There’s lots to see and do in Oregon, but the City of Eugene offers some truly unique experiences. Here’s how to plan a trip to Eugene with our creative list of 3 unique things to do in Eugene, Oregon (plus some other ideas).
Eugene, Oregon sits at the southern end of the picturesque and beautiful Willamette Valley. As the state’s third-largest city, Eugene is home to just over 150,000 or so residents. A mere hour away from the state capitol of Salem, the city of Eugene hosts a college (the University of Oregon), shares a special place in Nike history, and oozes the quirky, often weird vibe that many Pacific Northwestern towns are now known for.
3 Unique Things to do in Eugene Oregon
The city hosts nearly 30 breweries (like the famous Steelhead Brewery), and is affectionately known as Track Town, USA for its long relationship with all things track and field. Indeed, the town of Eugene offers no shortage of things to do and see, but here are 3 unique things to do in Eugene Oregon.
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus is one of the most elite museums in all of the Northwest. It is the only accredited art museum in the state and focuses on a number of cultural features of the Pacific Northwest.
Combining cultural elements which have had an impact on the region and Oregon in specific, displays and exhibitions include works from Asia, Native Americans, and Europe. In the last 12 months exhibitions have included selections from Cuba, ceramic artifacts from Thailand, a feminist critqiue on European females in art by male artists, and collections from University of Oregon students.
Permanent collections include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, South Asia and Southeast Asia, the Islamic World, the Americas, and European art.
The Jordan Schnitzer Museum Family Association and Foundation (JSMA) recently announced a grant program in support of area artists and their participation in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“With the support of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, the JSMAs of UO, Portland State University, and Washington State University selected sixty artists from across Oregon and Washington to receive $2,500 each for their work in support of Black Lives Matter.”JSMA
Owen Rose Garden
One of the most naturally beautiful areas of the country is the Pacific Northwest. There’s no better way to spend an afternoon in the temperate climate of Eugene than walking around the Owen Rose Garden.
Unlike the arboretum (mentioned below) the Rose Garden is an outdoor attraction.
The history of the garden is rather unique. A former city council member, lumberman, business owner and public servant, George E. Owen left five acres of his estate along with his home to the city of Eugene. It was converted into one of the largest rose gardens in the United States.
“Shortly after Owen’s donation of property, the Eugene Rose Society donated the original 750 rose bushes. This original collection has expanded into a panorama of more than 4,500 roses of over 400 varieties.”
Bike and walking paths take visitors through the flower beds that feature more than just roses. Picnic tables and benches allow visitors to pack a lunch and make a day of it. The relaxing setting in the Willamette Valley (close to the Willamette river) is a perfect place to take a day trip or utilize area hiking trails.
In addition to the flowers and gardens, the estate also hosts events in its Performance space. An interesting way to enjoy the gardens might be to donate your time. The gardens welcome volunteers year-round to assist in the cleaning and cultivation of the beautiful grounds.
When considering unique things to do in Eugene, it would be hard to find a more unique place to spend to see all of Eugene. Built as a “castle on the hill” this historic house began construction in the late 1800s for a cost of $8,000 at the time (just $205,000 in 2021 dollars.)
The elaborate structure overlooks the bluff and the city below but besides the view, visitors who come to the Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson House (SMJH) have an opportunity to peer into a time capsule of a bygone era.
The home is an architectural marvel for both its elaborate nature and unique style. Hand-carved wood features inside the home reflect the style and care put into it. The many decks and porches showcase both the era and the attention to detail that the homebuilders applied.
The home also features a polygonal tower and is an iconic design element of the site. The home survived a pair of fires both during elements of construction. The first occurred in 1887 during its initial build by a disgruntled worker and the second during a remodel of the home in 1950.
The home is open to tours daily for $6/per adult.
Other fun things to do in Eugene, Oregon
Brevity is important in helping readers and visitors focus on specific must-see activities while they road trip to Eugene, but limiting it to just three feels incomplete. The city offers visitors a number of other venues for natural and cultural history appreciation in the city.
Families and culture vultures will enjoy the myriad museums and natural exhibits around one of the most beautiful cities in the country.
- Hayward field – visit a track and field meet at the Duck’s famous stadium
- Mount Pisgah Arboretum – trails and nature meet head on at Mount Pigsah
- Hult Center for the Performing Arts – catch a play or see a concert at this magnificent facility
- Eugene Saturday Market/Farmer’s Market – visit one of the most unique handcrafted markets around – on Saturday, of course.
What do you think? What are some of your favorite unique things to do in Eugene, Oregon?
Be sure to check out all the great destinations in our “Unique Things to Do” Series and take a step out of the ordinary on your next trip.
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