As one of Oregon’s three largest cities, Eugene has all the amenities of a major downtown, including impressive museums and a vibrant atmosphere. But the cityscape also borders nature, from lush parks and arboretums to a bird of prey sanctuary, and the Willamette River separates Eugene from the neighboring city of Springfield. For sightseeing, the best place to start is on the expansive campus of the University of Oregon. An excellent art museum, the historic course at Hayward Field, and a natural history museum are all located on the lovely grounds.
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1 Alton Baker Park
The winding Willamette River divides Eugene from neighboring Springfield. Along its banks, visitors can explore the bike paths and other recreational facilities of Alton Baker Park – the city’s largest park . Paved trails extend beyond park boundaries with bike bridges connecting trails on both sides of the river. Just over four miles long, Pre’s Trail is a popular cross-country skiing and running trail in a city known for athletics. The Willamette itself is also a draw as a nationally known water course popular with kayakers.
Adres: 200 Day Island Road, Eugene, Oregon
Official site: https://www.eugene-or.gov/altonbakerpark
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2 Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
Designed without windows to protect the treasures within, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon in Eugene features an extensive collection of American, European, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese art. The museum opened in 1933 and has expanded considerably since then. The emphasis is on Asian art, but also includes major Pacific Northwest – including Oregonian – and European artists. Changing displays sample works from the permanent collection, pieces on loan, or traveling exhibitions.
The building was designed by Ellis F. Lawrence, the one-time Dean of the School of Architecture & Allied Arts at the University of Oregon. It features beautiful stonework and iron grillwork and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Adres: 1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene, Oregon
Official Site: https://jsma.uoregon.edu/
3 Hult Center for the Performing Arts
The core of Eugene’s rich cultural life since 1982 has been the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. All kinds of entertainment can be found here all year round, from jazz to opera. Resident companies that call the venue home include the Eugene Ballet Company, the Eugene Concert Choir, the Eugene Opera , and the Eugene Symphony.
In addition to the performing arts, the center also features permanent and temporary art collections, which are displayed throughout the building. Some of the permanent installations include the house curtain for the Silva Concert Hall and the various sculptures found throughout the mezzanine and lower balcony levels.
Address: One Eugene Center, Eugene, Oregon
Official site: www.hultcenter.org
4 Saturday market
Every Saturday between April and mid-November, it hosts the Saturday Market every Saturday as one of the best community spots in town. Combining local artisan crafts, live music and internationally inspired food , the Saturday Market brings together Eugene’s many flavors and styles. It is located in the center of the city, often surrounded by other city events, and is a great starting point for a cultural weekend spent exploring the city. For local farm produce, the Lane County Farmers Market can be found just across the street from the Saturday Market.
Adres: 26 E 8th Ave, Eugene, Oregon
Official Site: https://www.eugenesaturdaymarket.org/
5 Cascades Raptor Center
Eagles, falcons and hawks are among the regal feathered residents of the Cascades Raptor Center. Open to the public year-round, this non-profit organization nurses injured birds back to health. Visitors can see a variety of live birds and get a sense of the rehabilitation process. The Cascades Raptor Center also hosts off- and on-site educational programs , including hand-led demonstrations, personal tours, and kid-friendly craft workshops. For those who want to be involved in the raptor rehabilitation process, volunteer opportunities are available for all levels of interest.
Adres: 32275 Fox Hollow Road, Eugene, Oregon
Official Site: https://cascadesraptorcenter.org/
6 Hendricks Park
Rhododendrons thrive in the Pacific Northwest (indeed, it’s Washington’s state flower). This rhododendron garden in Eugene provides an equally suitable climate for the flowering evergreen shrubs that thrived in this local favorite park. Approximately 80 acres of parkland also feature undulating walking trails, old-growth Douglas firs, and native plant species. Spring is peak season for rhododendrons. In addition to the expansive Rhododendron Garden, the Oak Knoll Trail is a favorite to explore, including the sweeping views found at the tipping point.
Location: Summit Avenue and Skyline Blvd, Eugene, Oregon
7 Museum of Natural and Cultural History
Among the many tourist attractions on the University of Oregon campus is the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, which highlights the university’s anthropological, zoological , and paleontological artifacts . The museum delves into the natural and cultural history of the area through fossils, wildlife, and photographs. A popular permanent exhibit at the museum immerses granddaughters in Oregon’s last 14,000 years of history. The museum also hosts a range of events and workshops , including summer camps and free First Fridays.
Adres: 1680 East 15th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon
Official Site: https://natural-history.uoregon.edu/
8 Mount Pisgah Arboretum
Spanning 209 acres on the slopes of its namesake mountain, the Mount Pisgah Arboretum is home to local and international tree species. Hiking trails fan out from the parking lot and take tree lovers to Mt. Pisgah summit, riverbanks and several viewpoints over surrounding farmlands. Canine walkers are welcome at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum, and evenly graded trails allow for all hiking options to explore. For avid mushroom pickers, the arboretum hosts an annual Mushroom Festival each year, over 300 species of local mushrooms are displayed.
Adres: 34901 Frank Parrish Road, Eugene, Oregon
Official Site: https://www.mountpisgaharboretum.com/
9 Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson House
A fairytale beauty has made this Victorian mansion a city landmark, especially since it sits on the town’s slopes of Skinner Butte . The Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson house was built in 1888 for a physician. The interior is decorated with period objects, clothing and furniture to create a sense of a bygone era . Public tours are available for anyone interested in its history, and afternoon tea and other events are often hosted at the house. The Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson House is just one of several buildings in Eugene listed on the National Register of Historic Places .
Address: 303 Willamette Street, Eugene, Oregon
Official site: https://www.smjhouse.org/
10 Eugene Science Center
The Eugene Science Center is a science-themed museum that provides educational and interactive displays for children and adults. The exhibit hall has a lot to explore by touch, while the Planetarium contains science movies and laser shows. The Science Center also hosts a variety of special events and programs throughout the year, including “Meet a Scientist” demonstrations and Science Adventure Camps . As it is within the confines of Alton Baker Park this family attraction can be part of a day trip to this part of town.
Adres: 2300 Leo Harris Parkway, Eugene, Oregon
Official Site: https://eugenesciencecenter.org/
11 Lane County Historical Museum
The Lane County Historical Museum in Eugene contains items related to the history of Lane County and the early pioneers. This is a good place to learn about the famous Oregon Trail and the state’s forest history. Permanent exhibits at the Lane County Historical Museum include the 1853 Lane County Clerk’s Building , a century-old staircase from the old courthouse, and an impressive collection of antique transportation vehicles . The museum also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including quilt shows, professional speaker series , and pre-school specific programming for little explorers.
Adres: 740 West 13th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon
Official site: www.lanecountyhistoricalsociety.org
12 Owen Rose Garden
Owen Rose Garden is located near the banks of the Willamette River and the Washington Jefferson Street Bridge. It is an 8.5 hectare park with a variety of natural beauty. The garden features over 4,000 different roses with at least 400 different species, and an important experience here is just taking in the colorful scene. With looped walking paths; lots of picnic tables; and several arboretums, arbors, and shelters that can be reserved, the Owens Rose Garden offers a peaceful place to spend an afternoon.
Address: 300 N. Jefferson Street, Eugene, Oregon
Where to Stay in Eugene for Sightseeing
Eugene is intersected by Interstate 5, the unofficial dividing line between Eugene and Springfield, which are often lumped together. The best place to stay is in Eugene, a delightful little town. The University of Oregon campus contains several of the major cultural and sporting attractions and is located in the middle of the city, so staying nearby is recommended. Below are some highly rated hotels in good locations:
- Luxury Hotels: Top-end luxury hotels are scarce in Eugene. The boutique hotel, Inn on 5th, is all about Pacific Northwest luxury and is just steps from the trendy 5th Street Public Market. One of only two suites in town, the Residence Inn is in a perfect riverfront location between Alton Baker Park and downtown. This is a great option for families, with scenic hiking and biking trails along the Willamette River right outside the front door. The newly renovated Hilton is located in the center of the action, steps from the city’s historic district and two blocks from the Amtrak station.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Recently renovated, the Holiday Inn Express has a great location, ideal for sports fans, with the stadium nearby. Across the street from the University of Oregon and its many attractions is the Best Western. The Candlewood Suites, about a mile from downtown, is a new suite-only suite with large rooms with kitchens.
- Budget Hotels: The smaller, older-style motel has just 42 rooms and offers exceptional value in a great location less than half a mile from the restaurants of 5th Street. The aptly named Downtown Inn is family-owned and easily accessible from Interstate 105, and just a few blocks from the Hult Center, perfect if you’re in town for a concert or performance. A five minute drive to the east of downtown is the clean and quiet Budget Lodge.
More fun in Oregon
Oregon is a state full of places to explore, with coastal views, dormant volcanoes and exciting cities. Outdoor excitement, Mount Hood National Forest offers year-round recreation. To find your cultural fill, cities like Portland and Newport combine beautiful scenery with friendly communities and fun things to do.