By Teresa Ristow
Historic gold mining town meets wine country in Jacksonville, a cozy, charming community in the Rogue Valley of southern Oregon. Gold mining drew the first residents to Jacksonville in the early 1850s and today those same structures built during the mining boom are home to many of the town’s best restaurants, shops and lodging options. The entire town is a officially a National Historic Landmark, with Victorian-style homes tucked into neighborhoods near downtown, one of the oldest cemeteries in the state and rich history around every corner. The region’s latest boom, however, comes in the form of a growing number of wineries, with dozens of tasting rooms and vineyards located in town or within a short drive. So whether it’s the history that inspires a visit, a show at the summertime Britt Music & Arts Festival, a wine tour or just a relaxing weekend away, Jacksonville Oregon offers plenty to enjoy during any stay.
Warm summer nights in Jacksonville tend to be lively as residents and visitors flock to town for an evening at the Britt Music & Arts Festival, which showcases national acts, local openers and orchestras each summer. Pack a picnic and head for the hilly festival grounds just a few blocks from downtown. Jacksonville sits in the heart of Southern Oregon’s wine country, with vintners drawn to the region’s elevation, latitude and weather, and the resulting seven-month growing season. East of downtown is DANCIN Vineyards, offering seven seating areas to enjoy a tasting, artisanal bites and live music. A mile north of downtown is Rellik Winery, with vineyards first planted in 1990 and a newly remodeled tasting room, along with patio seating. Say hello to the alpacas before grabbing a tasting flight or some fresh pizza to enjoy. In an 1864 brick building in the core of downtown Jacksonville is the tasting room of South Stage Cellars, a pioneer of the local wine industry. Enjoy one of twenty-eight varieties indoors or on the garden patio. Walk a few blocks north of downtown and up a steep driveway to the historic, 32-acre Jacksonville Cemetery, one of the oldest and largest cemeteries in Oregon, with early pioneer grave sites dating back to 1859.
Breath in the Southern Oregon outdoors with a walk along the Jacksonville Woodlands Trails, an eighteen-mile-long network of intertwining forest trails easily accessed from the Britt Gardens. Jacksonville Oregon offers breathtaking views of southern Oregon. On a hike, try to spot local flora including trillium and wild rose flowers. For fresh air and a dose of history, hop on the Jacksonville Trolley, which has offered tours through downtown since the 1980s. Depart from the city’s Visitor Information Center for the narrated, 45-minute tour and cruise past Victorian-style homes, the historic courthouse and jail, while learning more about Jacksonville’s history as a gold rush town.
For fine dining in a romantic and cozy space, visit the Jacksonville Inn Restaurant & Lounge for dinner service. The restaurant’s Sunday brunch is also a treat, featuring an impressively stocked mimosa cart with an attendant that travels from table to table. Also on the downtown strip, Bella Union Restaurant & Saloon is a local favorite, offering seafood, pasta, pizza and drinks in a casual environment with space for live music. For a deeper dive into the Southern Oregon culinary scene, hop on the Rogue Valley Food Trail, a self-guided culinary journey that encourages visits to local farms, vineyards, restaurants and more, each offering a taste of what the region has to offer. The first stop? Goodbean Coffee in downtown Jacksonville, which serves up locally roasted coffee and tasty pastries.
An attempt at window shopping will quickly lure visitors inside the many unique shops for clothing, gifts, art, antiques and home accessories throughout downtown. Pot Rack is one of those jam-packed kitchen stores stocking every piece of dishware and kitchen gadget one could need, and a few items that we didn’t even know we needed. On the east end of downtown is Miners’ Bazaar, an art boutique and café that’s worth a visit for art lovers of all ages. Grab something to eat or drink, peruse the art for sale, come for a kids art workshop or bring your own art project to work on at one of the big project tables.
There are no big chain hotels in Jacksonville, and they wouldn’t fit in with the town’s historic, quaint vibe. Instead, lodging options are rich with character, such as the Jacksonville Inn, which in addition to offering a restaurant and wine shop downstairs, also boasts an eight-room boutique hotel upstairs. The 1861 structure was built of locally quarried sandstone, and specs of gold are still visible in the structure, which housed a mercantile, gift shops and attorneys offices at different times before becoming the Jacksonville Inn in the 1960s. A new group of local owners took over the inn in 2021, modernizing and remodeling the rooms (there are also four standalone cottages two blocks away) and breathing fresh life into the longstanding Jacksonville business. Other nearby lodging options include the TouVelle House, a bed and breakfast inside a 1916 Craftsman-style home two blocks from downtown, or the McCully House Inn downtown, the oldest home in Oregon currently operating as an inn.