Now that school has started, or will start soon, this is a great time to get away with your partner to toast another great summer. Autumn travel has the advantages of providing less crowded hotels and restaurants, and off-season hotel deals are the norm. Recently, my husband and I enjoyed a getaway to Ashland, Oregon for a romantic, yet still adventurous, stay at Ashland Hills Hotel.
For us, this getaway was a staycation: Ashland is our hometown. But this small Southern Oregon town is full of character–and more importantly, great entertainment venues and dining options–making it an ideal grown-up getaway for anyone within driving distance.
You won’t lack for quality lodging options in Ashland, ranging from quaint B&Bs to luxury escapes. For our most recent getaway, we tried Ashland Hills Hotel, which hits upon a perfect middle ground. This elegant property used to be nothing special until bought by the same folks who run several top-notch Rogue Valley hotels, including one of my favorites, the historic Ashland Springs Hotel. Knowing this boosted my confidence that we’d be in good hands at Ashland Hills Hotel, and we certainly were!
The hotel is located on the south side of Ashland, placing it on the opposite side of downtown but adjacent to some of the area’s best hiking and outdoor recreation. From this location, it’s easy to get to Emigrant Lake, Mt. Ashland, and Crater Lake, and you’re still only about five minutes by car from downtown Ashland.
The renovated lobby is spacious, airy, and calming, and our king bed room overlooking the pool was also generously sized. We had the usual amenities, such as coffee and tea service, and a mini-fridge, plus there are additional on-site amenities that really up the value, such as tennis courts and free bikes to use. Free WiFi and parking was a nice touch as well, both of which I no longer assume will be granted at higher-end hotels. The entire feel of Ashland Hills Hotel is what I’d call ‘gently retro’. It’s not over-the-top, but the retro furnishings, colors, and woodwork are tasteful and appealing.
The continental breakfast set out on the Mezzzanine is standard…nothing amazing here, but a good value for a free breakfast and in a nice setting away from the lobby with plenty of seating.
What to do in Ashland:
Early fall is a great time to visit Ashland. The weather is still warm, which means couples can take full advantage of the many hiking and biking trails in and near the city limits, SUP or kayak on Emigrant Lake, or book a whitewater rafting trip. The downtown sector of Ashland is entirely pedestrian-friendly, with interesting shops and eateries lining Ashland Street and Main and the downtown square.
Walk through Lithia Park: this downtown park is vibrant in fall, and even in September, before the leaves change color, it’s a sanctuary of leafy green goodness. Walk among the ponds, and be sure to venture further up the park past the children’s playground to see the many acres beyond the lawns and formal gardens.
Hike or bike the White Rabbit: This network of trails and single track snake through the hills overlooking Ashland, and are accessible at the end of Ashland Loop Road or Park Street. Lots of signage within this hiking area ensures you won’t get lost (just stay on trails to avoid poison oak).
Take in an Oregon Shakespeare Festival production: Ashland is famous for its OSF, and tickets are often discounted after school starts. Take in a show (Shakespeare or otherwise) in the outdoor theater before the season is over. Note that many other smaller theaters churn out good productions in and around Ashland, too. Consider looking into what’s playing at the Caberet in Ashland or the Craterian in Medford.
Go wine tasting: The Rogue Valley boosts over 30 wineries, many of them award-winning. Venture north and drive along the Applegate Wine Trail or the Upper Rogue Wine Trail, or try some local Ashland area wineries like Weisinger, Bella Fiore, or Pebblestone.
Dine anywhere downtown: Seriously, you can’t go wrong. Our favorite dining options on the square or downtown include Amuse or Larks (fine dining), Standing Stone (brew pub), Liquid Assets (wine bar), Smithfields (locally sourced) or Brickroom (killer cocktails), and Sesame (Asian fusion). For brunch, look no further than Morning Glory.
Indulge at Waterstone Spa: Waterstone is part of the hotel group that runs several top-notch hotels in the area, including Ashland Hills Hotel, which means it’s easy to combine a stay with a treatment here. We opted for foot soaks for a quick but refreshing service following a short hike in the area as part of Ashland Hills Hotel’s Wild Pacific Crest Trail package.
Walk along part of the PCT: Speaking of which, the PCT runs right past Ashland near the Mt. Ashland recreation area and Pilot Rock. This is a great area to take a day hike, even if you won’t be trekking the trail from start to finish. We like to hike a few miles when we can, accessing the trail from the Mt. Ashland access road off I-5.
As we disclose whenever applicable, our stay at Ashland Hills Hotel was complementary, for the purpose of review. All dining and activities in Ashland were at our expense.