Photograph by T. Charles Erickson
Set in the Rogue Valley 15 minutes north of California, beneath a conifer quilt named the Cascades, Ashland is a commercial experiment constructed around the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s year-round staging of the Bard’s plays (in no less than three theaters, including the outdoor Elizabethan). For valley views and short walks to this summer’s Henry V, book your room on an upper floor of the gracefully restored Ashland Springs Hotel, circa 1925. Midday, debate Othello over house-brewed ales at Standing Stone or Caldera Tap House. Chocolate? Get your flavonoids at the Dagoba tasting room. Bookstores and coffee bars? Throw a rock, as they say. New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro, the only Oregon restaurant with a world-class pedigree, sits a few miles outside town. If you’re short on tickets, hit the brick patio outside the Angus Bowman Theatre in the late afternoon for holders selling extras or an hour before a performance for will-call releases. The decision is as you like it; luckily that, too, is being staged this summer.