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Adventure Awaits in Eugene

By Sheila Mickool

Oregon’s Eugene, Cascades and Coast region is one of the most beautiful areas in the Pacific Northwest—and its largest city is Eugene. It’s a sophisticated city with strong support for the arts and culture, a high-tech hub, and a haven for outdoors lovers. The region has “Oregon’s greatest variety of adventures in easy-to-reach, uncrowded places,” says Travel Lane County’s Juanita Metzler, CMP, senior director of conventions.

Location: Situated in the south end of the Willamette Valley, Eugene is a two-hour drive from Portland on Interstate 5. Eugene Airport is 15 minutes from the amenities of the downtown area, and several airlines provide nonstop flights from 17 major cities including Denver, San Francisco, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Chicago.

Venues: There are many event venues in Eugene and the surrounding areas. The largest, Lane Events Center, includes a convention center, exhibit hall, and stockyard. Top venues downtown include Hult Center for the Performing Arts, the Graduate Eugene hotel, and urban industrial Venue 25. Eugene’s largest indoor seating venue is the University of Oregon’s high-tech basketball venue, the Matthew Knight Arena. If you’re looking for something more business-friendly, national brand hotels are perfect for midsized meetings and trade shows. Coastal venues like Driftwood Shores Resort are popular for conferences and offer teams additional opportunities for relaxation.

Accommodations: Eugene has 6,000 rooms in hotels such as the Graduate Eugene, boutique hotels like The Gordon and the Inn at the 5th, and properties of national chains like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Best Western, and Holiday Inn.

Restaurants: Sweet Water on the River serves up traditional Pacific Northwest fare and beautiful views. Marché is fine French dining in the heart of downtown. Farm-to-table cuisine is a trademark of King Estate Winery Restaurant. When only pizza will do, head to Track Town Pizza near the University of Oregon.

Must-Do Activities:
» Visit Afton Baker Park. Eugene’s largest park is an urban oasis on the Willamette River, with miles of tree-lined trails and green spaces.

» Take a self-guided tour of Eugene’s 21 outdoor murals. These striking murals by international artists bring color and life to Eugene’s urban landscape.

» Attend a performance. The architecturally stunning Hult Center for the Performing Arts is home to Eugene’s ballet and symphony.

» Visit the markets. The 5th Street Public Market has restaurants, tasting rooms, boutique hotels, and specialty stores. Saturday Market is the place to go for crafts, live music, and international food. Stop at Lane County Farmers’ Market for local farm produce.

» Go for a ride. In Florence, visitors can ride horses on the beach at sunset, or ride a dune buggy on sand dunes as high as 500 feet at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.