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Best Things to do in Southern Oregon for First-Time Visitors

Best Things to do in Southern Oregon for First-Time Visitors

Southern Oregon is a blend of outdoor adventures, culinary delights, and global cultures. 

I spent a week in the area, between the cities of Ashland, Medford, and Klamath Falls. 

I visited in June and summertime is a popular time to visit, but depending on the activities you enjoy there is much to do year-round. 

Here are some of the best things to do in Southern Oregon. 

How to get to Southern Oregon 

I flew in and out of Medford Airport. It’s a smaller airport that will likely require a connection but it’s easy to navigate. 

To see the area, I rented a Jeep. I recommend you do the same. 

You definitely want a rental car since it can be long expanses to access more rural attractions. When I was driving around the Crater Lake area, I found myself relieved that I had a vehicle with 4WD. 

Where to stay in Southern Oregon

While in Ashland, I stayed at the McCall House. This is a boutique hotel and historic property dating back to 1883. They have 10 rooms and breakfast prepared daily by the in-house chef. 

Another option in Ashland is Abigail’s Bed and Breakfast Inn, owned and managed by a couple, with every room named after a famous Abigail in history. 

In Klamath Falls, I stayed at Running Y Ranch Resort. This is a sprawling 3600 acre property with a golf course, lodge, and more. 

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 

Theatre set at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Oregon is famous for its annual Shakespeare festival, taking place every year in Ashland. 

They’re a nonprofit company and the festival takes place across 3 theatres. 

I attended a showing of Much Ado About Nothing and was impressed by the costumes, set design, and animation of the actors. 

You will absolutely need to get tickets in advance as they sell out quickly. 

Oregon Cabaret Theatre

Theatre playbill and stage

If you can’t make it for the Shakespeare Festival, don’t worry. There is great theatre happening in Ashland year-round at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre.

I appreciated that they had a live band playing during the show. I was seated on the second floor, with excellent views.

Your show comes with dinner and I highly recommend dining here as it was delicious. Reservatoins are required. This is a great date night activity.

Lithia Springs Conservation Park

Woman in blue dress in park

On my visit to Lithia Springs State Park, I heard the sounds of a cello on a weekday afternoon. There was a gentleman playing with several people seated to listen. It is a soothing place. 

People are strolling with leisure across different pathways, ponds and streams.

You can have a picnic here. There are expansive,grassy areas.

It’s located in downtown Ashland but feels like an oasis.

Try Lithia Water

Sign explaining the effects of Lithia Water

Ashland is known as home to healing waters, and there are fountains at the front of Lithia Springs park where you can sip some yourself. 

The water is meant to aid with mental ailments. The water is mineral heavy and has a distinct taste.

Whitewater rafting in Rogue Valley 

Man and woman on orange raft in rapids

I went whitewater rafting with Rogue Valley and we did Nugget Falls and Powerhouse Falls, both Class IV rapids. 

I encourage you to bring a dry bag so you can store your valuables. Your guide will have one but may have limited space. 

You should use the restrooms before you go as there’s not really a stop once you’re on the water. 

Use sunscreen. I was given a waterproof top that didn’t help much as I was soaked through by the end. Wear a bathing suit, bring a towel and change of clothes to leave in your car. 

There are local photographers who hang out before the first drop to get pictures and you can contact them for yours, charged separately from your tour. 

Zipline Canopy Tour 

Woman smiling on zipline canopy tour

I did a full-day excursion with Crater Lake Zipline. The business is listed as an amusement park on Google Business, and I think outdoor amusement park is an accurate descriptor. 

There are activities like axe throwing, ATV riding, and more. 

When you arrive, there are yeti cutouts leading the way and you check in at the yurt, a front desk/gift shop area. 

Since I did a full-day tour, lunch was included. It was provided by the on-site food truck, Sassy’s Kitchen. 

The zipline courses has 9 lines, 2 suspension bridges, and 2 rappels. 

Guides take photos and you can purchase them after, as well as rent a GoPro. 

Pro tip: if you do rent a GoPro and attach it to your helmet (or bring your own) make sure to look from side to side and not just straight forward while you’re riding. 

There is a parking lot and port-a-potty’s on site for guests. 

Kayaking at Upper Klamath Lake

Woman in clear kayak amongst lotus flowers

My excursion with Crater Lake Zipline included kayaking in the morning at Upper Klamath Lake. 

This was a scenic visit as the wocus flowers were in full bloom. A cousin of the lotus flower, the bright yellow petals stood in contrast to the green of the lily pads around them. 

We had a clear kayak so we could see the lake beneath us. It was a calm, peaceful spot to kayak. 

Rogue Grower’s Market

Blue food truck at farmer's market

Taking place every Tuesday in Ashland, the Rogue Grower’s Market is a farmer’s market highlighting local businesses and vendors. 

One of the things that impressed me most was the variety of cuisine, from Greek to Thai to Argentinian food. 

I also got to try yak jerky for the first time, made at a regional farm. 

Do an Energy Clearing with Sylvia from Connecting Within

Energy clearing space with hanging herbs

Sylvia Larrea from Connecting Within is a curandera, a healer and spiritual counselor. She works with people in the community and has a speciality in supporting moms. 

She is a talented fundraiser and advocate, championing those who needed assistance during the Oregon wildfires and working on projects like Milpa Mariposa, a cooperative farming project. 

Through her practice, she offers services like energy clearings to help you release stuck or negative energy. 

I was able to participate in an energy clearing. Sylvia guided me in picking plants from her garden that would serve my purpose and assembling a cleansing bouquet. 

See a Cooking Demonstration

Woman making tortillas from scratch

One of the people Sylvia met through a Latina Mamas group is Sabina from Oaxaca. During the wildfires, Sabina moved in with Sylvia and it was quickly discovered that she was a talented cook. 

Sylvia helped Sabina get a booth at the Rogue Grower’s Market and start cooking demonstrations. One day, Sabina hopes to have her own food truck. 

Sabina showed me how to make mole from scratch, a process I didn’t realize was so involved. 

It took us more than 2 hours to peel and roast 3 kinds of peppers and make tortillas and Mexican rice from scratch. 

The final product was worth the wait. 

Go wine tasting at Weisinger Family Winery

Woman holding wine flight while seated at winery

Weisinger Family Winery is Ashland’s original craft winery. I appreciated the posh setup, including an wooden deck with views of the surrounding mountains and comfortable outdoor furniture. 

I indulged in a wine flight, trying some of their signature offerings like the pinot noir. I paired my flight with a charcuterie platter. As much as possible, grapes and ingredients are locally sourced. 

Visit Crater Lake National Park 

Deep blue water around an island with trees on it

Everyone loves a National Park, though you may not necessarily think of Crater Lake. 

As the name implies, the crater and sapphire blue body of water inside is the main attraction of the park, with several options for hiking trails or a self-guided drive. 

I visited on Juneteenth and was pleasantly surprised to find they had free admission. Otherwise, it’s typically $30 to enter unless you have a national park pass.

I was also relieved to find a gas station on site as I was running low and the area doesn’t have great phone service for T-Mobile customers. 

These are just some of the fun things to do in Southern Oregon.

Till next time, safe travels! 

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This post was sponsored by Travel Southern Oregon. All opinions are my own.