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Ashland, Ore.: Culture Weekend

From its theater festival to its gorgeous park, it's hard to upstage Ashland.

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  • sturgeon dish at Amuse in Ashland, Ore.
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    Try the roasted sturgeon with yellow beet puree and spaetzle at Amuse.
  • a woman holds blankets inside Prize, image
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    Browse for colorful linens and unique art at Prize.
  • diners and a server talk at Liquid Assets, image
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    Snack while sampling local wines at Liquid Assets.
  • the outdoor Elizabethan Stage, image
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    The outdoor Elizabethan Stage is one of the three stages used during the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
  • interior of the Hanson Howard Gallery, image
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    The Hanson Howard Gallery displays a rotating roster of artists.

More than just the home of a venerable theater festival, this town lures visitors with plentiful shops, restaurants, and outdoor escapes. Area code is 541.

To Do and See
Ashland Independent Film Festival (Apr. 7–11). A feast for cinephiles proffers nearly 100 indie features, documentaries, and shorts screened at the art deco Varsity Theatre and other venues. 488-3823, ashlandfilm.org. Oregon Shakespeare Festival The busy nine-month season goes well beyond the Bard, including classic and contemporary dramas, comedies, and musicals in a trio of theaters. This year's Shakespearean lineup includes Twelfth Night, Hamlet, and Richard II. Other plays include Great Expectations and a song-filled trip back to Oz with The Wiz. 15 S. Pioneer St., 482-4331, osfashland.org.

Outdoors
Lithia Park Designed a century ago by a superintendent of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, this 93-acre oasis boasts a tranquil Japanese garden, duck ponds, and picnic areas amid hundreds of native and ornamental trees and flowering shrubs. Paths follow Ashland Creek as it tumbles beneath arched footbridges toward the historic plaza. 488-5340, ashland.or.us/parks. Oredson-Todd Woods and Siskiyou Mountain Park Trails meander below a shady forest canopy along Clay Creek, which glides over slickrock, then spills in a fern-bedecked waterfall. Turn uphill into the mountain park for big views of the valley. 488- 5340, landconserve.org/content/oredson-todd-woods. Wildflower hikes In April and May, the Bureau of Land Management and the Nature Conservancy offer guided strolls amid spectacular floral blooms. Reservations required. Upper and Lower Table Rocks near Central Point, 618- 2200, nature.org/ourinitiatives.

Shopping
Ashland Gallery Association Standouts among the town’s art dealers include Hanson Howard Gallery (89 Oak St., 488-2562, hansonhowardgallery.com) and Ashland Art Works (291 Oak St., 488-4735, an artists’ collective housed in five cottages overlooking Ashland Creek. Get a complete gallery guide at ashlandgalleries.com. Northwest Nature Shop Visit this prime source of maps, trail guides, and natural history books that also sells toys and bird feeders. 154 Oak St., 482-3241, northwestnatureshop.com. Prize Owner Jennifer Streit frequents Paris flea markets and out-of-the-way American antique shops to fill her boutique with troves of designer jewelry, vintage furniture, and Limoges china. 264 E. Main St., 482-0345, prizeshoppe.com.

Eats
Agave The former hole-in-the-wall taco-and-tamale joint moved into larger quarters this year, complete with patio seating in warmer weather. Herb-crusted carnitas are served atop freshly made corn tortillas, and margaritas are blended with hand-squeezed lime juice. 5 Granite St., 488-1770, agavetaco.net. Amuse Hankering for roasted king salmon on a bed of wild mushrooms with fennel puree and black garlic jus, or tarragon ice cream with dark chocolate ganache squares, fennel sorbet, anise shortbread, and lemon curd? This is the spot. 15 N. First St., 488-9000, amuserestaurant.com. Sammich A lunchtime favorite that’s short on atmosphere but long on lusciousness offers sandwiches such as wild-caught albacore tuna salad and some of the best pastrami on the West Coast. 424 Bridge St., 708-6055, sammichashland.com.

Sips
Ashland Wine Cellar Head downstairs to check out more than 70 pinot noir labels, plus hard-to-find Oregon and international wines. Free tastings every Thursday afternoon. 38 Lithia Way, 488-2111, ashlandwinecellar.com. Belle Fiore Estate A grand tasting room pours syrah and pinot noir against a backdrop of gorgeous views. 955 Dead Indian Memorial Rd., 552-4900, www.bellefiorewine.com. Liquid Assets Wine Bar The sleek, sophisticated space serves 20-plus wines by the glass and snacks such as Parmesan-truffle popcorn, crab cakes, and cheese boards. 96 N. Main St., 482-9463, liquidassetswinebar.com.

Photography by Jared Cruce (4); T. Charles Erickson (theater stage)

This article was first published in March 2015 and updated in January 2016. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.