Eugene, Oregon: Tips?
October 31, 2009 1:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm anticipating an upcoming move to Eugene, Oregon. What should I know?

I'm looking for any tips about living in the area, including things like: best restaurants, cafes, cultural venues, theaters, parks, farmers' markets, yarn and fabric shops, general things to do, etc. I'm also looking for information regarding best neighborhoods to live in. I've searched prior questions about Eugene, and found a bit of information there, but I'm looking for more.

Some relevant points:

- I'll be working downtown.
- I like art, movies of all kinds, live music, the theater (theatre, if you're feeling fancy), books, comics, records, crafts, museums, being outdoors, cooking, eating foods of all kinds, etc.
- When shopping for a new neighborhood to live in, I'm seeking safety, walkability, and character. I love older houses and apartment buildings, but vintage architecture is not a must. Easy proximity to downtown is a plus.

Thanks for any information you can give! I'm really looking forward to this move, and want to make sure I don't miss anything good about my new town.

(Posted anon. due to the fact that this is all dependent on a job-offer-in-progress.)
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I got some great tips in this thread when I moved to Eugene.

The Saturday Market happens every Saturday from April to mid-November. There are several other farmer's markets as well, but I'm not certain about the time/place. You can find out by checking in the Eugene Weekly though.

I pass by a yarn shop on 13th St. (five or six blocks from the university) every day on my way to the lab, but I can't speak to its quality.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:56 PM on October 31, 2009

I moved here last year and have not regretted it since. The weather is not as bad as most you will be told it is-yes it rains, but it is usually a soft, slow rain and it rarely gets below freezing. So have good rain gear, but you don't need cold weather gear unless you are going skiing-and there are lots of good ski areas close by. Lots of restaurants all over of every kind and most of them are local/independent restaurants. There are the big chains but not everywhere. The culture here is...different. It is a mix of new age/hippie, rural self sufficent (gardens are common and can be big here), farmers, blue collar and high tech workers, with the occasional logger showing up. There are few theatres around, but not really my scene so i don't know what is good and bad. There is a farmers market somewhere here most everyday of the week through the spring/summer/fall, and a lot of farms that let you go and pick your own or community supported agriculture. Lots of local vineyards and wine tasting (especially toward Portland-which is only 2 hours away).

The best deal for real estate/houses I think is in Springfield, which is across the willamette from Eugene. You can catch the EM-X bus service (kinda like a light rail system but not on tracks-it uses buses)in downtown Springfield and right to downtown Eugene in about 20 minutes and not have any parking issues. There are a few apartments close to the Springfield station (although not anything fancy, and a lot of seedy apartments). I live in the Springfield historic district in a house built in 1907. It is about a 5 minute walk to the station from here. There is also a park and ride lot for the station and late next year a new em-x line will be open that connects the north part of Springfield to the downtown area. We are also about 10 minute walk from a large park system along the Willamette with lots of bike trails, walking trails, playgrounds and fishing (the Willamette is still being cleaned up and eating resident fish is not recommended). The only neighborhood problems are wrappers thrown on the ground from the friggin high school kids walking to school (which says quite a bit about the safety of the neighborhood really). The houses here are cheaper than the historic houses near the university (downtown) Eugene. Downtown Springfield has a few restaurants and shops (mostly antiques) and is slowly being redeveloped. The only problem is one seedy bar downtown that will probably lose it's liquor license and be shut down, solving that problem. In addition Springfield is about to open its own jail to make sure our local criminals aren't released too soon since Lane County can't manage to get them locked up (if you want more information sent me a private message on this) which should help clean up the remaining problems. The only common crimes here are property crimes and the we are actually below the national average for violent crimes.

AS for outdoor activity take your pick. The region/state has miles and miles of bike lanes and bike are treated better here than in Arizona where I lived previously. The ocean is about an hour way (although too cold to swim in), the cascades are about an hour away with every kind of alpine experience there is. Lots of people will boat/kayak in the rivers and lots of fishing. Plenty of public land with access for hunting/camping/hiking in every direction.

There are a lot fo museums and historic districts around. A large number of the covered bridges have been preserved and a lot of the original settlement architecture has been preserved.

It is a great place to live and like I said, I haven't regretted moving here at all.
posted by bartonlong at 3:15 PM on October 31, 2009

You might want to look at the other AskMe questions about Eugene.
posted by Houstonian at 3:46 PM on October 31, 2009

People drive slooowly.
posted by jeffamaphone at 4:44 PM on October 31, 2009

Your experience here depends on where you are coming from. For me, coming from the Bay Area, Eugene was a bit of a shock, one I'm still getting over. I knew that there were towns where people basically stayed home, and it was quiet and fairly homogeneous, I just never expected to actually live in one.
I lived near SF for 25 years and had pretty much hard-coded myself with a set of behaviors that worked there but were next to useless in Eugene.
However, after having adjusted my expectations and re-calibrating my horizons I have begun to appreciate Eugene's finer aspects.
Like the fact that I can ride my bike all over town, do everything I need to do, and ride home with little or no problems getting from place to place. I never even considered being car-free in the Bay Area but here it's quite doable.
The people are usually friendly and laid back. After a good rain, and pretty much most of the year, the air is good and the environment feels healthy.
No real freeways to speak of. There are a couple of major arteries that get backed up but I don't commute by car.
I pretty much know all my neighbors. I am slowly but surely discarding my big city expectations and learning to get comfortable, which Eugene is a good place to do.
If you're looking for good stuff in Eugene, check out this week's 'Best of Eugene' issue of the local Eugene Weekly alternative tabloid.
posted by diode at 8:12 PM on October 31, 2009

I lived downtown for a couple of years and enjoyed being able to do a lot of my errands by walking or bicycling and liked being near the excellent public library and the bus station. Springfield is cheaper, but ickier. One nice thing about the older parts of Eugene is the small neighborhood grocery stores.

Restaurants to definitely check out: Off the Waffle (waffles, duh), The Rabbit (cheap gourmet), Cafe Zenon (weekend brunch), Yi Shen (delicious, inexpensive Vietnamese), Chao Pra Ya (Thai). The best food in town is at Chef's Kitchen.

Fo movies, be sure to check out the David Minor Theater. Second-run and older movies play in on two screens, one with 30-40 seats, the other in a room with recliners and sofas. Beer and food available. Independent movies play at the Bijou Cinema, which is in an old Gothic church building.

I'm not into local theater, but the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is 3 hours away in Ashland and it is among the best theater ANYWHERE. When in Ashland, we always eat breakfast at Morning Glory.

House of Records on East 13th. Museum of Unfine Art on Willamette @ 5th.

Alton Baker Park. Hendricks Park.

Hiking: Fall Creek or Bryce Creek (each is about 45 minutes from town). More-or-less in town are Spencer Butte and Mount Pisgah, each of which is a considerable uphill effort.

Groceries: Market of Choice with several locations has the best overall selection.
posted by neuron at 11:10 PM on October 31, 2009

Make sure to check out the Bijou (movie theater), near the University of Oregon. They play a lot of movies that you won't find in your mainstream theater.

Also, the Sweet Life is a must. They have the most awesome desserts and a great atmosphere.

The advice above looks pretty good. I hope you enjoy Eugene! I've lived here my entire life, and love it.
posted by I_love_the_rain at 11:11 PM on October 31, 2009

Also the Kiva, downtown, across from the bus station, for groceries and wine. I have lived here for 30 years but can't add much to the prev. comments.

The Whiteaker area is very up and coming these days but it is a bit away from downtown. Really, any neighborhood on the downtown side of the river will have what you are looking for, in terms of aesthetics. The West campus area would be dicey because of rowdiness, esp after football games.

Get a Gortex jacket, soon, after your arrival.

If you are female, know that assaults still occur in secluded places by the river, even during the day.

(hey, why not have a meetup, eugenians?)
posted by Danf at 7:30 AM on November 1, 2009

I'd be way into that, but am still a little green to organize it. Somebody wanna start the MeTa thread?
posted by solipsophistocracy at 8:45 PM on November 3, 2009

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