12 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Medford, OR
The heart of the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon, Medford offers a rich selection of natural spaces and community flavor. From jet boat and paddlesport adventures on the Rogue River to enjoying the fruitful produce of the region, things to do in Medford span night and day and the different seasons. Exemplary of the outdoor attraction of the city, the prominent Upper and Lower Table Rock trailheads offer fun pathways to explore and stunning views of the surrounding valley.
Other day trips and outdoor things to do from Medford include world renowned attractions like Crater Lake National Park and the Wild and Scenic Lower Rogue River. More family fun attractions in Medford include the Kid Time Children's Museum and Medford Railroad Park. For romantic things to do in Medford, places like the Craterian Theater offer a great stage for a date, and downtown restaurants like Porters Dining at the Depot feature intimate dining experiences.
Still undergoing a revitalization, Main Street in downtown Medford is lined with numerous boutique shops, local restaurants, and things to do indoors. Whether it's antique perusing, dining on fresh fare, or community engagement, downtown Medford offers unique activities around every street corner. For more shopping and entertainment near Medford, the charming small town of Jacksonville is fifteen minutes west of the city.
Plan your sightseeing with our list of the top things to do in Medford, Oregon.
1. Rogue River
Carving its way into the culture of the surrounding valley, the Rogue River runs for 215 miles between its headwaters in Crater Lake National Park and its terminus at Gold Beach. Categorized by upper, middle, and lower sections, the Lower Rogue River was one of the first in the nation to be designated as "Wild and Scenic," and it epitomizes the stunning riparian habitat of the valley. Popular things to do on the Lower Rogue River include white water rafting, lodge-to-lodge floating, and salmon fishing.
Permits to raft the wild and scenic section of the Lower Rogue River are strictly enforced during the summer season, and numerous local outfitters are happy to guide tourists on the water. Those looking to enjoy the scenery by foot can hike along the Rogue River National Scenic Trail parallel to the banks. Upper portions of the Rogue River are more easily accessible to the everyday public, including the picnic areas and parking spots of TouVelle State Park.
The family fun Rogue Jet Boat Adventures runs tours departing from TouVelle State Park and offers gliding jet boat rides up and down the river. Along the way and peppered with some exciting hairpin turns in a maneuverable jet boat, this guided adventure features historical narration about the surrounding region, including the towering Upper and Lower Table Rock prominently in view. More day trips along the Rogue can be found farther north at the lava-carved Natural Bridge outside Crater Lake National Park.
2. Upper and Lower Table Rock
Jutting from the banks of the Rogue River, Upper and Lower Table Rock are two monolithic mesas standing 800 feet in the air. The result of a volcanic eruption more than seven million years ago, the flat expanses atop both Table Rocks played a significant role in the history and culture of the region's indigenous culture. Today, Upper and Lower Table Rock are popular hiking and long-distance viewing destinations, and two of the most prominent features of the Rogue Valley.
It's less than a two-mile hike to the top of either of the Table Rocks, though it's nothing but uphill to summit the 800-foot mesas. After making the climb up, numerous scattered trails navigate the flat terrain, with some trails leading to the edge for fantastic views of the Rogue Valley and backdropping Siskiyou Mountains. Summer brings scorching temperatures to the top of both Table Rocks, with spring and fall often providing the best times to make the hike.
3. Downtown Medford Shopping and Dining
Lined with unique shopping opportunities and local restaurants, downtown Medford offers a laid-back sense of style and many experiences to choose from. Still undergoing a resurgence in culture and charm, downtown Medford and Main Street are a great place to go without a plan and simply see where the day takes you. For dining, local cafés like Jasper's offer casual fare, and more upscale restaurants, including Porters Dining at the Depot, feature a real potential for romance.
Offering some of the best shopping in Medford, places like Pretty in Paint and The Coop de Ville make downtown a great place to find homemade goods and antiques. Fashion, jewelry, and art are also prominently on display in the windows of downtown Medford. Numerous community events also occur in the downtown district throughout the year, including the Rogue Valley Growers Market on Thursday mornings.
4. Prescott Park
Abutting the eastern part of the city, Prescott Park encompasses over 1,700 acres of natural space and one of the most prominent peaks seen from Medford. Also known as Roxy Ann Peak, a moniker derived from the 3,576-foot mountain within its border, Prescott Park provides ample opportunity to hike up and around the mountain. The grade is consistently uphill to reach Roxy Ann Peak, but the views of the surrounding Rogue Valley are well worth the effort.
Address: 3030 Roxy Ann Road, Medford, Oregon
5. Medford Railroad Park
Open the second and fourth Sunday of each month, this unique seven-acre park provides a free, family fun thing to do and often a cherished childhood tradition. Formally a sewer treatment plant prior to 1979, this public space has been revitalized to include numerous intricate model train sets. Miniature train rides are also offered at this volunteer-run park, along with full-size locomotives and cabooses on display.
Address: 799 Berrydale Ave, Medford, Oregon
6. Crater Lake National Park
Just over an hour drive from Medford, Crater Lake is one of the most stunning natural features of the American West. The result of a volcanic eruption over 7,000 years ago, Crater Lake is the longstanding remnant of what used to be Mount Mazama. Only rain and snowmelt comprise the icy blue waters of Crater Lake, which reach an astonishing near 2,000 feet depth, making Crater Lake the deepest in the country.
Crater Lake offers numerous things to do, but simply staring in awe at this unique natural landmark is one of the most popular activities in the park. Originating at the Rim Village Visitor Center on the southwest side of the lake, the Rim Trail enables great views of the water and the steep slopes of the caldera, including vantage points of Wizard Island. Interested hikers can take a ferry to Wizard Island throughout the summer.
The Pacific Crest Trail makes a prominent side trip along the rim of Crater Lake, often filling the hiker/biker sites at the Mazama Campground with long-distance hikers. The Mazama Campground facilitates car camping and family travel, too, with over 200 sites available. For additional add-on adventure to a Crater Lake trip, the stunning Natural Bridge of the Rogue River is only a 30-minute drive from the campground.
Official site: https://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm
A historic small town fifteen minutes west of Medford, Jacksonville is a popular tourist destination for boutique shopping, antique perusing, and catching a live performance. Jacksonville is also a popular destination to enjoy the rich agriculture of the region with local restaurants and purveyors. Numerous historical buildings and hiking trails line the small community, offering a great afternoon walk or after-dinner stroll.
A fun thing to do in Jacksonville throughout the summer, the non-profit Britt Festival sponsors music performances at their celebrated outdoor stage and venue space. Featuring a natural amphitheater backdropped by a vibrant pine forest, Britt Festival music events often draw quite a crowd. A Britt Festival trolley runs back and forth from Medford to help alleviate the scarce parking opportunities.
8. Applegate Lake
One of the most popular things to do in a Medford summer is visiting one of the many scenic lakes that surround it. Thirty miles south of Medford near the California border, Applegate Lake draws summer crowds with activities like boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, and cycling. The surrounding Hart-Tish Park adjacent to Applegate Lake offers a small selection of RV and tent camping sites within Siskiyou National Forest.
An hour east of Medford, Howard Prairie Lake is also well utilized for cooling off during the summer, as well as other things to do like fishing, boating, and visiting the nearby Howard Prairie Lake Resort. A boat ramp and boat rentals are available at Howard Prairie Lake. Numerous public parks and camping opportunities surround Howard Prairie Lake and are popular with community members and tourists alike.
9. Craterian Theater at the Collier Center for the Performing Arts
In downtown Medford, the Craterian Theater first opened to the public in 1924 to the sound of a grand Wurlitzer organ. Following many years of community entertainment, including vaudeville performances and talking movies, the theater fell on its hardest times in the late 70s with the advent of home televisions and multiplex theaters. After receiving much community support and funding, the Craterian Theater reopened to the public in 1997, completely restored to its original grandeur.
Offering entertainment for the whole family, performances at the Craterian Theater range from children's musicals to Russian ballet. The theater also features acoustic music shows, symphony concerts, and comedic engagements, and much of the fun of attending a show at the Craterion is its historic feel. It accommodates 750 audience members, and every seat in the house offers a great view of the stage.
Address: 23 S Central Avenue, Medford, Oregon
Official site: http://www.craterian.org/
10. Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve
A 75-mile drive west of Medford in the Siskiyou Mountains, this underground attraction features guided tours, ground-level hiking trails, and a subterranean world to explore. Guided tours are the only way to see the inside of the cave, with daily trips ranging from the popular Discovery Tour to a 90-minute expedition designed for kids. Special off-trail cave adventures are also available for intrepid explorers. The Cave Creek Campground at the monument features 17 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Address: 19000 Caves Highway, Cave Junction, Oregon
Official site: https://www.nps.gov/orca/index.htm
11. Kid Time Children's Museum
Within the Southern Oregon History Center in downtown Medford, the Kid Time Children's Museum is a place where young learners can truly play free. Catering to infants and children up to 10 years old, as well as their parents, this popular family spot features numerous themed play areas including an Art Alley and Discovery Farm. Focusing on education through engagement, special instructors at the museum facilitate hands-on activities and freestyle learning.
Address: 106 North Central Avenue, Medford, Oregon
Official site: https://www.kid-time.org
12. Natural Bridge
Highlighting the unique and dynamic force of the Rogue River, this amazing natural feature is created by the river making a sharp and dramatic turn into an underground lava tube. A 30-minute drive from Crater Lake, the Natural Bridge is a great add-on adventure for a day or overnight trip to the national park. A two-mile loop and accessible trail take visitors to the Natural Bridge and back, touring the scenic river valley and old-growth forest along the way.
More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com
Other Oregon Cities to Explore: The next-door neighbor of Medford in Southern Oregon, the city of Ashland is world-renowned for attractions like the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Lithia Park. Farther north in the state, the capital city of Salem features beautiful riverfront parks and an eye-catching State Capitol campus. The epicenter of culture and entertainment in Oregon, Portland is a great city for finding fun things to do day and night.
Exploring the Oregon Coast: The Oregon Coast is filled with scenic attractions. From towering sea stacks to wildlife-infused seashores, the best beaches on the Oregon Coast deliver with postcard aesthetics. Stretching from Astoria up north to Brookings in the south, scenic small towns on the Oregon Coast offer similar appeal. For a broader view of all the beauty, our guide to the Top Tourist Attractions on the Oregon Coast lays it all out from north to south.