Post Summary: Day Trips From Eugene Oregon (Coast, Mountains, + Everything In Between)
Have you ever visited a city and immediately thought “Wow, I could live here!”? That’s exactly what happened when we first set foot here, in this area between the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers.
Just south of Portland, the city of Eugene has become an adventurous destination for people from all over the Northwest for its flawless blending of the outdoors and modern comforts. It’s the perfect Northwest escape!
However, if you limit your visit to Eugene to JUST be inside the city’s borders, you’re doing yourself a disservice! There are endless places to explore just a quick drive from town.
From the sand dunes on the Oregon Coast to biking trails in the Cascades, there is a ton of adventure to be had in this area.
In this post, we’re sharing with you the best day trips from Eugene, Oregon and how you can make the most of this gorgeous Pacific Northwest region!
Where is Eugene, Oregon?
Eugene is a city in Oregon just a few hours inland from the Oregon Coast. It’s about a 2-hour drive south of Portland (110 miles) and an hour and a half’s drive east from the Oregon Coast.
Eugene, Oregon sits in the middle of the junction of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, which means there is an abundance of outdoor activities to do in the area!
You probably are familiar with Eugene, Oregon because of the University of Oregon, track and field events, and some incredible breweries!
There is still much more to discover about Eugene though, and you can browse local events, maps, guide, and more at the Eugene Cascades and Coast Official Website.
10 Incredible Day Trips From Eugene, Oregon To Refresh Your Mind And Body
Ready to discover new places in the area? We’re highlighting 10-day trips from Eugene, Oregon to inspire you to go beyond the city borders. But we’re only highlighting a few in this post!
This post was sponsored by Travel Lane County / Eugene Cascades and Coast, and you can find more information about the area at their website and social media accounts at @eugenecascadescoast.
1. Exploring The Cape Perpetua Area
The Cape Perpetua Area is full of coastal hikes, forested escapes, and lots of spots to sit back and enjoy the view.
One of these relaxing views can be experienced right at the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center – there’s a deck with huge windows and an incredible view of the cove, tide pools, and crashing waves.
Here are some other great places to explore around the Cape Perpetua Area:
Sea Lion Caves
The Sea Lion Caves is 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon and is a privately-owned wildlife preserve. Here, you are almost guaranteed to see lazy sea lions, sea birds, and maybe, just maybe, the occasional whale.
If you’re curious to learn more about sea lions and the other wildlife in the area, the Sea Lion Caves website has a ton of useful information and fun facts to read. They even have a live webcam to watch inside the cave!
Admission for visiting the Sea Lion Caves are $14.00 per adult, $8.00 per child (ages 5-12), $13.00 for seniors, and FREE for children 4 and under. Parking is free!
Chances are, you’ve stopped to take a picture of this iconic Oregon Coast road trip here, and we can’t blame you. That view of the lighthouse on the cliff is just too good to pass up!
Sitting 200 feet above the crashing waves below, you can see this bright beacon from far away. But did you know you can also hike to the lighthouse itself, and also see the historic Lighthouse Keeper’s home?
The Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint boasts numerous trails, ocean views, and access to the base of the lighthouse itself.
You can also hike above the lighthouse and get nearly eye level with the top! Make sure to read the informational placards about how they get the beacon to shine so bright.
From here you can also get a stunning vista view of the ocean and Cape Creek Bridge. Don’t forget to bring your camera on this hike!
Make It A Weekend! Did you know that you can stay the night at the Heceta Head Innkeepers Home?
Plan the ultimate PNW getaway with your loved one and enjoy midnight walks to the lighthouse, waking up to gorgeous ocean views, and indulging in their famous 7-course breakfast!
Oh, and don’t forget to read the guest-contribution ghost stories journal!
Some of the best coastal hikes and expeditions can be found just off the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center. The scenic area offers 26-miles of trails ranging from seaside walks to tree-lined paths in the hills nearby.
Here are some short hike ideas in the Cape Perpetua Area:
- Devil’s Churn: 1.6-mile loop with opportunities to see tide pools and get up close to violently churning water inside a cove.
- Thor’s Well: 0.6-miles of beachside trail featuring an underground spout, wildflowers, and craggy cliffs.
- Cape Perpetua Lookout: From the Visitors Center you can hike the steep 6.5-mile out and back trail to view the ocean from the top of the nearby hill…OR you can opt to drive to the parking lot at the top. Both are great options!
No sunshine? No problem. The Oregon Coast looks amazing with some coastal fog, and you can rock that rain jacket and rain boots while exploring those tide pools!
Tide Pool Tip: When exploring, try walking on bare rocks. That way, you aren’t disturbing the delicate creatures that live in the tides!
2. Get Out On The Sand Dunes In Florence, Oregon
Oregon’s Central Coast is known for its giant sand dunes and endless opportunities for some beachside adventures. It’s also conveniently only 90 miles away from downtown Eugene, Oregon!
From the Oregon Sand Dunes Recreational Area to smaller accessible ones near Florence, Oregon – there’s a dune for everyone! Some areas stretch 40 miles north to south, and up to 2.5 miles inland from the ocean.
There are several dune buggy rental places along the beach, as well as places to go sandboarding, or you can simply take one of the many marked trails and explore on foot.
No matter how you choose to explore this part of the Oregon Coast, make sure to pop into the quaint town of Florence for a bite to eat.
3. Wine Tasting In The South Willamette Valley
Did you know that the Willamette Valley is one of the most influential wine growing regions in Oregon, and one of the most talked-about in the Pacific Northwest?
It’s Oregon’s largest AVA (American Viticultural Area – aka designated wine-growing region) and is most well known for growing its iconic Pinot Noir.
With over 200 wineries in the area and nearly 30 within a quick drive around Eugene, there’s a lot of opportunities to try them all.
Eugene has also created the South Willamette Wine Trail (more information in section #5!) where you can discover all of them and win fun prizes.
Grab your friends and start planning some afternoons enjoying Eugene, Oregon’s wine country and urban tasting rooms! (Don’t forget the charcuterie boards!)
Our Current Favorites:
Are you visiting during springtime? Try driving an hour and a half north of Eugene, Oregon to go visit the Woodburn Tulip Festival! It’s a perfect stop on the way to exploring vineyards in the area.
These seasonal dates vary year by year, but you can expect to see huge flowering fields of tulips anywhere between early March and late April.
4. Take A Downtown Eugene Tour
Don’t want to leave the city? Eugene has a lot of activities, food, art, and culture right downtown. You don’t have to leave the city to experience the Pacific Northwest!
Here are some of our favorite things to do downtown in Eugene, Oregon:
- Explore the 20X21 Mural Project: By 2021, the City of Eugene Cultural Services’ Public Art Program wants to commission 20 or more unique outdoor murals around the city. At the time of this post, there are 18 finished murals and likely to be much more than their goal of 20 murals by 2021! Click here for an online Mural Map for a self-guided walking tour of downtown Eugene.
- Create your own breakfast combination at Off The Waffle.
- Grab food for an outdoor picnic at Provisions Market.
- Take a tour of the University of Oregon.
- Step outside and take a hike at Spencer Butte or a walk along the Ridgeline Trail System.
Ready to stay overnight? Give it the real college try and stay at the Graduate. This impeccably college-themed hotel has the University of Oregon seeping through its walls!
From the Nike shoe-lined lobby to the floor-to-ceiling wall of sports icons, this place is all about team spirit (and you, of course!).
5. Take a Culinary Adventure With Eugene’s Many Trails
Love when you can combine food and exploration? You’ve come to the right place because Eugene, Oregon has some of the best tasting trails in the Pacific Northwest!
These trails showcase some of the area’s best artisan breweries, wineries, and distilleries in a fun discovery guide. Grab your friends and plan some fun outings for the season!
By the way…* you must be over 21 to participate!*
Here are some brief descriptions of Eugene’s tasting trails:
Eugene Ale Trail
Bring your online or paper passport to check off your visits, and earn prizes when you collect them all!
South Willamette Wine Trail
From urban tasting rooms to rolling wine country hills, the South Willamette Wine Trail with bring you to the Eugene Area’s best wineries.
Many of these wineries and vineyards have their own unique approach to wine, and you will have an amazing time learning about the area, varietals, and tastes unique to the area around Eugene, Oregon.
Eugene Distillery Trail
Ready to taste Eugene, Oregon’s artisanal spirits? Mix it up with the Eugene Distillery Trail!
We love being able to visit places like this and ask lots of questions. While the tasting part is great, half the fun is learning about different spirits and creating your own unique and delicious combinations!
You’re bound to leave these Eugene Distilleries a cocktail master!
6. Take A Driving (Or Biking) Tour of Lane County’s Covered Bridges
With 20 covered bridges in the area (and 50 in Oregon state!), Lane County is one of the most concentrated areas for covered bridges in the Western United States.
You can take a tour of six of the covered bridges near Cottage Grove, Oregon on their cleverly marketed “Covered Bridge Scenic BIKEway” that boasts 6 miles of paved trail for cyclists.
There are also plenty of maps online and driving itinerary examples to discover them all. For more information about Oregon’s covered bridges, click here to learn fun facts, history, and more driving and biking routes.
Bonus Tip – Try a driving tour of Lane County’s covered bridges in the fall season to experience the best of the region’s autumn colors!
7. Escape To Westfir For Some Quiet Reflection
Deep in the heart of the Willamette National Forest sits the quiet town of Westfir. It is the townsite for Oregon’s longest covered bridge (Office Bridge) and also acts as a basecamp for many of the forest’s biking trails.
This tiny city of around 250 residents sits along a portion of the North Fork River and was originally a mill town! If you’re looking for a true forest escape, this is one of the most relaxing day trips from Eugene, Oregon you can have!
If you want to stay longer than a day, we definitely recommend staying at the Westfir Lodge. Built in 1925, this historic building used to be the office for the Wesfir Lumber Company but has now been converted into a beautiful historic bed and breakfast.
The Westfir Lodge is literally within walking distance of many scenic trails, and Office Bridge is even closer.
They offer Forest Bathing tours that get you in touch with nature, they provide a yoga studio for guest use and even have a Mountain Market for a quick bite to eat after an afternoon on the trails. Come see it for yourself!
8. Discover Endless Adventure in Oakridge, Oregon (Easiest Day Trips From Eugene, Oregon!)
Predominantly known for its hundreds of miles of mountain biking trails, Oakridge, Oregon is a rider’s paradise!
Located a convenient 45-miles from downtown Eugene, Oakridge is one of the easiest day trips from Eugene, Oregon to get away in the mountains. It’s perfect for everyone from a hardcore biker to easygoing families!
Not a biker? There’s still tons for you to experience out in Oakridge! Here are some activities we recommend in the area:
Salt Creek Falls
Salt Creek Falls is an easy stop on any road trip – you can see the second highest falls in Oregon right from the observation platform above. (It’s a 286-foot single-drop waterfall!)
You can also opt to hike down closer to the base and feel the mist on your face for a closer-up experience. Just be cautious because part of the trail was washed away some time ago – the trail has yet to be repaired!
Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond Creek Falls is an easy extension off of Salt Creek Falls.
A simple 3.2-mile out and back hike from the Salt Creek Falls parking lot will take you to another beautiful and wide falls tucked in the forest. Here you can see the entire falls from a viewing point, and also hike a side trail to get right to the base.
Spend some time walking through this forest filled with rhododendrons, hemlocks, and mossy trees!
Want to Extend Your Trip?
Don’t want to leave just yet? Consider camping near Eugene, Oregon! Camping is a great way to extend your time out in nature and save a little money on the way. Consider Black Canyon Campground and North Waldo, which are both near Oakridge.
Additionally, you can spend a few more nights near Oakridge, Oregon and make a day trip out to Crater Lake National Park! From Oakridge, take the easy 1.5 to 2-hour drive to explore Oregon’s ancient lake. One of the Seven Wonders of Oregon, this park is iconic for this collapsed volcano-turned alpine lake in the middle of the Cascade Mountains. It’s also the deepest lake in America!
There are so many things to do at Crater Lake, including taking a Wizard Island boat tour, seeing the amazing views from Rim drive, and watching sunset from Watchman Overlook.
Dress warmly though – Crater Lake tends to stay cold year-round and the Visitors Center sits at 6,500 above sea level.
9. Stop For Adventure in the Mckenzie River Corridor
Seeking an adrenaline rush? Highway 126 is the perfect route for waterfall hunters, explorers, and brave pathfinders.
There are many stops to take along this road, and we’re highlighting some of our favorite stops below for one of the most fun day trips from Eugene, Oregon!
Sahalie and Koosah Falls
Sahalie Falls – 73-foot segmented plunge falls / Koosah Falls – 74-foot vertical block falls
These falls are easy to reach and an easy hike for the whole family! You can see both waterfalls on the same trailhead, just a mile apart from each other.
The walking trail is beside the McKenzie River and there are plenty of benches to stop, take a break, and enjoy the views.
Proxy Falls is a 226-foot tall waterfall just off of Highway 242. This easy 1.50-mile loop trail brings you to a dramatic waterfall in the forest, surrounded by mossy rocks and fallen trees.
Note: It is recommended to come in the summertime because this area is commonly closed due to snow between November and June.
Springfield is the second largest town in the area (Eugene being the first), but it certainly doesn’t play the role of the little brother.
This eclectic city stands on its own with a Historic Main Street, brewhouses, and creative spaces like theaters and murals around town. It’s the perfect place for a day trip from Eugene because it’s basically right next door!
It’s also known to be the inspired hometown of the hit TV show “The Simpsons.” Matt Groening, the show’s creator, recently revealed this fact, but deliberately left it a secret for a long time to let other Springfield residents (there are sixteen different cities around the US named Springfield!) believe it was based on their own town!
11. Witness a Magical Sunset In Coos Bay, Oregon
Just a quick 2-hour drive from Eugene, Oregon will bring you to one of the most beautiful stretches of the Oregon Coast – in Coos Bay, Oregon!
For some of the best sunsets and rock formations along the beach, we highly suggest visiting ace Rock State Scenic Viewpoint.
Here, you can discover things like the Bay Area’s “Haystack Rock”, Wizard’s Hat, Face Rock, and so much more!
Read More: 10 Amazing Things To Do In Coos Bay, Oregon
Are These All The Day Trips From Eugene Oregon?
While we believe these are some of the highlights, they are certainly not the only options out there for amazing day trips from Eugene, Oregon!
As we explore more of the area, we’ll be updating this post with more activities, trails, and locations to discover. Thanks for tuning in!
Did we miss any of your favorite day trips from Eugene, Oregon? We’d love to hear about other amazing places we should explore in Lane County – share them with us on Instagram at @themandagies!
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