There is a wide variety of things to do in Eugene, Oregon. From thrilling outdoor adventures to relaxing educational experiences, there’s something for everyone.
Eugene is known for having recreation trails and organic farming, so it’s a peaceful oasis for many visitors. If you’re looking to travel to Oregon for your next family vacation, then here are 13 fun things to do in Eugene.
#1 – Alton Baker Park
Alton Baker Park is the perfect place to stop because it’s the biggest park in Eugene. It’s located along the Willamette River, which divides the city from Springfield. The park is full of paved trails on both sides of the river, which are perfect for hiking and biking on. The most popular trail is the 4-mile-long Pre’s Trail, which was named after hometown hero Steve Prefontaine. The river itself is also a popular spot for tourists to ride on kayaks. So, Alton Baker Park is the perfect location for those wanting to spend some time outdoors.
#2 – Cascades Raptor Center
The Cascades Raptor Center is a nature center and wildlife hospital for birds of prey, including eagles, hawks, and falcons. It has been operating since 1987. Every year, the center takes in and cares for over 200 feathered friends. The birds are then released back into the wild after they recover, but unfortunately, there are some birds that are unable to be released for various reasons. Visitors cannot interact with recovering birds since they need to remain wild animals, but you can still see over 60 resident birds. While visiting the spacious bird habitats, guests can also learn about the many species and how they can help protect them.
#3 – Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
If you’re looking for beautiful indoor attractions, then the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is the place to be. It first opened in 1933, and it has thousands of pieces on display. The collection includes American, European, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese art. A majority of this museum includes pieces generously donated by collector Gertrude Bass Warner. While the art inside is wonderful to look at, the brick architecture of the building is equally as artistic. Guests can explore this museum for an affordable price, but should call ahead if they want a guided tour.
#4 – Eugene Saturday Market
Every Saturday from April to November, the Eugene Saturday Market is open. It’s one of the best things to do in Eugene, Oregon because it combines lots of local businesses. At this market, you’ll find live music, artisan crafts, jewelry, fresh food, and more. It started in 1970 with less than 30 vendors attending, but today, it has over 200 vendors each week. This market takes place right in the heart of downtown, so there are often other exciting events occurring nearby too. Even if you don’t plan to shop, the atmosphere is uplifting, and it’s a part of the city that you won’t want to miss.
#5 – Museum of Natural and Cultural History
The sculptures outside of this museum are enough to interest most visitors, but inside, you’ll find even cooler exhibits. This museum focuses on topics like zoology, anthropology, and paleontology. So, you’ll find plenty of artifacts, including fossils, photographs, and preserved wildlife. Many guests also love the permanent exhibits of Oregon’s history, which cover over 14,000 years of information. Like most museums, this attraction also hosts many special events, including summer camps and workshops.
#6 – Hayward Field
Even if you’re not a huge sports fan, the Hayward Field is still worth a visit. It’s considered one of the most famous track and field stadiums ever, despite being built as a football field in 1919. It’s found on the University of Oregon’s campus. This location has hosted a variety of major events, including three U.S. Olympics Trials, ten NCAA Outdoor Championships, and six U.S. Championships. For many, it’s breathtaking to see this stadium in person, and if you’re lucky, you can attend an event during your visit.
#7 – Hendricks Park
Hendricks Park is the oldest park in Eugene, but arguably the most beautiful. This 80-acre park is near the University of Oregon, and it’s known for its impressive plant collection. Visitors adore the gorgeous rhododendron flowers, along with the 200-year-old Douglas fir trees. During your visit, you’ll likely also see ferns, wildflowers, irises, and trilliums. There are plenty of trails through the park, so you can enjoy a serene hike while admiring the unique plant life.
#8 – Mount Pisgah Arboretum
For those who can’t get enough of nature, the Mount Pisgah Arboretum is another excellent attraction. This arboretum and botanical garden takes up about 209 acres. In 1973, this attraction came to be when volunteers made trails and bridges for visitors to enjoy. These trails have gorgeous landscapes, including gardens, meadows, forests, and bodies of water. Non-regional plants once lived at this arboretum, but they have since been removed. Today, this nature space is only home to native plants.
#9 – Hult Center for the Performing Arts
The Hult Center for the Performing Arts is impossible to miss, thanks to its glass pyramid-shaped structure. Locals built this center in the 80s, creating several halls for performing arts. Inside, you’ll find a 2,000-seat concert hall, a 500-seat theatre, and a small performance studio. Singers, bands, ballets, operas, and more have all made appearances here. So, if you’re looking to catch a show during your time in Eugene, check the events schedule.
#10 – Shelton-McMurphy-Johnson House
From the outside, the Shelton-McMurphy-Johnson House looks just like a random house with beautiful architecture. Yet, this Victorian-era home is actually a landmark and popular tourist attraction. It was built in 1888 for a doctor. Inside, you’ll find plenty of historical artifacts, furnishings, clothing, and decorations. Public tours are offered in this house, making it feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Events are often held there too, including escape rooms, book readings, and summer camps.
#11 – Oregon Air and Space Museum
The Oregon Air and Space Museum is located right at the Eugene Airport. It’s been around since 1991, and it has a large collection of historical aircrafts. The museum expanded in the late 90s, so it now has over 6,300 square feet of exhibits. A Fokker Dr 1 Triplane, McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, and Grumman A-6E Intruder are just some of the planes you’ll see during your visit. The museum also teaches you about the history of space exploration using models and vintage photos. It’s a great place to stop as you’re entering or leaving Oregon.
#12 – Owen Rose Garden
Portland, Oregon might be known as the “City of Roses,” but you can find a wonderful rose collection in Eugene too. The Owen Rose Garden is home to over 4,500 roses. In fact, the park has about 400 different rose varieties. Plus, the garden rests on about 8.5 acres of the Willamette River, which only adds to its beauty. The garden’s land was donated to the public by Eugene councilor George E. Owen in 1951. This location makes the perfect peaceful stroll during any vacation.
#13 – Eugene Science Center
The Eugene Science Center, formerly known as the Eugene Science Factory, is the perfect attraction for families. Its rainbow-colored exterior is enough to peak a child’s interest alone. The museum is full of science-themed exhibits, many of which are interactive for all ages. Guests can also experience a planetarium and other science-related shows. There are even plenty of events and programs catered toward kids, including one where they can meet a scientist.
Eugene might not be one of the biggest cities in the country, but it’s an excellent destination that is often overlooked. There are so many fun things to do in Eugene, Oregon, so you could plan a whole trip there without getting bored. If you’re looking for a place to relax, explore, and learn lots, then this might be the place for you.