It’s easy to fall in love with the Rogue Valley. This vibrant Southern Oregon locale has it all. It’s a mecca for outdoor recreationists, nirvana for wine enthusiasts, paradise for foodies and a magnet for arts aficionados. And I could wax rhapsodic about the picturesque landscape.
Wine takes centerstage in the Rogue Valley. The area has become a top global wine destination due to its distinctive climate and soil, which provide ideal growing conditions for over seventy varieties of wine. It’s home to more than 150 wineries representing four different regions.
Vineyard hopping along the pastoral country backroads is a beloved pastime for many locals and wine-focused visitors to the Rogue Valley. Even if wine’s not your thing, though, it’s hard not to appreciate the often-magical settings of these wineries.
One of the most stunning locations is Irvine & Roberts Vineyards in Ashland. Situated on eighty acres, at the confluence of the Siskiyou and Southern Cascade Ranges, this higher elevation winery is widely recognized for its elegant and well-balanced Pinot noirs, not to mention its breathtaking views.
Food plays a prominent role in the Valley, with restaurants, cafes, food trucks, farm stands and shops specializing in local, organic, and seasonable offerings.
Rogue Creamery Cheese Shop is a treat for dairy lovers. For over eighty years, this acclaimed business has been creating handcrafted cheeses, producing a whopping half million pounds annually. Blue cheeses are its piece de resistance, with its Rogue River Blue a World Cheese Champion in 2019-2020.
From the Creamery, head over to Lille Belle Chocolates, another Rogue Valley favorite. The place has been in the business of making its own chocolates for the past twenty years. Think decadent bon-bons, swoon-worthy caramels, rich truffles and unique bean-to-bars.
The Harry and David Country Store is also a popular spot for visitors. All the products you’ve come to know and love from this company are here in one place.
When it comes to restaurants, start your day at Over Easy in downtown Medford with one of Chef Braden Hitt’s breakfast/brunch creations. Accompany it with a Prickly Pear Lime mimosa to give your morning an extra boost.
Put Truffle Pig on your list when it’s time for lunch. This food truck can be found in several places around Medford and has a reputation for its gourmet interpretation of food truck fare.
I opted for Truffle Pig’s avocado toast and it was hands-down the best avo toast I’ve eaten. Maybe it was the ultra-creamy avocado, the edible flowers, the fermented honey, the feta, the artisan bread…
Pomodori Bistro and Porters are two good options for dinner. Italian reigns supreme at popular Pomodori’s, where the atmosphere is casual and upbeat. At Porters, you’ll dine on classic American cuisine in a renovated railroad depot that’s been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The arts scene in the Rogue Valley is alive and well, with a host of theaters, art centers, galleries and museums. First and foremost is the famed Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Known for its productions of classic and modern works, this professional theater has a worldwide reputation.
Check out the Schneider Museum of Art on the campus of Southern Oregon University, if you have time. The museum has a rotating slate of contemporary art exhibitions by national and international artists.
And don’t miss the Vogel Plaza Mural in downtown Medford. This colorful piece of work celebrates the city’s history, its agricultural roots, traditions and culture.
It doesn’t get much better than the Rogue Valley if you want to commune with nature. The area boasts over 200 days of sunshine a year and the recreation options are endless.
The gem of the region is Crater Lake National Park – a must for first-time visitors. Getting out on the Rogue River is also a highlight, whether you raft, kayak or take a jet boat down this wild and scenic marvel.
On this trip, I chose to explore a few places new to me. Within easy reach of Medford are the Table Rocks. Two trails offer views of landmarks such as Mount McLoughlin and Mount Ashland.
The valley is also known for its waterfalls. Popular are Mill Creek and Barr Creek. Nearby, another trail takes you to The Avenue of the Boulders, where you’ll see the result of ginormous rocks heaved all the way from Mt. Mazama when it erupted thousands of years ago.
Just up the road is the Natural Bridge, an ecological wonder. Here, the Upper Rogue plays hide-and-seek. It disappears underground into a lava tube, forming a natural land bridge, then reappears further afoot.
Accommodations are plentiful in the Rogue Valley, from amenity-rich hotels and lodges to quaint inns and cozy B&Bs.
Orchard Home Bed & Breakfast served as basecamp during my stay. This lovely, 15-acre property is conveniently located, yet it feels a world away as soon as you drive up the pear tree-lined driveway. It’s a heavenly, Eden-like oasis with beds fit for royalty.