It's always a good idea to visit Portland's southern sister, Ashland. But February may be the best time. That month has been designated Ashland's Culinary Month, and there has never been a better time to experience one of the West Coast's most charming and distinctive towns. To make things easier, here are our top five choices of what not to miss during Ashland's culinary month.

1. The Wine!

What would any culinary journey be without wine? Luckily, Ashland sits in the middle of one of the most diverse grape growing regions on the West Coast and the ability to drink fine pinot noir or Gewurztraminer made locally is just one of the joys of visiting. Ashland wineries are home to more than 70 varietals that thrive in the Rogue Valley's high altitudes, dry air, and warm climate. Well regarded wineries like Irvine and Robert Vineyards, and Weisinger Family Winery make their home in Ashland—

2. Food Befitting a Much Bigger City

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No fewer than four Iron Chef winners call Ashland home– like Neil Clooney (owner of Bird and Rye) Billy Buscher (of Larks Kitchen & Cocktails), James Williams (owner of Truffle Pig Catering) and David Georgeson (of Luna Café & Mercantile). These four light up the town with their dedication to craft and they represent just a small portion of the food glories to be found in this leafy town that sits just north of the California Border. Restaurants that serve banh mi? Check. Biryani? Check. Blintzes? You bet.

3. Specials

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Similar to Portland Dining Month, February in Ashland means loads of dining deals to stretch your travel budget. Check out the countless specials on food, drinks, and even hotels during the month of February at their website.

We've got our eyes on the burger and beer special at local favorite, Luna Café & Mercantile, and the Valentine's Day special at the Stardust Lounge with live music . During Ashland's Restaurant Week, which takes place Feb. 3 through Feb. 9, the dining deals will be overflowing. Insider's tip? Don't miss Ashland's iconic Omar's Restaurant and Bar, and newer restaurants like Ostras! Tapas and Bottleshop.

4. The Snow!

If there's ever a chance to look up from your plate, you won't be able to miss the gorgeous view of snow-covered Mt. Ashland. Take a break from the city and enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and backcountry and local hospitality at what's been dubbed Oregon's best snowpack.

5. Oregon Shakespeare Festival

For those with a soft spot for the theatre, or those looking to dabble in the world of Shakespeare, there's no better place than the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), easily one of Oregon's most revered cultural institutions. The fact that it is located in a town with fewer than 22,000 people makes OSF even more extraordinary. Drawing over a hundred thousand visitors annually, OSF offers world-class performances and culture.

This February, some of those who visit for Ashland's Culinary Month will also be able to participate in OSF's Preview Weekend — the first performances of the festival — where A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Copper Children will kick off the season. Come for the food, stay for the theatre.

Plan your trip to Ashland and don't miss out on what this Culinary Month has to offer. Find out more about the experience at  ashlandchamber.com/culinarymonth.