The Emerald Recommends: Summer in Eugene with and without a car
Eugene in the summertime: Students vacate campus, air conditioning is sacred and freedom reins for those remaining with few to no classes. Work and internships aside, the summer offers an invaluable opportunity to explore the local outdoors, try new things and have fun with friends.
The one thing that changes the experience, though, is having a car. Those four wheels close the gap between stuffy rooms and distant waterfalls or hot springs, and other cities for concerts and sightseeing. The Emerald has created recommendations for summer plans starting in Eugene for students with and without a car.
Go to the beach/river (car and non-car friendly)
Students can head to the beach, to picnic, fly a kite, dip their toes in the frigid water, etc. From Eugene, a one way bus ticket costs $25 – $30, so this feels like a road trip. For those who do make it out to the coast, near-by Florence has a couple novel adventures to offer. Aside from everything that Oregon’s beaches provide, summer adventurers can also head to the sand dunes for a wild time.
For more than selfies with sand, bored students can go sandboarding (like snowboarding but on a huge sand slope) or ATVing on the dunes, which both look absolutely ridiculous. From the videos, the latter looks like a bunch of spinning out in the sand, going fast right next to the ocean and dropping down sand dunes.
For those without a car or who don’t want to take a bus there and back (I don’t blame you), going down to the Willamette River is a great alternative. The water is just as cold, but not as salty, and there’s even sand on the banks. Staying cool in the shade by the river provides great relief from the summer heat.
For a relaxed version of going to the river, bring a hammock, a bluetooth speaker, a book, some friends, a bathing suit and sunscreen. A lot of students float down the river in donut and pizza shaped floaties, but if someone isn’t there to pick you up at the end of the float, it might be a long walk home.
The Oregon Country Fair (car and non-car friendly)
The Oregon Country Fair in Veneta is only 15 miles outside of Eugene, and the bus that students can ride for free makes a stop there every day. From July 13 – 15, the fair is a festival of concerts, art shows, world foods, culture and a circus all wrapped into one.
LTD has a free bus service either from Eugene Station or Valley River Center to the fair during the event. The last bus returns just after 8 p.m., so don’t be too late!
The fair is on 400+ acres of shaded land where people on stilts, others wearing body paint and many more in tie dye all enjoy the great weather and bountiful activities.
Explore Oregon (car)
The Emerald has already compiled a list (and video series) of the diverse ecosystems in Oregon, from the high desert, to the coast, to the mountain ranges and forests. This one is mostly only car-friendly because of how vast Oregon is.
The great thing about this state is its natural beauty. There are seven hot springs within a couple hours of Eugene that students can relax in this summer. Several state parks up and down the I-5 corridor, including Silver Falls and Multnomah Falls, offer breathtaking views, and slightly less trafficked gems like blue pool and Opal Creek can serve as an escape from the humdrum of day-to-day Eugene.
Oregon even has “seven natural wonders,” that could make a great summer bucket list for adventure-seeking students on break.
For non-car locals, exploring the outdoors is still a possibility and should not be underestimated. Eugene has much more to offer in the genre of hiking and camping than just going over to Spencer’s Butte, although sunrise and sunset hikes to the butte are nothing to scoff at.
Mt. Pisgah and its arboretum offer an alternative to Spencer’s. A similar uphill climb to a great view, there are even more trails to explore than just summiting, and a close river to cool off in after the hike. For those interested, it’s about eight miles by bike from campus, or the Lowell/LCC bus stops within four miles, for a scenic ride with less traffic to the arboretum.
Go to Portland (car and non-car friendly)
And of course, it’s easy to get up and leave for Portland throughout the Summer. Multiple different bus companies, trains and planes can take students to Portland at prices ranging from pretty cheap to not-so cheap in the order listed. Driving is an option, but it might be better to not have to deal with parking if the plan is to stay in the city.
Once there, the choices are vast. One reason to go is to experience the diverse eateries in this order: coffee, breakfast, coffee and snack, lunch, mid-day coffee, dinner, dessert and coffee. New restaurants and food joints are always popping up around town alongside well-reviewed Portland gems like Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Pok Pok, Salt and Straw, and Pip’s Original Doughnuts and Chai.
In pursuit of music, Asap Ferg, Blind Pilot, Billy Idol and Beach House are all performing in Portland over the summer. But live bands in bars and smaller venues can be just as fun for a warm summer night in the city.
The Timbers, Portland’s professional soccer team, are playing all summer as well and catching a live game can be fun for soccer fans riled up after the World Cup.
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