Top 16 Activities in Eugene That You’ll Absolutely Enjoy

Located in the south of Oregon’s famous Willamette Valley, this college town offers 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.

16 Best Things to Do in Eugene

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.

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fifth street public market Market Core

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.

Local is the emphasis in the 5th Street Public Market 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.

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Fifth Street Market Alley

Provisions is 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

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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.

eugene muraleugene mural

3. Try some Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

There are over 700 wineries in Willamette Valley, part of the explosion in 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:

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oregon wine lab

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.

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oregon wine lab

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

J Scott CellarJ Scott Cellar

4. Check out Eugene’s Urban Breweries

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

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ninkasi brewing

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

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The better living room

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 spiritsthinking tree spirits
thinking tree spirits

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

thinking tree spiritsthinking tree spirits
thinking tree spirits

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

6. Visit Hayward Field

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

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It is possible to visit Hayward Hall to learn more about the history of Hayward Field and the Observation Tower. Tickets are sometimes available for track and field events but they tend to go fast.

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Hayward Hall

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

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7. Enjoy Eugene Saturday Market

Every Saturday from April to November, Eugene Saturday Market runs from 10am to 5pm 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

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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.

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skinner butte park

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.

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skinner butte park view over 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 means it is popular with photographers.

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shelton mcmurphy johnson house museum

11. Meet some Natives 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.

The Cascades Raptor Center is six miles south of Eugene. When you visit, 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.

museum of natural of natural history.
museum of natural history.

It has two exhibits in its permanent collection. The first is Oregon, Where Past is Present. This exhibit brings Oregon’s history to life. The second is Explore Oregon, an exploration of the dynamic forces that shape Oregon’s landscapes, climate and ecosystems.

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​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 broad range of entertainment types, from opera to ballet to comedy to dance and more.

Hult CentreHult Centre
Hult Centre

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 permanent collections feature Chinese, Japanese, Korean and American art and its special exhibitions display cultures from around the world.

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jordan schnitzer museum of art

Things to do near Eugene

15. Visit Springfield

Springfield, Oregon 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 Eugene’s neighbor MAY be the real thing.

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public house

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 and 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.

Iris wine barIris wine bar
Iris wine bar

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

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Stewart Bridge

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.

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Currin Bridge

This article was originally published on the Wealth of Geeks website.

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Amanda O’Brien is the creator and editor of The Boutique Adventurer. She has visited 80 countries and is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers as well as the IFTWTA. She is passionate about wine had has just completed Level 3 of the WSET. Born in Australia, she lives in London.