Ashland has been cited by AARP magazine as one of "America's Best Small Towns." -- They liked the twisting hillside streets, a town center with a stream running through it and a "gorgeous" Lithia Park. Among the attractions mentioned were the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, outdoor activities, cultural offerings and growing status as a culinary destination.
Book touts Ashland as "Top 100 vacations spots."
By Traci Buck, Ashland Daily Tidings
A San Diego writer spent two years criss-crossing the country to find us
David Vokac acclaims Ashland as one to the top 100 vacation towns in the country in a travel guidebook, "The great towns of America,".
"I'm not surprised," said Ashland Mayor Cathy Shaw. "The people of Ashland have done a lot to provide a host of activities for visitors."
At the same time, Shaw said she doesn't believe Ashland caters directly to tourism.
"If we did, we would take away from its magical quality," said the mayor. "Like my mom says, 'It's a little bit of what life use to be like'."
Vovkac, of San Diego, Calif., spent 1996 and 1997 driving more than 60,00 miles, criss-crossing the nation seeking the 100 best getaway communities. During his two-year trek he took time to experience each town, its outdoor recreation and its culture.
"From 271 semi-finalists, I got the ultimate 100, he said.
And Ashland ranked high on his list.
Vokac use a 100-point system ranking the community on things such as land forms in and around the town, access to the town center, water features, vegetation, weather and the overall nature of the community.
"The natural grandeur and the cultural vitality of Ashland is undeniable," said the author, referring to surrounding lakes, forest, Mount Ashland and the Rogue River.
Lithia Park, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, restaurants, shops, and bed-and-breakfast inns also played a part in Vokac's decision.
On any given summer day, between 125 and 150 visitors stop by the information booth in the Plaza, according to volunteer Fred Sheire.
"More and more people are being drawn to Ashland," he said.
Cherrill Avant of Mississippi and Violet Daniels of Alaska, who are visiting family in Medford, agree.
"We came from Alaska and Mississippi to see the park. What does that tell you?" said Daniels.
"This feels like home," added Avant.