Trip – Oregon, November & December

Photo: Tiresias, a Northern Saw-whet Owl

Bay-StreetCascades Raptor Center, Eugene

You don’t need to go to Jurassic Park to find raptors. Perched on the Spencer Butte of Eugene, the Cascades Raptor Center cares for a stunning variety of birds of prey.  Due to their sharp eyesight and talons, these birds often enjoy the top spot on the food chain.

The Cascade Raptor Center displays over 50 raptors including: corvids, hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, vultures, ospreys and kites. The bird enclosures line several paths cut into the the lush Oregon forests. You will likely catch Raptor Center staff in the enclosures working with the aviary residents.

For a closer view of these birds, stop by the center at noon on Tuesdays through Fridays. At those times, a handler retrieves a raptor from its enclosure and discusses the specific bird as well as the Cascades Raptor Center in general.

While not for display, many more birds receive rehabilitation at the Cascade Raptor Center. The center nurtures these birds back to health with the eventual goal they may fly back into the wild.

For additional information, go to eraptors.org. Winter hours begin in November and are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. For information about visiting Eugene, go to eugenecascadescoast.com.

Old-Town-FlorenceOld Town, Florence

When people think of Florence, Oregon, sand dunes spring to mind. That’s because it’s home to the northern reaches of the Oregon Coast Dunes National Monument. Mammoth dunes border the beach for 40 miles running south and draw dune recreation hunters and thrill seekers year round. But take the exit off of Hwy 101 directing you to Old Town Florence and you’ll discover something entirely different.

Lining the historic rows of buildings along Bay Street (paralleling the Siuslaw River), art galleries, boutique and gift shops, spots to duck in for a sweet treat, and plenty of restaurants for lunch and dinner can easily fill your day.

The setting—a salty, historic waterfront—lends a distinct charm to Old Town, making it an ever-fascinating stroll for the entire family. Don’t miss the Old Town Gazebo with its river view. When it’s time to eat, you’ll find especially sophisticated food preparation at Spice (1269 Bay St.;  spiceinflorence.com) and at Waterfront Depot (1252 Bay St.; thewaterfrontdepot.com). You’ll find plenty of other choices on Bay Street with kid-pleasing menus.

After you’ve taken in Old Town, head to the dunes to climb one of the lookout towers for a sense of scale of this natural wonder.

For more information about visiting Florence, Oregon, go to florencechamber.com. For information about visiting Oregon’s central coast, go to visittheoregoncoast.com.

Andy-StokesJazz at the Oxford, Bend

Regardless of season, travelers find many reasons to visit Bend, Oregon. One attraction that has graced the city’s entertainment scene for the past four years has been the “Jazz at the Oxford” series at downtown’s stylish Oxford Hotel. Marshall Glickman, former President of the Portland Trailblazers, founded this series of world-class concerts.

Glickman’s inspiration? To bring an entertaining new cultural event to Central Oregon and to give his 12-year-old son Laz the priceless gift of music. Laz just happens to be a jazz pianist who began playing jazz when he was eight and was accepted to Mel Brown’s Jazz Workshop at Western Oregon University when he was 10. Today, he’s often invited to join performers on the series stage and has also performed as a jazz soloist.

With one concert a month during its season, the series attracts internationally acclaimed, award-winning jazz musicians, putting Bend on the map as a jazz destination to those in tune to the jazz world. And the series tends to sell out. The venue’s intimate setting is a perfect place to enjoy sophisticated, contemporary jazz.

This season’s lineup includes the Portland Blues Review, featuring Lisa Mann & Andy Stokes (Nov. 22-23); the Oregon Piano Summit, featuring Gordon Lee, Darrell Grant, Ben Darwish and Randy Porter (Dec. 27-28);  Arturo O’Farrill Afro-Latin Septet (Jan. 17-18); the Mary Stallings Quartet, with Mel Brown, Tony Pacini and Ed Bennett (Feb. 21-22); and Bruce Foreman and Cow Bop (Mar. 14-15).

For tickets, go online at oxfordhotelbend.com/jazz-at-the-oxford.htm. For information about visiting Bend and Central Oregon, go to visitcentraloregon.com.

Rogue-WinterfestSeasonal Magic in Grants Pass

Now in its 11th year, Rogue Winterfest is one of Southern Oregon’s most spectacular winter events. Five days of exciting celebrations include the opening Gala Event and Grand Auction on December 5, a Golden Social for those over 55 on December 6, and family-friendly weekend events on December 7 and 8—complete with holiday trees and art displays, Evergreen Federal Bank Bear Hotel’s whimsical Christmas on Mars exhibit and other fun activities and games.

A Culinary Christmas Classic takes place on December 9, when Southern Oregon’s finest restaurants, caterers, wineries and breweries provide tastings while guests mingle among decorated trees, enjoy live entertainment and get in the holiday spirit.

When you attend Rogue Winterfest, you can go away with a warm holiday glow knowing your admission benefits three nonprofit mental health agencies.

“It is amazing how the community pulls together for this event,” says Sue Price, the festival’s event planner. “It is truly an honor to help plan Rogue Winterfest. Every year, an overwhelming number of volunteers, sponsors, culinary establishments, designers and artists give their time and expertise to create a glorious experience. The combination of holiday artistry and Evergreen Federal Bank’s Christmas on Mars exhibit brings joy to all who attend.”

All events are held at Evergreen Federal Bank’s Bear Hotel in Grants Pass—a unique venue transformed into a magical holiday wonderland. For more details and tickets, go online at roguewinterfest.org. For information about visiting Grants Pass, go to visitgrantspass.org.