With abundant biking opportunities, cool neighborhood brewpubs, an epic farmers’ market, tasty local foods, and a liberal vibe, Eugene offers up our idea of fun. At only 178 miles from our hometown of Ashland, Eugene is a convenient stop for us as we travel the I-5 corridor. Although we’ve been there many times, there’s always something new to discover, as well as old favorites to return to.
Biking The Row River Trail
This time, we took a little field trip 20 miles outside of town to bike the Row River Trail. The trail originates in Cottage Grove, the self-proclaimed Covered Bridge Capital of the West.
On a pretty fall day, we biked 30 miles of the scenic trail. This section travels along Dorena Lake, through pastoral farmland, and past several of the historic bridges. Did you know the picturesque structures protect the timber trusses from the damp Oregon climate? (One of these days, all of these little tidbits of information are going to come in handy.)
Beer And Wine Tasting
After a long day of biking, we recovered at the award-winning, eco-friendly Ninkasi Brewing Company, named for the Sumerian goddess of fermentation. Their Total Domination IPA is one of Eric’s perennial favorites, but all of their beer is tasty. The neighborhood beer garden with live music and food trucks make for a good time hanging out with the locals.
Another evening, we made our way to Sweet Cheeks Winery, about 20 miles west of town on a winding, beautiful country road. Gorgeous views, decent wine, and a beautiful patio with cozy fire pits—and they don’t mind a bit if you bring a picnic.
Our Favorite Bike Trail In Eugene
The Row River Trail is a good ride, but our favorite biking in Eugene remains the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail System. We never tire of biking the scenic 14-miles of trails that meander along both sides of the Willamette River. There are many interesting diversions along the way, including the beautiful University of Oregon campus, the Owens Rose Garden, and wildlife ponds.
A visit to a salad bar might not be high on your list of attractions, but we never miss stopping at Provisions Market Hall in the Fifth Street Marketplace in downtown Eugene. We often make a detour when we’re biking on the Riverbank Trail. The salad bar offerings are creative and delicious (roast chicken, marinated cauliflower, pickled red onions, French potato salad, kale salad). They also have yummy homemade soups and wood-fired pizza, and you can enjoy a glass of good wine with your meal at their wine bar.
Feeding Our Minds
Although biking and eating and sampling beer and wine consumed most of our time in Eugene, we did manage to feed our minds a bit at the small but excellent University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. It’s a gem of a museum, and worth a visit just to admire the beautiful architecture. The sculptures of Pacific Northwest critters that adorn the building are especially wonderful.
The Epic Saturday Market
Finally, we plan our visits to Eugene so that we can spend time at the lively Saturday Market. As the country’s longest-running outdoors market, it’s been going strong since 1970. We loaded up our shopping bags with an assortment of organic and locally produced foods, browsed the wonderful crafts, listened to local music, and had fun people-watching. There’s a reason Eugene was voted the “hippiest city” in the country. If you enjoy a laidback counter-culture atmosphere, you’ll like Eugene. We certainly do.
About The RV Park:
We always stay at Armitage County Park, just a few miles outside of town in Coburg. The sites are spacious and green with full hook-ups, good Verizon coverage, and an excellent laundry. If you plan to visit in the fall, check the University of Oregon football schedule. The campground is booked far in advance for the Duck’s home games.
We rode our bikes from Ashland to Eugene last year during our stay and realized that it is a place we needed to spend more time. You reminded us that it should be added to our list next time we head that way. Hard to believe you are counting down that last month.
You guys rode from Ashland to Eugene? Wow. And I thought we were doing well riding 30 miles of trails! :-)
If anyone likes IPA, you must try Lucille by Georgetown Brewery. Lucille is the most wonderful of any IPA ever. It’s ruined me, I pretty much drink wine and whiskey now because it’s rarely available. There are so many breweries around here and people want to sell their own beer.
I hope you’re back on the road soon and are all well.
Thanks for the IPA recommendation, Nancy. We’ll definitely look for it! And thanks for your good wishes—we’re doing well and are planning to be back on the road in less than a month!
We stopped in Eugene twice last fall on our trip through the Pacific Northwest. We were impressed with the friendliness and ease of getting around. Armitage County Park made for a great stay. Sadly our western journey is winding down- we are in Denver this weekend then heading east and home to Buffalo. We are winding down the blog for this trip-check it out for recent posts from TX & NM.
Glad to hear you will be back on the road soon. Next winter we plan to stay east coast next year.
Pat, it sounds as though you’ve had another wonderful western adventure. Next winter on the East coast—does that mean Florida? If so, it would be fun to meet up with you!
Thanks for taking us back to Eugene, one of our favorite little cities. The Saturday market is one we judge all farmer’s markets by, sadly most others fall short! We stay at Armitage County Park and have always loved our time there. This last time, however, a thief in the campground cast a pall over our stay. Someone stole our favorite chairs while we slept (they were folded up and leaning against Beluga) as well as someone else’s grill and coolers. There seemed to be more “car campers” sleeping overnight in the river side parking lots than I remember in the past….I’m sad to say we may look elsewhere to camp.
Sue, that’s so unfortunate that you had a bad experience at Armitage. We’ve stayed there at least a dozen times and have never had a problem. I agree, the farmers’ market is one of the best!
We visited Eugene during our first Oregon trip while staying in Salem as our home base. We may have to think about staying in the area to enjoy the bike trails. The farmers markets in Salem is one of the things drawing me back to the area. We’ll be coming through this area in August!!
The bike trails in Eugene are fantastic, Pam. I think you would enjoy them! You would love the Saturday market, too.
We love Eugene, too! There’s just a vibe about it that makes us so comfortable. Mostly we go there for engine work at the Cummins facility in Coburg, so we also stay at Armitage. Our first stay there was cut short when rig after rig started arriving and rolling out the O-Duck paraphernalia. Made for some colorful camping, but alas, our spot was taken by a fan, too, so we had to move on. :)
Linda, we’ve been in Eugene during a Ducks home game weekend, too. It’s quite a colorful experience, as you said. We love the Ducks, but always make sure now that we’re not traveling through on a home game weekend. :-)
Well this will be moving close to the top of our list! This sounds tailor made for us. Man, I better live to be 100 to get all these things accomplished. And here’s a tidbit that will never come in handy. They filmed Animal House in Cottage Grove.Toga! Toga! Toga!
Henry, no kidding—we need lots more years of traveling to get everything done we want to do, too! You and Loretta would really enjoy Eugene. Haha, how could I have forgotten about Animal House? I’ll be expecting photos of the movie locations when you post your blog about Eugene/Cottage Grove.
Wow, this sounds like our kind of town. We were just talking the other day about where we might land one day. I’ve quickly realized that 70 degrees makes me very happy. So what I need is this town in a place that’s 60 to 80 degrees year round. Is that so much to ask? Yes? It is? Ok…. :(
Laura, I think you’re talking about someplace in California. :-) The only problem is the traffic and millions of other people stuffed into paradise….
You’ll like Eugene. Just go in the summer or early fall and you’ll (probably) have decent weather. At least part of the time.
Thanks so much for including this post!! We will be making our first Eugene stop late next month. Unfortunately we aren’t there on a Saturday :-(( Love the covered bridge and of course the brewery options!!
Jodee, you guys are going to love Eugene! You can do an interesting drive to see lots of covered bridges—and don’t miss Ninkasi! I’m looking forward to you doing a tour of the Ducks stadium for us. :-)
The Saturday market place sounds great and Eugene does indeed sound like our kind of place Laurel. I would love to visit there next time we are in the U.S. if time permits.Your pictures are terrific.
I think Eugene is a place you would enjoy visiting, Peta. We’re lucky to have so many wonderful farmers’ markets in Oregon—and Eugene’s is one of the best! The entire atmosphere is festive and fun.
Yes indeed, we too love the hippie vibe in Eugene as well as the natural wonders all around. I wish western Oregon was not so darned wet, or we’d probably end up there!
I don’t think I would want to live in Eugene year round either, Lisa. Fifty inches of annual rainfall is more than twice what we get in Ashland. But all of that rain sure does make it lush and green!
LOL at the “empathy tent”. Just love it!! And the worry sign. Isn’t that a fact!! Those alone put Eugene on my list. Hippy town, that would be me. Since I also love covered bridges and it appears you can bike to them, that’s another huge plus. Being a salad person I am very happy to read what is probably the first ever recommendation for a salad bar I’ve read. Your beautiful photographs paint a wonderful picture of your time in Eugene and make it come brilliantly alive for me. Thanks for it all.
Sherry, the salad bar at Provisions is definitely blog-worthy! Not your usual salad bar. :-)) I think Eugene is a town that would appeal to you and David. David would love the beer options, and you both would love the biking and farmers’ market!
We liked what we saw of Eugene in the 2 nights we parked at the Valley River Center mall, free camping right next to the Riverside bike trail. If we get back there again we’ll make sure it’s over a weekend to check out the farmers market.
We’ve thought about staying at the Valley River Mall and might try it one of these days. It’s certainly convenient to the bike trail, and that’s a big plus! You can easily bike to the farmers’ market from the bike path.
We have always loved Eugene, but I think we have only scratched the surface. The farmers’ market is probably the best we have experienced. Looking forward to seeing you two later this year.
LuAnn, Eugene is one of those towns that we never tire of exploring. I agree, the farmers’ market is one of the best (so is the adjacent craft market). We’re so excited about seeing you two in September!
We were in Eugene to have Betsy fixed and or repaired and did not have a chance at all to experience the vibe that you are talking about. The rain that we had experienced while in Oregon at spring time and fall were the minuses in our attempt to make it our home state :)
But your photos is enough invitation to give it another chance for a revisit.
MonaLiza, I remember that you hit some rainy stretches while you were in Oregon (of course I especially remember your visit to Ashland in the rain!). It truly is beautiful here for much of the year. I hope you’ll give it a chance again, at least for a visit. When I was choosing where to live in Oregon, one of the reasons I chose Ashland was because of the good climate (not excessively rainy or cold, lots of sunshine!). :-))
just subscribed to your blog and saw these pictures. we have lived just around the corner from currin bridge for the past 40 years
That sounds like a beautiful place to call home!