Need an excuse to ride the train to Eugene?
Amtrak Cascades runs from Vancouver, B.C. to the Eugene Depot with stops at many northwest cities including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Salem and Albany. Plan a quick trip with at least one overnight. Check the current time schedule, as train times are subject to change — and be careful to note the bus service versus the train if riding the rails is the primary goal.
This is a fun family trip (especially when the little ones are going through a train phase), easy for seniors preferring not to drive, and fun for adventurers of all ages looking to explore new areas.
Based on a 1:50 p.m. arrival from Portland
After the scenic joyride from the north and through the valley, disembark at the Eugene Depot. Centrally located in downtown Eugene, the railroad station is between the Whiteaker Neighborhood and the Market District. Using ride share or taxi service, or going by the public bus, you can easily get to the UO campus, Springfield or other Eugene neighborhoods. But for this suggested itinerary, we are sticking to downtown Eugene and the Market District, accessible by walking, cycling or wheelchair.
Rent a bicycle from Bicycle Way of Life, just four blocks southwest of the depot, or download the PeaceHealth Rides app and use one of the big blue bike share bicycles. Electric bicycles can be rented in the Market District or hire a pedicab for a river path tour. If you need to fuel up (caffeine that is), pop into Farmers Union Coffee Roasters for an ethically sourced cup of coffee.
Ride east along E 5th Ave toward the Market District showcasing boutiques and diverse eateries. There are lots of great places for a late lunch including Steelhead Brewing.
If you are thinking picnic, order Cafe Yumm's amazing rice bowls with a variety of toppings and their signature Yumm sauce to go. Follow High St north over the train tracks and turn left on E Cheshire Ave. Entering Skinners Butte Park, bike paths parallel the Willamette River, with lovely sights in either direction. Explore playgrounds, a rose garden, a veteran's war memorial, a duck pond and public art.
Is it raining? Skip the bicycles and browse Smith Family Bookstore, a book-lovers delight. Then with a book in hand, meander on to explore 5th Street Public Market. The Market District features craft breweries, distilleries, wineries, coffee shops, eateries and unique stores. Find a cozy corner to sip a latte, read your book and soak up Eugene's friendly, quirky atmosphere. Or visit the Art With Alejandro gallery and join in a sip and paint party (see their schedule to register).
Hotel check In
After the ride or shopping, check into your hotel. There are several nearby options but here are two to consider:
This hotel is two blocks south of the Eugene Depot and centrally located for all your adventures. The Graduate Hotel is sports themed with proud tributes to the University of Oregon Ducks and TrackTown USA, Eugene's alter-ego. With Nike shoe exhibits, trophies, signed posters and waffle-iron lamps, you'll learn all about Eugene's sports mystique and local legends. Plus they have a cool Topgolf swing suite that can be reserved for small parties. Topgolf is indoor virtual golf, baseball, soccer and more — lots of fun!
Rekindle the spirit of your alma mater at the smartest place to stay in town. Prominently located on 6th Avenue, Graduate Eugene is next door to the Hult Center and just a hop from the…
This unique hotel is a hefty eleven block hike but its retro style and clean comfort makes it a fun lodging alternative. Family-owned, enjoy the little touches of personality, plus you'll be in the heart of downtown.
While we wait for the historic Oregon Electric Station to reopen as the Old Spaghetti Factory, complete with their signature inside railcars for dining, check out the other great restaurant options. 6th Street Restaurant & Sports Bar is a popular pre-show hot spot right across from the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Dinner and a show is a perfect way to send the evening, and all within a few blocks. And if you are still full from a late lunch, stop in the nearby Sip Champagne & Dessert Bar for that perfect night-on-the-town dessert menu instead of dinner.
Based on a 4:30 p.m. departure to Portland
Pick up a coffee at Farmers Union Coffee Roasters, then take a self-guided walking tour of Eugene's downtown murals (or check in with Norman's Oregon Experience for a guided art and food tour). For the World Athletics Championships Track & Field that Eugene hosted in 2022 (the first time this prestigious international track event has come to the United States), over twenty street artists and muralists from around the world were commissioned for public murals around town. Discover these masterpieces all around the downtown core. If you are here on a Saturday, the park blocks will overflow with artisan crafts, food trucks and lively entertainment during the weekly seasonal market.
Brunch at Morning Glory Cafe, a vegan-friendly hot spot known for its wholesomely delicious hot breakfasts and lunches. The restaurant often has a line out the door on weekends, so plan ahead. Other fantastic breakfast options include Jazzy Ladies Cafe with their gluten-free chicken and waffles, and Provisions Market Hall in the 5th Street Public Market with their European ambiance and various coffee shop offerings.
With a few hours left to enjoy downtown Eugene, make sure you hit a few highlights:
- Hike to the top of Skinner Butte, on the north side of the railroad tracks (cross at Pearl St or High St like you did yesterday for the bike ride, but this time turn west on E 3rd Ave until you reach the Skinners Butte Loop), or approach by a trail from E Cheshire Ave. From the top you can look down Willamette St to Spencer Butte in the south and see the University of Oregon campus spread out to the east.
- Pose for a picture with the Ken Kesey bronze statue in Kesey Plaza at E Broadway and Willamette Streets. Kesey, the author of "One Flew Over the Cuckcoo's Nest", was a local resident and counter-culture figurehead in the 70s. Pick up Voodoo Donuts nearby.
- If shopping inclined, browse Down to Earth Home, Garden & Gift for an extensive selection of beautiful home goods. Across the alley is Mountain Rose Herbs Mercantile with essential oils, spices, teas and more herbal products; or visit the Dancers Closet on W 6th and Olive St for specialty dance wear. Stylish resale clothes can be picked up at Buffalo Exchange across the train station parking lot.
- Relax at the Oregon Wine LAB for afternoon wine tasting. Alongside pouring their own labels, they provide other small-batch vintners space to showcase products that otherwise may not have a storefront. (Wine enthusiasts may enjoy this wine tasting adventure accessible from the train station.)
Finally, catch the train home!
Can't Get Enough of Trains?
These extra jaunts take you beyond the downtown core of Eugene and out across nearby communities. To see it all you'll have to plan a longer visit and arrange additional transportation.
Siltcoos Station Retreat offers luxury cabins furnished with a 1920s theme on the site of the former historic train station. The active rails still run through the property with trains passing by about once a day. Along with train lore, enjoy private decks, a peaceful koi pond and access to Siltcoos Lake across the tracks.
In Cottage Grove see the last remaining covered railroad bridge in Oregon. The massive Chambers Railroad Covered Bridge has been preserved as a park and interpretative center. Cottage Grove is also home to the railroad truss bridge in the movie "Stand By Me", now a part of a popular cycling trail.
The hopes and dreams of this farming community are expressed in its name — Junction City — but the town was bypassed by the major transportation arteries, and the community is now known for its wine country, agriculture and Scandinavian culture. Still, a tribute to trains remains. View Engine 418, a locomotive gift from Finland, on display at Founder's Park.