There are college towns where it seems that the town is built around the college in order to fit in, and there are college towns where the opposite seems to have happened. In Eugene, Oregon, the town and the college seem to be perfectly joined at the hip. This is a city that seems to be of the perfect size and has the perfect layout to accommodate the University of Oregon, one of the most renowned and most fun universities in the world. It seemed almost like fate that my meetings ended a day early, but there I was in Eugene with an entire day available to get to know the area. I always prefer tasting a slice of life as the locals live it in a new place, so I had a bit of work to do to make the most of this opportunity.
The most difficult part of any last-minute travel plan is lodging. Eugene hotels are plentiful, but I didn’t want to spend hours digging through profiles. I opened the HotelTonight app for the first time, and what I thought would take hours took only a few minutes. I had the perfect hotel based on what I tend to prefer. I extended my rental car agreement and made the short drive to my room. I asked the staff at the hotel how to go about seeing the area, and they were extremely helpful in pointing me in certain directions. I had a fun day ahead of me, so I got started immediately.
Where better to start my day than on the campus of the University of Oregon? This is an historic university for several reasons, and I can see why more than one major movie has been shot here. It’s a place that fits beautifully into the surrounding landscape. I walked around for a while and then decided to sample some of the local coffee. It was delicious and revived me in a way that was quite helpful for what I had in mind for the rest of my day.
One of the things that you notice immediately when you’re in Eugene is that the people here really place a high value on art. There is art everywhere you look, almost no matter where you are in the city. If there is an unofficial headquarters for all of this artistry, it’s in the Whiteaker neighborhood just north of downtown. I decided to purchase a few very artistic shirts for my collection and then walked around a bit, taking in the whole scene and wondering if people there were actually as happy as they all seemed to look and act.
A short way from Whiteaker is West Eugene, and this is a place that’s known for family life. However, it’s also a place that seems quite rural as compared to the rest of the city, as most of the land in this area is parks, hiking trails and other amenities that sit along the Willamette River. I walked some more and took in the scenery. I realized that it was lunchtime, so I stopped in a local seafood café for some local fare. Boy, was it something special. The locals here make the most of their natural resources it seems, because my fish was as fresh as anything you could imagine. Full and more than satisfied, it was time to move on to my next step in my adventure.
I darted across town to see the other corner of Eugene. Southeast Eugene is an interesting mix of family life and artistic, college town influence. You’ll see kids out riding their bicycles and schoolyards filled with young people playing all sorts of games. You’ll also see a lot of really nice homes and little shops that are worth stopping in for some browsing. I spent about an hour here and it gave me an opportunity to chat with some locals. They were extremely friendly and happy to give me some tips for the rest of my day.
I headed back downtown to close out my day, and I decided to avoid Barmuda, a place where those who want to imbibe can more than get their fill. Perhaps I’d come see it the next time I visit. Instead, I chose a restaurant I had heard about on my previous stop and enjoyed a delicious dinner while relaxing and taking in the sights of campus life.
I was glad that I had stayed here for the day. I was even more glad that I had worked with HotelTonight, as it had Eugene hotels ready for me within a few clicks. I headed back to that hotel and fell asleep quickly. The room was comfortable, the bed was inviting and it had been a full day. As I drifted off to sleep, I already planned what I would do the next time I visit this beautiful place.