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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Dive Into High Culture in Ashland

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5. Oddball Day

Ashland's Lithia Park, 93 acres of manicured lawns, formal gardens and undeveloped woodland.  

Even Shakespeare believed that “one touch of nature makes the whole world kin”—and the nature surrounding Ashland is particularly breathtaking: the Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges and hardwood forest, with crisp, dry breezes to spare. Before heading out to explore the Rogue Valley, tuck into a hearty organic breakfast burrito at Ruby’s Restaurant (from $6)—try the Wendy, a tortilla stuffed with curry-tofu scramble and house-special cheese sauce. From there, it’s a short walk to Lithia Park, Ashland’s 93-acre gem of beautifully landscaped greenery. Enter via South Pioneer Street and follow the marked trail, making sure to divert off the path to see the stately Butler-Perozzi Fountain. Stroll through the nearby formal rose and Japanese gardens, then catch the trail back into the undeveloped woods, hiking all the way to the far end of the park, where a swim reservoir beckons. Post-hike, repair to Agave Taco, a tiny shop with the best Mexican food in town: Try the green chile and cheese tamales ($4.50 per tamale) and the house-made guacamole with fresh-baked chips ($5.95). Then head to Ashland Mountain Adventures (reserve in advance), where the proprietors, Bill and Sue, will set you up with a bike and shuttle service to one of many mountain biking trails in the Siskiyou Mountains (from $45/day); each trail is relatively short, so it’s feasible to try a few. The Hitt Road Trail, a picturesque, washed-out fire road that winds right back down to Lithia Park, is perfect for beginners, while more experienced riders should try the Cat Walk Trail, spiked with technical challenges like a rock garden and a 60-foot log ride trailside. As the sun goes down behind the mountains, roll back into downtown Ashland for a meal sourced from the land you’ve just explored at elegant La Coquina (reservations recommended). You’ve earned a little indulgence: Try the Burrata and breakfast radish salad ($12) and a Cedar River ribeye ($37), then kick back on the patio with a bottle of local Rogue Valley wine (from $45) beneath the stars.

Published on Feb 20, 2014 as a web exclusive.

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