Plan your adventures around these seasonal culinary highlights
Enjoy the harvest with us! Check our event calendar for food, wine and beer festivities.
In Willamette Valley's cornucopia of locally grown food, winter season remains robust with apples, beets, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, collards, garlic, kale, onions, potatoes, salad greens and shallots. While farmers' markets are smaller and fewer, you can still find plenty of fresh produce gracing restaurant menus. The star of the colder, damper season is one of the region's most sought after treat - truffles! This is also a great time to discover the local distilleries with their warming spirits.
Oregon Truffle Season (Early Winter to Early Spring)
Oregon's climatic parallel to France is also conducive to an abundant local truffle harvest. December to March, the Douglas fir woodlands and forest meadows are home to both black and white truffles. During this celebrated season, these remarkable truffles grace restaurant menus and culinary fetes.
Fodor's Travel includes Eugene, Oregon in their suggested 5 Trips for Truffle Lovers, alongside Italy and France. In winter, foodies from all over come here to taste the region's local delicacies. January's Oregon Truffle Festival features educational forums, truffle hunting, truffle dog demonstrations and chef's dinners.
While most truffle-hunters are discreet about prime foraging grounds, some local guide services offer mushroom hunting expeditions. When mushrooming, please respect private lands and only consume expert-verified mushrooms. Find and learn about Brown Truffles, Hedgehog Mushrooms, Morels, Spring Oregon White Truffles and Spring Kind Bolete (found only in the Cascade Mountains).
Mushrooming is also possible year round with Chanterelles and Chicken of the Woods in the summer, and King Bolete, Matsutake and Cauliflower Mushrooms in the fall. In October, the Mount Pisgah Arboretum celebrates with an annual Mushroom Festival.
Guide to Eugene's Tasty Mushroom Scene
One of the local food thrills of the Pacific Northwest is mushroom foraging. The damp, rich soil around Eugene from the Willamette Valley and up into…
Dungeness Crab Season (Winter to Summer)
Commercial crabbing season peaks in late winter, early spring with an abundance of Dungeness crab coming right off the boats. Florence and Eugene fish markets sell fresh caught local crab, restaurants feature crab specials, communities host charitable crab-cracks, and even wineries get in on the action offering special crab and wine pairing feasts.
You can haul up your own crab pots year round from Florence jetties, piers and along the Siuslaw River. However, the best months for recreational crabbing are in the fall when crabs are meatier. Make crabbing a part of your coastal exploration by going out in a crab boat.
Farmers and gardeners are breaking the sod and tending early crops of asparagus, herbs, peas, radishes, rhubarb and turnips. Released from their winter abodes, anglers rush to the local rivers and lakes for an abundance of great fishing.
Trout / Steelhead & Salmon Fishing (Spring to Fall)
The cold, pure waters originating from melting snow in the Cascades promotes ideal fishing in the region's many lakes and rivers. Anglers can catch steelhead/rainbow, brook, brown, cutthroat and lake trout, sturgeon and chinook salmon (Oregon's official state fish). Winter and summer steelhead populate sections of the Willamette River and the coastal Siuslaw River by season, providing sports fishers with fishing year round.
The McKenzie River is highly lucrative for anglers, averaging more than one trout per hour of fishing time. Local fishing guides share their favorite fishing holes and advice on the best bait.
With both the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers meandering through Eugene - Springfield, and Fern Ridge Reservoir just minutes from downtown; fishing is an easily accessible adventure. Imagine catching your own fish and cooking it over a campfire or in a cozy cabin kitchen.
Look for fresh, locally-caught fish on restaurant menus or fish markets. Spring ushers in the peak season for trout and summer highlights salmon. At the annual Spring Fly Fishing Festival in Eugene learn to tie flies, tryout fishing gear and trade fish stories.
Oregon's bounty overflows with summer u-pick fields of strawberries, blueberries, cherries and peaches. Farmer's markets are busting with beans, cucumbers, eggplant, figs, grapes, kohirabi, leeks, parsnips, peppers, squash and tomatoes. Farm stands pop up selling melons, berries, plums, pears, nectarines, apricots and corn. Fragrant herbs and flowers Local communities celebrate the blackberries, turning out jams, jellies, pies and other treats.
All across Oregon, lavender farms open their aromatic fields to visitors during July's Oregon Lavender Festival. Plein-air artists take to the fields capturing waves of purple on their canvases.
Lavender is subtly infused in culinary dishes, adding the allure of something extra-special to cookies, cakes, breads, fresh salads, stews and meats. Once again, the Willamette Valley's clime lends itself to agricultural crops most familiarly associated with France.
Stop by McKenzie River Lavender for lavender lemonade. Explore their Lavender Labyrinth and shop lavender products from soaps to wreaths. Fresh u-cut lavender and live lavender plants also available.
Blackberries (Mid to Late Summer)
Berries abound from the Willamette Valley to the Cascades, making outdoor adventures even sweeter. Oregon is the nation's top producer of blackberries, Boysenberries and Loganberries. Other bountiful berry crops include strawberries, blueberries, Marionberries and raspberries.
Fill your bucket along hiking trails, go on a guided foraging expedition or stop by a u-pick berry farm. Stock up on berry jams, jellies, syrups and other locally made products. In July, celebrate Oregon's signature fruit at the annual Blackberry Jam Festival in Lowell (just outside Eugene). Pay homage to the sprawling berry thickets with Eugene's Blackberry bramble, a 100-mile scenic bicycle ride finished off with blackberry pie and ice cream.
Wineries (Summer to Fall)
Wine tasting across the Willamette Valley is a marvelous way to explore the countryside dotted with small towns, historic covered bridges and cool, leafy creeks. Many of the wineries feature outdoor patios with spectacular views of the valley vineyards. Memorial Day weekend kicks off the wineries' summer season. Bring a picnic and toss out a blanket for an enchanting evening under the stars, listen to live entertainment and enjoy Oregon's famous Pinots.
In June organized Barrel Tours offer chartered buses with educational tours and prized winemaker introductions. The summer wine harvest culminates with the Territorial Thanksgiving Wine Trail.
Northwest Harvest (Late Summer to Early Winter)
Farmers' markets and farm stands overflow with ripe fruits, vegetables and flowers. This is a perfect time for preserving, canning and drying.
Then there are the hayrides, petting zoos and pumpkin patches! Local farms get festive serving hot apple cider and catering to holiday nostalgia as the weather cools. Take a horse-drawn wagon, a kiddie train, or a tractor ride around a Willamette Valley farm. Pick out your own pumpkin, haul in a box of apples or chop down your own Christmas tree.
Like summer, fall is a glorious time of plenty. As the fall leaves start to change colors and drop, farmers haul in their crops. Join in winemarkers' and chefs' dinners at local restaurants.
Apples & Cider
Trees are laden with apples and families go out apple picking at local farms. Excess apples (and pears) are gathered up for community cider pressings at Wildcraft Cider Works.
Hazelnuts (Late September through early November)
Hazelnuts (also known as filberts) are Oregon's official state nut. With excellent soil and climate conditions, the Willamette Valley has hazelnut trees that can produce nuts for a hundred years. Visit one of the most beautiful working orchards, Dorris Ranch, right on the banks of the Willamette River.
Cellar Season (Late Fall through Winter)
Oregon's wine is highlighted again as the vineyards rest for the season. With the winemakers indoors, this is the perfect time to savor favorite bottles in intimate, cozy tasting rooms. With fewer visitors, chances are the winemaker themselves might even be pouring your tastes.
Craft Beer (Year-round)
While beer is brewed and poured all year long, June is a great month for pub crawling in Eugene. That's because the Sasquatch Brew Fest, celebrating local brewing legend Glen Hay Falconer, kicks off a series beer-focused festivities. Eugene Beer Week follows right on Sasquatch's heels with special craft beer releases, homebrewing competitions, demonstrations and beer dinners.
Hops are picked in late summer, early fall.
And of course, October is a traditional month for beer festivities. In February, the KLCC Microbrew Festival mixes microbrews with music, selling thousands of records and CDs along with beer tasting with over 50 breweries featuring over 100 craft beers.
Mixing and mingling with the brewmasters of Eugene's phenomenal beer scene is a highlight. Follow the Eugene Ale Trail and tour the brewery tasting rooms from well known Ninkasi to nanobreweries like Claim 52.