The Rogue Valley in Oregon offers just about everything you might desire for a west coast outdoor experience. The combination of pristine rivers, mountaintop lakes, great golf, and very good food make for a perfect trip. Medford is the capital of this area and a good place for base camp.
Centennial Golf Club is probably the best public access course in the area. It was designed by well-known Oregon native John Fought and is a great layout. The course winds its way along gently rolling terrain on an elevated parcel with commanding views of the Rogue Valley. There are no homes on the course just nature and it has a links style feel with many run-up shots. I have played several Fought courses and this one reminds me of the two near Dove Mountain in Tucson where they play the match play event on the PGA Tour—fairly wide fairways with deep bunkers protecting the approach shots. Fought is a minimalist who believes in working with the land he is given and not moving too much earth. Of course with this piece of property there was no problem doing just that.
The fairways get a lot of roll in the summer so do not be put off by the distances on the scorecard. Centennial Golf Club has an excellent practice facility with two large putting greens. The clubhouse dining area features indoor and outdoor seating where you can watch the golfers play the long 18th hole. For complete details, visit CentennialGolfClub.com.
We choose the Courtyard Medford Airport for this visit and could not have made a better choice. The seemed brand-new and I really like what Courtyard has done with their new look. The lobby area includes a very modern looking café with the business center and lounge area just behind. The café is open each morning with a lot of variety on the menu. You can also get food and beverages here later in the day all the way up to bedtime. Each booth in the café has its own TV to allow guests their own viewing choice.
The rooms at the Courtyard have also been equipped with all the needs of the modern business/ leisure traveler. Comfortable bedding includes down pillows and high thread count cotton sheets. The TV and electronics are state of the art. Guests will also find the bathrooms to their liking. The Airport location is actually very central to most activities in Medford. Medford Airport is a smaller regional site with a brand new terminal and supporting buildings. Go to Marriott.com for more information.
Downtown Medford is the mecca for restaurants. For lunch we dined at 38 Central, which offers fine dining with casual sophistication. This restaurant is very upscale but still comfortable and has great food. My cod sandwich was out of this world. Looking for the Omega-3 boost I still had no idea that cod could taste so good. The service was excellent including a friendly and helpful waiter. 38 Central has an extensive wine list including the best of the many Southern Oregon vintners. Owner David Graham has one of the finest restaurants in town here and reservations will be necessary for dinner. Check out 38Central.net for further menu choices.
For dinner we choose Elements with its tapas menu. I really enjoy this small plate approach and the Spanish inspired cuisine. Owner Chris Dennett is the first to create this non-traditional dining experience in Medford. Eating tapas style means sampling smaller and different choices along with the best selection for wine and beer. As I age I really like this concept and find it more appealing to eat lighter in the evening. The food was excellent and you can get as full as you desire. Go to ElementsMedford.com for more information.
You must take the time while here to visit Crater Lake, which is just over an hour’s drive from the Courtyard. The drive up might remind you of the Flagstaff or perhaps the Mammoth area. The views of the lake from any of the vista points along the rim are more than worth the journey. Crater Lake is one of the most spectacular sights on Mother Earth. The lake itself is a dark blue in color and unfolds a couple of thousand feet below your position. Like a sunken version of Lake Tahoe it is massive in size and there is only one man made structure in sight. That would be the Crater Lake Lodge, which is carved out of the hillside and offers panoramic vistas of the entire scene. This is a great spot for lunch of dinner and will remind travelers of the El Tovar at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.