By Annelise Kelly
It’s a bit off the beaten path, so not everyone’s been to Jacksonville — or even heard of it. But that’s exactly what makes it so special. This charming 1850s gold mining town — not far from Medford and Ashland and about 90 minutes from Crater Lake — beckons with its mild climate and abundance of culture year-round. In three days, you can explore the hip culinary scene and world-class wines, and take some time to rejuvenate. Here’s how to do it.
Fortify yourself with coffee and pastries at Good Bean Company, then head to the Visitor Information Center for a Historic Landmark Walking Map and a merchant map, or download any of the four audio tours.
Get oriented on a two-hour tour with Segway of Jacksonville. Zip past beautiful Victorians, the courthouse and the jail, ending up in a historic cemetery with a panoramic view.
Enjoy lunch at the C-Street Bistro, where an eclectic blend of cuisines informs the all-day brunch menu: Try duck confit on a whole-wheat waffle. Dinners here feature seasonal ingredients like huckleberries and foraged mushrooms.
Amble through the vibrant heart of town. Two-story 19th century brick buildings and wooden false-fronted shops evoke Jacksonville’s past as a vital commercial center.
Scheffel’s Toys engages kids; Carefree Buffalo specializes in American-made artisan products for modern western living — think handmade knives and leather goods; Pico’s Worldwide offers eco-friendly and fair trade wares from practical to whimsical. The town kicks off the holiday season each year with retail events and other festivities during their Victorian Christmas celebration.
After all that shopping, take a break in the wine garden at South Stage Cellars, one of six tasting rooms within a mile radius. Make plans to return for live music in the evenings several nights a week.
Check in at your hotel: Options include the Magnolia Inn, where owners Susan and Robert Roos make things sweet with individual homemade strawberry shortcakes, or the TouVelle House Bed and Breakfast — a 1916 Craftsman home complete with swimming pool, pond and landscaped gardens. Or, the Jacksonville Inn‘s eight individually decorated rooms and four cottages include a full breakfast. Housed in an 1861 brick building, the inn serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room, and lighter evening fare in the casual bistro.
Admire the glimmer of gold in the antique mortar of the Jacksonville Inn while savoring local ingredients like salmon, halibut and hazelnuts. After supper, listen to a band at J’Ville Tavern, where the vintage neon sign and the pool table attest to its beloved status as a genuine dive bar.
Take a hike in a city park. / Photo by Dan Shryock
Work off that lavish hotel breakfast by setting out to explore the Woodland Trails, a network right in town. Start at Britt Gardens, where the Britt Music and Arts Festival takes place throughout the summer. The intimate natural amphitheater and great acoustics attract artists like Diana Ross and Lyle Lovett, along with a three-week Britt Orchestra season.
Hike, mountain bike or horseback ride in Jacksonville’s Forest Park, just a mile from town, or explore Sterling Mine Ditch Trail, 20 minutes south. Forest Park features 1,100 acres of grand vistas, an old reservoir and remnants of gold mines. At Sterling Mine, 27 miles of relatively flat trails accessed via several trailheads let you hike short or long.
In the afternoon, survey the celebrated wines of the Rogue Valley AVA. Five wineries are in or near town including Dancin Vineyards, or drive the Applegate Valley Wine Trail, where more than 20 varieties of grapes thrive in a wide range of micro-climates. For local insight, consider a wine country tour.
Celebrate your last evening in Jacksonville at Gogi’s, where elaborately plated dishes indulge both eye and palate. Balance the virtue of the salmon scallion tartare with their decadent desserts, such as the honey tarragon marshmallow s’more paired with house drinking chocolate. Don’t miss their Sunday brunch.
Finish the day with live music. Pizza and pasta palace Bella Union rocks it several nights a week in their saloon, and celebrates every Thursday night (October through April) with Oysters and Ales. Thirteen rotating microbrews on tap ensure a taste of iconic Oregon beer culture.
Start your last day with a yoga class or spa treatment. Joyfull Yoga classes include Pilates and Monday night belly dancing in a tranquil studio adorned with candles and gongs. Browse their fair-trade store. If pure indulgence sounds better, book a facial, massage or body treatment at Angelica Day Spa & Boutique.
Fuel up on authentic Bavarian cuisine at the Frau Kemmling Schoolhouse Brewhaus. Potato pancakes, schnitzel, black forest cake and more satisfy in a 1908 restored schoolhouse. Savor the traditional biergarten atmosphere, then wander the grounds: the seven acres include mini golf, a fire pit and organic gardens, which supply the restaurant. Check their schedule for year-round beer dinners, cyclocross races, music and more.