16 Things to Do in Eugene, Oregon

downtown Eugene Oregon

Located south of Oregon’s famous Willamette Valley, Eugene is a college town offering an eclectic mix of culture, food, wine and beer, and outdoor activities. It is the second-biggest city in Oregon and regularly ranks as one of the best places to live in the United States.

Here are the 16 best things to do in Eugene, Oregon.

1. Visit 5th Street Public Market

Fifth Street Market stretches over several blocks in downtown Eugene. It is home to a mix of stores, restaurants, bars, wineries, hotels, breweries, and office buildings.

The market has two main sections for visitors: Market Core between 5th and 6th Avenues on the west side of Pearl Street and Market Alley between 5th and 6th Avenues on the east side of Pearl Street.

The 5th Street Public Market emphasizes local products, so you won’t see any big chain outlets. I particularly liked Provisions Market Hall on the west side of Pearl Street, just behind the fountain.

Provisions are everything from a food shop to a cafe to a lifestyle store. In Market Alley, check out Euphoria Chocolate Company and grab a specialty coffee at Magpie.

Fifth Street Public Market is also home to some of the best places to stay in Eugene, such as The Gordon Hotel and Graduate.

2. Take a Self Guided Mural Walk

Eugene is home to over 40 impressive murals. These artworks are spread across downtown, and it is quite easy to do a self-guided tour using the city’s mural map.

This walking tour takes visitors through the center of Eugene so it is also a great opportunity to explore the city.

3. Try some Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

There are over 700 wineries in Willamette Valley, which is part of the explosion in the popularity of the wines of the Pacific Northwest, including wineries in Washington State. Several Willamette Valley wineries have tasting rooms in downtown Eugene, making it a great place to sample some of Oregon’s famous pinot noir.

Here are two to visit:

Oregon Wine Lab: If you only go to one tasting room in Eugene, make it the Oregon Wine Lab. This urban winery and tasting room features wine from its own brand, William Rose Wines, as well as other small Oregon wine producers. They also offer local beers and ciders and Eugene’s well-rated food truck, Da Nang Vietnamese Eatery, parks outside.

J Scott Cellars: This light and airy tasting room on 5th Avenue is the perfect place to enjoy one of the 25 wines served by the glass or try a seasonal red or white wine-tasting flight.

4. Check out Eugene’s Urban Breweries

Eugene and Lane County are known for their high-quality craft breweries. The county has over 20 micro or craft breweries, beer gardens, taphouses, and a busy schedule of beer festivals and events.

I visited the Ninkasi Brewing Company at The Better Living Room, a restaurant and tasting center with outdoor seating and fantastic craft beers.

5. Taste Lavender Vodka at Thinking Tree Spirits

Continuing with our alcohol theme, Eugene also has a vibrant distillery scene. This female-led distillery has a farm-to-flask focus, and its Butterfly Lavender Vodka was voted “Vodka of the Year” by Wine and Spirits Magazine.

Thinking Tree Spirits makes some fantastic cocktails and has a daily happy hour where you can enjoy tasting flights of their spirits.

I also recommend visiting Heritage Distilling Co. at its 5th Street Market location to enjoy their spirits flights and cocktails.

6. Visit Hayward Field

Eugene has the nickname “TrackTown USA” due to its history in track and field sports. Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, attended the University of Oregon, where he developed his love for running. The track has also been called the fastest in the world and is the home of track and field for UO students.

Visit Hayward Hall to learn more about the history of Haywards Field and the Observation Tower. Tickets are sometimes available for track and field events, but they tend to go fast.

If you want to see Eugene’s famous college football team, the Oregon Ducks, play, you’ll need to head to Autzen Stadium.

7. Enjoy Eugene Saturday Market

Every Saturday from April to November, Eugene Saturday Market runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Park Blocks. This open-air marketplace features live music, crafts from local artisans, fresh produce, and lots of local cuisine.

8. Smell the Roses at Owen Rose Garden

This botanical treasure has more than 4,500 species of roses. It has a scenic location on the Willamette Valley River, and its peaceful pathways are perfect for a relaxed stroll. Owen Rose Garden is also a popular spot for local photographers and models, plus it has three picnic tables in its picnic areas.

9. Get a Great View of Eugene from Skinner Butte Park

Skinner Butte is a hill just north of downtown Eugene with some fantastic views of Eugene. The park covers 100 acres. There is a 1.6-mile loop trail that is popular with locals for hiking and running, plus there are bike paths. Or do what I did and just drive to the top to see the gorgeous view of Eugene.

If this sounds appealing, you might also want to check out Alton Baker Park, the largest developed park in Eugene, or the oldest park in Eugene, Hendricks Park. Willamette National Forest is a 30-minute drive from Eugene.

10. Step Back in Time at Shelton McMurphey Johnson House

Known as “the castle on the hill,” this Victorian house is now a museum adorned with period furniture and a photographic collection that brings the past back to life. Shelton McMurphey Johnson House also features rotating exhibits, and its unique green castle-like exterior makes it popular with photographers.

11. Meet Some Creatures at the Cascades Raptor Center

This wildlife and nature center specializes in raptor rehabilitation. Cascades Raptor Center has 35 resident education raptors, most native to the Pacific Northwest. Its wildlife hospital receives over 400 patients each year. Take a self-guided tour Tuesday-Sundays or book a private guided tour ahead of time.

The Cascades Raptor Center is six miles south of Eugene. You may also want to head to the nearby Mount Pisgah Arboretum, where you can explore the ecology of the southern end of the Willamette Valley.

12. Learn About the History of Oregon at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History

Situated on the University of Oregon campus, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History is a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits from both the natural and cultural worlds.

Its permanent collection includes two exhibits: Oregon, Where Past is Present, which brings Oregon’s history to life, and Explore Oregon, which explores the dynamic forces shaping Oregon’s landscapes, climate, and ecosystems.

You might also enjoy visiting the Eugene Science Center in Alton Baker Park and its planetarium and educational programs.

13. Catch a Show at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts

The Hult Center for the Performing Arts is located in downtown Eugene. It features a wide range of entertainment, from opera to ballet to comedy to dance and more.

14. Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

This art museum on the University of Oregon campus first opened in 1933 to showcase 3,700 pieces of Oriental art that had been gifted to the museum by Gertrude Bass Wagner.

Today, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art’s permanent collections feature Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and American art, and its special exhibitions display cultures from around the world.

15. Visit Springfield

Near Eugene is Springfield, Oregon, which is believed to be the “real” Springfield from the hit TV show The Simpsons. The show’s creator, Matt Groening, grew up in Oregon and has hinted that Eugene’s neighbor MAY be the real thing.

Springfield is also home to a charming main street filled with local stores, restaurants, and bars. I recommend checking out the tasting room for Iris Vineyards on Main Street. When you are ready to eat, head off Main Street to Public House, a church that has been turned into a hub for local food and beverage vendors.

And don’t miss the many murals of the characters from The Simpsons that are spread across town.

16. Explore the Covered Bridges in Cottage Grove

Cottage Grove is known as the Covered Bridge Capital of the West. Just a 25-minute drive from Eugene are six beautiful covered bridges. They include Lane County’s oldest covered bridge and the only remaining covered railroad bridge west of the Mississippi.

Amanda O'Brien
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Amanda O’Brien is a London-based digital publisher who has built three successful websites following a 20-year career in Corporate Marketing. Her digital marketing expertise is clear in the success of her brands across their social media and websites. Her sites focus on two of her greatest passions: luxury travel and pets.

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