the world's smartest travel social network
The quaint and laid back town of Jacksonville, southwestern Oregon is a golden nugget of old west history. Found via a a leisurely drive through southern Oregon's orchards, vineyards and quiet countryside, this chunk of western Americana is only 15 minutes from Medford and its international airport.
This once thriving gold rush town was considered a major center of commerce and trade. It was a main stop for the Wells Fargo stagecoaches on the Oregon-California trail and was destined for greatness and fortune.
But when the railway decided to lay their tracks a little farther east and focus on the newly formed town of Medford, things went from bad to worse for Jacksonville. The gold no longer flowed, and the once bustling streets grew silent. Neglected, Jacksonville became a frontier town that time forgot.
In 1966, through the efforts of local residents, Jacksonville was added to the National Register of Historic Places, as a prime example of a mid-19th-century commercial town.
Today, the stately homes and classic period buildings are enjoying a renaissance, housing unique shops, winery tasting rooms and restaurants that embrace local heritage and charm.
What to See and Do
It may sound strange, but the best way to begin your exploration is with a visit to Jacksonville's historic cemetery. Dedicated in 1860, this is one of the oldest graveyards in the state. The Friends of Jacksonville Cemetery now maintain this historic site and are happy to introduce you to the many residents (famous and infamous) who made Jacksonville such a bustling community.
Hop aboard the Jacksonville Trolley as it traverses the streets of town The guides are founts of local history and lore.
Interesting shops and galleries abound on California Street. The selection of local and international wines at the Jacksonville Inn’s wine shop has been recognized as award worthy by Wine Spectator for years while across the street, Jacksonville Mercantile will tempt you with a wide array of local gourmet treats. Farmhouse Treasures is a fun boutique full of temptations (try the homemade fudge!) while the Cheesemonger’s Wife carries delicious fromage from around the world and indulgent, Italian-style gelato. Jacksonville is also home to world famous Gary West Artisan Smoked Meats so stop by their shop for some tasty samples.
Grab a picnic and head to Britt Gardens. Once the home of famous photographer and Oregon’s first viticulturist, Peter Britt, the hillside amphitheater is now known for the annual music and arts festival (June – September) and 20 miles of woodland trails complete with historical markers.
Peter Britt planted grapevines in this area back in 1858 and would be pleased to see that local wineries are flourishing!
South Stage Cellars offers a vast selection of wines and varieties from a charming red-brick heritage building. All wines are crafted from the vineyards of Quail Run, the largest growers in this part of Oregon.
Quady North is the offspring of the well known Quady Winery in central California, renowned for its sweet and foritifed wines. With fruit from their vineyards in the nearby Applegate Valley, Herb Quady is turning out adventurous wines of the Bordeaux and Rhone Valley varieties. Check out the 2011 Cabernet Franc Mae’s Vineyard or easy sipping 2014 Bomba - a juicy Grenache.
About one mile from town you’ll find great wine and food at Dancin Vineyards. Here, owner/winemaker Dan & chef Cindy Marca focus on two grapes – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and they do them very well. Add some wood-fired pizza and a gorgeous location to the mix and you’ve got a perfect wine country experience.
Where to Eat
Jacksonville may be a small town but there’s a wide array of restaurants and cafés. Good coffee is a Northwest tradition – stop by local favorites Good Bean Coffee or The Pony Espresso for your java fix.
Great BBQ can be found at the Back Porch Bar & Grill or savor wood-fired pizzas and more on the patio of Dancin Vineyards.
Enjoy the hospitality of the Jacksonville Inn. This cozy dining room offers inspired cuisine from the kitchen of head chef Trey Hanson and Pastry Chef Janean Morrison. They showcase local, seasonal foods with creative touches, but also maintain a menu of classic dishes, all presented with class and flair. Be sure to say ‘Hello’ to manager Platon Mantheakis (aka “The Greek”). After 29 years at the Inn, he’s got some wonderful stories!
Where to Stay
From Victorian B&B’s to historic inns, you’re sure to find cozy, welcoming accommodation in Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville Inn has eight refurbished hotel rooms, all decorated with period antiques as well as several comfortable cottages surrounded by peaceful gardens. One of the cottages even has “Presidential’ credentials, thanks to a visit by George Bush fils.
The charming town of Jacksonville is finally enjoying the vibrant life it had always longed for.
Disclaimer: The writer was a guest of Travel Medford. All comments, suggestions & opinions are her own.