11 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Eugene, Oregon
As the second-largest city in Oregon, Eugene has all the amenities of a sizeable center such as impressive museums and a bustling feel. But the cityscape also abuts nature, from lush parks and arboretums to a bird of prey sanctuary. And The Willamette River separates Eugene from its neighboring town of Springfield. For sightseeing, the best place to begin is on the expansive University of Oregon campus. An excellent art museum, the historic track at Hayward Field, and a natural history museum are all on the pretty grounds.
See also: Where to Stay in Eugene
1 Alton Baker Park
The ambling Willamette River divides Eugene from neighboring Springfield. Along its banks, visitors can explore the bicycle trails and other recreational facilities of Alton Baker Park - the city's largest park. Paved paths extend beyond park boundaries with bike bridges connecting trails on both sides of the river. About four miles long, Pre's Trail is a popular cross-country running route in a city known for its athletics. The Willamette itself is also a draw as a nationally noted water trail popular with kayakers.
Address: 200 Day Island Rd, Eugene
2 Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
Designed without windows to protect the treasures inside, 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 since that time, it has expanded considerably. 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 lovely brickwork and iron grillwork and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hours: Tues-Sun 11am-5pm, Wed until 8pm
Admission: Adults $5, seniors $3, children 18 and under free
Address: 1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene
3 Hult Center for the Performing Arts
At the heart of Eugene's rich cultural scene since 1982 is the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. All kinds of entertainment can be found here throughout the year, from jazz to opera. Resident companies calling the venue home include the Eugene Ballet Company, the Eugene Concert Choir, the Eugene Opera, the Eugene Symphony, the Shedd Institute, and the Oregon Bach Festival.
In addition to the performing arts, the Center also features a permanent art collection, which can be seen throughout the building, with temporary art exhibitions displayed in the Jacobs Gallery.
Address: One Eugene Center, Eugene
4 5th Street Market
Colorful and with a touch of nostalgia, the 5th Street Market is a popular spot to shop for everything from food to fashion. Dining options let visitors indulge from morning coffee to late night dessert. Within a few blocks, visitors can explore much of Eugene's historic district, stroll through the Eugene Saturday Market, and see the Eugene Japanese American Art Memorial.
Address: 296 East Fifth Ave, Eugene
5 Cascades Raptor Center
Eagles, falcons, and hawks are among the regal feathered residents at the Cascades Raptor Center. This non-profit organization nurses injured birds back to health. Visitors can see a variety of resident birds, get a sense of the rehabilitation process, and take in weekday handler talks.
Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm (Apr-Oct), Tues-Sun 10am-4pm (Nov-March)
Admission: Adults $8, teens and seniors $7, children under 12 years $5
Address: 32275 Fox Hollow Rd, Eugene
6 Hendricks Park
Rhododendrons thrive in the Pacific Northwest (indeed, it is Washington's state flower). This rhodie garden in Eugene offers an equally suitable climate for the flowering evergreen shrubs, which have flourished in this local favorite park. About 80 acres of parkland also feature undulating walking trails, old-growth Douglas fir trees, and native plant varieties. Spring is peak season for rhododendrons.
Location: Summit Ave and Skyline Blvd, Eugene
7 Museum of Natural and Cultural History
There are a number of tourist attractions on the University of Oregon campus. Among them 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 histories of the area through fossils, preserved wildlife, and photographs.
Hours: Tues-Sun 11am-5pm
Admission: Adults $5, youth and seniors $3
Address: 1680 East 15th Avenue, Eugene
8 Mount Pisgah Arboretum
Covering 209 acres on the slopes of its namesake mountain, the Mount Pisgah Arboretum harbors local and international species of trees. Walking trails fan out from the parking area taking tree-lovers to Mt Pisgah summit, riverbanks, and various viewpoints over surrounding farmlands.
Hours: Dawn to dusk
Address: 34901 Frank Parrish Rd, Eugene
9 Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson House
A fairytale-like beauty has made this Victorian mansion a landmark in the city, especially as it sits perched on the slopes of Skinner Butte. The Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson House was built in 1888 for a doctor. The interior décor is styled with historical artifacts, clothing, and furniture to create a sense of days gone by. There may be afternoon tea or other events hosted at the house.
Hours: Tues-Fri 10am-1pm, Sat and Sun 1-4pm
Admission: Adults $6
Address: 303 Willamette Street, Eugene
10 The Science Factory
This science-themed museum provides educational and interactive displays for children and students. The exhibit hall has many things to discover through touch, while the Exploration Dome features science films. As it is within the bounds of Alton Baker Park, this family attraction can be part of a day trip to this part of town.
Hours: Wed-Sun 10am-4pm
Address: 2300 Leo Harris Parkway, Eugene
11 Lane County Historical Museum
The Lane County Historical Museum in Eugene features items related to the history of Lane County and the early pioneers. This is a good spot to learn about the famed Oregon Trail and the state's forestry history.
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-4pm
Admission: Adults $5, seniors $3
Address: 740 West 13th Avenue, Eugene
Where to Stay in Eugene for Sightseeing
Eugene is bisected 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 delightfully small city. The University of Oregon campus contains several of the major cultural and sporting attractions and is right downtown, so staying nearby is recommended. Below are some highly-rated hotels in good locations:
- Luxury Hotels: Top-end luxury hotels are in short supply in Eugene. The boutique hotel, Inn at the 5th, is all about Pacific Northwest luxury and is steps from the trendy 5th Street Public Market. One of only two all-suite hotels in town, the Residence Inn occupies a perfect location on the riverfront between Alton Baker Park and downtown. This is a great family option, with lovely walking and biking trails along the Willamette River just outside the front door. The recently renovated Hilton is right in the center of the action, steps from the city's historical district, and two blocks from the Amtrak station.
- Mid-Range Hotels: The Holiday Inn Express is recently renovated and has a great location, perfect for sports fans, with the stadium close by. Across the street from the University of Oregon and it's multitude of attractions is the Best Western. The Candlewood Suites, about one mile from downtown, is a new, all-suite property, with large rooms featuring kitchens.
- Budget Hotels: A smaller, older-style property with just 42 rooms, the Timbers Motel offers exceptional value in a great location, less than a half mile from the restaurants of 5th Street. The appropriately named Downtown Inn is family run and easily accessible off Interstate 105, and only a couple of blocks from the Hult Center, perfect if you are in town for a concert or performance. A five-minute drive to the east of downtown is the clean and quiet Budget Lodge.
Cottage Grove, Oregon
The town of Cottage Grove is located about 20 miles south of Eugene, Oregon. Attractions in the area include covered bridges, lakes, golf courses, and other recreational opportunities. The town museum is housed in an 1897 octagonal-shaped former Catholic church. Its collection includes Native American artifacts, pioneer items, agricultural and mining tools, and an art collection.
On the Oregon coast about 60 miles west of Eugene, Florence is surrounded by a number of natural attractions. Chief among these is Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area - a long, quiet, and beautiful stretch of coastline that's easily accessible from US 101.
Just north of Florence are caves that are home to wild Steller sea lions. The area is reached by stairs, an elevator into a long cavern, and along a trail to an outdoor viewing area. Other Florence sightseeing destinations include the lighthouse in Heceta Head State Park.