Fall is a lovely time to live in the state of Oregon and we planned a road trip to Roseburg, a community of about 20,000 people living halfway between Eugene and Medford. The weather was perfect the first weekend in October and we happy explored fall-themed destinations and windy side roads through wine country and the mountainous terrain.
Economically, Roseburg has strong ties to the lumber industry—the town motto is the Timber Capital of the Nation. You’ll find a traditional “historic” downtown district east of Interstate 5 and the South Umpqua River. On the other side of the highway is the “newer” part of town, with many of the ubiquitous big box chain stores off of Northwest Garden Valley Boulevard.
Earlier this summer I discovered the Douglas County Museum somewhat by accident and it remains one of my favorite places in all of Oregon. If you have kids elementary-age and younger, you should absolutely time your visit when the museum is open. You can read the complete story by clicking on this link: Douglas County Museum.
Second on your list should be the Discovery Garden, a sweet little education and teaching garden maintained by the Oregon State University (OSU) Douglas County extension service. The garden is located right before the entrance to River Forks Park (more on this in a bit). Make sure you have a GPS signal and/or decent directions to the park; it’s on the edge of town and a bit confusing to find the first time.
As the name implies, the Discovery Garden is a place to explore. Kids will enjoy the children’s garden and using their bodies to make a sun dial. We learned about composting and I loved Thyme Square. On a warmer, more seasonal, day we would have enjoyed a lunch in the picnic pavilion and (as they say) stopped to smell the roses.
When you are gardened out, make sure to drive into River Forks Park (you will probably have to buy a park pass like we did). During our visit, park staff were busy putting up lights for the annual drive-through holiday lights display. A giant, mechanical, nutcracker met us at the end of the park near a modern and impressive no-boundaries playground.
You really can’t miss the brightly colored collection of merry-go-rounds, swings, balance beams, and zip line ideal for all ages and abilities. Across from the new equipment is an installment of older, original, playground equipment, a large picnic pavilion, and an old wooden fort. Dotting hillside overlooking the North Umpqua River are metal tee-pees perfect for imaginary play (or a super fun game of hide-and-seek if you were in the mood). Again, in warmer weather, I imagine the entire park is a popular place to fish, wade, and relax.
I always like to drive through a town’s Main Street with the hopes business is still booming. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality and variety of the items at Hero’s Haven, a comic book/action figure/games and collectibles store.
Traveling with our dog, we enjoyed a romp at Micelli Park before heading home. The dog scoped out the small dog park, while the kids discovered another whimsical playground structure. In the background of this photo you can see the white buildings on the Umpqua Dairy facility. Having recently lived in Wisconsin, I am thrilled to find an entire page of the Umpqua Dairy website dedicated to cow jokes.