5 Perfect Picnic Places in Southern Oregon

Oregonian’s MIX Magazine, July 2013

Lithia Park, Ashland

The scene: In the heart of downtown Ashland, this lush 90-acre park was designed by John McLaren, who also developed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Stroll along the burbling Ashland Creek under the shade of towering pines and flowering dogwood trees. Set a blanket near one of two duck ponds or under a grove of sycamore trees and watch the clouds roll by.

In the basket: Swing by Boulton & Son Butchers for a mouthwatering sandwich. Try the house-cured ham with brie cheese, fresh local pear and pickled onion, or the roast beef with Rogue Creamery cheddar, lettuce, tomato and a kick of horseradish creme fraiche. For dessert, Mix Sweet Shop bakes phenomenal sweet bites such as the salted-caramel chocolate tart and lemon tart with marshmallow-y meringue.

Boulton & Son Butchers, 165 E. Main St., Ashland, 541-488-1112, boultonandson.com

Mix Sweet Shop, 57 N. Main St., Ashland, 541-488-9885

Pacifica Garden in the Siskiyous

The scene: Established in 1998, this 540-acre park spans diverse and native habitats ranging from a Douglas fir forest to oak savanna and chaparral. Bring a fishing pole to dip into a pond stocked with bass and bluegill (fishing is catch and release).

In the basket: Channel James Beard and whip up a simple salad with a bag of seasonal greens from the nearby Whistling Duck roadside farm stand. Locally made bread, goat cheese and farmstead ferments like spicy kimchi and curly kraut are also available. In the heart of summer, you can pair their just-plucked tomatoes with basil.

Pacifica Garden, 14615 Watergap Road, Williams, 541-846-1100, pacificagarden.org

Whistling Duck, 12800 Williams Highway, Grants Pass, 541-846-0494, whistlingduckfarm.com

Britt Festival, Jacksonville

The scene: A sunset summer concert with artists ranging from Ziggy Marley to Brandi Carlile. The natural amphitheater, surrounded by ponderosa pines and leafy madrone trees, is the perfect spot to dance under the stars.

In the basket: Visit Jacksonville Mercantile for a gourmet feast. Owners Constance and David Jesser stock the shop with local cheeses, artisan crackers, truffle mousse, caviar, pate, olives, smoked fish and local wines. “Creme fraiche and local berries for dessert,” chimes Constance when packing a Britt picnic basket.


Jacksonville Mercantile, 120 E. California St., Jacksonville, 541-899-1047, jacksonvillemercantile.com

Abacela Vineyards & Winery, Roseburg

The scene: The Rioja-like climate in Roseburg is perfect for producing Spanish varietals like albarino and tempranillo. Discover why while you wander the “winegrowers walk” at Abacela Vineyards & Winery. The self-guided tour spotlights the geology and terroir of the rolling vineyards. Ascend to the balcony of the Vine and Wine Center for breathtaking vineyard and mountain views, where navigation cards narrate the microclimates across the property. Wine geeks take note: Founder Earl Jones planted the first tempranillo in the Pacific Northwest in 1995.

In the basket: Indulge in a pizza picnic on select Fridays at the winery from 3-6 p.m. (July 12, 19, 26; and Aug. 2, 9, 23). Choose from a veggie or meat pie made to order with house dough and baked in a traditional Spanish horno. Pairs perfectly with a glass of the crisp grenache rose or the Galician-style albarino.

Abacela Vineyards & Winery, 12500 Lookingglass Road, Roseburg, 541-679-6642, abacela.com

Grizzly Peak, Ashland

The scene: A meandering country road framed by swaths of wildflowers climbs from the town of Ashland to the trailhead for Grizzly Peak, a 5,920 foot mountain. For a dramatic vista, you can take a two-mile round-trip hike to a picnic area, or conquer the full loop, which is around 4.6 miles. The full hike winds through a pine forest and open prairies.

In the basket: Stock your backpack with provisions from Ashland Food Cooperative, southern Oregon’s only certified organic retailer. Build your own made-to-order sandwich from the deli or try a specialty meat or veggie wrap. The Mama Terra Micro Creamery goat cheese packs well and is not to be missed. Pair it with Deux Chats focaccia crackers, handmade in Ashland.

Ashland Food Cooperative, 237 N. First St., Ashland, 541-482-2237, ashlandfood.coop