Do you like hiking? If so, Spencer Butte is a short (1.7 mile loop) hike that is right on the edge of the city. It is short but it is steep — however if you don’t mind the walk you’ll find absolutely stunning panoramic views at the top. Hendricks Park is another gorgeous forested park in Eugene that also has a famous rhododendron garden, with gorgeous flowers reaching higher than your head on some of the bushes. It’s a little early for peak bloom time, but I know some of the early blooming varieties are already out. Worth a stop to see something pretty and stretch your legs.
If you’re interested in craft beer, then Eugene is the place to be. It’s home to more than a dozen craft breweries where you can taste local beers and possibly even visit with the brewers who make them. See here for some listings of local breweries. The Whitaker neighborhood is a fun, funky neighborhood where you can walk from brewery to brewery. (Tacovore is a tasty taco place if you head to that neighborhood!)
If you are fans of the TV show “The Simpsons,” you can take the Unofficial Simpsons Tour. The creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening, used to live in Springfield (the city next to Eugene) and locals believe that this city was the true inspiration for the Springfield in the Simpsons TV show.
My favorite bakery, hands-down is Sweet Life Patisserie. If you’re in Eugene in the morning, Off the Waffle is also amazing for breakfast. Great dinner places: Marche (French-inspired but with locally sourced ingredients); Party Downtown (quirky atmosphere, unique and delicious food); the Oregon Electric Station (good food in a beautiful historic building). Rye on Third offers an amazing dessert option that’s a series of house-made chocolates, each paired with a tasting of whiskey that’s specifically matched to the chocolate. It’s a lot of fun, even if you’re not a big whiskey drinker. You can always just order the house-made chocolates, too!
The Oregon Coast is an easy 1.5-hour drive from Eugene. Along the way, check out Sweet Creek falls. It’s a short diversion off your route (10 miles) and is a beautiful and relatively easy hike. The forests and mountains or Oregon, and particularly those surrounding Eugene, are known for their waterfalls, and it would be a shame to come home from a trip to Oregon without doing any waterfall hikes!
The Oregon Dunes recreation area is also very fun. You can rent a dune buggy and cruise around, or try sandboarding — it’s like snowboarding but you’re on dune, with soft sand to fall onto if/when you fall down! (Check with local rental companies on their hours and availability.)