The Fifth Street Public Market in downtown Eugene is a top spot for shopping.

#9. Eugene

A transformation fueled by residential growth has many Eugene, OR, residents comparing their downtown to Portland’s. An estimated 1,500 new residents have moved into new and recently remodeled apartments during the last two years and discovered the wide array of restaurants, bars and entertainment venues that changed downtown Eugene into a hip, urban playground.

By the city’s calculations, more than 20 new businesses have opened in the downtown area since 2012 while developers invested more than $200 million in construction projects. Perhaps the opening chapter in this redevelopment story is the University of Oregon, which put up a collection of new buildings on Franklin Boulevard, including a 12,000-seat arena. A short bike ride from campus is the intersection of Broadway and Willamette Street, an area filled with quaint shops, diners and bars.

Eugene ranked 9th on the Livability Top 100 Best Places to Live index, and the downtown area helped the city earn a spot within the top 10. Residents make good use of the network of sidewalks and integrated bikeways to get around downtown. The Lane Transit District provides bus service, and more than five taxi companies, some with fleets of hybrid vehicles, offer rides in the downtown area. Terry Richard, travel writer for The Oregonian, recently wrote that Eugene has become a tourist destination with many visitors coming in on an upgraded Amtrak train. Those leaving the train station quickly stumble upon the Whiteaker Fermentation District, which is full of craft brewing businesses, and the Fifth Street Public Market, a unique shopping destination.

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