Plan a family vacation on a budget by enjoying these free things to do in Eugene and across the region. Enhance your family's travel plans with free admission to museums and events, outdoor recreation, and tips on activities that are low cost attractions.

  • Explore TrackTown USA and learn about Eugene's running heritage. Start with Hayward Hall, a collection of dioramas, art and interactive exhibits. Admission is free, but hours are limited.
TrackTown for Kids Jul 16

TrackTown for Kids

At the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field, my family was taking a break at the fan festival when I suddenly realized we were sitting…

  • Fly a kite on the beach. Oregon's beaches are publically-owned, with wide open spaces for frolicking. Bring a sand bucket, a kite and, depending on the weather — rain gear or a picnic!
  • Romp at the playgrounds. Popular parks include Skinner Butte RiverPlay with its replica buildings and multi-faceted climbing structures, Amazon Park recently redone with family swings, and Washington Park with seasonal spray play. In Springfield, Willamalane has large climbing structures and picnic facilities. And another fun park is Rolling Rock Park in Lowell which has railway equipment for playing on.  
  • Visit historic covered bridges. There are twenty of these picturesque bridges across the county, with multiple bridges in Cottage Grove and many near Lowell. Some you can still drive thru, others are pedestrian-only and great covered spaces for a picnic.
Guide to Cottage Grove's Covered Bridges Aug 04
Guides & Lists

Guide to Cottage Grove's Covered Bridges

Who can resist the allure of historic covered bridges? Walk inside the cool, creaky chambers, damp from the water below, and peer through sunlit slats…

  • Stroll interpretative gardens and preserves. Hendricks Park, Mount Pisgah, Owen Rose Garden, and the Darlingtonia State Natural Site on the Oregon Coast, showcase native, cultivated or rare plants with signage.
  • Attend Free Shakespeare in the Park. Every August gather on Saturday and Sunday evenings to enjoy free Shakespeare productions at Amazon Park. This relaxed outdoor setting is perfect for families, picnics and introductions to Shakespeare.
  • Target practice at Junction City Ponds & Archery Park. This free facility offers a covered picnic and archery gallery for practice. Bring your own equipment.
  • Introduce your children to the symphony. Every summer the Eugene Symphony hosts two free concerts that are family-friendly. One at Bohemia Park in Cottage Grove and one at Eugene's Cuthbert Amphitheater (which does require securing a ticket in advance due to limited capacity). Bring low backed chairs and a picnic!
  • Wildlife spotting at Delta Ponds. There are many waysides and natural areas where you can immerse yourself in nature across the region. Delta Ponds, however, is a favorite because it is easily accessible from the metro area and features maintained flat paths ringing a vibrant wetlands area. 
  • Cycle the Row River Trail. Bicycles needed for this rolling ramble, but the gentle trail is a delightful family ride around the reservoir, with lake views, shady woods and rolling meadows.
  • Put the kids on carousel ponies. At Roaring Rapids Pizza Company, the kids-only carousel is free to ride but you'll want to stay for lunch or dinner and enjoy views of the Willamette River.
  • Experience the Saturday Market with all its color and fun. Swing by the Saturday Market, an artisan craft fair with live music and entertainment; great people watching; and beautiful, intriguing displays. In fact, a visit to any of the region's local farmers markets is always a great family outing.
  • Hike to a waterfall. From the many little waterfalls at Sweet Creek to the mighty roaring falls of Salt Creek or Sahalie, waterfall hikes are a rewarding family venture.
  • Go on a "free day" to a museum. The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural & Cultural History typically waive admission on the first Friday of the month. Or, if you are a Eugene resident, check out a cultural pass from the Eugene Public Library for specific museums. 
  • Hike to a lighthouse. Visit the hundred-plus year old lighthouse on the cliffs over the ocean. From a sandy beach below, hike along a well maintained gravel path to the base of the tower. Take in dramatic ocean views.
  • Cast out a line. Visit one of the regional fish hatcheries to learn about the life cycle of fish, river stocking and more. The Willamette Fish Hatchery is family-friendly with a mini-golf green, interpretative signage and picnic area. Also check the calendar for "free family fishing" days, when fishing permits are waived and Oregon Department of Fishing and Wildlife designate select, popular fishing sites for fishing demonstrations and child-focused encouragement.
  • Partake in a free art walk. Many downtowns and Main Streets host monthly art walks when galleries unveil new exhibits, hold artist receptions and stay open later.
  • Go sledding or snowshoeing at a SnoPark. Seasonally, specific mountain parks are maintained for snow romping with restrooms and parking.
  • Watch a free movie in the park. Over the summer the City of Eugene, Willamalane in Springfield and other community centers often host family-friendly movies in outdoor park settings. Check the current schedule for upcoming screenings and locations.
  • Listen to stories. Best for young children, visit the local libraries for free story time. A variety of other activities are offered for free for older children and teens, ranging from crafts to games. 
  • Play board games. Local game stores, granges or eateries host boardgame nights where families can try out different games, or bring their own to share with the gathering community.

Some activities may require parking passes, permits or special gear/equipment. Often you may be expected to be a patron and purchase food or drink. While there may be no cover charge to enjoy the ambiance, purchases of wares or concessions on-site though discretionary are courteous. 

"Sponge Bob" performance with Pegasus Playhouse
: Pegasus Playhouse

Family friendly activities include animal viewing, outdoor recreation, escape rooms, activity centers, shows, festivals, markets and more.