Winter is here. Enjoy the rest of the chilly season around town

The UO is deep into winter term, and students are still strongly encouraged to “stay home and stay safe” in Eugene to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But staying close to the nest doesn’t mean you can’t go out and recharge. Plenty of activities can be found on and near campus. It’s Oregon, after all.

If you’re looking for in-person or virtual campus activities, sift through the UO events calendar. Valentine-themed events are coming in February, including gift and card crafts at the Erb Memorial Union.

Fireplace at Jaqua Center cafe If organized events aren’t your thing, bundle up and take a stroll around campus. The UO is beautiful this time of year. Fresh rain glosses the streets, and the sun is starting to make longer appearances. Stop by the Robin’s Nest Café in the Jaqua Center to defrost with some freshly brewed coffee.

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.

The city of Eugene has lots to offer. Here’s a list of fun, convenient things to do close to home:

-Check out the local food scene. Now’s the best time to splurge on hot meals and baked goods. Provisions Market Hall has sandwiches, desserts, drinks and more. And you can find dozens of shops to explore and scout for cool trinkets. Visit at night to see the winter lights.

-Looking for a fun outdoor activity? Go ice skating! The Rink Exchange has public skating hours and is only a few blocks from downtown Eugene. Students with IDs get a discount on admissions.


-Take on the mural walk in Springfield to view larger-than-life tributes to Northwest outdoor pursuits. Oh, and there’s also The Simpsons Mural in the Art Alley. Don’t forget to take a picture in front of Homer.

If you want an escape from city life, there’s plenty outdoors to explore. Here are some nearby fresh-air adventures to take on in the cold weather:

-Hop on a PeaceHealth bike, or your own wheels, and take a ride along the river path.

-When the sun peaks out, visit Hendricks Park, Eugene’s oldest park. The world-renowned rhododendron garden is an easy walk from campus.

-Meander along the Ridgeline Trail. It’s beautiful in the frost. Hike up Spencer Butte or explore some of the lesser-traveled sections.

-Visit the Cascades Raptor Center, 32275 Fox Hollow Road, and get up-close and personal with rescued eagles, hawks, owls and more.

-Hike Oregon's second tallest waterfall, Salt Creek Falls. It’s stunning under a blanket of snow. Bring your snowshoes and check out the ice-encrusted falls.

Mount Pisgah

-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.

-Check out Delta Ponds, a reclaimed gravel pit off Goodpasture Island Road that features walking paths and a thriving community of waterfowl.

-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.

-Check out Fern Ridge Reservoir, about 12 miles west of Eugene, and Fern Ridge Wildlife Area for hiking and bird-watching.

-Sweet Creek Falls is an amazing and easy hike near Mapleton that follows its namesake creek alongside a series of waterfalls.

-Visit Corvallis, the second-best college town in Oregon. For extra credit, wear some Duck gear. Also, check out Bald Hill Natural Area, a popular spot for hiking and cycling by the fairgrounds.

-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 a reminder: Dogs are not allowed.

Downhill skiing

-Looking for snow? Grab your skis or snowboard and head out to the Cascade Mountains. They’re just a one-hour drive from Eugene. Make sure to check road and weather reports in advance.

-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.

Once you’re done exploring all Eugene has to offer, head back to your residence hall or off-campus living space, slip on some comfy clothes and relax. Sometimes the best way to recharge is to do absolutely nothing.

—By Sydney Volchok, Student Services and Enrollment Management