12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Eugene, Oregon
As one of the three largest cities 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. Just over four miles long, Pre's Trail is a popular cross-country and 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 Road, Eugene, Oregon
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.
Address: 1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene, Oregon
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, and the Eugene Symphony.
In addition to the performing arts, the Center also features permanent and temporary art collections, which can be seen throughout the building. Some of the permanent installations include the house curtain for the Silva Concert Hall and the various sculptures found throughout the mezzanine and lower balcony levels.
Address: One Eugene Center, Eugene, Oregon
4 Saturday Market
Operating rain or shine every Saturday between April and mid-November, the Saturday Market is one of the best community gathering spaces in the city. Combining local artisan crafts, live music, and internationally inspired food, the Saturday Market brings together the many tastes and styles of Eugene. It's located in the center of downtown, often surrounded by other city events, and is a great starting point for a cultural weekend spent exploring the city. For local agricultural produce, the Lane County Farmers Market can be found just across the street from the Saturday Market.
Address: 26 E 8th Ave, Eugene, Oregon
5 Cascades Raptor Center
Eagles, falcons, and hawks are among the regal feathered residents at the Cascades Raptor Center. Open to the public year-round, this non-profit organization nurses injured birds back to health. Visitors can see a variety of resident birds and get a sense of the rehabilitation process. The Cascades Raptor Center also hosts off- and on-site educational programs, including handler-led demonstrations, personal tours, and kid-friendly craft workshops. For those looking to be involved with the raptor rehabilitation process, volunteer opportunities are available for all interest levels.
Address: 32275 Fox Hollow Road, Eugene, Oregon
6 Hendricks Park
Rhododendrons thrive in the Pacific Northwest (indeed, it is Washington's state flower). This rhododendron garden in Eugene offers an equally suitable climate for the flowering evergreen shrubs that 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. In addition to the expansive Rhododendron Garden, the Oak Knoll Trail is a favorite to explore, including the expansive views found at its turnaround point.
Location: Summit Avenue and Skyline Blvd, Eugene, Oregon
7 Museum of Natural and Cultural History
Among the many tourist attractions on the University of Oregon campus 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. A popular permanent exhibit at the museum immerses patrons in the last 14,000 years of Oregon history. The museum also hosts an array of events and workshops, including summer camps and Free First Fridays.
Address: 1680 East 15th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon
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. Leashed canine companions are welcome at Mount Pisgah Arboretum, and evenly graded trails allow all hiking abilities to explore. For avid mushroom hunters, the arboretum hosts an annual Mushroom Festival each year, displaying more than 300 species of local mushrooms.
Address: 34901 Frank Parrish Road, Eugene, Oregon
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. Public tours are available for anyone interested in its history, and afternoon tea and other events are often hosted at the house. The Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson House is just one of many buildings in Eugene listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Address: 303 Willamette Street, Eugene, Oregon
10 Eugene Science Center
The Eugene Science Center is a science-themed museum that provides educational and interactive displays for children and adults. The exhibit hall has many things to discover through touch, while the Planetarium features science films and laser shows. The Science Center also hosts an array of special events and programs throughout the year, including "Meet a Scientist" demonstrations and Science Adventure Camps. 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.
Address: 2300 Leo Harris Parkway, Eugene, Oregon
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. Permanent exhibits at the Lane County Historical Museum include the 1853 Lane County Clerk's Building, a century-old staircase from the old courthouse, and an impressive collection of antique transportation vehicles. The museum also hosts a variety of events throughout the year including quilt shows, professional speaker series, and pre-school specific programming for little explorers.
Address: 740 West 13th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon
12 Owen Rose Garden
Located near the shores of the Willamette River and the Washington Jefferson Street Bridge, the Owen Rose Garden is an 8.5-acre park showcasing a variety of natural beauty. The garden features more than 4,000 different roses with at least 400 different varieties, and a key experience here is simply taking in the colorful scene. With looped walking paths; plenty of picnic tables; and different arboretums, gazebos, and shelters that can be reserved, the Owens Rose Garden provides a peaceful place to spend an afternoon.
Address: 300 N. Jefferson Street, Eugene, Oregon
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.
More Fun in Oregon
Featuring coastal views, dormant volcanoes, and exciting cities, Oregon is a state full of places to explore. For outdoor excitement, Mount Hood National Forest provides year-round recreation. To find your cultural fill, cities like Portland and Newport mix stunning scenery with friendly communities and fun things to do.