This is the first in an ongoing series where we spend a few hours exploring the smaller towns of Douglas County. Hidden gems abound in Winston; here are just a few.
Story by Jennifer Grafiada Photos by Thomas Boyd
ALWAYS FREE SAFARI VILLAGE
Most Douglas County residents are aware of, and have been to, the world-renowned Wildlife Safari. Becoming a member means supporting the safari’s conservation efforts and earns the right to drive through the park and enjoy its spectacular residents. If you are short on time or cash, however, just park the car and opt for the Always Free Safari Village, which offers sufficient fun to impress children of all ages as well as out-of-town guests.
Young cheetahs, flamingos, anteaters, wallabies and many other critters are there every day of the week. However, what you see will often depend on who is due for a feeding or afternoon nap, which means repeat trips are in order. Take a train ride for $5 per person (free for members), learn a bit more about the park denizens and get a chance at spotting the far-away- enough lions. A camel ride will cost you $10. There is also a playground for kids to burn off energy, a cafe with daily specials and a petting zoo where you can feed the friendly-to-a-fault goats.
BIG LICK FARMSTAND
Suzanne and Asinete Porter relocated their naturally certified farm from Myrtle Creek to Winston in 2016, and today it is thriving. Any day of the week you can get fresh, naturally grown seasonal produce (along with specialty items such as honey, eggs and kombucha) at their picturesque on-site farmstand. Make sure to bring small bills as it operates on the honor system. Adjacent to the stand, a Little Free Library offers books for sharing. Keep your eye out for the “Welcome Brigade” (a gaggle of geese, plus a duck).
This little gem is celebrating its 25th year in business. Beer-making, soap-making and bee-keeping supplies are offered alongside a fantastic selection of ready-to-savor beers and wines. Non-alcoholic specialty drinks, gourmet cheeses, lavender ice cream, dried fruits, local meats and healthy-leaning snack foods mean that your road trip or afternoon picnic is pretty much made (especially when paired with the local produce at Big Lick).
Proprietor Steve Johnston (“Harvest Steve”) is often around and will take the time to impart rare knowledge like how to make real old-fashioned root beer from sassafras, wintergreen and sarsaparilla root (and yes, he has those items in stock).
Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Address: 501 N.W. Douglas Blvd. (right after Bi-Mart)