9 fun things to do with kids in southern Oregon

BY VANESSA HOUK

If, by early July, you find yourself humming the theme song from Bye Bye Birdie “Kids, what’s the matter with kids today…” it might be a sign that the newness of summer is starting to wear thin. At Chez Houk we like to stay one step ahead of this by keeping kid friendly things on the agenda so that everyone in the family has something to look forward to. Southern Oregon boasts an abundance of free and low-cost, family friendly adventures and while this list is by no means extensive, it includes some of our families favorites.

 

Sanctuary One

Madison visited Sanctuary One for a middle school field trip and came home bubbling with compliments. “You should have seen it Mom, there were goats and dogs and a cat that followed me around. It was the best-day-ever.” This care farm exists to connect people and animals together for mutual healing and is a refuge for rescued animals. Call  541.899.8627 or email info@SanctuaryOne.org.

Times: 90 minute tours are offered Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:30 AM.

Location: Sanctuary One at Double Oak Farm

13195 Upper Applegate

Jacksonville

Cost: The farm asks for a minimum donation of $10 per person.

Lithia Park troll bridges

 

What, you’ve never heard that there are trolls in Lithia Park? Well, isn’t it lucky that you are reading this. If you stomp your foot three times before you approach any of the foot-bridges inside the park, you’ll be able to cross the bridges safely and if you peek down towards the direction of where the creek and bridge unite, you just might see the quick blur of a fast troll. They are friendly creatures who live exclusively in Lithia Park with hair the color of the trunk of the Tree of Heaven and a laugh that often echoes through the downtown. Don’t believe me? Ask any four year old…

Location: 59 Winburn Way, Ashland

Cost: Free

 

Here be dragons

It goes without saying that in a community as vibrant and as artistically rich as Ashland, one can find dragons. Take the kids for a downtown adventure and as you wander through shops (Unicorn, Paddington Station and Tree House Books are three easy suggestions) see how many dragons you can find. Visit the kids section of the Ashland library and finish off your adventure in the throne underneath the mural which is a great spot for reading. How many dragons can you silently find inside the library? End your dragon hunt with a story. The Ashland library has a number of entertaining books such as “No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons)” as well as many others. Before you leave the library be sure to join the “Dig into Reading” summer reading program which offers incentives for kids when they read or listen to ten books. All that and you can’t beat the price, which is free!

Location: Downtown shops and the Ashland Library is located at 410 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Railroad Park

One of the lesser used parks in Ashland, Railroad Park features play structures, swings and a slide, basketball court, bike trail and a shaded picnic area with tables. Located just down the street from the Ashland Historic Railroad Museum on A Street, this quiet little park has a friendly atmosphere and is a fun place to unwind on a hot day.

Location: A Street between 6th and 8th Street, Ashland

Cost: Free

 

Bat walk

You might think of them as creepy, but bats help us keep insect populations down and they are fascinating creatures. Did you know that there are 15 species of bats in Oregon. They can cover a radius of 100 miles in just one night. Walk through the Historic Railroad District in Ashland at twilight and look up at the streetlights to catch a show. Bats move quickly (up to 30 miles an hour). Biologists worry that White-noise Syndrome, which is caused by a type of fungus and has killed millions of bats since it was first discovered in 2006, will continue to decrease bat colonies. Conservation efforts aimed at protecting habitat and further research will ensure that your children’s children can go on bat walks too.

Cost: Free

 

Bowling

Bowling is always good for some laughs, especially if you haven’t played in a long time.Our local bowling alleys offer inexpensive entertainment in an air conditioned setting.

Lava Lanes offers $1 days on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer. Games are $1 each. 2980 Crater Lake Highway, Medford.

Roxy Ann Lanes is located at 2375 South Pacific Highway in Phoenix, Oregon.

Dollar days are Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Games are $1 each, shoe rental is $1 and $1 snacks include hot dogs and fries.

 

Ashland History & Railroad Museum

Did you know that there is a history and railroad museum right here in the Rogue Valley? Transport back in time when railcars traveled through Ashland and find out what locals thought of the railway. From circuses to presidents, trains brought in a wealth of experiences and knowledge and you’ll find many exciting things on display at the museum.

 

The current exhibit is “Ashland, What’s in a Name?” includes Native American artifacts which were found on the plaza remodel archaeological dig that prove that the Plaza was once the center of a Native American village.  You can see one of two existing Ashland Flour Mill bags from the early Ashland Flour Mill and a bunch of artifacts from very early Ashland. This exhibit will be held until the last week of August and then they will install the Fall exhibit, “Faces of the Railroad: The People Behind the Engines.”

 

Victoria Law, director says, “one of every child’s favorite thing to do at our Museum is we allow children to drive our model railroad with supervision. Not too many museums allow kids this kind of hands-on experience. Our trains are all state-of-the-art ‘N-scale” trains donated from local manufacturer, “Micro-Trains”, based in Talent.” The museum has an annual “Tombstone Tales” event which is also suitable for families. Law says, “Tombstone Tales is our summer community outreach program and is a great fun way to learn about Ashland history and is great for families. The dates of our performances are June 29, June 30, July 6 & July 7 from 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM at the old Ashland Cemetery on the corner of East Main and Morton Street. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and can be purchased at the Museum or at the gate.”

 

Location: 258 A Street Suite 11, Ashland (Upstairs) 541-261-6605.

Cost:$3 for adults, $2 seniors and $1 for kids.

Garfield Water Park

 A good place to cool off on a hot day is the water play feature at Garfield Park. Metal poles of varying heights shoot out streams of cold water and kids of all ages find it to be a fun respite from the heat. The splash park is free and other amenities include a playground, volleyball court, basketball and picnic areas.

Location: East Main Street between Garfield and California.

 

43rd Annual Children’s Festival

The Storytelling Guild of Jackson County offers a magical three day Children’s Festival July 13-15 at the Britt Festival Grounds in Jacksonville. This is the 47th annual festival and it  features a wealth of creative outlets from pottery making to wood working (are you ready for some noise?), arts and crafts, science and storytelling. Stop in at the Dragon Deli for a low cost snack and afterwards the kids can “feed” the dragons any leftover rubbish. There are planned performances on the stage which includes dancers, musicians and more.

Location: Britt Festival, Jacksonville

Cost: $3 per person

When: July 13 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM

July 14 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM

July 15 10:00 AM to 1:30 PM

What’s your favorite low-cost thing to do with kids? Send your ideas to editor@rvcommunitypress.com and we’ll feature the best reader responses in our August issue.