Ashland, Oregon -- small town charm

Every time I visit Ashland, Oregon (and wish I didn’t have to leave), I think, “If I were filming a Hallmark movie and needed an idyllic, cheerful, all-American small town as a setting, I’d choose Ashland.”

As far as population goes, it almost misses my criteria for 20,000 population being the maximum. Well, it has 20,288 people. This small town is just too much of a gem to leave out, though, because of a few extra headcounts.

There are lots of fun and funky art vendors within walking distance of downtown. I've stayed in Ashland both right downtown in an historic hotel and out a ways at a farm B&B. Ashland, Oregon has a luscious combination of quaint small town-ness that suggests the feeling of having old-time values and friendly picket-fence type neighbors. And yet it’s quite progressive in that even back in the early 2000’s, I could walk outside my hotel door and enjoy an organic restaurant serving local foods. Its food co-op is varied and well-established.

One might think my fondness for Ashland means I’m a Shakespeare fan, since so many flock to this small town for the Shakespeare Festival held every year for nine months, February through October. But I’m not a fan of the guy, nor am I a fan of college towns as this one is... except for two -- with this being one of the two! People say that beneath the surface, there was something very deep and enlightened about Shakespeare, and maybe that rubs off into the town. It’s great for tourist-type businesses as well as business for established community, with the ongoing college, its staff and professors, and the festival to count on year after year.

Here's a shot of some of the forests amidst drier rolling hills surrounding Ashland, Oregon. I love how the town has all four seasons. In the winter, when there is snow it often melts within a day, but spectacular Mt. Ashland is just about eight miles to the south, I’ve been atop it in summer -- like a touch of the Swiss Alps in Ashland (yep, I’ve been to the Swiss Alps and it compared). That mountain gets 300 inches of snow a year and hosts winter sports, so one can find gobs of snow if they seek more of it in winter.

Here's a shot I took near the farm we stayed at in rural Ashland. Being someone who loves both the sea where I raised my kids, and 4-season hot summer inland small towns like my childhood hometown, Ashland offers a vibrant small town with nice warm/hot summers surrounded by beautiful hills and forests, and it’s not too long of a drive to the gorgeous Oregon coast.

Getting there: Here's a shot of some in our group riding the train towards Ashland. It was a long 12 hour ride from Seattle. The trip was quite fun, but the problem is that the closest Amtrak station to our destination was in Klamath Falls, about an hour and a half away, with no car rental nearby. We had a friend already in Ashland come pick us up, but it was a very long drive late at night after the 12 hour train ride. My wish would be the train went straight to Ashland and/or had a walk-to car rental near it.

Driving is probably the best way to go if you live on the west coast, that's how I did it on my first trip. Oregon is so scenic and a pleasure to drive through. The closest airport is in Medford, Oregon where you can take a quick 15 minute or so bus to Ashland.

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