A Weekend in Eugene
Choose Your Own Adventure
Eugene is about 170 miles (or 3 hours) from Portland, OR., at the southern edge of the Willamette Valley.
That means it’s lush with natural spaces and crisscrossed by rivers.
It’s the second-largest city in Oregon (pop. ~157k).
And it’s the home of the University of Oregon, Lane Community College, Northwest Christian University, and Gutenberg College – that’s a lot of college students.
So, in addition to its natural beauty, Eugene is a cultural center of art, food, wine, history, and sporting events.
We’ve designed the weekend series to take you from Friday – Sunday with suggestions for indoor and outdoor activities and places to find great food.
What sounds like fun to you?
Pick and choose and create your perfect weekend.
McMenamin’s pub crawl
There are three McMenamin locations in Eugene – each with a distinct personality.
High Street (located in a neighborhood in an old house) features vintage playbills on the walls and offers cozy nooks and crannies for seating.
North Bank is a newer building with a Tiki Hut theme on the Willamette River. I recommend sitting outside for a view of the water.
Finally, East 19th Street Cafe is tucked away in a nondescript building near campus. It feels like a neighborhood hangout with pinball, pool tables, shuffleboard, and darts.
Happy Hour runs every day from 3-6 p.m. Each location has a slightly different menu and tap list.
Eugene is an excellent place to begin if you haven’t started your McMenamins Passport yet.
Attend a sporting event
Eugene is Ducks (U of O) territory, and as I mentioned, several other colleges are in town.
All of this higher learning equals oodles of sporting events.
Everything from NCAA Division I college football to rugby to Taekwondo tournaments.
Eugene’s eclectic mix of people, age groups, and interests creates a vibrant music scene.
For Jazz, classical, concert series, and music festivals, try The Shedd Institute.
Check out The Hult Center for musical productions, award-winning performers, and the avant-garde.
Dinner on Friday
Our favorite Eugene restaurant.
A wide variety of seafood dishes – classic fish and chips, grilled fish, crawdad pot pie, cajun seafood pasta… you name it.
Cajun boil bags are their specialty – you must order ahead if you want one.
If you’re looking for something a little fancier, try Beppe’s for highly-rated Italian food.
The menu features Italian classics.
If you have room for dessert, stop by Sweet Life.
Don’t be put off by the line; they move fast.
Large selection of gluten and dairy-free desserts – that taste good!
Breakfast on Saturday
Rennie’s serves food until the wee hours of the night (like 2 a.m.)
Big portions of stick-to-your-ribs breakfast classics.
Two locations: downtown and south Eugene.
Off the Waffle takes waffles to the extreme.
You have to check out the menu to believe it.
Gorgeous and creative – check out their Instagram feed.
Organic specials, lots of vegan options.
The children’s menu is top-notch.
Saturday morning activities
Indoors – shopping downtown
Start at 5th Street Public Market (home to Provisions Market Hall – see below).
Smith Family Bookstore is a must for bibliophiles.
East Broadway is the hub of downtown retail.
Outdoors/Indoor – U of O campus
Start at the Ford Alumni Center for a tour and a touristy photo opp with an 8-foot duck. (Register in advance)
There are two museums on campus:
For sports enthusiasts, there’s Autzen Stadium, Matthew Knight Arena, and Hayward Field.
You can visit the Hall of Fame wall at Autzen Stadium.
The campus is beautiful and worth a walk to explore.
Lunch on Saturday
Pizza by the slice.
A local favorite.
Bacon nation serves…bacon on everything.
It’s a food truck, so check their Facebook page to hunt them down.
PMH is like a college cafeteria – for grown-ups.
You will find sandwiches, pizza-by-the-slice, salads, soup, and bakery items.
There’s more: breakfast, dinner, happy hour, ice cream, and special events.
If it’s nice out, sit on the sun deck.
Saturday afternoon activities
Outdoors – Cascades Raptor Center
Rehabilitation wildlife hospital.
Visitors will see about 50 birds in outdoor aviaries.
Not sure? Check out their Instagram account.
Outdoors – Alton Baker Park
A 373-acre park along the Willamette River.
The park includes a multi-use trail, rose garden, a boat launch, a dog park, a disc golf course, fishing, public art, picnic shelters, a playground, sports fields, and more.
The multi-use path is perfect for biking.
You can access the U of O campus and downtown Eugene from the bike path. You could combine the morning options (campus and shopping) with a bike ride and spend the entire day working your way around the park.
Bonus: Check out the Nobel Peace Laureate Project.
Indoors – Lane County History Museum
Ongoing exhibits include the Lane County Clerk’s Building (1853), vehicles, memorabilia from Lane County’s courthouses and jail, etc.
Current (rotating) exhibits include: “Would You Believe It!?” and a historic toy exhibit.
Indoors – Oregon Air and Space Museum
Maybe aviation history is more your thing.
Look at the aircraft on display here.
Dinner on Saturday
Handcrafted pub food.
There are 3 locations; the brewpub, deli, and pizzeria. Be sure you’re heading to the one you want.
Greek and Indian food.
They make a variety of chutneys from scratch. I didn’t think I liked chutney until I met Poppi.
We love this place!
On Sunday, Poppi’s puts on a fantastic spread. See the menu.
They also serve lunch.
What can I say? We love breweries and pub food.
Elk Horn gives classic pub food a southern twist.
Catfish an’ Fixin’s, Lowcountry Shrimp and Grits, and the Dixie Platter, to name a few.
Special brunch options for Sunday
Beautiful northwest food.
Delicious breakfasts, famous burgers, soup, pizza, and all things comfort food.
Everyone will be happy at Cornucopia.
If you love crepes, try The Vintage on Saturday or Sunday.
They also have a dinner menu featuring crepes and fondue (cheese and chocolate).
Coffee roaster and cafe.
They have an in-house bakery with vegan options.
Sidewalk seating if the weather cooperates.
Beautiful, open space.
Serving breakfast and lunch.
Indoor – The Eugene Science Center
Great place for the young and young at heart.
Astronomy, mechanics, nanotechnology, geology, and optics are a few science topics covered.
This museum is hands-on. Perfect for families.
Also, see the Planetarium and Laser Light shows.
30 miles south of Eugene in the town of Cottage Grove.
A 35.8-mile loop takes you through scenic southern Oregon countryside and past six historic covered bridges.
The trail starts in downtown Cottage Grove. I suggest you park at Bohemia Park (restrooms).
We did this as an out-and-back on the Row River Trail side, going as far as the dam on Dorena Lake.
The other side of the trail (running along Garoutte Rd.) has some hefty inclines. My 3-speed bike isn’t up to that.
If you can’t hike/bike to all the bridges, they are accessible by car.
PS. If you’re a northwest gardener, don’t miss Territorial Seed in Cottage Grove.
(*Our weekend getaway series is not intended as an exhaustive guidebook. Instead, we’ve rounded up the best the city offers and present it, so you can design a trip that suits your interests and budget.)
If you go to Eugene, share a photo with us. Tag us on Instagram @jauntyeverywhere or use #jauntyeveryday.
Have you spent time in Eugene, Oregon? What is your favorite activity to do there?
|Cottage Grove, OR||25 miles|
|Corvallis, OR||47 miles|
|Salem, OR||66 miles|
|Newport, OR||95 miles|
|Portland, OR||109 miles|
|Ashland, OR||180 miles|
|Seattle, WA||282 miles|
|Boise, ID||452 miles|