Lace up your running shoes: Eugene is known as TrackTown USA. The college town (it’s home to the University of Oregon) has a knack for preserving a small-town feel, despite being the second biggest city in the state. Located on the south end of the Willamette Valley and next to the Willamette River, this scenic, easygoing city has plenty of trails for hiking and biking, plus you can soak in nature’s very own hot tub: the McCredie Hot Springs. Intrepid adventures, craft beer, world-class wine, and plenty of farm-to-table restaurants dial up the quality of life in Eugene.
Top Industries and Employers: Healthcare and education are major players in Eugene. Peace Health Corp, University of Oregon, and Eugene 4J School District are Lane County’s biggest employers.
Best Coffee Shop: With a commitment to sustainability, locally owned coffee roaster Wandering Goat Coffee Co. sells coffees from around the world as well as scratch-made muffins, scones and bagels.
Best Local Beer/Brewery: In places like Eugene, where the craft beer movement is strong, a brewery doesn’t just offer stellar beers, but becomes a community gathering place. Oakshire Brewing’s Public House gets this right with Tuesday beer releases, “drinking and drawing” art events, and live music. Plus, it boasts 20 taps.
Must-Have Meal: Vegan comfort food like Phish and Chips (deep-fried, seaweed-seasoned tofu) at Cornbread Cafe will convince you to be meatless not just on Mondays.
Best Co-Working Space: CodeChops, which holds meet-ups for local professionals to collaborate.
Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): Happy hour bowling at Lane 25
Creative Hub: Catch theater shows, live concerts and symphony performances at Hult Center for the Performing Arts.
Favorite Weekend Activity: Cheering on the University of Oregon Ducks at a football or basketball game, or at a track meet.
Free Way to Have Fun: Lava fields, waterfalls, a topaz blue lake are among the gems you’ll find while hiking or biking along the 26-mile McKenzie River Trail.
Local Dream Job: A sommelier. The Willamette Valley is famous for its pinot noirs, but the pinot gris, chardonnay and pinot blanc from the region deserve attention, too.
- Brittany Anas