Visiting Medford, Oregon? You may be surprised at the number of things to do in the area.
Sandwiched between the Klamath Mountains and the Cascades, Medford abounds in recreational opportunities. Mountain peaks scrape the sky in all directions, and vast swaths of agrarian land ensure there’s plenty of excellent, locally sourced food and drink.
No matter whether you’re interested in outdoor activities like hiking and fishing or indoor pursuits such as museums and live theater, you can certainly have a good time in Medford.
Below, you’ll find a list of the best indoor and outdoor things to do in Medford and the surrounding area. It doesn’t matter if you’re passing through, embarking on a working staycation, or an area resident – you’re going to find several activities below well-worth your free time.
Medford’s Best Outdoor Activities
In the heart of the Rogue River Valley, Medford is surrounded by outstanding natural areas – and outdoor recreation opportunities.
1. Boat or Raft the Rogue River
The Wild and Scenic Rogue River (yes, that’s what it’s called) is one of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous rivers in all of the Pacific Northwest. Its headwaters surface near Crater Lake National Park, tumble down the volcanic Cascade Mountains, and pass by Medford on its way to the Pacific Ocean.
With many rapids along the way ranging from Class I to Class Vs, the Rogue River draws in rafters and kayakers from all over the region seeking water-bound thrills. Experts consider this a world-class whitewater river; you’ll often see pros at the Gold Hill Whitewater Park.
However, there are many beginner-friendly stretches of the river and numerous river guides to choose from for your first foray. For those interested in touring the river without the accompaniment of adrenaline, rogue river jet boat tours are a fun way to travel the river with much less fear of going overboard.
2. Hike the Rogue River Trail
You can experience the Rogue River in more ways than one. The Rogue River Trail is a popular 40-mile route frequented by hikers, backpackers, kayakers, and rafters. You can go for a short day hike or hike further in and camp along the riverbank.
There are several smaller trails along the river east of Medford, too. One of the most popular day hikes is the Natural Bridge Loop, where the Rogue River moves in and out of underground lava tubes. This bubbly, frothy section of the river is quite a spectacle, especially at the stretches where the water disappears underground.
3. Take in the View at Table Rocks
The Table Rocks are among the most popular hiking destination in the Rogue Valley. These high volcanic plateaus lie north of the city and provide breathtaking views of the valley below as well as the snow-capped Cascade peaks on a clear day.
The trails to both Upper and Lower Table Rock are each relatively short and easy-to-moderate in difficulty. After springtime rains, you’ll see small pools atop the plateaus that are home to a threatened species of fairy shrimp. Watch your step!
4. Indulge in Oregon Wine
A multitude of wineries encircle Medford, each with its own distinct grape varieties and signature blends. There are three routes that leave from the city out into the surrounding fields and vineyards: the Upper Rogue Wine Trail, Applegate Wine Trail, and Bear Creek Wine Trail.
DANCIN Vineyards is among the most popular wineries to visit in the area. Take your time to tour the grounds, relax in the rock garden with a pinot noir, or have a meal on the hillside patio.
5. See Medford from Above at Roxy Ann Peak
The best view of Medford is from the top of Roxy Ann Peak in Prescott Park, east of the city. The gentle primary trail to the top is paved part of the way. As you walk around the mountain, you’ll be gifted with expansive views in all directions that only improve the higher you walk.
At the top, there’s a northern overlook that eyes the distant Cascades, while the southern overlook provides panoramic views overlooking Medford. Choose one of the many optional cross-country paths for your return trip to get a closer look at the madrone forests of the park.
6. Hit the Slopes at Mount Ashland
Mount Ashland Ski Area is the premier ski and snowboard location in southern Oregon. The mountain has dozens of trails ranging from basic bunny slopes to challenging double diamonds.
The ski area is owned by the Mount Ashland Association, a non-profit organization, and the many runs are named after Shakespeare characters as a nod to the area’s famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival. There’s also a lodge and Learning Center on-site where you can warm up between your downhill runs. It has a really local feel, which can be hard to find at most ski resorts nowadays.
7. Drive to Crater Lake or Oregon Caves
While there’s plenty to do close to town, Crater Lake National Park and the Oregon Caves National Monument shouldn’t be overlooked. These epic outdoor destinations are reason enough to visit Medford, and you’d be remiss to not visit at least one of these mind-blowing natural phenomena during your visit to southern Oregon.
Crater Lake is a little over an hour’s drive northeast from Medford. You’ll follow the Rogue River most of the way and have many opportunities to pull over for some riverside fun. As the crow flies, Oregon Caves is actually much closer to Medford, but the driving route is about double that to Crater Lake.
Medford’s Best Indoor Activities
There are many reasons why you might prefer to stay indoor – scorching summer heat or winter storms, perhaps – so it’s good to know there are plenty of indoor things to do in Medford. Realistically, you’ll want to visit many of these places even if the weather is perfect outside.
8. Ride the Rails at Medford Railroad Park
This is a hybrid indoor and outdoor activity, but it still serves as a great place to escape the rain and the heat. The Medford Railroad Park includes an outdoor pavilion with miniature steam trains that visitors can ride around the grounds. It’s one of the best things to do in Medford for kids who may not yet be old enough for hiking.
Part of the outdoor pavilion is covered. There are full-size trains, miniature trains, and tiny model trains and tracks that railroad enthusiasts are bound to love. Both the outside and inside model train displays are quite elaborate. This is one of those places where you may end up spending more time than you think.
9. Take the Little Ones to The Children’s Museum of Southern Oregon
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Formerly known as Kid Time, the Children’s Museum of Southern Oregon is a non-profit, interactive learning center and children’s museum aimed at kids under 10 years old. It’s in the heart of Medford and is a great way for your children to explore their imagination — and burn off some energy.
Parents can choose from different free-play, monitored, and instructed programs for their kids. Rotating exhibits keep the museum fresh for frequent visitors, and there are always new events on the calendar.
For kids that are a little older, consider spending some time at the Rogue Valley Family Fun Center.
10. Grab Snacks at Harry & David
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Harry & David is a producer of premium foods and gifts that manages thousands of farmland acres near Medford. The company started in this southern Oregon city in 1910 and has since expanded to dozens of retail locations across the west as well as dozens more seasonal venues.
The mother store is still in Medford. This iconic retailer has all sorts of locally grown seasonal fruits and veggies as well as premium chocolates and other handmade goodies. It’s a part of Medford’s history, and it’s the type of place that everyone will enjoy visiting.
11. Learn to Climb at the Rogue Rock Gym
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Indoor rock climbing is the perfect physical social activity for families and groups of friends who want to spend some time inside, and the Rogue Rock Gym is well-set up for beginners. You and your crew are definitely going to have a good time here. Heading here is one of the best things to do in Medford if you have people or children in your group who don’t consider themselves “athletes” as climbing is a great way to build self-esteem – especially since you never know who is going to turn out to be a great climber.
12. Tour the Rogue Creamery
There are a few ways to snack on what the Rogue Creamery has to offer. First, you can visit the Cheese Shop, where visitors are invited to tour the cheddar production room, take part in a lesson on handmade cheese pairings, and learn about the agricultural history of the area. (Oh, and there are plenty of free samples!)
Second, visitors can take a trip over to the Dairy Farm along the banks of the Rogue River to see the robotic milking room, organic pastures, and the famed “Cow Palace.”
Lastly, the Rogue Creamery hosts the annual Oregon Cheese Festival. It’s part farmer’s market and part Oktoberfest, creating a tented, tasty, and cheesy extravaganza.
13. Become a Thespian at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
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A beacon of poetry, culture, and the finer things in life, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is perhaps the most renowned — and most dramatic — event offered in southern Oregon.
And the thing is, this “event” lasts for eight months out of the year. The event’s high-point is during the summer months, but area visitors in spring and fall are in for a treat as well. The festival is an on-going series of theater plays, street performances, lectures, classes, workshops, and all sorts of artfully crafted activities. Catching a show is one of the best things to do in Medford if you’re artistically inclined or just want to inject a bit of culture into your otherwise-outdoorsy vacation.
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