The best our cities and small cities in the US: Eugene, Oregon

Emma John persists her sequence about Americas coolest municipalities with a tour to Portlands somewhat scruffier little sister for play, music and an endearing anarchism

The Slug Queens sum up the spirit of Eugene. Every time the Oregon township emcees an alternative elegance pageant- coinciding with, but independent of, the annual Eugene Celebration- in which outrageously costumed players vie for the coveted deed. The winners are differentiated out by a mix of anarchic originality, wry humor and passionate commitment to their context: the same calibers that stirs this residence so unique.

Eugene, Oregon delineate .

Two hours south of Portland, Eugene isn’t as urbane as that famously hipster city. This is a town of ballparks, trees and waterways, a hiking mecca that melds rapidly into the nearby mountains. It also feels somewhat scruffy: a former hotbed of hippies and revolutionaries whose revolutionary border lives on in its environmental agenda. The single most important climate change case in the US law courtsoriginates here, and the University of Oregon lure social activists from across the country.

A short saunter from campus is a revitalised downtown, with a 2,500 -seat performing arts venue- the Hult Center– a modern theatre and three independent cinemas.” A few years ago , not many people came and hung out downtown ,” says Gino Franco, make manager at the Oregon Contemporary Theatre, which expanded into its current opening in 2012.” But thanks to the growing prowess stage, and some new restaurants, it’s become a lot more friendly .”

Fall for Eugene … a hertz route by the Willamette river. Photograph: Alamy

A 10 -minute walk away, in the gentrifying Whiteaker neighbourhood- referred to as the Whit- Eugene’s hippie culture can still will find information, and Oregon’s legalisation of recreational drug use may help keep that feeling alive. There is also visible social issues to be addressed, homelessness in particular. But Franco says:” There are a lot of enormous services here for people who are going through life changes, and I’m so glad I live in their home communities that’s open to this and willing to embrace people who are struggling .”


Hult Center for the Performing Arts

The Hult Center for the Performing Arts

There’s something really democratic about the late-7 0s designing of Eugene’s publicly funded artworks core. Under its giant triangular ceiling, an altogether glass frontage uncovers the inside of the building, so it’s not just a vibrant batch come night, it’s a place that begs you to walk into it. The Hult’s programming is evenly accessible- it houses Eugene’s excellent resident ballet and opu companionships but also hosts major national touring shows, straddling from Book of Mormon and Kinky Boots, to Loudon Wainwright III and Tori Amos concerts. Three smaller cavities augmented the massive auditorium with slapstick, cabaret and more( a number of NPR favourites inspected in 2017 including Garrison Keillor, Ari Shapiro and S-Town’s Brian Reed) and the Hult is also responsible for the Cuthbert Amphitheatre, the 5,000 -seat outdoor stage in Alton Baker park that holds gigs in the summer months.
* 1 Eugene Center( 7th& Willamette ),


Despite the mute climate- there’s a reasonablenes their athletics units are “ve called the” Ducks- Eugenians will take any opportunity to get outdoors: as soon as the downpour stops, the cities drains and people honcho to the hills to hike, clique or kayak. And they’re not all expending gallon-guzzling SUVs: the buses in Eugene have motorcycle racks and pass all the way to the Cascade Mountains, with the mountain-biking shelter of Oakridge and at the McCredie Hot Springs.

Smoke and steam … a pool at McCredie Hot Springs. Image: Alamy

” You can travel your bike throughout the whole city in 20 minutes and get out of it in as numerous ,” says Al Hongo, who hires out motorcycles and supplements at Bicycle Way of Life( from $24 for 24 hours ).” We’ve got a really good network of cycle roads to help you navigate the roads, and you can ride up Skinner Butte for a look over the city .” For a great pleasure trip, the Ruth Bascom path along the river furnishes armistice, quiet and an ingenious scale simulate of the solar system.

Track and field

Runners will find plenty of friends here in Tracktown USA. The township has been an epicentre for sportings since the 1970 s, when University of Oregon coach Bill Bowerman and one of his student contestants, Phil Knight, developed a bit shoe fellowship announced Nike. There’s a shrine to Bowerman’s greatest protege, Olympian Steve Prefontaine, on the hill where he died after crashing his vehicle at the age of 24. That was in 1975, but parties still bedeck it with medals and running bibs.

Right lines … US Olympic Trials at Hayward Field last year. Photograph: Alamy

Eugene’s stadium, Hayward Field, regularly hosts the US Olympic trials and a major redevelopment is under way ahead of the 2021 World Championships. It’s still open most daylights, though, to watch the student jocks qualify- or have a get yourself. Bowerman’s philosophy was that if you have a body, you’re an athlete and a Sunday morning fitness programme helps train neighbourhoods for anything from a 5km recreation run to the Eugene marathon. On the first Saturday of each month, the university also offers a free ” run with researcher “, where graduate students and professors produce a tour of campus and tell you about their work.


Wayward Lamb

Photograph: Colin Graham

Eugene didn’t have a gay bar until Colin Graham opened the Wayward Lamb two years ago, and there are plenty who’ll tell you it’s now their favourite downtown hangout full stop. It dishes sweetened and savoury pretzels to go with boozings, and the dance flooring out back is favourite with students and townies alike. Most important, however, is its greeting atmosphere, with themed music darkness, trivia quizs and a popular all-ages drag see. The lip-sync battle darkness are famous- once a few months there’s a $100 cash prize that describes a big crowd. No ponder the place is already expanding.
* 150 West Broadway,

Old Nick’s Pub

The outside of Old Nick’s is unprepossessing and the inside merely a little better. But this is a genuinely amiable dive bar thanks to its owner, Jevon Peck, who knows how to acquire you feel instantly at home. He’s also a respectable chef, says Michelle Loew, who works at Eugene’s good literary hangout, the Smith Family Bookstore, with diverges downtown and on campus.” He makes a murderer Tempeh Reuben( sandwich ),” says Loew,” and you don’t want to miss his Chinese ribs nighttime on Tuesday .” There’s music most nighttimes, although it’s mostly punk and heavy metal, and for the genuinely strange there’s a weekly” Weirdo’s Open Mic”, where literally anything proceeds, from experimental poetry and execution skill to sword swallowing.
* 211 Washington St,

The Bier Stein


” Eugene has this mystical ability to straddle the line between quiet country town and big city ,” says Al Hongo.” So we have some really quaint hole-in-the-wall tables, and then we have something like Bier Stein, with an international beer menu .” Bottle fridges way one entire wall of the huge brew hall, offering aircraft beers from across the planet, while monstrous screens above the bar tell you what’s on tap with the up-to-the-minute precision of a flight deviation timber. Eugene’s own tipples are well-represented- from Ninkasi’s flagship IPAs to the many flavours of Wildcraft Cider, made from local fruit surplus. And if there’s a long queue, you can take a table and tell through a mobile app.
* Willamette St,



Photograph: Rose Dement

There are various Japanese eateries in Eugene- the locals introduced it down to the student population- but there’s only one that’s a must-book.” It’s by appointment merely ,” counsels Loew.” You can’t exactly pop in and expect to get dished .” The minuscule chamber, which accommodates 16, provides killer sushi( try the blood-red snapper with jalapeno and lily-white onion vinaigrette ); the chef’s select starts at $20 a heading. The best set is at the bar, where you can listen to gregarious owned Taro spill outrageous secrets from the open kitchen.” I don’t think Eugene’s a place for’ cool’ beings ,” he says.” It’s a place for people who really care about community .” For another fun dining know he advocates Izakaya Meiji, which pairs Japanese small-scale plates with whiskey.
* 541 Blair Blvd, on Facebook

Falling Sky Pizzeria

Here for the beer … The Falling Sky pour house, with pizzeria next door

Falling Sky is a brewery whose notions elongate well beyond brew. Its spout house incorporates a Jewish deli where everything, from the sweetened potato latkes and matzoh projectile soup to the house-cured pastrami, is homemade.( The pastrami’s also available for motorcycle give to your home until 10 pm every day .) The pizzeria suffices a full menu of pizzas whole and by the ($ 4) slice on a prime campus locating, in the Erb Memorial Union building. The lately renewed uniting constructing is a beautifully realised public room where students drive, dine and hang out, and you’re welcome to join them. You might also recognise the canteen from John Belushi’s food fight in the film Animal House.
* 1395 University St,

Party Downtown

Photograph: Trask Bedortha/

Try to ignore the epithet, which sounds like a stripper forbid. Party Downtown is actually one of the most sophisticated and sustained eateries in the town. On the wall above the kitchen is a blackboard that lists the three dozen local farmers and suppliers the owners informant their organic ingredients from, forming yummy foods like charred brie and stuffed squash skins and the best brussels sprouts you have ever savor( all around$ 8). It’s in the same structure as Red Wagon Creamery, whose grown-up ice-cream smells include pickled plum and mascarpone, and a batch chocolate microchip that isn’t green and actually feelings of mint.
* 64 West 8th Alley,


Hi-Fi Music Hall


The eclectic pick can be accessed at the House of Records accumulation shows Eugene has a reasonably broad-minded approaching to music.” It’s a very supportive panorama ,” says Matt McCallum, a bass player( and former naval) who works there.” It’s often other musicians shaping up the crowd .” One of his favourite venues is Hi-Fi, which opened downtown a couple of years ago and now competes with the well established McDonald Theater for “the worlds biggest” routines.” They have a nice set-up- a central floor and a sofa and even an outdoor field, and I’ve been there when they’ve had three phenomena leading at once, which is various kinds of wild .” The Chaiyo food truck outside sells the best Thai in township for$ 8- but be alerted, the breezies are much in evidence. Maybe ask for a mild.
* 44 E 7th Avenue,

Sam Bond’s Garage


McCallum says the local circle incident- groups such as Pancho+ the Factory, Sacred Trees, Critical Shakes- tend towards psych stone. But there’s also lots of tribe substance develop, more .” Sam Bond’s has been the cultural hub of the Whit district since 1995: an old-fashioned garage converted in the mid-1 990 s to a modest saloon, offering a broad range of Americana ordinances to watch while sipping one of its own microbrews. It hosts an open bluegrass jam every Thursday, and there’s even a bingo night on Mondays. Likewise popular is the John G Shedd Institute, a non-profit venue that programmes all manner of springs music including jazz, classical, acoustic and blues.
* 407 Blair Blvd,

Mac’s Restaurant and Nightclub

The Veterans Memorial Association building- The Vets Club- is one of those situates that maintains Eugene’s small-town vibe. Musician Rich Glauber says:” Thirty five years ago we used to come here and there’d be a polka party, and the status of women would be wearing chiffon attires. Now on any caused night there’ll be a fluctuating class in one room, ecstatic dance in another, and, of course, the blues nighttime downstairs .” Mac’s has live music five nights a week and has established a well-respected off-colors scene during the past 15 years-” we have parties attempt us out when they come through town ,” says owned Patrick McCallum. Even its Tuesday night jams pump a big crowd.” Usually you’ll be hunting for a counter ,” he warns.
* 1626 Willamette St,

Who to follow is a blog highlighting and promoting category the actions of Eugene and the smothering Lane County antiaestheticoffers intriguing and invigorating portraits from Eugene Contemporary Art, a collective supporting Eugene artists

The trip-up was provided by Eugene Cascades& Coast with adaptation at the Excelsior Inn ( doublings from $140 ). More knowledge at and

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