Around Thanksgiving, my husband always travels to Ohio for 10-12 days of hunting season. I always stay in Washington due to work and the timeframe being too long to leave our 13-year-old fur baby on his own, even with a trusted friend checking in.
This year we planned for the same. It wasn’t until Brian was packing for his trip that I realized I wasn’t needed here – we had to say good-bye to Seppy in August. All of my favorite moments decorating, baking, listening to music, curling up in front of the fire (and the routine ones, like working from home) that Sep and I would spend together while Brian was away were going to be so much harder this year.
At the same time this was starting to hit home for me, I receive an email from Amtrak about a limited time sale on train tickets. I took a look at what was cheap and within range for a weekend getaway, and before I knew it I was heading to Eugene, Oregon for a couple days.
Brian and I swung through Eugene on our road trip to Crater Lake National Park a few years ago but only to have dinner with his friend before checking into a hotel and continuing on our way the following morning. I wasn’t sure what there was to do as a solo female traveler, on foot, on a holiday weekend, but I ended up enjoying my private getaway.
Here were a few highlights:
Places to Spend Time Outdoors
My bed and breakfast was nestled into Skinner Butte and the trails leading to Skinner Butte Park were mere steps outside my door. Although it was cloudy and overcast, the rain held off my first evening in town and I was able to climb to the Skinner Butte Summit for views over Eugene.
It’s possible to simply drive to the summit, and the parking lot was quite full during my visit (likely due to the weather). I wandered around a few of the trails and ultimately followed one that took me down past the climbing columns and back to my accommodations.
I enjoyed beautiful weather my full day in town and spent several hours in the afternoon strolling along the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail. There were lots of families out for walks, tons of people in the dog park, and even some couple having their engagement photos taken!
I loved that the fall foliage was still in place – I ended up covering about 4 miles wandering the tree-lined paths along the Willamette River. I felt very safe alone and on foot in all of the outdoor spaces I visited.
Places to Shop and Socialize
There were several farmers markets taking place during my weekend in Eugene, and while I wasn’t in need of fresh produce this trip, I did enjoy checking out the seasonal weekend holiday market at the Lane Events Center as well as the year-round 5th Street Public Market.
The 5th Street Public Market, featured below, was decked out for the holidays and had some fun shops and restaurants.
Places to Eat and Drink
One of the first places I grabbed food in Eugene was in the 5th Street Public Market at Provisions Market Hall. I have been craving the curry chicken salad I used to get from the deli in my building when I worked in downtown Seattle, and I was nothing less than gleeful when I found a shimmering bowl of it in the deli at Provisions. I enjoyed it next to the open-air fountain just outside – delicious!
Another spot I stumbled upon – Rye – was only a few blocks from my B&B and recommended by my host. They were very busy at dinner time but managed to squeeze me in at the bar where I inhaled an incredible dish of fresh salmon and roasted veggies.
A few other special shout outs:
I only made one actual meal reservation this trip, and it was for brunch at Lion and Owl. This highly recommended spot has fun seasonal fare, including pumpkin pancakes and quince mimosas!, and I was more than satisfied with my avocado toast, burrata, and views of the sleek Air Stream in their lobby.
Another really fun eatery was McMenamins North Bank. We’ve been to a couple McMenamins properties for food although we’ve yet to spend the night, and this was another great spot for a meal. Right along the north bank of the Willamette, the outdoor seating along the water and bike trail was ideal for me as a solo traveler – plenty of people watching!
I was surprised and thrilled to discover they had currywurst as one of their seasonal specials – I’m not too embarrassed to say I polished off my meal, reminiscing about when Brian and I shared this German street food during New Year’s Eve in Berlin several years ago.
Probably the most shocking food find was a Handel’s in the 5th Street Alley. This Youngstown, Ohio- based company was a go-to for me and my friends when I was right out of college and I couldn’t believe there was one in the middle of Eugene, Oregon!
I stopped in here twice – the first time to get the old school peppermint stick ice cream (with the red and green mints!) and the second time for a blondie sundae with their deep-dish apple pie ice cream. Mind blowing!
Places to Stay
One of my splurges this trip was staying at the Campbell House Inn. Just a few blocks north of the train station, this lovely B&B had the perfect room for one – the Cogs room – with a writer’s nook overlooking the trees and garden where I spent the time I wasn’t exploring Eugene on foot writing blog posts on my new Surface Go.
The included breakfasts were delicious – bottomless cups of coffee, fresh scones and fruit, and then the option of sweet or savory reasonably portioned entrees. It was an indulgence staying here, and I recommend it!
I had an uneventful train ride to Tacoma at the conclusion of my trip, and it was heart-breaking coming home to an empty house. But a slow-paced weekend outdoors discovering a new town was a nice reprieve. Eugene was the right place for a weekend escape.