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Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Ashland that are Free (or Nearly Free)


Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Ashland that are Free (or Nearly Free)

By Rebecca Kinman

When I wrote the “5 Free Things to do on Ashland, Oregon” article recently, I got a huge influx of requests from other parents asking about whether or not those things were kid-friendly. As a parent myself, I know first-hand how important it is to have activities for the family that are both fun and inexpensive—better yet—free. Everyone loves free things, right? So here we have it, kid-friendly things to do in Ashland that are free (and nearly free things) to do with your kids here in our lovely home of Ashland, Oregon.

Visit the Trails of North Mountain Park

Home of the (free) Bear Creek Salmon Festival in the fall, the wildness of this park never ceases to amaze me. With the well-mantained trails that have educational information about the wildlife in that habitat, this park is a favorite for any family that loves the outdoors but doesn’t want to go too far to reach it. At each information station, there is a complimentary animal stamp that each kid can use to remind them of the critters that live in the habitats presented. Not to mention, North Mountain Park has probably one of the best, cleanest public sandboxes in town with lots of interesting sand toys to choose from. If you happen to be at the park on the second Friday of the month, check out the preschool puppet theatre which is just $6 per child.

Take the Kids Skateboarding

With skateboarding as a steadily increasing trend among kids, why not help them get some exercise safely by supervising their activity at Ashland’s own skate park? It should be noted that for safety reasons, all skaters must wear helmets at the Ashland Community Skate Park. There are skate monitors in the summertime, so if you plan on going down to the skate park this spring, be sure to watch your children, teens and tweens very closely. Additionally, the recycling center is right next door to the Skate Park. Kids love putting plastic and glass bottles down the recycling chute, and can give them a good sense of environmental responsibility in which to take part.

Garfield Park

I like this park because of its central location and the big field for playing Frisbee and soccer. There’s also a new play structure for bigger kids and it has a distinctly smaller play structure for babies and toddlers. It’s a wide open space, so if your little tykes are the adventurous types who may happen to run off for a second, there aren’t many trees or bushes to hide them. (Be warned, however, that the volleyball net is set up over a sand pit, so oftentimes kids who like sand play can be playing in precarious proximity to a flying ball) Before you know it, Memorial Day will be upon us and the water park at Garfield will finally be running again. Whenever we drive by Garfield my daughter asks: “Mama, when can we go play in the water?” I just tell her “Soon, my dear. Very soon.”  Soon indeed.

Lithia Park

Aside from Lithia Park’s obviously stellar playground, there are other great areas of the park that kids love. Perhaps we enjoy Lithia Park the most due to the ever-famous duck pond. Let’s face it, kids love animals. They love seeing them interacting with each other and with nature. Many people might feel inclined to feed the ducks, but it’s important to research the hazards and cautions related to duck-feeding and to act accordingly (don’t feed the ducks). Additionally, it’s fun to visit the free concerts at the bandshell in the summertime and walk up to the beautiful fountain across the way. Just above it, kids love the Japanese Garden, with all its little stepping stones and exotic trees and shrubbery to explore.

Willow-Witt Ranch Farm Tour

Last year at the (also free) Earth Day celebration at the ScienceWorks museum, we had the delight to pet live goats from Willow-Witt farm. My daughter was enthralled by their softness. Turns out the farm is just outside of Ashland and they give farm tours for $25 per adult, but for the little ones, it’s free. This means if you’re on a budget and the kids want to bring a friend or two, you can split the cost with other parents and explore the farm and visit the animals.

Kid Time in Medford

Okay, so, it’s not exactly Ashland, and it’s not exactly free. But I had to mention Kid Time because its our newest favorite thing to do on the weekends and as a non-profit, they are in need of more memberships in order to stay open. So if you have been thinking of getting a membership, now is the time, and when you get one, your family can visit the museum for free as frequently as you choose. We went there for the first time a few months ago and I just loved how thoroughally diverse and interesting this two-story kids’ universe really is. They have a kids’ play grocery store, a humongous indoor slide, a climbing wall, a toddler area, a real-life fishing boat, a pretend pizzeria, a play construction zone, and much more. It’s all indoors, so whether it’s raining or 100 degrees, you can have a weather-proof option for the kids to burn of their seemingly endless energy. Kid time also organizes birthday parties for a reasonable price. A 3-month membership for a family of four is $40, so it’s completely worth it for unlimited visits to this amazing place, which is just a 10 minute drive from Ashland. Plus, it’s a worthwhile contribution to the effort to keeping this kid-friendly business alive and well.

Ashland Library

The Ashland Library has numerous programs for kids as well, including games, books, stories, and videos. The Ashland branch hosts “Storytime” five times a week according to various pre-K age groups, and the schedule can be found here. What’s more, the library system offers a neat “Dial-a-Story Hotline” where you can call at anytime for your “preschoolers own private storytime”. The number is 541-774-6439. For more information on the varied opportunities that the Ashland Library offers, visit their kids page here and their teens page here.

So if your family is ready to explore something new while keeping your wallet from shrinking, parents in the Rogue Valley can rest easy with the notion that low-cost and free activities are abundant and nearby.

Water park at Garfield Park

Zero-depth Water Feature at Garfield Park