Eugene at a Glance
Location: Central Western Oregon
Access: Eugene Airport, Amtrak, Interstate 5
Hotel Rooms: Over 6,000
Eugene, Cascades and Coast
The Graduate Eugene
Guest Rooms: 275
Meeting Space: 30,000+ square feet
Valley River Inn
Guest Rooms: 257
Meeting Space: 15,000 square feet
Guest Rooms: 82
Meeting Space: 2,422 square feet
Who’s Meeting in Eugene
Living Proof Live with Beth Moore
International Association for Language Learning Technology
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Founded in the 1860s, Eugene, Oregon, lies within an area that sweeps from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Coast and where Mother Nature happily rules. Officially known as the Eugene Cascades Coast, this remarkable region features 30 miles of sandy and rocky shores, 2.5 million acres of forestland, more than 250 lakes and reservoirs, 500-year-old forests, over 200 waterfalls and 74 parks.
It should come as no surprise that the Oregon Coast is eco-friendly and all about the outdoors.
Only an hour to the east of Eugene, volcano-formed mountains offer thrill seekers the opportunity to go whitewater rafting on the McKenzie River, skiing in Willamette Pass and hiking through old-growth forests. An hour to the west, groups can ride horses on the beach, admire sea lions in the country’s largest sea cave and hop aboard a dune buggy for a wild ride at 40,000-acre Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
Two gigantic buttes rise on either side of town. Easily accessible Skinner’s Butte, named for Eugene’s founder, offers terrific views of the city. Attendees can relax on electric or pedal-it-yourself bikes before or after conventions on more than 43 miles of bike paths through downtown, where locally owned coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants and hotels — with a total of 5,500 area rooms — stay busy. More than 20 murals add color and interest to the city’s buildings.
Known as TrackTown USA for its history with, and training facilities for, world class runners, Eugene is home to Nike, Inc., started in 1964 by University of Oregon track athlete Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman.
The town’s populace is focused on wellness and taking care of the land.
“We live and breathe sustainability, accessibility and inclusion,” said Juanita Metzler, senior director of conventions for the Eugene Cascades Coast. “We are the ideal location for any group with those as a part of its goals or values. And meetings are more affordable here because Eugene has no sales tax.”
A modern, urban event space that began as the Eugene Planing Mill in 1942, Venue 252 is a stunning, contemporary building with exquisite attention to detail. Great for dinner galas, corporate conferences, trade shows and concerts, the 9,410-square-foot Grand Hall accommodates 800 for a reception and has a balcony that can hold 150. Its lobby is “funky upscale,” and there’s a Green Room for VIPs or keynote speakers.
Located downtown adjacent to the artistic Whiteaker neighborhood, Venue 252 has a culinary team that can plan menus customized for a planner’s needs.
Also in the heart of Eugene, the 275-guestroom Graduate Eugene lies adjacent to the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. The hotel’s 30,000 square feet of event space includes its 3,890-square-foot Vistas Ballroom and Rooftop with park, stadium, campus and river views and can host events for up to 1,000 attendees.
The landmark hotel showcases the city’s running history with a Nike Museum and 44 pairs of “Just Do It” shoes on artsy display in its lobby. And attendees can play virtual golf at the world’s top courses in the hotel’s Top Golf Swing Suite, an immersive experience great for teambuilding.
Named by TripAdvisor as one of 2022’s Hottest New Hotels, the Gordon Hotel is only one of two so named in the state. Part of a recent $75 million 5th Street Public Market downtown expansion, the property has 82 eclectic guest rooms, two restaurants, a hidden speakeasy and 3,700 square feet of multi-windowed meeting space.
Major Meeting Spaces
With an expansive 75,000-square-foot campus, the Lane Events Center (LEC) provides meeting and event space galore. Included are an exhibit hall, performance hall, atrium, pre-function concourse and multiple meetings rooms, plus a separate 36,000-square-foot arena with a standing capacity of 1,730 people and a 12,000-square-foot auditorium. Fresh off of a facelift, an additional 11,000-square-foot pavilion accommodates 400 for a banquet and looks for all the world like a gorgeous, upscale tent.
This flexible venue offers spaces to adapt to nearly any size group. Several meeting rooms break down into even smaller ones. A 5,100-square-foot atrium with a theater capacity of 340 can be used as a stand-alone space for smaller events or along with the Performance Hall or the Exhibit Hall.
“The atrium’s high glass ceilings give it an open-air feel,” said Jeff True, a sales representative at the Lane Events Center.
The University of Oregon campus’ 63,000 square feet of convention, meeting and event space includes 12,364-seat Matthew Knight Arena. The largest indoor venue in Eugene, the arena is home to the University of Oregon Ducks basketball team. Its 1939 squad won the first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament.
Also on campus, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Contemporary Art was built in 1933 to house the prestigious 3,700-piece Murray Warner Collection of Oriental Art. Among the museum’s offerings are three meeting rooms and an elegant courtyard with a peaceful garden, reflecting pool and lush landscaping. All can be adapted as settings for cocktail parties, corporate meetings, lectures or luncheons.
After the Meeting
For a breath of fresh air, adventurous visitors can head outside at Cascades Outdoor Center for rafting, mountain biking, hiking, and snowshoeing through the high mountains, cascading streams, narrow canyons and wooded slopes of 1.6-million-acre Willamette National Forest. Or they can take a fresh-air outing to the 128-foot-high Heceta Head Lighthouse on a 1,000-foot promontory down the coast.
Options abound for lifelong learners, including planetarium shows at the Eugene Science Center. A life-size wooly mammoth greets visitors at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, where millennia of natural history and geology includes the world’s oldest shoes and the skeleton of a giant spike-tooth salmon.
Wineries, distilleries and breweries pepper the area. The largest certified biodynamic winery in North America, King Estate Winery, opened in 1991 and has since added orchards, berries and culinary gardens. Its farm-to-table fine-dining restaurant features wine pairings and outdoor dining options.
The heart of Eugene’s arts and counter-culture community, the Whiteacre neighborhood is a mix of businesses, residential streets, lovely parks and a dazzling display of international cuisine. Its moniker is “the fermentation district” due to its wealth of breweries, wineries and distilleries, including WildCraft Cider Works that sources its ingredients locally.
“We are a wonderful location for attendees to bring their families or significant others,” said Metzler. “They can scope the community all day and tell their partner about opportunities to go wine-tasting and dune buggy riding. Inevitably, they will stay a bit longer to participate in the area’s fun activities.”