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A Fun-Filled Weekend of History, Food, and Outdoor Adventure Around Eugene, Oregon

By Matt Wastradowski

Every spring and summer, the University of Oregon's historic Hayward Field hosts some of the top track-and-field events in the United States. So whether you’re coming to Eugene for a thrilling event or to enjoy the city's many charms, we’ve rounded up a few ideas for making the most of your time. They include diving into Eugene’s past and present as TrackTown USA, exploring the natural beauty of the region, and kicking back with food and drink crafted by creative chefs and producers.

Eugene is popularly known as TrackTown USA, thanks to the city’s long-standing love affair with the sport of track and field. The University of Oregon’s Hayward Field was built on the site of a former cow pasture in 1919—and is today one of the sport’s most storied venues; distance runner Steve Prefontaine earned worldwide acclaim while attending the University of Oregon in the early 1970s; and in 1964, the athletic sportswear company that would eventually become Nike launched in Eugene.

Whether you’re a devotee of track and field, an excited history buff, or just plain curious about why Eugene is so closely linked to the sport, you have plenty of opportunities for learning about TrackTown USA.

A great place to start is Hayward Hall at Hayward Field. The museum displays artifacts and exhibits that cover the University of Oregon's many track accomplishments, the history of the school's program, and the history of Hayward Field.

Elsewhere around Eugene, the 5-mile Pre’s Trail is a popular running-walking path in Alton Baker Park—not far from downtown and the University of Oregon. The mostly flat trail is named for Steve Prefontaine, a University of Oregon distance runner who competed in the 1972 Olympics—and whose life was tragically cut short after an automobile accident in 1975. Today, Pre’s Trail heads through a verdant mix of meadows, forests, and wetlands.

Another fun way to enjoy Eugene’s collegiate sports history is with a stop at Track Town Pizza. The popular pizzeria opened near the University of Oregon campus in 1977 and is today closely linked to the school through murals honoring top athletes, filling pies named for track-and-field events, and local memorabilia on display through the restaurant’s interior.

Track and field isn’t the only outdoor pursuit that’s popular around Eugene. Around town, you can ascend two rocky buttes that afford wide-open views of the downtown skyline, paddle the winding Willamette River, ride more than a dozen miles of paved bike paths, and more—all without ever leaving city limits.

And that’s to say nothing of the McKenzie Highway, where you can pick ripe blueberries at the height of summer, hike past raging waterfalls along the McKenzie River, and paddle the appropriately named Clear Lake. So whether you’re between events or want to extend your stay with a day trip, we’ve rounded up five ideas for epic outdoor adventures in and around Eugene.

You have to eat at some point, right? Eugene is home to an excellent food scene where you can enjoy cuisines from around the world in a wide range of inventive spaces—from laid-back food cart pods to upscale establishments.

When the family can’t agree on a meal, make haste for one of Eugene’s food cart pods—where a handful of innovative food carts come together for dining experiences that include several cuisine choices, taps of craft beer and cider, live music, and other fun attractions.

The whole crew can usually agree on pizza—and few in Eugene do it better than the Wheel Apizza Pub. The popular eatery serves New Haven-style pies crafted with naturally leavened dough, seasonal produce, and locally sourced meats; so thorough is the eatery’s commitment to local fare, the pizzeria's nearby suppliers all get shout-outs on its website. Parents can kick back with Wheel Apizza’s house-made beers, which span a variety of classic styles.

And for the truly foodie-focused family, taste your way through the South Willamette Valley Food Trail, which brings together more than 50 restaurants, farms, bakeries, and overnight stays that showcase flavors of the region through seasonal ingredients, locally sourced meats, inventive fare, creative craft beers, and more.

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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