Together with its neighbor, Springfield, Eugene forms the second-largest metropolitan area in the state. The surroundings are still pristine enough, however, that white-water rafting and fishing take place within the metro area. The range and quality of cultural offerings in the cities are top-notch, both in the performing arts (particularly at Eugene's world-class Hult Center) and in such renowned institutions as the Maude Kerns Art Center and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon. While at the university, take advantage of the extensive network of walking paths and bike trails.
Other worthwhile places to visit are Alton Baker Park, the city's largest developed park (canoe rentals are available); the Science Factory Children's Museum and Planetarium; the Owen Memorial Rose Garden; and both Hendricks Park and the privately owned Greer Gardens (a nursery of rare and unusual plants). Several of the forest-products mills in the area offer tours.
Nearby Veneta is the site of the annual Oregon Country Fair (second weekend of July), which is not a fair in the traditional sense: It's closer to a Grateful Dead concert (the Dead even played it several times), with people wearing costumes (or nothing at all), characters on stilts, face painting, food, crafts and a wandering parade featuring such oddities as the "mud people." Other notable events on the area's calendar include the Scandinavian Festival in nearby Junction City (August), the Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene (June and July) and the Eugene Celebration, a downtown party with parades, food and entertainment (September). 115 mi/185 km south of Portland.
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