A haven for free spirits and creative minds, Eugene has an eclectic counterculture that thrives right alongside its academic scene.

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Left: Snowshoeing; Right: Devil's Churn observation path
Left: Joey Jewell / Eugene, Cascades & Coast; Right: Gwyneth Manser / Cascades & Coast

The Hult Center for the Performing Arts is the place to go for highbrow entertainment, from the symphony and ballet to the concert choir, while rowdy live music venues like The Big Dirty and WOW Hall keep the energy high. Eugene’s visual art scene is just as diverse — swanky galleries and street murals pepper the city in equal measure — and festival season brings its own wave of flavor. There’s the Oregon Truffle Festival, devoted to the state’s native fungi, the 10-day Oregon Festival of American Music and the Oregon Asian Celebration, a major cultural event showcasing traditional Asian culture, food and martial arts.

Outside the city, this corner of the Willamette Valley provides quick access to hot springs, waterfalls, beaches and forests — all of which make the perfect backdrop for a weekend adventure.