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Medford, Oregon

Gateway to Crater Lake and the Rogue Valley

1960s décor brought back to life at the Larks Restaurant in Medford, Oregon. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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Medford is a great base for a visit to Southern Oregon to explore Crater Lake National Park and the Rogue Valley. Downtown Medford is a farm-to-table heaven that is surprisingly affordable. There are more than 30 culinary destinations with everything from fine dining to brew pubs. The town is known as a hub for Southern Oregon's food, wineries, breweries and distilleries. Here are some ideas of where to stay and eat.

The Inn at the Commons puts you in the center of the action. It is a wonderful centrally located hotel with easy access to I-5. The hotel was brought back to life by Doug and Becky Neuman, owners of the Neuman Hotel Group. The two are renowned in the area for restoring down-on-their-luck hotels and helping to revitalize the area.  This 1960s-era motor inn is updated with bright colors and luxurious interiors. The best part? Many local restaurants, breweries and shops are located within walking distance. Insider's tip: On Friday afternoon at 3 p.m., the inn offers an Insider Tasting Tour. Take a 1.5-hour stroll and visit brew masters, bakers, and other taste makers while discovering the flavor of downtown Medford. The tour is free to guests of the hotel.

Inn at the Commons, daily, 200 N. Riverside Ave., Medford, 866.779.5811,

You don't normally think of a motor inn as the site of fine dining, but the Larks Restaurant in the Inn at the Commons is a pleasant surprise. Executive Chef Maggie Trujillo runs a scratch kitchen that makes everything fresh, including house-made sauces such as a bourbon ketchup. The culinary team works with local farmers and ranchers to plan out what will be available months in advance. Local products, produce and meat are delivered directly to the restaurant. The Larks website lists all the local purveyors. Trujillo is famed for her upscale comfort food highlighting Southern Oregon's food artisans. This is all served up in a 1960s décor, which just seems to work. Insider tip: Book a package with the inn starting at $119 and receive a $30 dining credit to the Larks.

Larks Restaurant, daily, (hours vary by meal so check website), 200 N. Riverside Ave., Medford, 541.774.4760,

Located right across the street from the inn is another historic building that is part of the downtown renaissance. The Common Block Brewing Company is a family friendly brewpub with a mission of making community happen together. The restaurant and brewery has indoor and outdoor space located in a cool historic building.  The food at Common Block is not your usual brewpub fair.  Yes, there are burgers and pizzas, but there are also menu items such as Truffle Sea-Salt Chicken Breast with mushrooms, IPA onions, spinach, cherry tomatoes and mashers.  The pizza is brought to gourmet levels with Rogue Roots, a pizza with pear, bleu cheese, mozzarella, candied walnuts, shallots, and balsamic reduction. And it is all scratch-made.

Common Block Brewing Company, daily, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., 315 E. 5th St., Medford, 541.326.2277,

Check back next week to learn more about how to visit Crater Lake National Park and other sites in the area.

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