Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Eugene, OR

  • Published 2023/02/20

Eugene, Oregon, has it all, from unique art to picturesque natural scenery.

This northwest city has become a must-visit destination for tourists.

With around 160,000 people, Eugene is the second-largest city in Oregon.

Eugene has a lot of nicknames, including “Track Town USA,” because so many great track athletes call it home.

There are many things to do in Eugene, so it’s an excellent destination for anyone looking for a fun weekend getaway.

If you love outdoor adventures, Eugene offers many opportunities for hiking and biking.

Still, if you prefer more urban activities, plenty of shops and bars will keep you busy.

If you prefer cultural attractions like museums or art galleries, Eugene also has them.

You can visit museums dedicated to natural history, pioneer life, or science fiction literature.

Eugene has many historical landmarks worth visiting if you find yourself in this part of Oregon with some time on your hands.

There’s so much to see and do within the city limits that you might need help figuring out where to start.

Check out the 20 best things to do in Eugene, OR.

Trek the Trails of Spencer Butte Hike

Aerial view of Spencer Butte

Gabe Garbo /

Spencer Butte has something to offer everyone, whether a quick outing or an all-day adventure.

The 1.7-mile hike is relatively easy, but the views at the top are extensive, with sweeping vistas of Eugene and the Willamette Valley.

The elevation gain is 755 feet, and the highest point stands at 2,058 feet.

You’ll see downtown Eugene from up there.

The hike is family-friendly, so you can bring your kids along.

Nature trail at Spencer Butte

UOlcorona /

There are picnic areas around the area where they can play around while you sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Dogs are permitted, and admission is free.

Plus, it’s open year-round, so you can come whenever you want.

If you get tired on your way up or down, there are plenty of spots along this short trail where you can take a rest before continuing.

Keep in mind that it will be pretty warm on clear days, so bring enough to drink and wear sunscreen.

People at the peak of Spencer Butte

Ben Garney, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Have a Fun Family Day at Alton Baker Park

Scenic view of Alton Baker Park

Jamie Hooper /

Across the University of Oregon campus, you can find the beautiful Alton Baker Park, which provides many things to explore.

Since 1959, the park has become a favorite attraction for residents and tourists alike.

Today, Alton Baker Park continues to keep adding features to improve visitors’ experience.

You can do a lot of activities in the expansive 400-acre fields of Alton Baker Park.

Family observing the ducks at Alton Baker Park

Jamie Hooper /

Play sports in the vast space, go on a bike ride on the BMX course, practice disc golfing, or go on a hike.

If you prefer a more relaxing activity, you can go on a peaceful walk and stroll around the park, feed the ducks in the pond, or go on a contemplative walk at Hay’s Tree Garden.

The park’s most popular spot is the Cuthbert Amphitheater, where regular concerts and festivals occur.

The park should spark your interest with variety between the two locations.

A family of four riding bikes along Alton Baker Park

Jamie Hooper /

Watch the Flowers Bloom in Owen Rose Garden

A trail lined with vibrant flowers at Owen Rose Garden

Jamie Hooper /

No one passes through Eugene without stopping to smell the roses and touring the beautiful Owen Rose Garden.

The Owen Rose Garden is an eight-and-a-half-acre park along the Willamette River near the Washington Jefferson Street bridge.

The history of Owen Rose Garden started in 1951 when George E. Owen bestowed Eugene five acres of his property, which the city converted into this beautiful garden.

The best time of year to visit is during springtime, when it boasts over 4,500 rose bushes of over 400 varieties.

A beautiful rose at Owen Rose Garden

Anni Fox /

Besides the impressive collection of roses, Owen Rose Garden features a nationally known Oregon Heritage Cherry Tree, plenty of walking paths throughout the garden, a 28-foot gazebo, and picnic areas.

You can also stroll the picturesque garden at any other time of year and admire its beauty.

Activities you can do at this garden include jogging, walking your dog, or simply taking pictures of its striking scenery.

If you love roses, apply as a volunteer to take care of the garden and learn how to take care of the flowers.

Rose arch at Owen Rose Garden

Jamie Hooper /

Be One with Nature in Mount Pisgah Arboretum

Welcome sign of Mount Pisgah Arboretum

Andrew Wendt, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for a place to get away from the city during your stay in Eugene, it’s worth driving to Mount Pisgah Arboretum.

Located about five miles southeast of the city, the arboretum features eight miles of trails that loop through mixed coniferous woods and meadows.

The easy-to-moderate trails are well-maintained, and you can view the plants and trees labeled for easy identification as you walk through them.

Haystack in front of Mount Pisgah Arboretum's barn

John M. DeMarco, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mount Pisgah Arboretum also offers educational programs to people of all ages.

If you’re visiting in May or October, check out the Wildflower & Music Festival or the Mushroom Festival to experience what makes this nursery unique.

Bring your camera and make sure you visit during daylight hours to see everything this place offers!

View of the willamette river from Mount Pisgah Arboretum

John M. DeMarco, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chug a Glass of Beer at Ninkasi Brewing Company

Exterior of Ninkasi Brewing Company

Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for an establishment with unique beverages, this is your spot!

Ninkasi’s commitment to excellence means that they offer only the best, no matter what.

With a focus on quality ingredients and superior craftsmanship, Ninkasi has earned its spot as the 33rd largest craft brewer in the state.

Ninkasi makes your visit as pleasant as possible with the elegant decorations carefully curated by the owners.

You’ll feel as if you’re drinking at an upscale bar.

There’s a small tasting room at the brewery where you can sample different brews, including seasonal releases.

Ninkasi Brewery also features a large patio area with tables for group gatherings or solo hangouts, making it a perfect place to relax after a long day.

If you’re interested in learning more about beer production, guided tours give you information about the brewery and its history.

Meet the Birds of Cascades Raptor Center

An eagle at Cascades Raptor Center

James Dogs /

Eugene’s Cascades Raptor Center started in 1987, believing that all birds—even birds of prey—deserve a good quality of life.

These animals often become victims of human carelessness, ignorance, or callousness.

Still, the Cascades Raptor Center dedicates itself to providing a safe place where they can be cared for until they’re ready to fly off again.

Exterior of Cascades Raptor Center's gift shop

Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you love seeing nature up close and personal, this center is a must-see—even if birds aren’t your thing.

Students of all ages can participate in guided tours of the facility and its resident birds, primarily raptors such as hawks, owls, and falcons.

Besides being an educational and wildlife rescue site, it also has a gift shop where you can purchase anything from stuffed owls to handcrafted jewelry.

Bird houses at Cascades Raptor Center

Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enter the World of Arts at Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Exterior of Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Joshua Rainey Photography /

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a fascinating place to spend a day or even just an hour.

The museum is on the University of Oregon campus and boasts an extensive collection of artwork and rotating exhibits that highlight artists from across the globe.

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art makes learning about art fun, which means it’s also an ideal place for kids and teens interested in expanding their cultural horizons.

A pond with sculptures in Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Another Believer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every day provides visitors with new things to discover.

There are always new exhibits on display, plus there are also audio tours available if you feel like exploring on your own.

Look for the Guide By Cell logo.

Whether you’re looking for something new or want to take your kids out for some weekend educational fun, there’s no better place than Eugene’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art!

Side facade of Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Joshua Rainey Photography /

Taste Local Flavors from Oregon Wine Lab

The Oregon Wine Lab in Eugene is the perfect destination for learning more about the local wine culture.

Oregon Wine Lab’s tasting room holds samples from the best growers in Oregon and features selections from around the world.

If you’re planning a party and want to go big with local products, there’s even a vast selection of wine packs and beer ready for purchase.

They also hold special events—like tastings or classes—that are helpful if you want to become a connoisseur.

There’s no better way to celebrate an enjoyable day in Eugene than having some crisp white or rosé at Oregon Wine Lab.

Try Fun Activities in Eugene Science Center

Colorful striped wall of Eugene Science Center

J Cardamone /

Eugene Science Center isn’t a traditional museum as there aren’t any dead animals stuffed or mounted here.

Instead, this place is full of cool things to see and play with.

The Eugene Science Center is the prime destination for science lovers of all ages, but most especially for children interested in the world of science.

Its hands-on exhibits and programs will appeal to anyone who loves learning about natural wonders.

Even if you don’t have kids, many things to do here will appeal to adults.

You can browse the ever-changing exhibits that feature science topics such as astronomy, nanotechnology, optics, etc.

Alternatively, you can try the interactive exhibits like turning a huge Archimedes Screw or studying meteorites.

You can also visit the planetarium and immerse yourself in virtual space adventures.

The planetarium of Eugene Science Center is one of the biggest and most technologically advanced in the area.

Browse the Displays in the Oregon Air and Space Museum

An aircraft on the grounds of Oregon Air and Space Museum

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

You probably don’t think about aviation history when looking for a fun place to explore in Eugene, but it’s there.

Since 1991, the Oregon Air and Space Museum, located in Eugene, Oregon, has become a must-visit destination for anyone interested in aviation.

This museum is excellent because they have tours.

These tours happen most days of the week, so you can still peek at some of the coolest things on display even if it’s not nice out.

An aircraft hanging from Oregon Air and Space Museum's ceiling

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

During the tour, you can view a collection of historical planes and aircraft in different sizes, engines, uniforms, commercial airlines display, and the David P. Galbraith model exhibit.

The whole experience is also suitable for children, making this museum a perfect choice for families with children or just adults looking to learn something new while spending time together.

This museum makes for a fun outing that will leave everyone with something new to talk about around the dinner table later.

Aircraft displayed in Oregon Air and Space Museum

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Relaxing Walk on Ridgeline Trail

Whether you want to shake up your exercise routine, take a relaxing walk, or visit a scenic picnic spot, head to Eugene’s Ridgeline Trail and do everything you can imagine.

Part of the more extensive Ridgeline Trail System, the Ridgeline Trail is a 12-mile stretch accessible year-round for walking, hiking, and running.

The Ridgeline Trail is a series of large semi-connected parks.

Other natural areas that make up the Ridgeline include Amazon Headwaters, Mt. Baldy, Suzanne Arlie Park, and Wild Iris Ridge Natural Area.

If you want a less strenuous activity, the Ridgeline Trail is a great place for birdwatching and botanizing.

You can find Douglas fir forests scattered throughout this trail system and Oregon white oak savannas and hilltop prairies.

So if you’re looking for something fresh to do in your free time, go hiking on the Ridgeline!

Explore the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House

Steps leading to Shelton McMurphey Johnson House's front door

Vince360 /

The Shelton McMurphey Johnson House, also known as the Castle on the Hill, is a fascinating attraction in Eugene.

Initially built in 1888, the house has become an essential fixture in Eugene for over a century, with its many stories and historical accounts adding to the city’s cultural significance.

The building’s nickname is “Castle on the Hill” due to its location on one of Eugene’s highest hills.

Glass windows of Shelton McMurphey Johnson House

Vince360 /

The Shelton McMurphey Johnson House offers guided tours to those who want to learn about its history and architecture, which are pretty rich and storied.

Besides the tours, the house is a venue for special events such as weddings or other gatherings.

This house should get your kids excited about Eugene’s rich history if you’re looking for something to do with them.

Side facade of Shelton McMurphey Johnson House

Cynthia Liang /

Play Golf at Camp Putt Adventure Golf Park

One place that definitely should be on your list of must-visit attractions in the area is Camp Putt Adventure Golf Park.

Located in the Glenwood neighborhood between Springfield and Eugene, Camp Putt offers two 18-hole mini-golf courses surrounded by lovely waterfalls, gardens, and trees.

In addition to its two fun mini-golf courses, Camp Putt also has a party pavilion that you can rent for events like birthdays and other celebrations.

It’s a great place to throw an event if you’re looking for something affordable that adults and kids alike enjoy.

Although it’s a little farther out of town than some other attractions, Camp Putt Adventure Golf Park is worth the drive.

Support Local Businesses in Eugene Saturday Market

Vendors along Eugene Saturday Market

Vleighroy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At the heart of the city of Eugene, the Eugene Saturday Market is another unmissable spot for a bit of local culture.

The Eugene Saturday Market began in 1970, and since then, vendors have sold their handmade goods and fresh harvests.

Art vendor at Eugene Saturday Market

Don Hankins, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The market’s lively atmosphere makes it an excellent place for people to browse products, socialize, meet local farmers, and listen to live performances.

Approximately 150 vendors display their products every Saturday, such as unique local crafts to fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Eugene Saturday Market is the perfect destination if you want to support the local businesses and farmers of Eugene.

Food vendor at Eugene Saturday Market

Tamanoeconomico, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Have a Relaxing Day at Delta Ponds

Sunset over Delta Ponds

Hiedi Carman /

Are you interested in ponds and deltas?

This park in Eugene has both.

Delta Ponds comprises ponds, wetlands, and channels; you could spend all day exploring all 150 acres of family-friendly fun.

Nature enthusiasts and bird watchers love this park because there are plenty of species to observe during your visit here.

You can also enjoy a picnic in the grassy areas with stunning views of the ponds while relaxing with your family.

Delta Ponds is open year-round, so there’s no excuse not to take a trip down and participate in relaxing natural activities like hiking, fishing, or enjoying the scenery.

Go on an Outdoor Adventure at Skinner Butte Park

Skyline views from Skinner Butte Park

Sean Pavone /

Located along Cheshire Avenue lies one of the most popular parks in Eugene—Skinner Butte Park.

The park offers sweeping mountain views of the city while having an assortment of available outdoor attractions that can easily take a whole day off your itinerary.

Skinner Butte Park’s biggest selling point is its access to the Willamette River, offering tons of fun primarily through its RiverPlay Discovery Village Playground—a fun and innovative play area for young children.

Rock climbing at Skinner Butte Park

Underawesternsky /

The park is also huge, offering tons of walking trails, some of which bring you to the hilltop areas that have amazing views of Eugene.

Beyond that, there are also tons of biking trails, picnic grounds, and even a rock climbing area; easily one of the funnest outdoor spaces in Eugene.

Playground at Skinner Butte Park

Jamie Hooper /

Shop Until You Drop at 5th Street Public Market

5th Street Public Market is an amazing shopping mall in Eugene that’s best enjoyed during a late afternoon or evening.

It has a lax atmosphere that somehow manages to stay lively, making this a fun but not stressful environment for families with young children.

The shops are interesting here, offering tons of local restaurants and shops that you won’t find anywhere but in Oregon.

One of the things you should try out here is Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream—well-loved by the locals for their sweet cravings.

A mall with both al fresco and indoor areas, 5th Public Street Market also has a unique layout which makes exploring fun.

You can visit it along East 5th Avenue.

See the Cool Artifacts at Lane County History Museum

Lane County History Museum is one of the best free things you can do in Eugene; a hidden gem that’s found along West 14th Avenue.

While there are plenty of rotating exhibits throughout the year, the history of the country’s social justice initiatives is usually a common theme at Lane County History Museum.

You’ll see tons of artifacts here from the 19th Century, such as old photographs, everyday tools, and even vintage transportation.

The museum has a long-term exhibit about the lives of Native Americans from the 19th-20th Century as well, making it a haven for anthropology lovers.

While a small museum, there is a lot to unpack here if you’re a history buff.

Take a Stroll at Hendricks Park

Wooden bench surrounded with flora at Hendricks Park

Jamie Hooper /

Found along Skyline Boulevard, Hendricks Park is considered as the oldest park in Eugene.

Beauty and ambiance is the calling point of Hendricks Park, as it’s brimming with beautiful botany along with gorgeous landscaping.

You’ll find tons of shrubberies here and flowers, most prominently rhododendron that has its own garden dedicated to it.

Vibrant flowers at Hendricks Park

Mahdi2009 /

Hendricks Park also features scenic seating near its water fountains, making this a perfect spot for intimate dates.

One of the most serene places in Eugene, you’d be hard-pressed to miss out on the sprawling trails Hendricks Park has to offer.

Watch a Performance at Hult Center for the Performing Arts

Exterior of Hult Center for the Performing Arts

User:Cacophony, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Chic and eye-popping, Hult Center for the Performing Arts is an attraction that doubles as an architectural landmark in Eugene.

The place is a must-see if you want to experience the rich love for arts and culture in the city, as it offers a ton of classic plays along with the lesser known ones as well.

Hult Center for the Performing Arts is also a must-see in terms of photo opportunity, as the design of its facade is as beautiful as it is unique.

When you go inside to watch a play, you’ll be even more astounded by the ornate beauty of its multi-level auditorium.

Whether you’re here to watch the orchestra, Lion King, or to just see its exterior, give this performing arts center a visit at Eugene Center.

Final Thoughts

There’s something in Eugene for every taste.

After a brief visit, you’ll think it’s one of the best places to spend a weekend.

Eugene serves as an excellent base for outdoor recreation.

Its riverside setting, lush green parks, rolling foothills, and nearby recreation will fill your weekend itinerary.

In addition, the city has a rich history and culture that makes visiting Eugene more than worth it.

You might find it hard to believe when you consider how beautiful this place can be.

There’s always something new coming up that will make your trip memorable, so you’ll surely love staying in Eugene!

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