Just off of I-5 in the midst of the fertile, wine-grape-loving’ Willamette Valley of central Oregon is the town of Eugene, and its neighboring town, Springfield. Eugene is the home of the University of Oregon, and more notably, the Oregon Ducks. As a member of the Pac-12 conference, Ducks players are regularly drafted by professional sports franchises.
During any given game day at Autzen Stadium, Ducks fans from Portland get up around 3 or 4 am and make the caravan trip three hours down to Eugene to catch a game. Forget about traveling anywhere else on I-5 during game days, the traffic is insane, you might as well stay home!
But there is so much more to Eugene than just sports. Duck mania aside, the city of Eugene has loads of other attractions that make this town very special. It is home to the Lane County Fair held in late July-early August and just a few miles away is the infamous Oregon Country Fair. To really experience all Eugene has to offer, allow at least two full days. Here are some of the highlights:
Since 1970 the park blocks have been alive with locals selling their fresh and organic produce! From April through November, every Saturday the locals emerge in droves to soak in some live music, food from around the world and other goods for 200 local artisans.
As Eugene’s oldest city park located in southern Eugene, take a stroll underneath the park’s 200-year-old Douglas Fir trees. A Rhododendron garden boating 6,000 varieties of the flower is the park’s claim to fame.
For a more strenuous workout, head up Mt. Pisgah and tour the arboretum, which as several miles of trails and a great view of the city.
Located at the Eugene regional airport, this is a must-stop for any war-time plane or NASA space buff. There are over 600 artifacts of aviation and space technology for the nerd in all of us.
Located at the University of Oregon, admission is only $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and kids.
The building’s ultra-modern glass facade rises up from the ground and offers up world-class entertainment.
Eugene’s oldest used bookstore. This place is huge! You could easily spend an entire afternoon browsing its many treasures.
Kids and adults who love birds of prey will get a kick out of this place. Large outdoor aviaries house about 50 different species of birds. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for kids/seniors.
WHERE TO EAT
Morning Glory Cafe – A local favorite serving hearty breakfasts that will last you ‘til dinner (if you let it). A vegetarian breakfast and lunch hangout. But who needs meat when you have delectable classics such as the 3-fingered Jack Omelette and Claire Bear’s Bomblette.
McMenamins North Bank – This classic restaurant and pub brew their own beer. With tiered seating inside seating as well as outside patio seating, you can enjoy sweeping panoramic views of the Willamette River.
Cafe 440 – This one seems to be on most of the ‘best of Eugene’ lists, and I agree! It’s an upscale cafe at reasonable prices. Serving up your regular cafe grub with a fancy twist featuring fresh local ingredients.
Elk Horn Brewery – A great gastropub serving Southern-inspired cuisine using fresh Northwest ingredients. With a brewery and cider house on site, this is one of the more popular restaurants in Eugene.
Agate Alley Laboratory – as a former scientist, this place holds a special place in my heart. Their inspirational and eclectic menu changes monthly (there’s just so much SCIENCE to cover!) But rest assured, they always experiment with their creations with the freshest Northwest ingredients.