, a town famous for its Shakespeare theater company, or a community near stunning waterfalls. 


White Water and 70-Plus Wine Varietals Await in These Beautiful River Valleys



Wines from A to Z thrive in southern Oregon

In southern oregon, it’s entirely possible to sip your wine-tasting flight with your feet in a river. It’s also possible to go both antiquing and jet-boating before you’re even hungry for lunch. And it’s also possible to sum up this ruggedly beautiful wine-growing region in just one word: diverse. Read More...

Summer Bucket List 2017: 20 Fun Things to Do Across the U.S.

by CNT Editors


Here are 20 of our favorite reasons to get out of town this summer.

17. Honor the Bard in Ashland
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the attractive town of Ashland has been going strong for more than 80 years. Although plays are staged from February through early November in two indoor theaters, the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre is only open from early June to mid-October. This summer, catch a production of Shakespeare in Love or Julius Caesar. Fun fact: The festival has run through the Bard's entire repertoire of 37 plays three times over and is one play (Timon of Athens) away from completing it a fourth time.

Read the full report in Conde Nast Traveler >

Variety, high quality abound at Oregon Shakespeare Festival



Staging nine plays in three theaters, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland is in full swing. Four plays are on the boards in the Angus Bowmer Theatre, two in the Thomas Theatre and three in the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre. With so many choices, it’s possible to see two plays a day.

It’s also possible to see the same actor in different roles, a testament to the talents of the acting company. Also evident are outstanding design elements like sets, costumes, lighting and sound. It appears that OSF is trying to appeal to the younger set with music and dance. It also is continuing its commitment to diversity with color- and gender-blind casting and is employing actors with disabilities.

By the time of the final bows on Oct. 29, the festival will have staged 11 plays, starting with the two indoor theaters in mid-February. Here’s a rundown on six recently seen plays.

3 big reasons why southern Oregon is a hot vacation destination right now



Have you heard of Ashland, Medford, Jacksonville and Grants Pass? Perhaps overshadowed by Portland, this affordable, seven-county region in southern Oregon just above the California border beckons to wine geeks, culture mavens and nature lovers everywhere.

Read the full report in the Dallas Morning News >

How an Oregon Theater Got the Attention of the Tonys, the Pulitzers and Broadway



This story first appeared in the June 06, 2017 issue of Variety.

The small town of Ashland, Ore., lies just over the California border in the forested foothills of the Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges. It has a population of 20,000, a bustling restaurant scene and great hiking trails. It also has a large-scale nonprofit theater that has spawned two current Tony-nominated plays and one recent Tony winner.

For most of its 82-year existence, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has been something of an insider secret, best known among the West Coast theater fans who flock there to catch shows during its nine-month annual season. But as its robust commissioning programs have yielded new plays that have gone on to runs around the country — along with a string of recent successes on the theater awards circuit — OSF is fast becoming an important incubator of new stage work beyond the New York City limits.

Read the full report in Variety >

Cool summer getaways: Ashland, Oregon




If William Shakespeare, Bob Marley and Daniel Boone were planning a vacation together, they’d probably be able to agree on Ashland, Oregon.

Home to world-famous rafting and hiking trails (featured in "The River Wild" and "The Wild," respectively), a hippie-college-town atmosphere and the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the small city in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley is as well-rounded as it is enjoyable.

Read the full report on AZCentral >

Southern Oregon: Five terrific wine-tasting stops




When people think of Oregon and wine, it’s the Willamette Valley — the famed chardonnay and pinot noir mecca just south of Portland — that springs to mind. But Southern Oregon boasts an appealing wine region near Medford, with more than 150 wineries producing 70 varieties of wine. If you’re planning a trip to Crater Lake or Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival, add a day or two to your itinerary and explore some wineries, too. Here are five great spots to try.

Read the full report featuring Dancin Vineyards, Quady North, Plaisance Ranch, Schmidt Family Vineyards and Serra Vineyards in the San Jose Mercury News.


The Top 12 Underrated Wine Regions To Visit In 2017



A Month-By-Month Guide

Winemakers Greg & Kara of Wooldridge Creek Vineyard & Winery

August: Rogue and Applegate Valleys, Southern Oregon

Oregon is often confused as being a misty gray place full of lush forest, Pinot vineyards, and affected hipsters. Yes, those conditions exist, but mostly in the northern rain shadow between the coast and the Cascade Range. Much of the state has a dry and sunny clime, including down south where the diverse vineyards of the Rogue and Applegate Valleys lie. And wine diversity defines the Valleys—the range of micro-climates allows for everything from Riesling to Cabernet to ripen. Add outdoor sports like hiking, rafting, fishing, and biking to museums, theater, live music venues, and restaurants, plus a stroll through a preserved, gold-rush era town and the activities prove as varied as the wine.

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Gerry Frank's picks: For fine-dining in Ashland try Coquina or Amuse




When I think of Southern Oregon, good cheese and good wine come to mind…

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The 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World, 2016


Photo by Al Case, Ashland Daily Photo

In case you’ve forgotten, sometimes movies can just be about fun.

Welcome to the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World. A companion list to our definitive “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” list released in spring, “Coolest Fests” is where things get a little looser, a little funkier, a little weirder. Think of it this way: While that list is all about bang for moviemaking bucks, this list is, simply, about having the best time at a festival imaginable—whether that means incredible atmosphere, superb repertory programming or choice victuals.


12 places to see fall color in Oregon



Oregon is known as an evergreen state, full of that iconic Douglas-fir and all its coniferous brethren. Evergreens are so prevalent here, that you should feel free to excuse yourself if seeing the fall colors isn't usually at the top of your autumn to-do list. While most abundant in urban areas, deciduous trees make up about 10 percent of Oregon's 30 million acres of forest, accordingto data from the U.S. Forest Service. That includes huge stands of oak and red alder, significant populations of maple and the coniferous western larch, and stray patches of aspen, ash and cottonwood. If you time a fall vacation for late-September to mid-October, and you know where to go (a few ideas are below), you can witness a spectacular showing of color bursting forth from our otherwise-evergreen forests. You can always settle for the sights of the cities – where fall color is as abundant as pumpkin-flavored lattes – but consider an adventure into Oregon's other autumnal settings: sprawling forests that offer more scenic diversity than you ever knew.

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Ease on down to Ashland for Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 'The Wiz'



Lincoln Kaye is visiting Ashland Oregon, home to Southern Oregon University and the award-winning and internationally-known regional theatre company, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The closest approximation of a homegrown, made in U.S.A.  uhr-myth has to beThe Wizard of Oz. The L. Frank Baum children’s classic – the saga of a Kansas pre-teen, tornado-tossed into a surreal dream world where she befriends talking beasts and mannequins, quells witches, frees slave-elves and debunks a phony godman – melds all the ingredients of an archetypal hero-quest. The story has given rise, over the past century, to a series of books, as well as multiple stage plays, musicals and films. In the 1970’s, at the trailing edge of a decade of Civil Rights Movement triumphs, the music-and-lyrics duo of Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown came out with an all-black version, The Wiz, which was then parlayed into a hit movie with an all-star Motown cast. But now the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has revived The Wiz in what may be its unlikeliest incarnation yet: a full-dress masque in the grand 17th century tradition, as befits the Tudor splendour of Ashland’s outdoor Elizabethan Theatre.

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Great Wineries of Oregon's Applegate River Valley



The Applegate Valley AVA is a 275,000 acre wine appellation located along the Applegate River north of the California border.

Amongst the forested hillsides and fertile valley are nearly 20 wineries producing an array of high-quality wines.  Sunset Magazine calls this area “The New Napa” and “Wine country the way it should be”. Playing off this bit of press is a wine club called New Napa that sources great wine picks from the southern Oregon region. New Napa’s Tracy Davis kindly recommended the following wine tasting itinerary for one day in the Applegate River AVA.

Read the full report featuring Wooldridge Creek, Longsword, and South Stage Cellars >

A Playwright Finds Drama, and Humor, in Roe v. Wade



ASHLAND, Ore. — Lisa Loomer has written plays about how women’s bodies are tortured in the name of beauty and about the relationship between white mothers and their Latina nannies in Los Angeles. Taking on the politics of abortion would seem right up her alley. But when her friend Bill Rauch, the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, first asked if she would be interested in writing a play about Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case establishing abortion rights, she wasn’t so sure.

Read the full review in The New York Times >

OSF announces new commissions


A commitment to the development and production of significant new theatrical work is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's impetus to commission eight new plays as part of American Revolutions: The United States History Cycle. The newly commissioned artists are sketch comedy group 1491s; writer, actress and director Aditi Brennan Kapil; award-winning playwright Basil Kreimendahl; playwrights Mona Mansour and Carlos Murillo; novelist, playwright and human rights activist Susan Nussbaum; playwright and director Robert O’Hara; and performer and award-winning playwright Jiehae Park.

Read the full report on >

Other summer Shakespeare and theater festivals



Photo by T. Charles Erickson

More summer theater festivals

North America has four other major summer theater festivals, each a multi-theater complex with multiple productions in repertory running into the fall:

Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Ore.: The festival is 81 years old, but this southern Oregon site traces roots to the late-1800s Chautauqua movement, which brought culture and entertainment to rural America.

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American playwrights try to reinvent the history play



When Bill Rauch applied to become the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in 2007, he pitched an ambitious ten-year project: the festival would commission thirty-seven new plays about moments of change in American history, on the model of Shakespeare’s thirty-seven-play canon. “Shakespeare wrote the history of his people onto the stage,” Alison Carey, who directs what became American Revolutions: The United States History Cycle, told me. “Why don’t we do that?” Last week, O.S.F. announced eight more commissions, bringing the total to thirty-two, with five to go. So far, the commissioned playwrights—who include David Henry Hwang, Paula Vogel, Lynn Nottage, and Young Jean Lee—have written dramas about immigration, Presidential elections, the slave trade, Roe v. Wade, radical politics, and the decline of American industry. The results have raised a tricky question: Is Shakespeare still a useful guide, or do playwrights need to create a new kind of drama if they want to depict American history?

Read the full original report on >

At Oregon Shakespeare Fest, generous helpings of classics and new works


Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 9.27.19 AM

Reviews of four of the plays running in repertory in the 2016 OSF season: “The Winter’s Tale,” “Richard II,” “Roe” and “Vietgone.”

Though increasingly focused on presenting contemporary dramas and an array of musicals, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival can’t, won’t and shouldn’t abandon its original mission: the plays of its celebrated namesake. That’s still the main draw of the Ashland, Ore., company, which has the acting and design resources no other Northwest theater can muster for the task.
Under the leadership of current artistic director Bill Rauch, and his predecessor Libby Appel, OSF has kept faith with the Bard of Avon while gradually but firmly steering away from straightforward, Elizabethan-style mountings of the canon. Today OSF (like many classic companies) tends to reconceptualize and reconfigure and pop-musical-ize Shakespeare, with a modern slant — sometimes to a play’s detriment, at best with a bracing vigor that makes the audience rethink and reconnect to this theatrical treasure trove.

The 2016 OSF season, which runs through October, offers a “Twelfth Night” in Hollywood musical mode; a popular, grungy “Hamlet,” with heavy- metal-guitar accompaniment; and an update of the rarely performed riches-to-rags fable, “Timon of Athens.” Two other Shakespeare works, “Richard II” and “The Winter’s Tale,” are also on tap. Seen back to back, they illuminate the power of an incandescent text, as well as the mixed blessings of an awkward retrofit.

Read the full report on >

Oregon Shakespeare Festival is more than Shakespeare on stage



The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is now in full swing with all three of its theaters in operation and a total of 10 plays running in repertory six days a week. I went up to Ashland for a long weekend, saw four plays, spent part of a day wandering through the town and then drove out into the southern Oregon countryside. As always, I wanted more time to spend in the spectacular outdoors there, particularly at the nearby Rogue River, but maybe next time. Here are my reviews of the plays I saw.

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Scarpetta in Ashland is a locavore's heaven



Locavore has become so commonplace in dining that it is surprising that the term is really only a eleven years old, coined by Berkeley-based author and chef Jessica Prentice who fused together two words to describe her month-long experiment in eating only local food; locus, meaning place andvorare, meaning to swallow—a locavore is “one who swallows (or devours) the place,” according to Prentice.

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5 stops on the Bear Creek Wine Trail



Southern Oregon boasts rich terrain for the cultivation of wine grapes, and Rogue Valley vineyards have picked up awards from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the 2016 Oregon Wine Awards. The region makes Wine Enthusiast's list for the "10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2016."

The Bear Creek Wine Trail Passport capitalizes on the area’s offerings with a lineup of local vineyards and wineries. This passport — which can be purchased at any of 12 stops on the wine trail — includes Belle Fiore Winery, Ledger David Cellars, Roxy Ann Winery, Paschal Winery, Grizzly Peak Winery, DANCIN Vineyards, PebbleStone Cellars, StoneRiver Vineyard, Weisinger Family Winery, Trium Wines, Aurora Vines and Dana Campbell Vineyards.

The passport costs $25 and buys three tastings at each of the 12 stops. Best of all, the passports are valid for a full year. Patrons can take time to enjoy the particular features that each winery has to offer on this marathon tasting tour.

Read the full report on >

This Summer's Bucket List: 18 Fun Things to Do Across the U.S.



Here are 18 of our favorite reasons to get out of town this summer.


The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the attractive town of Ashland has been going strong for more than 80 years. Although plays are staged from February through early November in two indoor theaters, the mock-Tudor outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre is only open from early June to mid-October. This summer, catch a production of Hamlet or The Winter's Tale. Fun fact: The festival has run through the Bard's entire repertoire of 37 plays three times over.

Read the full list on >

Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Green Show is a win-win for audiences and performers




No tickets required. No money required. No age limit. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Green Show is a dream come true for audiences.

On a greyish-white stage on the Bricks, the space between the open-air Allen Elizabethan Theatre and the indoor Angus Bowmer Theatre in Ashland, the Green Show runs before each summertime Elizabethan Theatre show, weather and forest fires permitting. Depending on who's scheduled, the 45-minute performance might set the mood for Elizabethan or Bowmer Theatre plays, or simply provide high-quality local, regional, national or international entertainment for anyone who's in town.

7 Up-and-Coming Winetasting Regions in the West



Wine Country no longer just means Napa or the Willamette. Here are seven places in the West where you can get hip to some amazing sips.

If the idea of a weekend in wine country brings to mind only California's Napa or Oregon's Willamette Valley, think again. Alternative getaways—with great wine, yes, but also outstanding places to eat, play, and shop—are blooming around the West. Pluck your favorite from this tour of the best.


Ashland more than a dramatic destination in Oregon


Photo from Alchemy Restaurant at The Winchester Inn

In Ashland, Oregon, the plays are the thing — with apologies to William Shakespeare — but they’re not the only thing.

The small Southern Oregon town is best known as the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the nation’s largest and oldest professional regional rotating repertory theater.

The abundance of theater — which extends beyond the bard to include both contemporary and classic productions — is certainly the main reason to visit. The festival runs for nine months of the year and produces 11 plays on three stages.

You can’t see all of them in one visit, because most don’t run for the full season, but since the plays rotate, you can catch many of them if you stay long enough. And once you start hearing the buzz — you’re likely to find yourself dining near actors as well as enthusiastic theatergoers — you’re likely to wish you were seeing more than you’d planned to.

Catch at least one in the 1,190-seat Elizabethan Theatre, an outdoor theater inspired by London’s 1599 Fortune Theatre. The experience of being in the theater under the open sky, hearing the trumpet sound and watching the flag go up to mark the start of the show, is not to be missed.

And if theater ever becomes too much of a good thing (another phrase Will coined), there are lots of other adventures to be had.

Forthwith, here’s The Olympian’s handy guide to the top pastimes in the town where all the world’s a stage:


Smithsonian names Jacksonville one of top small towns to visit



Jacksonville11 (1 of 1)

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, our top picks this year are all towns close to America’s natural splendors

Jacksonville’s gold deposits were discovered in the 1850s, and the town’s past still glitters today, literally. The famed Jacksonville Inn was actually built out of sandstone that had specks of gold in it.


OSF’s 2017 Season to Feature Disney-Affiliated Shows, New August Wilson

American Theatre

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

ASHLAND, ORE.: Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) artistic director Bill Rauch announced the festival’s 2017, season today, including a diverse array of classics, new work, and musicals.

“It brings me such joy to share these 11 amazing, powerful stories with our audiences,” said Rauch in a statement. “The sense of adventure, discovery, and revelation is palpable in every play. The 2017 season represents our ever-growing passion and dedication to represent voices and stories that reflect the cultural richness, and at times the painful legacy, of our country. The season also takes us deeper into our commitment to our namesake playwright and the exciting Canon-in-a-Decade project, with a particularly enticing opportunity in our most intimate theatre space: Patrons will have the rare opportunity to see both parts of Henry IV in the Thomas Theatre, perhaps as part of a same-day marathon.”

Read the full report in American Theatre Magazine >

Southern Oregon wines’ gaining clout

The Washington Times

Southern Oregon Wine Region

The winsome wines of southern Oregon are gathering acclaim far beyond the Cascades and Siskiyous. An industry once summed up by a collection of one-offs in Ashland, Cave Junction, Roseburg and Ruch during the 1970s now boasts 121 wineries and 226 vineyards on 5,886 planted acres in Jackson, Josephine and Douglas counties. The fruit of the region’s vines has drawn accolades from the Atlantic to Pacific, capturing the hearts of wine columnists and judges. Reports in the New York Times, Sunset magazine and Wine Enthusiast, plus an avalanche of medals in January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, are creating reasonable expectations the coming travel season will attract more and new wine tourists.

Read the full report on >

Road Trip: Ashland Culinary Festival



Sure, it’s a bit of a trek, but the Chef Showdown is worth the travel. Look forward to a weekend of food demos, live entertainment and sizzling competition. Friday-night ticket holders can sip, savor and socialize at the Meet the Chefs event.

Read the full report in Seattle Magazine >

The Best Small Cities In America



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 >

Ashland, Oregon, rests and the Rogue River roars


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

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.


The 10 Most Beautiful Towns in Oregon

Lithia Park
Oregon is one of the most beautiful states, complete with diverse landscape and picturesque towns. Many of the towns, from the west to the east, have distinct character and stunning views, whether it is snow-capped mountains, oceanic scenery, or tree-lined hills. From historic villages to charming coastal escapes, here is a list of some of the most beautiful towns throughout Oregon.


A charming place located in Southern Oregon, Ashland is a friendly town offering guests much to see and explore. Situated where the Siskiyou and Cascade Mountains converge, the lush area is brimming with scenic views, outdoor adventures, historical sites and many art and cultural experiences. Must-do activities include taking a leisurely stroll through the Historic Downtown and Railroad Districts where beautiful buildings filled with unique shops, galleries, and cafés are waiting to be discovered and meandering through the stunning Lithia Park, which features 90 acres of serene beauty. After a day of walking, relax by taking in a theatrical production by the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival — currently in its 80th year.

Read the full report on

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Beyond Ashland


ASHLAND, Ore. — “All the world’s a stage” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The plays produced on OSF’s stages are captivating audiences across the country, and while the demand is increasing, it really comes as no surprise to the cast and crews who call OSF home.

“Really exciting time for the work that we’re doing. Outside of Manhattan we have the highest density of high qualified performers in any one area,” said Heath Belden, the “Into the Woods” Stage Manager. “This is a hotbed of creativity. Especially under Bill Rouch it’s driving a lot of the theatrical conversation across the country right now.”

7 years ago, Artistic Director Bill Rauch established a project called “American Revolutions”. The goal was to commission 37 plays on great moments in American history. More than half way through, the most notable play “All The Way,” went all the way to a little place know as Broadway.


Oregon's urban fall color season beginning, with spectacular foliage into November


By Terry Richard

The eyes will soon be delighted with the arrival of Oregon's urban fall color season.

With most of the state's forests made up of evergreen trees, Oregon's showiest fall color is often found in non-native deciduous trees that have been planted in parks, arboretums, on college campuses, in formal gardens, along streets and in neighborhood yards.
By all means, venture out of the cities to see the native fall color, especially the cottonwoods of the river valleys, but keep an I peeled in the cities, too.

The Oregon Department of Forestry sends along this list of places to see spectacular fall color in Oregon:


Best Affordable Fall Foliage Towns

Travel + Leisuer

his artsy town in southern Oregon—a few hours south of Portland—has galleries, ethnic restaurants, and day spas that utilize the Lithia Springs mineral waters. It’s a good combination with the amazing fall foliage, which peaks in mid-October. Hike or mountain bike in the surrounding hills to really appreciate the changing scenery.

Fall Color Hotel: Chanticleer Inn is a six-room bed-and-breakfast with a view of the Cascades. It has a garden, koi pond, and hammock.

> Read the original report on

The Place To Be For Fall Foliage


The travel Web site TripAdvisor revealed Ashland as the most affordable destination in the country for weekend getaways, to check out the changing leaves this fall.

Ashland came in first out of 10.


Elizabethan Theater Experience

Global Traveler

by Patricia Vanikiotis

My husband and I viewed two very different types of theatrical performances a week apart in the same venue, but we enjoyed each one on its own merits. We are blessed to live a short 30-minute drive from one of America’s oldest Elizabethan theatres and a Tony-awarding winning theater company, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. The company has been producing plays since 1935 and today produces works by Shakespeare, premieres of new plays, musicals and comedies in three venues during a season running from February through November. My favorite stage is also the oldest, although it has seen updates over the years. This is the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre, so named to honor the $3 million grant the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation provided in 1993 to build a roofed pavilion of balcony seating around the original bowl of orchestra seating, which still remains open to the stars.


Ashland, Ore.: Pathways to Participation


By K.C. Compton

Each year, Mother Earth News selects a handful of sustainable communities to highlight in their annual Great Places feature.

One of the things 28-year resident Katie Gomez appreciates most about Ashland is the number of volunteer opportunities available, and the variety of people who participate in all aspects of the community. From the Jackson County Master Recycler Program, to bird-watching and nature classes at North Mountain Park, to volunteers who take tickets and usher for theatrical events, Ashland abounds in pathways to participation. ScienceWorks Museum, for example, offers hands-on activities, family science night, camps and even a telescope-lending program. “I volunteer with three organizations,” says Gomez. “I believe most folks here volunteer for at least one.”

Mention this town in southern Oregon and the response is likely to be an enthusiastic, “The Oregon Shakespeare Festival!” This internationally renowned theater has become an economic engine for the town, along with organizations such as the Oregon Cabaret Theatre and Ashland Independent Film Festival.


The Perfect Autumn Getaway: Ashland, Oregon

Sunset Magazine Logo


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.


A Renaissance-esque Running Stop



Running in Ashland

Visit this historic Pacific Northwest town for some great running, racing and food.

Bordered by emerald landscape just 15 miles north of the California border sits Ashland, a quaint Renaissance-esque stop best known for Shakespeare, good grub and trail running.

“From town or anywhere along our 5-mile corridor you can be on dirt in a matter of moments,” says Hal Koerner, two-time Western States 100 champion and owner of Rogue Valley Runners in downtown Ashland. “The terrain here is forgiving but the climbs and descents are rather robust. That mix helps make our area unique and has a little something for everyone. Whether it’s a 3-mile run through the well-manicured Lithia Park or a 4-hour dusting in the watershed to the Siskiyou Crest, we have you covered.”


A Taste for Lunch in Ashland, Ore.


NW Raw
Chris Pietsch for The New York Times

On a recent summer afternoon, it was a busy scene outside the Ashland Food Co-op, where the lunch menu is the biggest draw. On a small triangle of grass a barefooted young woman in a grass skirt did a rather frantic and awkward hip dance while her shirtless tattooed partner played the bongos. Two gray-haired men wearing button-downs ate salad at an outdoor table and argued about Richard Blanco, the Inaugural poet in 2013 who gave a reading here last year.

Inside it was so crowded at the certified organic Food Co-op, a grocery store and popular restaurant that reopened its lunch deli in July after a major renovation, that the traffic jam of customers and shopping carts made it hard to enter. “We have a charisma, a magnetic field that pulls people down to the vortex that is the Food Co-op at lunchtime,” Annie Hoy, communications manager, said. She encouraged out-of-town visitors to try the new carnitas tacos ($2.50) and Paleo bowl ($7.99) at the co-op’s deli.

In this last year and a half, at least 10 food spots have opened or undergone renovations in Ashland, a southern Oregon town of just 20,000, boosting its reputation as an emerging culinary destination. Nearly half of these restaurants are focusing on lunch, three catering exclusively to the lunch crowd. The new lunch craze is a hyper-local healthful food trend that allows both budget travelers and well-heeled tourists to enjoy the produce and artisanal products this region has to offer. At least 300,000 visitors come to Ashland each year for the 10-month-longOregon Shakespeare Festival (which ends on Nov. 2), outdoor recreation like white-water rafting, hiking and mountain biking, and the wineries.


Southern Oregon’s under-the-radar wine country



Photos by Leah Nash for The New York Times

California’s Napa Valley and Sonoma are renowned for their wines, but tasting trips there generally come attached to luxurious digs, spa treatments, $25 tasting fees, Hummer limos and standstill traffic — and all the “no picnicking” pretension that goes with that.

So head instead to Oregon, not to the state’s well-known Willamette Valley wine country, but to southern Oregon. We found a relaxed, blossoming wine country with empty roads and crowd-free tasting rooms — some surrounded by strip malls, others by sparkling rivers — pouring excellent versions of an impressively wide range of varietals.


Praise for Southern Oregon wines


by Becky Sue Epstein

Photo from Palate Press

There’s a reason most Oregonians don’t leave the state for vacations: they have everything they need right here. The same could be said about Oregon’s wines, too – which is what I found when I finally went beyond the famed Willamette Valley region a few months ago.  Along with the enthusiasm and hospitality of the winery owners, two additional elements are contributing to a flourishing winemaking panorama in Southern Oregon: the tempranillo grape and wine clubs.

> Read the full report on

Oregon named top state for summer road trips

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Personal finance site WalletHub—always on the lookout for the best deal—studied lodging, gas prices, traffic safety, weather, and the less quantifiable fun factor to find the best states in the U.S. for the all-American road trip.

Anyone who’s driven the Oregon Coast won’t be surprised that the Beaver State tops the list. There’s just so much to see: from sea lion caves to massive sand dunes to the famed Goonies Rock (pictured), which stands sentry on
Cannon Beach.

Only Hours From Napa, But a World Away


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Leah Nash for The New York Times

While Napa Valley and Sonoma are renowned for their world-class wines, tasting trips there generally come attached to luxurious digs, spa treatments, $25 tasting fees, Hummer limos and standstill traffic — and all the “no picnicking” pretension that goes with that.

It’s gotten to the point where a thirsty, fogged-in San Franciscan in search of summer sun, stellar wine and hotel rates less than $400 a night has to go out of state, especially when toting two children under the age of 5 and a husband who prefers his fishing rod to the French Laundry.

And so, we headed north to Oregon, not to the well-known Willamette Valley, in the state’s northwest, but about four hours to its south, a sprawling region better known for the “wild and scenic” (as the official designation has it) Rogue River and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland than for the rolling vineyards in between.


America's Best Small Towns


by Michael Alan Connelly and Abbey Chase

Nothing embodies classic Americana quite like small towns. For the second year in a row, we've compiled a list that highlights some of the best places in the country you don't hear about every day. This year, we've focused on destinations with populations under 30,000 that have a vibrancy of their own and year-round appeal. Our list is made up of detour-worthy towns all over the U.S. that have strong cultural offerings or great outdoor adventures, in addition to standout dining and lodging options. For your next small-town getaway, head to any of these 10 remarkable spots.

Though it's home to the largest population on our list, Ashland is hardly lacking in small-town charm: Picture twisting hillside streets lined with Victorian homes, a town center with a stream running through it, and a gorgeous 93-acre park. Best known as the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which attracts more than 100,000 theatergoers annually, Ashland has year-round appeal thanks to its outdoor activities, cultural offerings, and growing status as a culinary destination.


A funky arts town in Oregon



With their quaint downtowns, undeniably charming shops and distinct personalities, small towns have long held a special place in the American heart. That homey feel can also appeal to city travelers longing for a slice of small town Americana.


Fantastic U.S. bike trails


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Recently USA Today included Ashland’s own Bear Creek Greenway as one of 15 “fantastic” U.S. bike trails. Here’s what they had to say...

One of the more leisurely trails you'll find on the west coast, Bear Creek boasts 26 miles of paved trails surrounded by serene meadows and emerald forests. Beginning in the quaint town of Ashland (considered a hidden treasure for bike enthusiasts), the greenway extends to Central Point and is strewn across more than 600 acres of what's considered some of Oregon's most exquisite landscapes. Somewhat of a mountain biking haven, enthusiasts will appreciate area events like the annual Spring Thaw and Ashland Mountain Challenge; two downhill races held in the Siskiyou Mountains.

Read the full report on USA Today...

Jeni and Olly's West Coast Wine Adventure

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Recently Jeni and Olly on the Food Network UK stopped in Ashland on a West Coast Wine Adventure. Watch this video for a uniquely British take on the good life in the Rogue Wine Country featuring DANCIN Vineyards, Red Lily Vineyards and Smithfield’s in Ashland!

Watch the show...

Get a dose of culture at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival




To Shakespeare or not to Shakespeare – that is the question. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in Ashland is becoming a popular all-ages destination thanks to recently expanded family programming. 

Now celebrating its 80th season, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is nationally renowned for a diverse mix of Shakespearean plays, musicals, classics and world premieres. Plays are staged in one of three theaters, all within easy walking distance of downtown Ashland. The outdoor Elizabethan Stage – one of the nation's oldest – is a unique experience not to be missed


Wherefore Art Thou, Ashland?


A Comic-Con for Shakespeare freaks. People out in the street dressed up as their favorite characters — Hamlet, Othello, Juliet, Puck — verbally jousting with lines from their respective plays.

That’s what I expected to find when I arrived at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

I quickly learned that I had underestimated the operation. This was no amateur hour, but a group of serious thespians creating high-quality theater (with a little help from a $26 million annual operating budget) for one of the largest and longest-running Shakespeare festivals in the world.

Not only that, but it isn’t just a weekend-long affair. The festival runs eight months of the year, and I had hit it during its peak season.

My first order of business was a behind-the-scenes tour that the festival offers. Kate Mulligan, an actress in two of this year’s plays who warned “I’m an Irish girl, and I can talk a blue streak,” was our guide.

First, Kate took us to the traditional open-air Elizabethan theater — the type of theater Shakespeare’s plays were intended to be performed in, with minimal background sets, to let the audience’s imagination fill in the scene.

“A wonderful thing called the Chautauqua Circuit used to run right through here in the late 1800s and stop at the Elizabethan for several days each year, “ Kate explained.

The storied traveling theater group — what Theodore Roosevelt called “the most American thing in America” — would begin in New York and end in southern Oregon each year. “The current festival owes its existence to the Chautauqua Circuit,” Kate said.

But the most interesting part of the tour was the costume and make-up area.

“This is where we all hang out between shows. It’s always buzzing with energy,” Kate explained. “I’ll be in my funereal dress playing Bananagrams with a Pirate of Penzance,” she said as she walked us by a lounge area with black leather sofas.

During the course of the tour, Kate talked about the two plays she was in, George Kaufman’s Animal Crackers and Medea Macbeth Cinderella. Her infectious enthusiasm convinced me to buy tickets (I had originally only gotten a ticket for Henry V.)
I was so glad I did.

Animal Crackers was a riot and Medea Macbeth Cinderella was possibly the best play I’ve ever seen. In it, the three classics are being performed simultaneously, and the clever script reveal the similarities between the main characters’ struggles.
To complete my Shakespearian experience, I stayed at a historically registered bed and breakfast called the McCall House, built in 1883, and just a block from the theaters. Each room is themed, and mine was the Phyllis Courtney, a famous Shakespearian actress.

I was worried the Victorian inn would be stuffy, but it provided a fresh minimalist take on the era, not the typical overdone and frilly one. Nola, the innkeeper, and Kerry at the front desk were most gracious hosts, and dining-room breakfast each morning with the other guests was delectable.

Baked croissant French toast with butterscotch roasted pears; Mediterranean soufflé with sundried tomato, feta, and herbs; baked cheese blintz with reduced mixed berry sauce — all included in the nightly charge.

Lithia Park is another gem in Ashland and central to the original Chautauqua Circuit as well. I went for a long run along Ashland Creek and the famed “healing waters” that have a faint rotten-egg smell to them, then up theBandersnatch Trail behind the park, where I took in views of the town below and snowy mountains in the opposite direction.

While I never came across any crazily-costumed thespians performing in the streets, I did visit the Renaissance Rose, which has costumes and wigs galore. I tried to convince the other patrons in the store to don their best costumes and join me for some rogue Shakespeare in the park!

Okay, no I didn’t, but the thought did cross my mind.

My Town: Ashland, Oregon

Travel + Leisuer

Wild river rapids by day, The Tempestby night—and all manner of adventures in between. Our teenage guide shows us that Shakespeare isn't the only drama in this entertaining town

With its vegan cafés, hiking trails, science museum, and Tony-winning Shakespeare festival, Ashland, in southwestern Oregon, is an intriguing blend of hippie and brainy—very much like 17-year-old Shaina, an accomplished violinist and lifelong Ashland resident. Shaina has a 13-year-old brother, Kai; parents who run Brothers', a popular café on North Main Street; and a colorful assortment of friends (skateboarders, snowboarders, and fellow musicians). Things here, she says, are always interesting, thanks in part to the festival, which runs from February to October and draws 100,000 people to this hamlet of 20,000. The other big plus: the wilderness right in the town's backyard. Let Shaina be your guide.