While the UO experiences an in-person fall term, students still are encouraged to “stay home and stay safe” in Eugene to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Staying close to the nest doesn’t mean you can’t go out and recharge; there are plenty of activities to do within an hour or two of campus. It’s Oregon, after all.
If you’re looking for on-campus fall festivities, sift through the UO events calendar or check out some fun Halloween-themed events late October, including trick-or-treating and jack-o’-lantern origami in the Erb Memorial Union.
If organized events aren’t your thing, simply bask in the UO’s beauty. Fall leaves are scattered all over campus, and the sun looks brighter after a fresh dose of rain. Take a stroll on 13th Avenue or journey over to the Eugene Pioneer Cemetery if you’re in a spooky mood.
For those who choose to venture from campus, take some safety steps: Test for COVID-19 if you’ve been exposed to the virus or have symptoms, wear a mask in public spaces, and practice social distancing. The UO offers free testing for students through the Monitoring and Assessment Program.
Eugene has lots to offer, especially during the fall season. Here’s a list of fun, convenient things to do here in town:
Check out pumpkin patches at local farms. Now’s the best time to take fall photos and buy pumpkins for carving. The Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm offers drive-through pumpkin picking and two corn mazes. Visit at night for the haunted maze.
Frolic around Detering Orchards and join in on the many seasonal activities. Ride the mechanical bull, buy some fall treats and refresh yourself with a hot cup of apple cider.
If you’re feeling brave, go ghost hunting. The Heceta Head Lighthouse was built in 1894 and is known as one of the most haunted places in the region.
Explore the outdoors. It’s beautiful in the rain. Meander along the Ridgeline Trail. Hike up Spencer Butte or explore some of the lesser-traveled sections.
Hop on a PeaceHealth bike, or your own wheels, and take a ride along the river path.
Visit Hendricks Park, Eugene’s oldest park. The world-renowned rhododendron garden is an easy walk from campus.
Check out Delta Ponds, a reclaimed gravel pit off Goodpasture Island Road that features walking paths and a thriving community of waterfowl.
Visit the Cascades Raptor Center, 32275 Fox Hollow Road, and get up-close and personal with rescued eagles, hawks, owls and more.
Visit Dorris Ranch in Springfield, the first commercial hazelnut orchard in the United States, and stroll through the orchards and along the Willamette River. Hop on the adjacent Middle Fork Path, a four-mile-long path that connects with the Mill Race Path.
Explore the Howard Buford Recreation Area, home to Mount Pisgah. Several trails lead to the summit for panoramic views, but the trails along the bottomlands are worth exploring as well.
Hike or mountain bike the McKenzie River Trail, about an hour east of Eugene off Highway 126. It’s nearly 25 miles long, but you can hit shorter sections. Hot tip: Hike to Tamolitch Falls, a stunning body of water befittingly known as Blue Pool.
Check out Fern Ridge Reservoir, about 12 miles west of Eugene, and Fern Ridge Wildlife Area for hiking and bird-watching.
Take a trip to Oregon Coast. Highway 101 between Florence and Yachats is a spectacular stretch of road with numerous attractions, hikes and viewpoints. Oh, and beaches. Miles of beaches.
Sweet Creek Falls is an amazing and easy hike near Mapleton that follows its namesake creek along a series of waterfalls.
William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, 35 miles northwest of Eugene off Highway 99W, features 12 miles of meandering trails and serves as a winter habitat for dusky Canada geese. Just remember: no dogs allowed.
Silver Falls State Park east of Salem and about 80 miles from Eugene, is a wonderland of walking trails and waterfalls.
Cottage Grove has lots to see and do, including a historic downtown and a self-guided tour of scenic murals. Extra credit: Watch Buster Keaton’s classic “The General,” filmed in and around Cottage Grove, before visiting.
Take a ride, run or stroll on Row River Trail, a 17-mile path that starts near Cottage Grove.
Dip a line at Bryce Creek, or any of the many lakes, creeks and rivers around Lane County.
Wildlife Safari, about 80 miles south of Eugene in Winston, is Oregon’s only drive-through animal park and features more than 600 animals from 100 different species, including elephants, lions, bison, wildebeest and more.