VOGUE — Writing about my hometown might offer a skewed perspective: the places I recommend are brighter in my mind because they were the settings for teenage first dates and declarations of independence. But in recent years, the town where I grew up has exceeded my own nostalgic expectations with inventive cuisine and even better almond croissants. Ashland, Oregon is wine country, but better: vineyards provide diversity without overwhelm, and the burgeoning cannabis industry grows some of the best in the world. The natural surroundings are ideal for adventure, or just marveling out the window.
I’m not alone in my newfound appreciation: the Rogue River area of Southern Oregon was named one of the New York Times’s 52 Places to Travel in 2018. The university has built more dorms, and the Shakespeare Festival uplifted new voices (its director, Bill Rauch, will come to New York as artistic director for the World Trade Center’s Perelman Center in 2019). Ashland High grads still gather at the same grungy pizza bar—long may it live—but now, as the night goes on, I can find a considered cocktail.
Here, an insider’s guide to the most charming town in Oregon.