Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ashland, It's the Place to Be!

The following is a featured story on Come and see for yourself the culture and local color of Ashland. There's something quite special about #18 of the 20 best small towns in America!  And of course, you know where to stay once you arrive, right?!

The 20 Best Small Towns in America

There are lists of the best places to get a job, retire, ski, golf and fall in love, best places lists for almost everything. We think any best place worth traveling to should have one quality above others: culture.

To help create our list, we asked the geographic information systems company Esri to search its data bases for high concentrations of museums, historic sites, botanic gardens, resident orchestras, art galleries and other cultural assets common to big cities. But we focused on towns with populations less than 25,000, so travelers could experience what might be called enlightened good times in an unhurried, charming setting. We also tried to select towns ranging across the lower 48.

There is, we think, something encouraging about finding culture in small-town America. Fabled overseas locales, world-class metropolises—you expect to be inspired when you go there. But to have your horizon shifted in a town of 6,000 by an unheralded gem of a painting or a song belted out from a band shell on a starry summer night, that’s special. It reinforces the truth that big cities and grand institutions per se don’t produce creative works; individuals do. And being reminded of that is fun.

Ashland, OR
The Plaza
    #18 - Roughly halfway between San Francisco and Portland, the foothill town of Ashland tends to attract ex-urbanites who have tired of city life but don’t want to let go of culture entirely. With its many art galleries, thriving food scene, theaters and the resources of Southern Oregon University, Ashland’s offerings satisfy eclectic tastes. The world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival put the town on the cultural map in 1935 and is now a more or less required trip for theater buffs from all over the country. Less well known are the relatively newer Ashland Independent Film Festival, which takes place every April, and the Oregon Chocolate Festival, which showcases delectable creations from around the state. For more low-key activities, time your visit for the first weekend of the month and join the locals in the First Friday Artwalk, when Ashland’s dozens of galleries stay open late, offering free food and music. -- AS

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