16 Best Things to Do in Eugene, Oregon

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Eugene Cityscape and Skyline

Move over, Portland! Eugene, the second largest city in Oregon, is the new place to be. This Pacific northwestern city has interesting people, great food, and many activities. Here are the best things to do in Eugene, Oregon. 

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 a keen eye for art, displaying local artists at multiple galleries and museums.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a foodie, or a history buff, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Eugene.

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – The Shelton McMurphey Johnson House
  • Park to visit – Alton Baker Park
  • Free activity – Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
  • Activity for kids – Cascades Raptor Center
  • Activity for adults – Hayward Field
  • Place to eat – Saturday Market
  • Nightlife – Hult Center for the Performing Arts
  • Place to stayGraduate Eugene Hotel

Things to Do in Eugene, Oregon

1. Alton Baker Park

Alton Baker Park, Eugene, Oregon

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. 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 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 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 on the BMX course. You’ll be happy to find other riders to show you the ropes or 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: National Parks to Visit in November

2. Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Address: 1430 Johnson Ln, Eugene, OR 97403

If you enjoy art, 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 worldwide. The collection includes pieces from Europe, Asia, and America. The artwork is engaging, and you’ll find a mix of historical and contemporary art.

But it’s not just the collections that make this museum worth visiting. The JSMA hosts rotating exhibitions yearly, so there’s always something new. 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 from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Reserve your accommodation here and enjoy a landscaped courtyard only minutes from one of the best Eugene, Oregon, tourist attractions.

3. Eugene Saturday Market

Crowd in Eugene Saturday Market
Tamanoeconomico, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 126 E 8th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401

If you’re in Eugene, Oregon, on a Saturday, don’t miss the Eugene Saturday Market. It’s been a local tradition since 1970 and is one of the oldest open-air markets. You’ll find live music and a diverse array of stalls selling everything from handcrafted jewelry and artwork to fresh local produce.

The market also boasts an international food court with 15 stalls serving up a variety of global dishes, all made with fresh, local ingredients.

It’s open from April to mid-November, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and shifts to the Holiday Market at the Lane County Fairgrounds on weekends from just before Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve.

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.

See Related: Cheapest Shopping Destinations in the World

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 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 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

Hult Center for the Performing Arts Architecture
image by Only in Oregon is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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 Oregon’s best places to see a show. 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 stay in the elegant, sophisticated lobby. This lobby design mirrors the Pacific Northwest’s grandeur. The open and airy lobby 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 U.S. You Need to Visit

6. Hendricks Park

Hendricks Park Picnic Tables
image by Only in Oregon is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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 has 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 relax and take in the scenery.

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

Museum of Natural and Cultural History
image by Visitor7 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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 Historic Landmarks in the USA

8. Mount Pisgah Arboretum

Coast Fork Willamette River at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum
John M. DeMarco, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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 also abundant, 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 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 to sit on 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.

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

Shelton McMurphey Johnson House
image by Only in Oregon is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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 Halloween Tea.

Book accommodations near the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House to maximize 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

Walking Trail 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 heirlooms and heritage roses. Lovingly landscaped and laid out, the orange, pink, and red roses are a sight. 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 friends and family. You can walk on the lopped paths 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 giant 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

University of Oregon Building
image by jjorogen is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address: 1585 E 13th Ave, Eugene, OR 97403

The University of Oregon is in a beautiful area with stunning scenery. Students can easily visit the Oregon coast and the Cascade Mountains for outdoor activities like ocean sports and hiking. There are also on-campus events such as dances, game nights, competitions, and sports.

One of the most popular venues on the university campus is Hayward Field, home to many 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 standard seating options, the venue also features the Autzen Stadium Sky Suites. These fantastic suites offer fans a private kitchen, bathroom, viewing area, stadium catering, color televisions, and more.

See Related: Best Road Trips in the USA

12. Skinner Butte Park

Skinner Butte Park Scenery

Address: 248 Cheshire Ave, Eugene, OR 97401

In addition to being the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House site, Skinner Butte Park is also home to a host of additional activities, including fishing, hiking, picnicking, rock climbing, and public gardens. This 100-acre park sits on lands once owned by Eugene Skinner, founder of the City of Eugene.

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, which is visible to the surrounding area and represents the University of Oregon.

The park is also famous 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 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 must bring their climbing gear and are responsible for their safety.

Skinner Butte Park also features walking trails, a recreation center, and a viewpoint that looks at Eugene, Oregon’s stunning scenery. As one of the city’s oldest parks, it’s a location that visitors will want to experience!

13. Eugene Science Center

Eugene Science Center building
Eugene Science Center / Facebook

Address: 2300 Leo Harris Pkwy, Eugene, OR 97401

The Eugene Science Center allows visitors of all ages to interact with various science and technology topics and exhibits. These topics include the solar system, biology, archaeology, and biotechnology.

Nature center exhibits, dinosaur and fossil exhibits, and a planetarium exist. The planetarium at the Eugene Science Center offers educational and laser shows that will 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 annually 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!

See Related: What to Bring on a Camping Trip with Friends

14. Oregon Air and Space Museum

Aircrafts at Oregon Air and Space Museum

Address: 90377 Boeing Dr, Eugene, OR 97402

The Oregon Air and Space in Eugene celebrates Oregon and its aviation heritage. Since opening in 1991, the Air and Space Museum has been dedicated to acquiring and displaying 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 many 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 fantastic sporting venue can accommodate up to 25,000 people due to its design, which features expandable seats.

See Related: Using a Travel Agent vs. Booking Online

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 standard seating options, the venue also features the Autzen Stadium Sky Suites. These fantastic 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!

Places to Stay in Eugene

1. Graduate Eugene Top Recommendation

Eugene is a beautiful town and the perfect place to settle down after graduation. Graduate Eugene has the perfect location, just minutes from all the best that Eugene has to offer. The accommodations are top notch, with comfortable rooms, a 24-hour front desk, and free WiFi throughout the property. You'll have everything you need to relax and enjoy your stay.

2. Excelsior Inn

The Excelsior Inn is a historic inn located near the University of Oregon in Eugene. The inn boasts a landscaped courtyard and grounds, and displays local artwork throughout the property. The rooms come with a flat-screen TV. Some units include a fireplace or jetted tub. Every room is includes a private bathroom. The Excelsior Inn is the perfect place to stay when visiting Eugene!

3. The Campbell House Inn

Looking for a place to stay during your next trip to Eugene? Then consider the Campbell House Inn! This inn is set in Eugene, within 1.8 miles of Matthew Knight Arena and 1.4 miles of Autzen Stadium. It offers accommodation with a garden and free WiFi as well as free private parking for guests who drive. Some rooms at the property feature a patio with a garden view. The Campbell House Inn is the perfect place to relax after a long day of exploring Eugene.

Is Eugene worth visiting?

Absolutely! Eugene is a nature lover’s paradise from the gorgeous Willamette River that flows through its center to the Cascade Mountains, which provide a stunning backdrop. With its charming downtown area and lively college town atmosphere, Eugene offers plenty for travelers of all ages and interests.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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