Eugene, Oregon, is located at the southern end of the Willamette Valley and regularly wins accolades for being one of the best places to live in the entire United States. Despite nearly 170,000 people calling it home, Eugene is proud of the small college town vibes it curates, thanks in large part to the University of Oregon and other small colleges located here.
Eugene’s location makes it a great home base for any trip to the Pacific Northwest, with plenty to do in the city itself. With both Portland and prime spots along the Oregon Coast also located within approximately 2 hours of Eugene, there are plenty of opportunities for great day trips in the area as well.
During your time in Eugene, be sure to make time for as many of the following beloved attractions, museums, parks, bars, and more as you possibly can. Here’s 15 great things to do in Eugene Oregon.
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN EUGENE OREGON
- Best Near University of Oregon Campus: Graduate Eugene is a chic hotel only 1.5 miles from the University of Oregon. In guestrooms, it’s greens and Greeks, with elements that celebrate Oregon’s lush landscapes, Pacific Northwest heritage and the school’s famed track and field program. You’ll find a coffee shop and restaurant onsite.
- Best for Health Enthusiasts: EVEN Hotel Eugene features in-room fitness equipment and a fitness center located on-site. Certain rooms also feature stationary bicycles. The on-site market and bar, Cork & Kale, features heart healthy and gluten-free meal options.
- Best Tried and True: Comfort Suites Eugene features an indoor pool, hot tub, a free breakfast buffet, and spacious suites. Located only 2 miles from the University of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena, this hotel is also close to popular attractions.
SKINNER BUTTE PARK
Skinner Butte Park, located just north of downtown Eugene, is one of the city’s oldest parks. This amazing park has something for everyone to enjoy.
The 100 acre park sits along the Willamette River, and features Skinner Butte — a local landmark that rises 200 feet above the city. A winding road leads to the summit, where you can take in amazing views.
Skinner Butte Park is well-known to climbers, who can try their skills at the Columns climbing area. The RiverPlay Discovery Playground is perfect for little ones, and even includes a replica of Skinner Butte for them to climb!
This park is full of open spaces, hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, and more.
SHELTON MCMURPHY JOHNSON HOUSE MUSEUM
Near Skinner Butte Park, you’ll find the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House Museum, also known as the “Castle on the Hill.”
Make plans to stop by this amazing example of late-Victorian Queen Anne Revival style architecture. You can tour the inside, see the grounds and landscaping, or attend a special event.
The museum is located at 303 Willamette St, Eugene OR 97401.
JORDAN SCHNITZER MUSEUM OF ART
Located on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art has been connecting visitors to world class, global and multicultural art since 1933. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum building itself is a work of art.
With more than 13,000 pieces in the museum’s collection and multiple exhibitions traveling through each year, you can likely find something new each time you visit. You will always be able to find art from the Americas, China, Japan, Korea, and Russia on display as part of the museum’s permanent collections galleries.
Want to get a head start before your visit, or explore what you missed after? Check out the museum’s virtual tour on their website to explore parts of the museum from the comfort of your own home. The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art address is 1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene, OR 97403.
CASCADES RAPTOR CENTER
Interested in large, powerful birds? A visit to the Cascades Raptor Center is a must during your time in Eugene for animal-loving children and adults alike. This nature center is a permanent home for dozens of resident birds, while also caring for a few hundred birds a year that come through its wildlife hospital.
With a mission to foster a connection between humans and birds of prey, Cascades Raptor Center strives to educate and provide awareness to the general public on the role we can all play in respecting and caring for these majestic creatures. Because the vast majority of raptors that find themselves in need of care at the wildlife hospital have been harmed either directly or indirectly by humans, spreading this awareness can be a matter of life or death for these birds.
Visitors are welcome to take a self-guided tour of the grounds by purchasing a general admission ticket, or can reserve in advance and pay extra for an in-depth guided tour for a small group of up to four individuals.
The Cascade Raptor Center is located at 32275 Fox Hollow Rd, Eugene, OR 97405.
MUSEUM OF NATURAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY
Step back thousands of years in time to learn about Oregon from the very beginning and see how things got to be the way they are now. Thanks to interactive exhibits, visitors to the Museum of Natural and Cultural History on the University of Oregon campus can take a hands-on approach to learning.
Home to treasures including rare fossils, 10,000 year old sandals, and thousands more unique artifacts, visitors are able to explore both the natural and cultural history of Oregon and beyond. Come face to face with animals from the Ice Age, share about your own Oregon roots, and dig into the archeology of the state as part of the museum’s interactive displays.
Recently renovated, Hayward Field is a facility where thousands of track and field fans can gather for state-of-the-art sports events. Located on the University of Oregon campus, Hayward Field considers itself a theater for track and field events, providing fans with unobstructed, up-close views, impressive acoustics, and spacious seats.
Originally built in 1919, legends have competed at Hayward Field for decades. Some of these legends are now honored with the Hayward Field Tower which looms 10 stories above. Visitors can also learn more in Hayward Hall, a space located at the base of the Tower with interactive displays and exhibits telling the story of Hayward Field and University of Oregon Track and Field.
One of the oldest bars in Oregon, Luckey’s has been open since 1911 – well over 100 years. It is a great place for a game of pool and a live burlesque show. Luckey’s has survived not only both World Wars and the Great Depression, but prohibition as well.
Luckey’s is also the oldest cigar store in Oregon, but you will have to partake elsewhere, as no smoking is allowed inside due to the City of Eugene’s indoor smoking ban.
While the original building was demolished in the 1970s, great care was put into rebuilding a replica of Luckey’s across the street — as close as possible to the original. Luckey’s has evolved in some ways over the past 100+ years however, making changes such as welcoming women (who were not welcome in the early days of the club), and adding live music and other entertainment.
WILDCRAFT CIDER WORKS
Wildcraft Cider Works is Eugene’s first cidery and is known for making their ciders with care, using exclusively Oregon-grown fruits. Much of what Wildcraft Cider Works does is driven by their passions for community and land stewardship.
This is perhaps most clearly displayed with their annual Community Apple Drive, in which the community is invited to trade fruit for cider or juice. The following year, a community cider will be released from the fruit gathered by the community itself. The proceeds from the annual community cider sales are donated to land stewardship and conservation non-profits in the area, perfectly tying together both of the company’s passions.
The cidery also hosts live music and other events in a venue located above their tasting room. In addition to cider, you can also enjoy local wine and beer as well as non-alcoholic beverages and Thai food from an authentic restaurant that shares a space with the cidery.
HULT CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
With more than 700 events and performances a year, there is likely something happening at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Located in downtown Eugene, performances range from shows by the resident ballet, concert choir, and symphony companies to touring musicians, comedians, and Broadway groups.
While the center is fairly new — it opened in the 1980s — it is architecturally impressive. Featuring both a large concert hall and a small, intimate theater, there is an appropriate space for enjoying a wide array of different types of performances.
EUGENE SATURDAY MARKET
Eugene’s Saturday Market holds the claim to fame of being the oldest and longest running open-air crafts market in the United States, after more than 50 years of operation. While it is a separate and independent operation from the Lane County Farmers Market, the sister markets are located across the street from each other.
While the vendors selling various forms of arts and handicrafts must live in Oregon, the Saturday Market is also home to an international food court which serves up a variety of global cuisines including Afghani, Jamaican, Indian, and more. The Saturday Market also frequently hosts entertainers and performers.
Located in Downtown Eugene from April through November, the Saturday Market moves to the Lane County Fairgrounds for the holiday season where it is located from the weekend before Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve.
Home of the University of Oregon Ducks, this football stadium is located alongside Alton Baker Park which separates it from campus. Part of the experience for UO students is the tradition of walking over the Willamette River by way of the Autzen Footbridge, then through the gorgeous park to the stadium on game day. Football season is prime time for the park’s trees to show off, making for a memorable game day stroll.
One of the loudest stadiums in college sports, as well as the largest sports arena in the state of Oregon, attending a game at Autzen Stadium is an experience in and of itself. Fans are loyal to their beloved Ducks, and that is on full display in Autzen Stadium.
MOUNT PISGAH ARBORETUM
Get outside and enjoy nature in the Southern Willamette Valley at Mount Pisgah Arboretum. With hundreds of plant and animal species ready to be observed within the arboretum, it lies between the slopes of Mount Pisgah and the Coast Fork of the Willamette River.
Spanning across 209 acres, with seven miles of trails to be explored and multiple outdoor interactive displays, there is plenty to see and do. The arboretum encompasses a variety of habitats, making it very ecologically representative of the region. Trails vary in difficulty level and distance, meaning there is a trail for just about everyone to enjoy.
If you happen to be in Eugene in May, do not miss the beloved Wildflower and Music Festival. Same goes for October, when the annual Mushroom Festival is not to be missed.
The arboretum is located at 34901 Frank Parrish Rd, Eugene, OR 97405.
MCKENZIE RIVER NATIONAL RECREATION TRAIL
The McKenzie River National Recreation Trail is a 26-mile hiking trail that runs along the McKenzie River and is equally beloved by mountain bikers who consider it one of the best mountain biking trails in the United States. Over the course of the trail, hikers or bikers will experience a variety of natural phenomena including lava, stunning lakes, waterfalls, forest, and more.
Favorite spots along the trail include Clear Lake, appropriately named for its crystal clear waters. Hop in a kayak (a favorite and highly recommended Clear Lake activity), or on a paddleboard to catch a glimpse of a forest preserved underwater.
Another favorite spot is the Tamolitch Blue Pool, named for its trademark blue water that must be seen to believe. The hiking trail to both Sahalie and Koosah Falls is a must-do experience along the trail as well. If you are not up for all 26 miles, there are 11 trailheads for easy access at various points along the river.
OREGON AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM
For more than 30 years, the Oregon Air and Space Museum has proudly displayed a collection of aircraft and artifacts with the purpose of telling the story of aviation and space technology.
Located at the Eugene Airport, exhibits include multiple aircraft such as an A-4 Skyhawk and T-34 Mentor, as well as exhibits about various aircraft engines, flight uniforms, and space.
OWEN ROSE GARDEN
Located near the banks of the Willamette River close to the Washington Jefferson Street Bridge, Owen Rose Garden is a sight to behold at peak bloom. With more than 4,500 rose bushes representing more than 400 varieties, this 8.5 acre park is a Eugene treasure.
Beyond hundreds of rose varieties, the garden is also home to the 49-foot-tall Oregon Heritage Cherry Tree, which is nationally recognized and believed to have been planted in the mid-1800s, which would likely make it the oldest tree of its type in the country. With an 80-foot crown, catching this huge cherry tree in bloom is a real treat for garden visitors as well.
Entry to the Owen Rose Garden is free, and it is an ideal location for a memorable and lovely picnic. While the rose garden is typically in full bloom throughout June, flowers can often still be found blooming for months beyond that.
The garden is located at 300 N Jefferson St, Eugene, OR 97402.
Established more than 115 years ago in 1906, Hendricks Park is the oldest city park in Eugene. Spanning nearly 80 acres, the park is home to gorgeous gardens and trails, as well as an urban forest with huge, 200-year-old Douglas Fir trees.
Hendricks Park is especially well known for its impressive 15-acre Rhododendron Garden, as well as a 5-acre Native Plant Garden. Together with the 50-acre urban forest, these three sections make up the majority of the park’s grounds.
Catch peak rhododendron bloom in April and May, but begin spotting flowers in February all the way through early summer. With thousands of flowers, plants, and trees rooted here, there is no bad time to visit as Hendricks Park is absolutely gorgeous year-round.
Hendricks Park is located off Skyline Blvd, Eugene, OR 97403.
EUGENE OREGON FAQ
What is Eugene, Oregon best known for?
Eugene, Oregon is best known for its beautiful setting. With lush, green forests and lots of outdoor activities, Eugene is a great place to get out and enjoy nature.
How far away is the beach from Eugene?
Florence, Oregon is the closest beach town to Eugene at just 61 miles away. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to get to Florence from Eugene.
Is Eugene, Oregon a walkable city?
Downtown Eugene Oregon is extremely walkable! The Jefferson Westside neighborhood has the highest walkability score in town.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO OREGON
- YOUR OREGON VACATION
- OREGON COAST CAMPING: 19 Great Spots Perfect For Your Oregon Coast Camping Trip
- SALEM: 11 Fantastic Things To Do In Salem Oregon
- PORTLAND: 15+ Perfect Things To Do In Portland, Oregon
- WATERFALLS: 18 Unbelievably Amazing Oregon Waterfalls (+ Map of 79 More)
WHERE TO STAY IN EUGENE, OREGON
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