Several years ago, the City of Eugene made waves by billing itself “The World’s Greatest City for the Arts and Outdoors.” Public mockery quickly ensued. But maybe the creators of that ill-advised slogan kind of had a point.
Eugene is a great place for the creative and performing arts, and opportunities for outdoor excursions abound. Where else in the country are ski slopes, lush forests, and beaches alike just a short drive away? But being in Eugene isn’t just about having things to do. It’s about the feeling, man.
Eugene has long been known as a bastion of sixties counterculture. The Oregon Country fair, held every July for the past 48 years and located just outside the city, is a mecca of free expression. Since pot’s legalization in 2015, Oregon’s cannabis scene has gotten its fair share of attention, but really there’s so much more than that to Eugene’s counter-cultural vibes. From activism to spirituality and experimental approaches to community, the spirit of the 60s lives on in Eugene.
Eugenians aren’t just looking backward either, or up into the sky. This is a city full of people who want to make a difference, whether it’s by providing gourmet farm-to-table meals, brewing the perfect IPA, or collaborating with villagers in Senegal to help build a more sustainable future.
Eugene is also a place where people are just living the life—finding love, going to school, raising kids, and working in diverse local industries like technology, environmental services, and higher education.
The University of Oregon, located close to downtown, is the state’s highest-ranked public university, known particularly for its law, journalism, environmental studies and business programs.
Once derelict, the downtown is now thriving. The Whiteaker neighborhood is an especially outsized cultural presence, home to artists, writers, hippies, and plenty of others who just appreciate its unique eateries, breweries, cafes, natural grocery stores, and watering holes. In 2012, Esquire Magazine even named quirky neighborhood standby Sam Bond’s Garage as one of America’s best bars.
We haven’t even mentioned Eugene’s status as “Track Town USA,” nor have we mentioned its miles and miles of bike paths and paved trail along the Willamette River. But we think you get the idea. Eugene is certainly a unique place, but go beyond its reputation as a hippie haven, and you’ll find that there’s a bit of something for anyone who wants to live outside the box.
(Looking for a more detailed picture? Check out our article on Why People Across the Country are Moving to Eugene, Oregon.)