One of the most common questions we get while your out-of-town guests are bellied up to the bar during weddings is “So..what is there to do around here?” So we figured we’d compile this list of our favorite things to recommend our own out-of-town guests.
While your guests are in town to celebrate your special day, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore this beautiful city nestled in the heart of the Willamette Valley. From scenic parks and hikes to exciting outdoor activities and unique shopping experiences, Eugene has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ve compiled a complete list of things for your guests to do in Eugene, so they can make the most of their visit to this vibrant city while they are here for your wedding!
Parks & Hikes
If you’re in the mood for a moderately challenging hike, try the 3.3 mile out-and-back trail to see stunning views of the Willamette Valley. If you prefer something more relaxing, take a walk along the river and find a good swimming hole to cool off in.
This is another popular hike in Eugene. The 1.7 mile loop is considered moderately challenging. There are two ways to reach the top. To take the easier side, go to the right. If you’re looking for something more relaxing, explore the trails connected to the ridgeline trail system. View the map here.
This beautiful park by the University of Oregon features a world-renowned rhododendron garden and a native plant garden. The rhododendron garden has paved trails and lots of benches, making it easily accessible. Rhododendrons begin blooming in February and continue into June, with the peak flowering time in April and May.
Enjoy the Water
Lowell State Recreation Site
Located on Dexter Reservoir, this site has a boat ramp, picnic tables, and flushing toilets. It’s a great place to swim, and you can even rent kayaks on-site. Bring a picnic or visit the Dexter Lake Club afterward for a beer and some BBQ. This iconic dive joint was used for filming scenes from the popular movie “Animal House” in 1977, and it hasn’t changed much since.
Located in Veneta, Oregon, just outside of Eugene, Fern Ridge is a popular destination for water sports, kayaking, swimming, and fishing. The view is beautiful.
Triangle Lake Rock Slide
About 50 minutes outside of Eugene, this natural rock water slide has multiple swimming holes and waterfalls. Bring a tube to slide down the rocks, but be careful; it’s easy to get hurt here. Follow the “No Alcohol” signs. If you do bring alcohol, there is a high chance you will receive a hefty ticket.
Other Outdoor Activities
The Oregon Ducks Golf Team plays at Emerald Valley Golf Club, which is known for its tournament-ready greens. It’s located in Creswell making it an easy trip from Eugene.
An hour outside of Eugene, Tokatee Golf Club offers stunning views and challenging play for golfers of all skill levels.
White Water Rafting
Experience a half-day white water rafting trip down the McKenzie River with High Country Expeditions. The McKenzie River is known for its cold water, so I recommend taking the afternoon trip when it’s generally hotter. Before or after the trip, you can sit in the back courtyard at the McKenzie General Store and enjoy something to eat (the nachos are highly recommended!). While you’re in the area, you can also visit Bellknap Hot Springs to enjoy the soaking pools. If you prefer a more rustic, clothing-optional hot springs Cougar Hot Springs is also in the area.
This spot, located in Harrisburg, Oregon, about 20 minutes outside of Eugene, is famous for growing a bounty of picked and u-pick fruits and vegetables all summer and fall. It’s great for all age groups, as you can grab a cider or beer and pick your own fruit or head to the playground, ride the mechanical bull, or give the goats and chickens in the animal corral a snack.
Walk or Bike Along the River Path
Take a walk or rent a bike from Eugene’s Peace Health Bike Share and ride along the river path. You can head to their website or app to find the nearest place to pick up a bike. Along the path, you can stop by several attractions. We recommend riding from Autzen Stadium to the Owen Rose Gardens. View the full map of the bike path here.
This Eugene classic always impresses our out-of-town guests. The Saturday Market is open from April – November until 4 pm. Head to the Farmer’s Market Pavillion for over 90+ food and produce stands of fresh produce, seafood, baked and canned goods, foraged mushrooms, and more. Then visit the Saturday Market craft booths. This is the oldest open-air crafts market in the U.S.A. and it’s full of funky and eclectic Eugene goods. There’s also a large food court with lots of different food trucks.
Fifth Street Market
This is an adorable shopping hub with lots of local shops, eateries, tasting rooms, and upscale boutique hotels. Notable places to visit include:
- Provisions Market Hall for cute gifts or something to pick up for a picnic
- Will Leather Goods for well-crafted leather items sold out of a refurbished boxcar
- Gervais Salon for a massage or pedicure
- Carlita’s Rooftop: Get the Carlita’s skillet and sit on the patio for sunset
- Sit at Marche’s bar and get a Manhattan and a burger
- 86 Speakeasy: Prohibition-era bar with a hidden entrance. You’ll need to make a reservation to get the password
Go Antiquing in Coburg
Coburg is a cute, walkable town with lots of antique stores. Start your day by going to Blue Valley Bistro for breakfast and a cup of coffee. Then, wander around the antique stores. If you need a break from shopping, grab a glass of wine and sit on the patio at Hayworth Estate Wines or head to Coburg Pizza for a beer and choose between over 57 different types of pizzas.
Willamette Valley Libations
If you’re a wine enthusiast, the Willamette Valley offers an excellent selection of vineyards to visit for tasting. One recommended circuit includes starting at Sarver Winery for a casual atmosphere with beautiful views and the option to bring outside food. Next, head to Silvan Ridge for live music on Friday nights. After that, visit Sweet Cheeks Winery for the best views from their patio. End the circuit at King Estate, which offers a standing-only tasting room and a fine dining sit-down setting. Reservations are required for the latter. As a bonus, Ale Song Brewery is located right next to King Estate and offers farm-style beers and casual food and snacks. If you’re interested in visiting more vineyards, the Willamette Valley has a lot to offer. You can find a full list of options on the Willamette Valley website. If you prefer to have a driver, you can book a tour guide for your wine tasting.
The Eugene Ale Trail
Many breweries are clustered together, so it’s easy to pub crawl — like in the Whiteaker neighborhood, the Westside Warehouse District or downtown Eugene. Some of our favorite breweries include:
- Claim 52: good food menu and has some funky fruity sours and unique combinations (Downtown Eugene)
- Oakshire: We love sitting outside at Oakshire. They have lots of food cart options and frequently have live music (Whiteaker)
- Ninkasi’s Better Living Room: A well-known Eugene legend with a great food menu and outdoor patio (Whiteaker)
- Honorable Mention: While Public House isn’t a brewery, it is a large beer hall in a former Springfield church, along with a food annex and whiskey bar.
If you’re in the Whiteaker neighborhood, you can also try a couple of distilleries like Heritage Distillery or Thinking Tree Distillery. For the full list of Eugene distilleries, view here.
We hope this guide has given you a good idea of all the amazing things your guests can do while in Eugene. Whether they’re looking for a relaxing day in nature or an exciting outdoor adventure, this city has it all. From wine tasting and brewery hopping to antique shopping and exploring local parks, there’s something for every taste and interest. So, make sure your guests have this guide handy during their visit to Eugene, and we can’t wait to meet them at your wedding!