Small art towns in Oregon are just what you may be picturing: lively downtowns with street art, weekend art gallery openings, and local musicians playing at quaint little streetside cafes. In these towns, you will find culturally mindful tourists and retirees, artisan markets, art gallery owners, musicians, restauranteurs, bustling farmers markets, espresso bars, and other artist hangouts of every shape and form. In short, the types of places that people love visiting on a weekend getaway. Small art towns in Oregon all share one common principle, a sense of community and neighborliness not found in bigger cities around the state. Though there are many more, here is our list of the top 4 small art towns in Oregon.
The Top 4 Small Art Towns In Oregon
No trip to Oregon is complete without (at the very least) a quick stop in Downtown Ashland. Life is quiet here, but that does not mean it is boring. This picturesque town is nestled in the Rogue Valley, just 15 miles over the California border. Surrounded by lush forest and snowmelt-fed streams, Ashland is the epitome of nature’s playground. However, what attracts people the most is the city’s artisan culture. Home to the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, theatergoers can enjoy a lineup of 11 plays (both from the bard and modern playwrights) from April to October. The downtown is a cultural hive where you can explore more than a dozen art galleries, numerous boutique stores, and over 50 restaurants (the majority of which will blow you away). One can easily find a place to enjoy live music on any given night, and the craft beer and wine scene is top notch!
Pulling into the historic town of Jacksonville feels like you have walked right back to the 19th century. The majority of the buildings downtown are original to that era and have been well preserved and restored over the years making Jacksonville arguably one of the most unique small art towns in Oregon. In fact, it was named one of America’s top 10 coolest small towns by Budget Travel Magazine. The town was formed back in the gold rush days and was even home to Oregon’s first Chinatown as immigrants from San Francisco settled there. Jacksonville is home to one of the coolest outdoor music venues in Oregon, the Britt Music & Arts Festival which features top performers all summer long. You can also find an incredible selection of independently owned shops, incredible eateries, celebrated winemakers, and several galleries featuring works from local artists from around the Rogue Valley.
If you can’t tell from the photo, this small remote town in Oregon is, in many ways, a piece of art all its own. Joseph, Oregon has a reputation for its bronze sculptures that line the towns streets and the unrestrained natural beauty of Wallowa County. The picturesque downtown is full of charming shops and cafes that will sync you into the relaxed pace of local life. Besides exploring the natural beauty around Wallowa Lake State Park and enjoying the simple pleasure of small-town life, there are several cultural events held throughout the year. Visitors should check out the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo in July, or Bronze Blues and Brews in August. Many consider this region to be “Oregon’s Little Switzerland”, as such, Joseph holds a Swiss-Bavarian festival, kind of like Oktoberfest, but with yodeling and alphorn!
Since the early 1970s, Bend has experienced a visual and cultural transformation. The population has more than doubled in that time fueling a new wave of world-class art, recreation, and dining. A local organization, Art In public Spaces, is the driving force behind an artistic renaissance in Bend. Their mission is to provide “culturally stimulating visual experiences for the local community”. To that end, they have created dozens of permanent installation of indoor and outdoor sculptures throughout the city. Many can be found at the countless roundabouts you have to navigate through to get around town. Besides the cool art, Bend has a thriving downtown community where you can enjoy local breweries, restaurants, and new age boutique shops that feature creations from artists from around the state.
Oregon is an artistically rich state, so this list of the best small art towns in Oregon is far from comprehensive. In fact, you will be hard pressed to enter an Oregon town or city that doesn’t feature a vibrant artisanal culture. Do you have any art towns in Oregon that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!
Are You Planning A Trip To Oregon?
Now you know where the best small art towns in Oregon are you may want to check out these articles to discover other awesome things to do while you’re exploring the state:
- The best things to do in Medford this summer
- The best places to stay in Medford
- The top 10 things to do in Southern Oregon
- Traveling to Ashland Oregon Visitors Guide
- Summer Events In Ashland Oregon
- Local Guide To Ashland Oregon Hotels
- Best Places To Stay In Ashland Oregon
- The 5 Best Cities To Visit In Oregon
And, if you need a place to stay while you’re in Medford or Ashland, Acme Suites has got you covered!