University of Oregon

Planning, Public Policy and Management

Life in Eugene

Those who live here year-round see Eugene as the "World's Greatest City of the Arts and Outdoors" -- and it is. With its unique and exciting mix of arts and culture, pristine natural location and passion for outdoor recreation, it is not only a center for higher education but also a diverse community of over 120,000. The city's natural surroundings include the Willamette and McKenzie rivers, lush agricultural land, and more than 100 parks and 2,600 acres of open space. Livability.com rated Eugene #6 in the top 10 college towns to live in for school and life after graduation.

Downtown viewEugene radiates a relaxed small town feeling with the cultural advantages of a large city. Eugene's climate, with an average temperature of 54 degrees, is one of the city's attractive features. Temperatures occasionally dip into the 20s during the winter, but usually hover in the 30s and 40s. In the summer, the high temperature averages 85 degrees, occasionally reaching the upper 90s. Normal annual rainfall is approximately 45 inches, most of which falls between October and May.

All of Eugene's amenities are within easy reach of campus by foot, bike, or bus. There are more than 100 miles of bicycle paths with built-in lanes on most major streets and separate bike/pedestrian only paths along the rivers and through the parks. Eugene was voted one of the top 10 safest cities for bikers in the nation. Nearby Ridgeline Trail and Spencer's Butte offer miles of mountain biking trails. The new EmX line is a bus rapid transit  system that connects Eugene to Springfield. Try the new line and existing bus lines to get around town for FREE with your student ID. The city buses are equipped with bike racks so you can bike-and-ride.

Eugene's central location allows easy access to a world of recreational opportunities including plenty of nightlife. 

Bike riders at Alton Baker ParkFifteen minutes from campus: You can fish for trout in the river; hike through lush, fragrant forests; rock climb the basalt cliff of Skinner's Butte; relax at a park; play golf at one of 8 courses; go boating in one of 3 reservoirs; or see wild turkeys and deer and participate in nature activities at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum.  

One hour from campus: You can walk for miles on pristine public beaches; explore tide pools teeming with life; watch migrating whales and spectacular sunsets from rocky cliffs; float the wild and scenic McKenzie River.

A couple of hours from campus: You can charge downhill through a flurry of light powder or glide along miles of groomed cross-country ski trails at the Willamette Pass, Odell Lake, Hoodoo or Mt. Bachelor ski areas; camp beneath the summer stars at numerous state parks and on Bureau of Land Management land, enjoy attractions such as the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), the Portland Zoo, the Portland Japanese and Rose gardens, or explore wilderness/roadless areas and clean mountain lakes hidden amid majestic conifers.

To get to farther places, Eugene offers Amtrak and Greyhound stations within 2 miles of campus, and its airport is the second busiest in the state.

Spencer ButteEugene is a track and field paradise. The university sponsors the Prefontaine Classic annually, plus numerous other track and field events, including hosting the summer olympic trials in 2008 and 2012 and the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2010 at its famous Hayward Field. Mountain trails, park trails and many scenic streets offer runners an opportunity to design their own workout routes.

Into other sports? City sports leagues include ultimate frisbee, soccer, softball, and roller derby! Or go to the many events sponsored by UO Athletics, or one of several locations for bowling or roller skating.

Feel like dancing? You can let loose at one of the dance clubs in town, or take dance classes in a variety of styles at Eugene's many dance studios. 

Family-friendly activities abound with the Science Factory, Amazon pool, neighborhood parks, Cinco de Mayo Celebration, Eugene Celebration, antique car cruises, summer free concerts in the parks, and much more.

Oregon is known for its microbrew artistry. Eugene has plenty of neighborhood pubs in which to quench your thirst and try these unique beers. In addition to microbrews, the Willamette Valley is known internationally for its fine wines. There are wine tastings around town, and summer is a great time to visit the many wineries nearby and throughout the state. Some of them offer not only wine tastings but live music and tasty food, too.

Music, art and cultural opportunities abound. The Hult Center for the Performing Arts and The Shedd Institute offer symphonies, operas, jazz, swing, choral, Broadway and off-Broadway shows. The Bach Festival annually offers all things Bach at music venues around town. There are several movie theatres in town. Local food, artisan craftsmanship, local musicians and people-watching are all part of the fun at the Saturday Market, the Asian Festival, the Oregon Country Fair, and the Willamette Valley Folk Festival. You can also find creative inspiration at one of the exhibitions at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art as well as Eugene's many art galleries.

Eugene has plenty of restaurants to fulfill your need for something different, offering a variety of cuisines - Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, French, Mediterranean, Greek, Korean, and the eclectic contemporary. The best way to find the restaurant for your palate is by asking around and reading the Eugene Weekly, or see Chow online.

More about Eugene on the City of Eugene Homepage
More about Springfield on the City of Springfield Homepage
More about activities in Springfield
For Events and Activities visit Eugene Weekly

This page updated September 9, 2010