Enjoy stylish new lodgings and restaurants after the curtain comes down

"So call the field to rest;
and let's away,
To part the glories
of this happy day."

When Octavius speaks those lines late in the evening ofNovember 3, the curtain will drop on Julius Caesar―and on theOregon Shakespeare Festival's 2002 season, which won't resume untilpreviews begin in late February 2003. But it's the beginning of aspecial season in Ashland, when tourists are few and prices onlodging plummet to as little as half the high-season rate. It'swhen you can browse the shops and galleries unhurried, saunter intoyour favorite restaurant without a reservation, or slip-slide onthe town's skating rink or ski slopes.

Shakespeare's winter sabbatical leaves no void in localperforming arts. You can attend shows by the Artattack TheaterEnsemble (www.artattacktheater.com;541/282-9815), which stages classics and premieres new plays,or Oregon Cabaret Theatre's annual holiday show (www.oregoncabaret.com;541/488-2902). For other ideas, go to Ashland Chamber ofCommerce's website (see "New Lodging Choices").

Excellent new eateries and accommodations have expanded thealready varied options. Consider a winter weekend in Ashland thisyear, or start planning your summer trip now; the 2003 festivalschedule should be posted on the Web by late November at www.osfashland.org (or call541/482-2111 to request a brochure).

New restaurants

Lela's Bakery & Cafe. A charming bistro in Ashland'shistoric railroad district, Lela's dishes out Tuscan pizzas,European pastries, and entrées inspired by many cuisines butcrafted with a French sensibility. Wed-Sat only. 258 A St.; (541) 482-1702.

Tabú. Sip sangria or a mojito while you graze on tapas,or choose among entrées spanning Spain and the Caribbean,including paella and a savory "drunken pintos" side dish. Daily. 76 N. Pioneer St.; (541) 482-3900.

New lodging choices

For more options, check with the Ashland Chamber of Commerce at (541) 482-3486 or www.ashlandchamber.com.

Ashland Creek Inn. The former Waterside Inn has beenrefurbished and now has the feel of an old European hostelry. Eachof seven suites has a private entrance and isindividually―and elegantly―decorated with original artand antiques. Winter packages include a day in the spa or cookingschool. From $100 ($195 high season). 70 Water St.; (541) 482-3315 or www.ashlandcreekinn.com

A Midsummer's Dream. This 1901 Victorian B&B tucked intoa quiet hillside neighborhood barely a mile from downtown has fiveluxurious suites, each with fireplace and hot tub. From $140 (from$180 in high season). 496 Beach St.; (877) 376-8800, (541) 552-0605, or www.amidsummer.com

Plaza Inn & Suites at Ashland Creek. Posh four-story,91-room hotel is a short walk from the theater and is just abovethe creek. Enjoy amenities such as a menu of pillows and―inthe deluxe rooms―fireplaces or hot tubs. From $59 ($139 highseason). 98 Central Ave.; (888) 488-0358, (541) 488-8900, or www.plazainnashland.com

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