Appreciate your patience with the radio silence! We had a vehicle debacle and an airline fail while we were staying in Portland (some of you may have read the story on Facebook), so we lost a few days of play dealing with real life.
So let’s get back to where we left off, in Ashland, OR, on Memorial Day weekend.
TL;DR: Ashland is charming and a wonderful place to stay. I don’t think we ever would’ve sought it out, were it not for Eric’s years of living in the Pacific Northwest and the fact he had visited a long time ago and remembered it fondly. After our two-week visit together, I’d say Ashland probably makes our Top 5 list of favorite places we’ve been during our RV travels.
RV Campground: Emigrant Lake County Park
Normally I just jot down a few lines about our RV campground at the end of each article. But in this case, our campground made our stay. There’s hardly a bad site at Emigrant Lake County Park, as far as view is concerned. The lake is idyllic.
You can reserve in advance, and payment in full is required. If you don’t reserve in advance, I can almost guarantee you won’t get your preferred dates, and you may not get any dates at all. They did an excellent job constructing and staggering the sites. Some sites are more level than others. We stayed in Site #3 because it was one of the only ones available when we booked. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, but Site #21 is the best (in our opinion), with #22 as a runner-up. Site #5 is also nice.
We loved staying close to home, despite all the things to do in the Ashland area. We grilled everything from burgers to bratwursts to ribs. We walked down the slope directly across from our site to go tubing and swimming in the lake. We did a ton of walking. I even took a bike ride into town on Memorial Day to visit Noble Coffee.
5505 Oregon 66 – Reservations
Things to Do in Ashland
Ashland’s town center is delightfully walkable. There are local shops galore, from gift boutiques (Paddington Station) to book stores (The Book Exchange, Shakespeare Books & Antiques). I didn’t even begin to explore all the shops that looked interesting, so you’ll have to let me know what I missed!
The owner at Ashland Electric Bikes is fantastic. We’ve been looking into foldable electric bikes to get Eric back on the trails with his joint pain, and they let us test one and were extremely patient with all our questions. There also have electric bikes to rent, which would be a great way to explore Ashland.
You may be interested in visiting Ashland Artisan Emporium, which is in the same strip mall as Ashland Electric Bikes. It’s a cross between an antique mall and a flea market. Bibliophiles, don’t miss the overwhelming book collection in the back left corner of the store.
Weekend Day Trip: Crater Lake National Park
I first learned about Crater Lake National Park in one of my Theodore Roosevelt biographies (it was one of the five national parks he established). Up until that time, I didn’t know it existed. I remember being shocked that such a breath-taking place could even exist–and in our country where I could get to it! I’ve been looking forward to our visit ever since, and especially since we started planning our 2016 trip.
The one and a half hour drive from Ashland to Crater Lake was pleasant, mostly through verdant forest. This was number 15 of 59 national parks we’ve visited together. We’re a quarter of the way there, but we still have some work to do.
It blew our minds to find that parts of the park were still closed from snow–in early June! The West Rim was blocked off, so we couldn’t do the full loop drive around the rim. But we went around the East Rim and stopped multiple times to take photos and learn from the signage. We also watched the video at the visitor’s center, which I highly recommend to help you fully appreciate this geological wonder. To pique your interest, three facts:
- Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States.
- Crater Lake has the clearest water in the world.
- Crater Lake was formed from a collapsed volcano, so there are no outlets or inlets.
I would love to do the boat ride across the lake to Wizard Island (actually a 7,000-foot cider cone volcano, but only about 750 feet is above the water line). But that opportunity doesn’t open up until later in the summer when it’s warmer.
Things to Eat in Ashland
There are two restaurants per capita in Ashland. I actually made that statistic up. But for a town of only 20,000 people, that’s what it feels like. We had some really.good.food. during our stay. Prices tend to be on the higher side (we were reminded of Sedona), but for the most part we felt we received our money’s worth.
Go to these places now, and save your leftovers for me:
Morning Glory is the highest-rated restaurant in Ashland per Yelp, so we had to give it a try for Sunday brunch after church. Alongside a mocha in a homey Peanuts mug, my lemon ricotta stuffed French toast was completely unforgettable. And this girl who hasn’t had eggs in nearly two decades was actually provoked to take a bite of Eric’s omelette (Applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onions, fontina cheese)!
The pancakes also come highly recommended. But Morning Glory is one of those places where you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu that appeals to you.
Watch out for tight parking in the back of the restaurant. As of our visit, you can also park next door at the motel.
1149 Siskiyou Blvd. – Yelp
I loved Caldera Brewery, and I don’t even drink beer. So if you’re the type who’s always on the lookout for a good brewery, this is your jam.
Our jalepeño poppers were stuffed with Tillamook cheddar and cream cheese, served with ranch and red pepper coulis. The menu says of the jalapeños, “some are hot, some not.” We didn’t find any hot ones, but they were all extremely fresh.
For drinks, we both opted for the house root beer, which was delicious. Our server was kind to bring us a flight of the other sodas that are made in-house, so we could try them out. The ginger ale was surprisingly zesty; the hibiscus rose petal iced tea was unsweetened, flavorful, and not bitter at all; the soda hop had a unique flavor due to the hops.
Eric’s tap house burger came with 100% certified Angus beef and Tillamook cheddar. He told me he really liked the bun, which balanced crunchiness on the outside with softness to the touch. All the condiments were fresh, with organic ketchup and mustard made and bottled in-house (the mustard was on the vinegary side). Though Eric prefers beef with higher fat content to the leanness of the Angus, he said the patty had a lot of flavor. A house salad on the side was excellent with local Rogue Creamery blue cheese.
I had to go for an entree-sized salad, the Rogue Valley. The final product was even better than the tantalizing menu description. My gigantic bowl of greens was brimming with candied hazelnuts, seasonal fruit in the form of apple, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, and Rogue Creamery blue cheese. Mogli balsamic vinaigrette finished the delicious blend. One of the best salads I’ve ever had.
I’m going to play the pregnancy card to explain my massively insane appetite. I also ordered the roasted cauliflower soup, which was a special on the menu. There were no chunks, but rather the cauliflower was blended into creaminess. I am a huge cauliflower fan, so I found this soup to be pleasing and comforting.
I almost ordered dessert. But I didn’t.
590 Clover Lane – Website
After trying Noble Coffee on Memorial Day and really enjoying it, I didn’t go to any other coffee shop during the duration of my time in Ashland. The baristas take pride in their art, resulting in delicious vanilla lattes for me. I treated to myself to a yummy carrot bran muffin, and you should, too.
Address – Website
Zoey’s Cafe is the place for ice cream. We loved the creamy black walnut, though I was tempted by the locally-inspired Rogue Valley pear flavor.
199 E. Main St. – Yelp
RedZone Sports Bar
My love’s birthday fell during our time in Ashland. He got his birthday present early, but I still wanted to treat him to a nice lunch at the spot of his choice. He wanted buffalo wings at a sports bar! I highly recommend the French fries, which are hand-cut in-house. We didn’t get a single photo there because we were enjoying each other’s company so much. (Actually, if memory serves, we were talking politics. But pretty much the same thing.)
303 E. Main St. – Website
I have mixed feelings about Thai Pepper. Neither of our entrees met our expectations, but the location on Ashland creek is lovely (you probably want to make a reservation if you’d like to sit on the outdoor patio).
The highlight of our meal was our appetizer: tiger rolls. With cream cheese and crab meat in a spring roll wrapper, they’re a superior spin on the traditional fried wonton. I would go back just for these!
119 N. 36th St. – Website
While it may look like we ate our way through Ashland, we actually ate at home a lot AND we didn’t even skim the surface of the highly-rated restaurants in town. I’m telling you…two restaurants per capita…
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ashland is famous for hosting the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It’s kind of a big deal, considering it runs from February to October. All 37 Shakespeare plays have been presented a total of 303 times!
I’ll do my best to write about our Portland adventures soon. We had a great time, despite our unexpected challenges. Thanks to everyone for your kind thoughts and prayers. We made it through to meet our kids in Seattle for a month of summer escapades together!