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Move over, Portland! Eugene, the second largest city in Oregon, is the new place to be. This vibrant city is full of interesting people, great food, and plenty of things to do.
It has all the amenities of a big city but with a small-town feel. Eugene is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in Oregon. It’s known for its natural environment, numerous recreational activities, and keen eye for art, displaying local artists at its numerous galleries and museums.
But is Eugene worth visiting? Absolutely!
From the gorgeous Willamette River that flows through its center to the Cascade Mountains that provide a stunning backdrop, Eugene, Oregon, is a nature lover’s paradise. And with its charming downtown area and lively college town atmosphere, Eugene has something for everyone.
Whether you’re a nature lover, a foodie, or a history buff, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Eugene. Here are the best things to do in Eugene, Oregon.
- Most significant landmark – The Shelton McMurphey Johnson House
- Best park – Alton Baker Park
- Best free activity – Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
- Best activity for kids – Cascades Raptor Center
- Best activity for adults – Hayward Field
- Best food – Saturday Market
- Best nightlife – Hult Center for the Performing Arts
- Best all-around accommodation – Graduate Eugene Hotel
Fun & Best Things to Do in Eugene, Oregon
1. Alton Baker Park
Address: 100 Day Island Rd, Eugene, OR 97401
Thanks to the Willamette River, Eugene has no shortage of green space. And Alton Baker Park is one of the best places to enjoy the great outdoors. This massive park comprises 400 acres of hiking trails, plains, and a forest.
Locals have been biking, running, feeding their ducks, and walking their dogs in Alton Baker Park for over 50 years. The best thing about the park is that it has something for everyone. And if you’re looking for free things to do in Eugene, Oregon, this is a great place to start.
There are miles of biking trails to explore and plenty of open space to picnic or play games. And if you have kids, they’ll enjoy feeding and admiring the wildlife at the duck ponds.
You can also rent bikes, canoes, and kayaks to get out on the water. Or take a leisurely stroll around the looped path around the park’s perimeter.
While in Alton Baker Park, you can enjoy running on the Pre’s Trail. This running and cross-country route is named after Steve Prefontaine, a hometown hero.
Are you an adrenaline junkie? If so, you will enjoy racing at the BMX course. You’ll be happy to find other riders to show you the ropes or simply watch from the sidelines.
Ready to explore Alton Baker Park? Book a private E-bike tour and explore the park as you enjoy the ambling Willamette River.
See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November
2. Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
Address: 1430 Johnson Ln, Eugene, OR 97403
If you enjoy art, you should add the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA) to your list of things to do in Eugene, Oregon. The JSMA is located in the heart of the University of Oregon and is one of the best college art museums in the country.
The museum has an impressive, world-class collection of artwork from around the world. The collection includes pieces from Europe, Asia, and America. The artwork is engaging, and you’ll find a mix of historic and contemporary art.
But it’s not just the collections that make this museum worth visiting. The JSMA also hosts a variety of rotating exhibitions throughout the year, so there’s always something new to see. Admission to the museum is free. This makes it one of the best free things to do in Eugene, Oregon.
The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art offers free public tours on the first Saturday of every month. However, you can book a private docent-led tour for a small fee of up to $6 for adults. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. So plan your visit for a weekday to avoid the weekend crowds.
The Excelsior Inn is only a few minutes walk from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Reserve your accommodation here and enjoy a landscaped courtyard while being only minutes from one of the best Eugene, Oregon, tourist attractions.
3. Eugene Saturday Market
Address: 126 E 8th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401
If you’re looking for things to do in Eugene, Oregon, on a Saturday, head to the Eugene Saturday Market in city center. This market is one of the longest-running open-air markets in the country. It has been a Eugene tradition since 1970.
Live performances by local musicians happen all day. You can enjoy everything from jazz to country music as you browse the market stalls.
There are hundreds of vendors at the market. They sell everything from handmade jewelry to fresh produce. You can also buy art, pottery, and woodwork. The market is a great place to find Oregon-made products.
The Saturday Market has an international food court featuring 15 food booths with various cuisines. You’ll find dishes of Afghani, Thai, Jamaican food, and more. So if hunger pangs strike while browsing the market, you won’t go away empty-handed.
The best thing about the food is that it’s prepared fresh on-site. So you know you’re getting a delicious and authentic meal made with local ingredients. The food vendors source ingredients from the Lane County Farmers Market across the way.
The Eugene Saturday Market is open every Saturday from April through mid-November, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. On the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Market opens its Holiday Market which runs weekends through Christmas Eve at the Lane County Fairgrounds.
Visit Saturday Market’s website for more information about Eugene’s weekly market. It’s the perfect place to find unique gifts, sample local food, and listen to live music.
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4. Cascades Raptor Center
Address: 32275 Fox Hollow Rd, Eugene, OR 97405
The Cascades Raptor Center is one of the best things to do in Eugene, Oregon if you love birds. This center is a wildlife hospital dedicated to rehabilitating orphaned, sick, and injured birds of prey. Currently, the center cares for over 500 of these birds.
Cascades Raptor Center also offers education to the public about these fascinating creatures. These birds cannot be released back into the wild, so they live at the center and serve as educational ambassadors.
If you’re looking for things to do in Eugene, Oregon, with kids, the Cascades Raptor Center is a great option. The center offers a private program where your kids can learn about raptors and how they make a living. You and your kids will tour the center’s wooded site where raptors are on exhibit.
You can also take a self-guided tour of the facility. You can be more involved in the raptors’ rehabilitation by donating. You can also shop for raptor gifts and gear at the center’s online store.
Would you like a place to stay when visiting the Cascades Raptor Center? There are several VRBO listings in the area. Check out the available properties and book one that fits your needs.
5. Hult Center for the Performing Arts
Address: 1 Eugene Center, Eugene, OR 97401
The Hult Center for the Performing Arts is one of Eugene’s iconic buildings. It’s also one of the best places to see a show in Oregon. The center hosts various events throughout the year, including concerts, ballets, and Broadway shows.
The Hult Center has two performance halls. The first, the Silva Concert Hall, is Eugene’s main concert venue. It’s home to the Eugene Symphony, the Eugene Opera, the Eugene Ballet Company, and the Eugene Concert Choir.
The Soreng Theater is the second and smaller venue that hosts more intimate performances. The versatile, open space can accommodate 495 people. The Hult Center is also home to public art treasures. Expect to see beautiful statues, masks, tiles, and paintings.
While you wait to experience the thrill of the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, you can wait in the elegant, sophisticated lobby. This lobby design mirrors the Pacific Northwest’s grandeur. The lobby’s open and airy space will keep you comfortable before the show.
You can stay at the Graduate Eugene Hotel when visiting this destination. It’s only 100 meters from the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Reserve a room at this modern hotel for a comfortable stay.
See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit
6. Hendricks Park
Address: Summit Ave & Skyline Blvd, Eugene, OR 97403
Hendricks Park is Eugene’s oldest city park. The park covers 80 acres of land and offers visitors beautiful views of the Willamette Valley. This Eugene, Oregon, gem is home to the renowned Rhododendron garden and other native plants. These include Douglas firs, ferns, and wildflowers like irises and trilliums.
It’s laced with paths and a 12-mile Ridgeline Trail at the northern terminus. This makes the park a haven if you’re interested in hiking or bird-watching. Nature lovers will enjoy retreating to the tranquility of Hendricks Park. You can use the picnic areas and playgrounds in the park or just relax and take in the scenery.
You can enjoy your packed lunch at the Francis M. Wilkins Shelter, which can hold 60 people. This historic shelter features a large fireplace and a moon terrace deck. Both are made of natural stone.
And don’t worry about a place to stay if you plan to visit Hendricks Park. Book one of the available VRBO properties in the area and enjoy your Eugene getaway.
7. Museum of Natural and Cultural History
Address: 1680 E 15th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401
The Museum of Natural and Cultural History is one of the many tourist attractions on the University of Oregon campus. It’s one of the best places to learn about Oregon’s natural and cultural history. The museum has exhibits on the state’s Native American tribes, the geology of Oregon, and the state’s plants and animals.
Visiting the museum will allow you to delve into Oregon’s story. You will learn everything from the archaeology of the first Americans to the dynamic cultures that today’s tribes exhibit.
The Museum of Natural and Cultural History also has a planetarium where you can learn about the dynamic forces shaping the state’s landscape. You’ll also learn more about Oregon’s ecosystems and climate.
You’ll come face-to-face with the Ice Age sloths, the giant salmon, and other animals from ages ago. While enjoying the interactive displays inside the museum, you’ll delve deep into Oregon’s past and glimpse the collective future.
Visiting the museum is also one of the cheap things to do in Eugene. Admission fees are as low as $6 for adults. You can also get a family package for only $12.
Does visiting the Museum of Natural and Cultural History pique your interest? Explore the museum’s programs and plan your visit today.
See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in the USA
8. Mount Pisgah Arboretum
Address: 34901 Frank Parrish Rd, Eugene, OR 97405
The Mount Pisgah Arboretum is a 209-acre nature preserve. It allows visitors to explore the ecology of the southern Willamette Valley. The Arboretum is located about a 15-minute drive from downtown Eugene.
This is one of the places to visit in Eugene if you want to commune with nature. You can explore the diverse plant life in the area, including Douglas fir, Western red cedar, and bigleaf maple trees.
Wildlife is in abundance as well, as the arboretum is home to various animal species. These include Western Pond Turtles, mammals, and diverse insect species.
The Mount Pisgah Arboretum is a great place to go for a hike or a bike ride on the 7 miles of trails. You can also enjoy picnicking in the park, as there are dozens of benches where you can sit and enjoy the view. And don’t leave your dog out of the fun. As long as they’re leashed, they can enjoy that fresh Oregon air as well.
And if you want to learn more about the plant life in Mount Pisgah Arboretum, you can take a guided tour of the area. The Arboretum also offers educational programs for all ages. These include family walking tours, discovery tours, and hikes.
You can also attend one of the many events held at the Arboretum. Some popular ones include the Wildflower & Weed Show, the Butterfly Festival, and the Mushroom Festival.
Check out the Mount Pisgah Arboretum calendar of events and plan your visit.
9. The Shelton McMurphey Johnson House
Address: 303 Willamette St, Eugene, OR 97401
The Shelton McMurphey Johnson House, on the slope of Skinner Butte Park, is a Victorian-style house built in 1888. It was home to three generations of the Shelton family. The house is now a museum that is open for tours.
This Victorian mansion is one of the best places to see in Eugene. It has 16 rooms styled with Victorian-era furniture, clothes, and artifacts. You’ll also see family portraits, photographs, and other artifacts that tell the story of the Shelton family.
It’s one of the few places in the city that has survived the many earthquakes that have hit Eugene.
The Shelton McMurphey Johnson House is open for tours from Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children.
The Shelton McMurphey Johnson House also hosts events throughout the year. The most popular ones include Harvest Tea, watching a scary movie, and the Halloween Tea.
Book accommodations nearby the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House if you want to make the most of what this destination offers. Fortunately, the Campbell House Inn is only 200 meters away. Book your accommodation today.
See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends
10. Owen Rose Garden
Address: 300 N Jefferson St, Eugene, OR 97402
Nestled on the banks of the Willamette River, the Owen Rose Garden is a gorgeous tourist spot in Eugene. It’s one of the best things to see, as it’s one of the most beautiful places in Eugene, Oregon.
The Owen Rose Garden is an 8.5-acre public garden. It is one of the places to visit in Eugene if you love pretty flowers and surreal landscapes. Since it was established in 1951, all the garden has done is blossom.
It now features over 4,500 rose bushes with more than 400 different varieties. These include heirloom and heritage roses.
Lovingly landscaped and laid out, the orange, pink, and red roses are a sight to behold. Their fine fragrances and sweet scents will tantalize your senses. The manicured Owen Rose Garden also has other flowers, such as dahlias, annuals, and perennials.
The garden offers a peaceful atmosphere where you can spend an afternoon with your friends and family. You can take a walk on the lopped walking paths down by the quiet Willamette River. And if you’re feeling lazy, you can always sit on one of the park benches and enjoy the view.
A glimpse of the huge Owen Cherry Tree featuring white blossoms will make you gasp. The Owen Rose Garden features an arbor picnic area and a 28-foot-diameter gazebo. These are the perfect places to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch.
You can learn more about the Owen Rose Garden before your visit by looking at their website.
11. University of Oregon
Address: 1585 E 13th Ave, Eugene, OR 97403
Located in the beautiful Willamette Valley, the University of Oregon is surrounded by some of the state’s most stunning Pacific Northwest scenery. Students are within driving distance to both the Oregon coast and the Cascade Mountains, providing them with a multitude of outdoor activities that range from ocean sports at the Pacific Ocean to mountain hiking trails and skiing. The university also offers on-campus events, including dances, game nights, competitions, and sports.
One of the most popular venues on the university campus is Hayward Field, home to a multitude of track and field events. Named after the legendary former University of Oregon track coach, Bill Hayward, the field is often called the “Carnegie Hall” of track and field venues. It hosted six U.S. Olympic Trials from 1972 to 2021.
Hayward Field has also hosted 15 NCAA Outdoor Championships. The most recent event held at the field was the 2022 World Athletics Championships, which ran for ten days. This amazing sporting venue can accommodate up to 25,000 people due to its design, which features expandable seats.
Another famous sporting venue on campus is Autzen Stadium, home to the University of Oregon Ducks. This outdoor football stadium fills its 54,000 seats during football season as students, faculty, and Oregon locals come to support this beloved college football team.
As the largest sports arena in Eugene, the Autzen Stadium is a must-see location on the campus. In addition to normal seating options, the venue also features the Autzen Stadium Sky Suites. These amazing suites offer fans a private kitchen, bathroom, viewing area, stadium catering, color televisions, and more. Whether you’re just there for one game or purchase season tickets, the Autzen Stadium on the University of Oregon campus can make you a Ducks fan for life!
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12. Skinner Butte Park
Address: 248 Cheshire Ave, Eugene, OR 97401
In addition to being the site of the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House, Skinner Butte Park is also home to a host of additional activities that include fishing, hiking, picnicking, rock climbing, and public gardens. This 100-acre park sits on lands that were once owned by the City of Eugene founder, Eugene Skinner. It even features a listing on the Lane County National Register of Historic Places – the “Big O.” This giant letter is perched on the hillside of Skinner Butte Park where it is clearly visible to the surrounding area and represents the University of Oregon.
The park is also popular for its public climbing locations. Once part of a quarry used to supply rock for building foundations and gravestone markers, the huge basalt columns left behind now offer a unique climbing opportunity.
Climbers should be aware that the City of Eugene does not offer any climbing supplies nor maintain the rock face for climbing. Those wishing to experience the basalt columns will need to bring their own climbing gear and are responsible for their own safety.
Skinner Butte Park also features walking trails, a recreation center, and a viewpoint that provides a look at the stunning scenery surrounding Eugene, Oregon. As one of the city’s oldest parks, it’s a location that visitors will definitely want to experience!
13. Eugene Science Center
Address: 2300 Leo Harris Pkwy, Eugene, OR 97401
The Eugene Science Center provides visitors of all ages the opportunity to interact with a variety of science and technology topics and exhibits. These topics include the solar system, biology, archaeology, biotechnology, and many more.
There are also nature center exhibits, dinosaur and fossil exhibits, and a planetarium. The planetarium at the Eugene Science Center offers educational and laser shows that will both educate and entertain. Shows and show schedules are available on the planetarium website.
In addition to these attractions, the Eugene Science Center also provides a series of camps that focus on STEM topics, public outreach, and early education. A special Girls’ Science Adventures program is offered at various times throughout the year to encourage girls’ participation in and exposure to STEM-based topics.
These topics include biology, math, astronomy, ornithology, zoology, and forensics. The Eugene Science Center is well worth a visit for tourists and locals alike!
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14. Oregon Air and Space Museum
Address: 90377 Boeing Dr, Eugene, OR 97402
The Oregon Air and Space located in Eugene celebrates Oregon and its aviation heritage.
Since opening in 1991, the Air and Space Museum is dedicated to the acquisition and display of various aircraft and artifacts depicting the history of aviation and space technology for the education and enjoyment of the people of Oregon and around the world. From local aviation heroes to the far reaches of space, this museum has enough air history to entertain the whole family.
Admission to the Museum is $7 for Adults, $6 for Seniors (62 & over), $3 for Ages 6-17, and children under 5 are free. They also provide military discounts.
15. Hayward Field
Address: 1580 E 15th Ave, Eugene, OR 97403
One of the most popular venues on the university campus is Hayward Field, home to a multitude of track and field events. Named after the legendary former University of Oregon track coach, Bill Hayward, the field is often called the “Carnegie Hall” of track and field venues.
It hosted six U.S. Olympic Trials from 1972 to 2021. Hayward Field has also hosted 15 NCAA Outdoor Championships. The most recent event held at the field was the 2022 World Athletics Championships, which ran for ten days. This amazing sporting venue can accommodate up to 25,000 people due to its design, which features expandable seats.
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16. Autzen Stadium
Address: 2700 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Eugene, OR 97401
Another famous sporting venue is Autzen Stadium, home to the University of Oregon Ducks. This outdoor football stadium fills its 54,000 seats during football season as students, faculty, and Oregon locals come to support this beloved college football team. As the largest sports arena in Eugene, the Autzen Stadium is a must-see location on the campus.
In addition to normal seating options, the venue also features the Autzen Stadium Sky Suites. These amazing suites offer fans a private kitchen, bathroom, viewing area, stadium catering, color televisions, and more. Whether you’re just there for one game or purchase season tickets, the Autzen Stadium of the University of Oregon campus can make you a Ducks fan for life!
What is the best thing to do with kids in Eugene, Oregon?
If you’re bringing your kids along, take them to one of Eugene’s nature parks such as Alton Baker Park or Skinner Butte Park. These are beautiful parks with plenty of places to explore and wildlife to interact with. The kids will love running around and playing in the open spaces.
What are some fun things to do in Eugene, Oregon?
One of the fun things to do in Eugene is visit the Saturday Market. It’s a great place to find locally made products and enjoy live music and entertainment. It’s also fun to stroll through the Owen Rose Garden and enjoy the sight and fragrances of the flowers.
What are some things to do in Eugene, Oregon when it’s raining?
If rain makes outdoor activities difficult, consider visiting the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. The museum has art exhibits on the history of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. You can also visit the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art or catch a show at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts.
What are the best tourist attractions in Eugene, Oregon?
Eugene has a lot of great tourist attractions. Consider visiting one of the attractions at the University of Oregon Campus. You can visit the museums on this campus or the Hayward Field. You can also go down one of the many bike poeraths as you listen to the wobbling Willamette River.