In 2009, when I ran the Eugene Marathon, my husband and I made a weekend out of it. We stayed at the adorable Secret Garden Bed & Breakfast mere blocks for Hayward Field and then zipped out to the coast the following day to the Newport Aquarium. In hindsight, sitting in a car for two hours and then walking around all day was NOT the best way to start our marathon recovery. So I thought I’d do our readers a favor and get some information on what to do when you’re in town for the Eugene Marathon that doesn’t require a long car ride or a lot of walking.
Despite living in Eugene for two years while in grad school, my knowledge of “what to do there” ended with the Riverbank Trails, visits to Sweet Life Desserts, and Duck athletics. So I asked Molly Blancett of Travel Lane County for her list of “must-sees” in and around Eugene. Molly, who ran the 2013 Eugene Marathon (read her recap here), gets that some things are more fun than others when you’re saving your legs!
Eugene’s Saturday Market is THE Saturday Market. It was the first open-air crafts fair in the country. Every Saturday from April to November, more than 300 artists set up in the downtown Park Blocks. There is music, food, and dancing. The Lane County Farmers Market is right across the street, so you can see everything without walking more than 2.5 blocks.
The enclosed courtyard at the Fifth Street Public Market is one of my favorite spots in downtown Eugene. The fountain and flower pots are surrounded by boutiques, restaurants, a garden store, a spa, and the best salad bar you will ever find (Marché Provisions). There’s also a Title Nine here. (Editors note: Title Nine sells the best sports bras.)
Celebrate your marathon (or half) PR on the Eugene Ale Trail. The trail launches June 2. Visit seven of the nine Eugene area breweries to earn a 16 oz. amber growler. Passports will be available for download on the website starting June 2. You will also be able to pick one up at the participating breweries. If you are gluten free, many of the breweries also serve local wines and ciders.
Koosah and Sahalie Falls, two of the area’s best waterfalls, are less than a five minute walk from their parking lots. You can feel the mist and the smell of the firs from the observation decks. Get to Koosah and Sahalie by driving 72 miles east of Eugene on Highway 126. The parking lots are about a quarter mile away from each other. The viewing platforms are less than 100 feet from the trailheads.
Don’t wait until race day to visit Hayward Field. Go and cheer on future Olympians at the IAAF World Junior Championships, July 22 – 27. This is the first time ever that the meet, which features the world’s best athletes under 20 years-old, is being held on U.S. soil. Come early to watch future legends representing 175 countries compete for the top prize. Visit our World Juniors microsite for more ways to enjoy this historic meet.
Willamette Valley Wine Country
There are more than 17 wineries within a 25 minute drive of downtown Eugene. Even if you aren’t imbibing leading up to race day, the views, tours, and flavors are worth a visit. Have a true farm-to-table lunch or dinner at King Estate, which overlooks more than 1,000 acres of vineyards, orchards, and gardens. If you are flying Alaska Airlines, you can check a case of wine for free thanks to the Oregon Wines Fly Free program. Note: The program only applies to departures from airports in Eugene, Portland, Medford and Redmond.
The central Oregon Coast town of Florence is an hour drive west of Eugene along scenic Hwy 126. Tour America’s largest sea cave at the Sea Lion Caves, a quintessential Oregon Coast experience. Darlingtonia State Natural Site is an easy roadside stop that will absolutely floor you. The 18-acre botanical park is bogs full of rare carnivorous plants known as the cobra lily that only grow from Newport to the California border. The wayside park provides parking and an accessible boardwalk trail into the midst of the red and green pitcher-style stalks and blooms.
Darlingtonia is five miles north of Florence on the east side of Hwy 101.
The natural beauty and sheer size of raptors is right at your fingertips at the Cascades Raptor Center, a rehabilitation center for birds of prey. The viewing areas get you within feet of these phenomenal creatures and will give you a new appreciation for the roll that they play in our world. Resident birds include hawks, owls, osprey, eagles, and falcons. A short walk takes you by all of the exhibits, which will awe everyone from the kiddos to retirees. The Raptor Center is an easy 5.5 mile drive from downtown Eugene.
Another great resource for things to do is the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Calendar of Events. Look for a more detailed “Guide to the Eugene Marathon” coming up on the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Blog and on our Eugene Marathon microsite.
“There is no shortage of things to do and see when you are in Eugene for the Eugene Marathon,” says Molly, adding “That’s why I love living here! Whether you want to feel the mist of waterfalls, taste Oregon Pinot noir overlooking the Coast Range, or shop (tax-free, of course) for locally-made souvenirs, you are never more than an hour away from a uniquely Oregon experience that doesn’t require much walking.”