Decked with coniferous trees, framed by emerald mountains and flanked by fertile farmland, Eugene, Oregon, is visibly a very green city. But in these parts, color runs more than thumb deep. This metropolitan region, set at the south end of the agrarian Willamette Valley, is also known for its associations with organic goods, environmental activism and, of course, its connections to health-conscious past-times, particularly outdoor activities. This is, after all, the birthplace of Nike (we mean the brand, not the goddess).
There are a number of ways to get your green on even if you’re not a permanent resident of Eugene, Oregon. Sports enthusiasts can tell you that one of the best ways to show your affinity for the city, and its lively student population, is by sporting green and yellow Oregon Ducks attire. In addition to a noteworthy college football team, the University of Oregon also has a historic reputation for track and field (runners might remember this as the home school of Steve Prefontaine), but during the school year it’s worth catching a sporting event (and the spirit) if there’s one scheduled.
With the area’s emphasis on organic produce and local foods, it would be a culinary sin to skip town without so much as sampling some of Eugene’s finest. In addition to a good selection of cafes, whole food markets and the like, the Lane County Farmers Market is the best place to get foods fresh from the farm; you’ll find the market open Saturdays and Tuesdays during warmer months (May-October) as well as over the winter holidays.
And finally, what better way to get in touch with Eugene’s green side than on a stroll through one of its pleasant parks? Top picks close to downtown include Alton Baker Park, Skinner Butte Park (a favorite with rock climbers) or even the University of Oregon campus. In short: wear green, eat green, and suck down plenty of good, clean fresh air. Your friends back home with be green with healthy envy.