10 Top Things to Do in Eugene, Oregon

The forest outside of Eugene
Richard Hicks / Getty Images

Located at the southern end of Oregon's Willamette Valley, Eugene is close to a fertile wine-grape-growing region famous for pinot noir and pinot gris and was also known as a counterculture haven back in the 1960s and 1970s. The city has also been called "Track Town USA" and the "Track and Field Capital of the World," as it frequently hosts world-class events and competitions. Visitors will find a wonderful bounty of outdoor spaces full of wildlife, gardens, and plenty of beautiful scenery. Here's how to make the most of your time in this underrated part of the country.

01 of 10

See Waterfalls Up Close

Proxy Falls in Oregon

PictureLake / Getty Images

Proxy Falls, Oregon 97413, USA

Located about a 60-90-minute drive east of Eugene are some of the most beautiful waterfalls on earth, including Proxy Falls, pictured here, as well as Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls, both situated along the scenic 26-mile McKenzie River National Recreation Trail.

Head to the Koosah and Sahalie Falls Trail in Willamette National Forest, a 2.9-mile hike that takes visitors past each waterfall. While the Proxy Falls Loop Trail is a bit farther away, the 1.6-mile route is definitely worth making an extra stop on a nature-filled day trip from Eugene.

02 of 10

Stop and Smell the Roses

Owen Rose Garden in Eugene, Oregon

Skinner's Butte

300 N Jefferson St, Eugene, OR 97402, USA
Phone +1 541-682-4800

If you're seeking solace in a beautiful setting, head to one of the city's two flower-filled parks: Owen Rose Garden, an 8.5-acre park located along the scenic Willamette River, or Hendricks Park, an 80-acre green space established in 1906 that's Eugene's oldest city park. Both are free to enter and offer beautiful surroundings, perfect for a stroll or a picnic.

Owen Rose Garden is home to over 4,500 roses reflecting more than 400 varieties, as well as the Oregon Heritage Cherry Tree, which, according to local legend, was planted by the city's founder, Eugene Skinner, in 1847. Hendricks Park is home to several hiking trails as well as more than 6,000 rhododendron and other plant varieties, including iris and trillium wildflowers, ferns, and 200-year-old Douglas fir trees.

03 of 10

Taste Local Wines

Picture of King Estate Winery in Eugene Oregon (Angela M. Brown)

King Estate Winery

80854 Territorial Hwy, Eugene, OR 97405, USA
Phone +1 541-685-5189

There are a number of ways to experience the award-winning wines produced in the Eugene area, whether you want to drive from winery to winery visiting tasting rooms and enjoying all those valley views, or visit one of several tasting rooms within the city.

King Estate Winery, perched atop a hill surrounded by vineyards, is an extensive and welcoming facility. Sample wines in the tasting room, then take a guided tour to learn more about its wine production operations. Weather permitting, you can also enjoy a meal at the restaurant's outdoor patio space for more charming valley views. Next, stop by the tasting room at Sweet Cheeks Winery, just 15 minutes away and situated in a relocated historic building placed near its estate vineyard. In addition to daily tasting hours, the vineyard offers Friday evening tastings and special events year-round.

04 of 10

Visit Museums at the University of Oregon

Lillis Business School at University of Oregon

 joshuaraineyphotography / Getty Images 

1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene, OR 97403, USA
Phone +1 541-346-3027

A major presence in the Eugene community, the University of Oregon is located just southeast of downtown. Stroll through its lovely campus and visit the UO Duck Store, student union building, or one of its museums. 

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art houses a well-established collection of Asian and Pacific Northwest art, as well as Russian icons, photography, and contemporary art. Don't miss ​The Museum of Natural and Cultural History, where you'll find exhibits focusing on the natural history and culture of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. The history and culture of the area's Indigenous peoples, regional geology, and ecology are covered in the permanent exhibits at this family-friendly museum.

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05 of 10

See a Show at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts

Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene Oregon (Angela M. Brown)
Hult Center for the Performing Arts
1 Eugene Center, Eugene, OR 97401, USA
Phone +1 541-682-5000

A crown jewel of Eugene's downtown, the Hult Center for the Performing Arts contains a variety of performance, meeting, and exhibition spaces. The Silva Concert Hall hosts music and dance exhibitions by visiting artists as well as local performers, and acts as the venue for the annual "Broadway in Eugene" series of popular musicals. The Soreng Theater is a smaller venue meant for more intimate ballets and concerts, while the Eugene Opera, Eugene Symphony, Oregon Bach Festival, Eugene Ballet Company, and the Eugene Concert Choir all call the Hult Center home.

06 of 10

Get Historical at the Lane County Museum

Counterculture Exhibit in Lane County Historical Museum in Eugene Oregon (Angela M. Brown)

Lane County Historical Museum

740 W 13th Ave, Eugene, OR 97402-4097, USA
Phone +1 541-682-4242

From pioneer-era wagons and equipment to colorful counterculture signs and artifacts, the Lane County Historical Museum does an excellent job of representing and interpreting the people and events that shaped Eugene and its surrounding communities. Long-running exhibitions feature historical vehicles including a 1908 Model T Ford and a re-creation of a 20th-century blacksmith's forge. 

07 of 10

Meet Birds of Prey at the Cascades Raptor Center

Photo of the head of a Bald Eagle

TripSavvy / Chris VR

32275 Fox Hollow Rd, Eugene, OR 97405, USA
Phone +1 541-485-1320

Both a nature education center and a wildlife hospital, Eugene's Cascades Raptor Center gives you a closer look at some of the region's most impressive birds of prey. Take in an expert talk from the wildlife handlers or sign up for more in-depth educational programs. Resident birds you might see during your trip include a snowy owl, a great gray owl, a bald eagle, an osprey, a red-tailed hawk, and a peregrine falcon.

08 of 10

Cheer on the Oregon Ducks

Arizona v Oregon
Steve Dykes / Getty Images
2700 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Eugene, OR 97401, USA
Phone +1 541-346-4461

Sports fans will find plenty of games, meets, competitions, and races to watch throughout the year in Eugene, especially if they're rooting for the University of Oregon Ducks. Part of the competitive Pac-12 conference, the men's and women's teams at UO excel in many sports, dominating in football, cross country, and track and field. Venues for home games include Autzen Stadium, Matt Arena, and Hayward Field.

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09 of 10

Visit the Oregon Air and Space Museum

Oregon Air and Space Museum

Oregon Air and Space Museum

90377 Boeing Dr, Eugene, OR 97402-9536, USA
Phone +1 541-461-1101

Aviation buffs and budding engineers might like to get a look at the aircraft, artifacts, and interpretive displays at the modest but interesting Oregon Air and Space Museum. Airplanes on exhibit include fighters and bombers from World War I, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War, while other displays focus on space exploration, flight suits, and aircraft engines.

10 of 10

Treat Yourself to Some Retail Therapy

Fifth Street Public Market in Eugene Oregon (Angela M. Brown)

Fifth Street Public Market

296 E 5th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401, USA
Phone +1 541-484-0383

Eugene is a surprisingly fun shopping destination, especially around its downtown district. Visit the Fifth Street Public Market, a relatively new shopping venue featuring artisanal foods, local wines, and unique home and gift items, all nestled together among patios and public spaces. Also worth checking out is the Eugene Saturday Market, which runs April through mid-November, with live entertainment, a food court, and plenty of handcrafted goods. The Saturday Lane County Farmers Market takes place next door at Eighth Avenue and Oak Street and is also worth a look.

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10 Top Things to Do in Eugene, Oregon