Riverfront Hotel Overlooking Willamette with Fine-Dining Restaurant
Flowing through the heart of Eugene, the Willamette River occupies a central place in both the town's landscape and culture. Lush parks line the banks on both its sides, and the waters teem with kayakers and tubers as soon as the weather allows. The Valley River Inn enjoys a front-row seat to this beloved river, sitting next to a 12-mile paved biking trail that snakes along the shoreline.
Inside the onsite SweetWaters on the River restaurant, wall-to-wall picture windows unveil panoramic views of the water below. To accompany the restaurant's seafood, bartenders pour organic vodkas, local microbrews, and several regional wines from nearby wineries, which flourish in the river valley's mild climate. In deluxe rooms upstairs, couples can sip on a bottle of Oregon wine while overlooking the landscaped courtyard on a private balcony. The following morning, the onsite RiverWalk Bakery bakes scones, muffins, and breads, accompanied by specialty espresso drinks brewed with Starbucks coffee.
Eugene, Oregon: Campus Arts Scene and River Adventure
Eugene draws much of its youthful vibe from the University of Oregon, the filming location for the iconic comedy National Lampoon’s Animal House. Founded in 1872, the campus hosts several notable cultural institutions, including the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, where visitors can see thrones from Beijing’s Forbidden City. The college's Museum of Natural and Cultural History displays animal specimens, Native American artifacts, and fossils of ancient TV antennas from throughout the Pacific Northwest. The nearby Hult Center for the Performing Arts anchors the town's strong arts presence outside of campus.
The Willamette River itself is also a major draw. In warmer months, kayakers sweep downriver, and bikers and hikers can explore the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway year-round. The bikeway stretches 132 miles north of Eugene toward Portland, meandering past lush riverbanks and numerous vineyards.