Top 15 Family-Friendly Attractions in Eugene and Springfield, Oregon


If you’ve ever moved your family to a new city or state, one of the first things you’ll do is consult the internet for suggestions of places to take your kids. We moved to Eugene, Oregon in March of this year and have been methodically making our way around the area.

And while we still have quite a few places left to visit on our Lane County bucket list, I’ve assembled this list of fifteen family-friendly attractions around Eugene and Springfield to get you going on your own adventure. Note, I tried to include both indoor and outdoor venues, as well as options for free and inexpensive fun. Happy trails!

1. Cascades Raptor Center

Cascades Raptor CenterThe Cascades Raptor Center is a non-profit nature center and wildlife hospital dedicated to rescue, rehabilitation, and release. Open six days/week, visitors to the nature center meander the trails around the lower and upper aviaries. Some of the birds are permanent residents and are on display; some may also go out to local schools with center staff. The majority of the experience is outside and you’ll want to dress for the weather. Visitors to the Cascades Raptor Center pay a general admission and can upgrade to an annual membership. Worth mentioning are the low income family passes available at all surrounding public libraries; library patrons may check out a pass valued at $30 in admission. As a public service announcement, if you are holding onto a pass, note that other folks may be on a waiting list.

Website: https://cascadesraptorcenter.org/

2. Eugene Science Center

Science FactoryThe closest thing Eugene has to a Children’s Museum, the Eugene Science Center is both hands-on and STEM focused. Originally founded as a branch oPortland-based based Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Science Factory is now a stand-alone entity. The brightly-colored building is located in the heart of beautiful Alton Baker park (seriously, you can’t miss it) and houses an Exploration Dome where visitors can enjoy both seasonal stargazing and complimentary virtual adventures.

Website: https://eugenesciencecenter.org/

3. Roaring Rapids Pizza Company

Roaring RapidsRoaring Rapids Pizza Company is located in a little elbow of the city where you aren’t exactly sure if you are in Eugene or Springfield. Dining on the back patio is a stone’s-throw away from the Willamette River; water falling through the rapids helps to muffle the sounds of your children as they beg to stay in the arcade. We enjoyed a free ride on the indoor carousel and trips to the lunch buffet; a great opportunity to try a variety of award-winning pizza for less than $8 ($5.50 for kids 12 and under, drink included in the price). Note that Roaring Rapids Pizza Company is within walking distance of the Camp Putt Adventure Golf Course (see #8 below).

Website: http://roaringrapidspizza.com/

Need more ideas? Check out my local guide book: 100 Things to Do in Eugene, Oregon Before You Die

4. The Museum of Natural and Cultural History

OMCH2
Affiliated with the University of Oregon, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History is a popular school field trip destination. As the name implies, museum exhibits focus on natural history, geology, and archaeology spanning millions of years to the present day. Geophotography photos captured by students in the Structural Geology program inspired our recent trip to the Neskowin Beach Ghost Forest. If your kids are elementary-age or younger, leave time to explore the hands-on laboratory. I had a “Princess Bride,” rodents of unusual size moment while staring at the prehistoric skeleton of the giant beaver (thankfully now extinct). General admission to the museum is free on the first Friday of every month.

Website: http://natural-history.uoregon.edu/

5. Amazon Pool

Amazon PoolEugene has two outdoor community pools, Amazon and Echo Hollow. While we have yet to dip our toes in at Echo Hollow, we can say that the Amazon Pool experience has been a highlight of our summer. Technically an aquatic center, the facility features swimming lanes, a hot tub, water slides, diving boards, a diving platform, an inflatable obstacle course, kiddie pool, spray area, and lots of sunny and shaded places to cool off or warm up. Amazon Pool is an extremely popular destination when temperatures climb in to the 80s and 90s; if the pool is at capacity, people can enter only as others leave (you may also want to BYO blanket or lawn chair). If you enroll your kids in any of the summer camps or programs affiliated with the Amazon Community Center, chances are they’ll visit the Amazon Pool once or twice during the camp week. A variety of discounted passes are available for purchase and will enable you to breeze pass the general admission line.

Website: http://www.eugene-or.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/12

6. Emerald’s Baseball Game

Eugene EmeraldsAs you might expect in a metropolitan area over 350,000 people, Eugene/Springfield has a minor league baseball team—Eugene Emeralds. Home games are played at PK Park, a 4000 seat modern stadium built in 2010. PK Park is located behind the University of Oregon’s Autzen football stadium and up the road from the Science Factory (i.e., parking is never a problem). Like minor league games in other places, a night at the ballgame is more about making family memories than RBIs. Each game features different theme nights, promotional schedules, and sponsors. We attended on Back to the Future night, where box seats and 32 ounce glasses of Pepsi each cost $3. Movie matinees aren’t even that cheap!

Website: http://eugene.emeralds.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t461

7. Putter’s Family Entertainment Center

PuttersWith an average of 46 inches of annual rainfall, what parent isn’t thankful for 50,000 square feet to beat the winter blues (or summer heat for that matter, this photo was taken on one of the hotter days of summer)? Putter’s attractions include an 18-hole miniature golf course, a multi-level laser tag arena, arcade, billiards room, two indoor playgrounds (one for tots and toddlers and one for bigger kids), and enough dining space to invite your entire school to the best birthday party ever (my kids know better than to ask). To save a buck or two, note that mini golf is cheaper on a Tuesday and a game of laser tag drops from $11 to $6 on Thursday. Adjacent to Putter’s is Strike City Lanes, one of a handful of bowling alleys in the area.

Website: http://eugenesgamecentral.com

Where to Stay

Find family-friendly accommodations in Eugene, Oregon, from traditional hotels to private Air B&B homes through Stay22.com:

8. Camp Putt Adventure Golf Course

Camp Putt

Maintained by the Willamalane Park and Recreation District, Camp Putt Adventure Golf Course offers two 18-hole outdoor miniature golf courses. Located in the same vicinity as Roaring Rapids Pizza Company (see #3 above), both courses feature water elements and an even mix of easy and challenging holes. Camp Putt is open seasonally, with more weekend hours in the spring and fall and daily (10AM-9PM) once school is out for the summer. Free admission coupons come periodically to your email inbox once you enroll in the email list. Tip: You’ll also find a 2-for-1 coupon printed on the inside of the official game scorecard.

Website: http://willamalane.org/facility/camp-putt/

9. Splash! at Lively Park

SplashWhile we haven’t hit every indoor pool in town (and there are a bunch), Splash! at Lively Park is currently in our top spot. Located on the far eastern edge of Springfield, Splash! is totally worth the drive. Also maintained by the Willamalane Park and Recreation District, Splash! features a wave pool, lap pool, adults-only (yes!) hot tub, kiddie pool, and water slide. Lively Park is also the site of a fantastic outdoor playground, dog park, and covered picnic shelters. The Lively Park playground sits in our number two spot, just behind RiverPlay Discovery Village Playground (see #11 below). Tip: Look for a $2 off family admission coupon to the pool in one of the local savings books delivered to your post office box every month.

Website: http://willamalane.org/facility/splash-at-lively-park/

10. Lone Pine Farms: BOO HOO CLOSED!

Lone Pine Farms“Technically” in Junction City, Lone Pine Farms is located a short drive north of Eugene on River Road. Lone pine is kind of like a mullet; all business in the front, and then party in the back (if you survived the 80s, this analogy will make total sense to you). A legitimate farm stand with fruit, produce, baking mixes, and dried goods, look for a petting zoo, playground, and Old West sluicing station behind the main buildings. We enjoyed feeding goats on the platform shown in the photo above; pellets (one quarter = one handful) are placed in a tin cup and then hand raised to feeding-level on a lever and pulley system. Lone Pines really gets its agri-tourism on in October, when it breaks out the pumpkin patch, corn maze, and hayrides. Note: unless you have a service dog, leave Rover at home.

Website: http://www.lonepinefarms.com/

11. RiverPlay Discovery Village Playground

RiverplayOur favorite playground in the area is RiverPlay Discovery Village located along the riverfront in Skinner Butte Park. A project spearheaded by the Eugene Rotary Club, the playground was designed in theme with “elements relating to Eugene’s people and places.” For example, kids can take a ferry ride across the Willamette River, play in a Kalapuya summer dwelling, ride a stage coach, and dig for fossils. The playground has a water element aptly named the Rain Circle, as well as a rock structure that randomly releases a stream of water down into the sand pit —I can’t find the words to accurate describe this “thing,” but you might want to come prepared with a towel or a change of clothes if your kids attract as much dirt as ours do. Note that the Owen Rose Gardens is a short walk down the paved River Bank walking/biking trail. OR, in the opposite direction (up the butte) look for the unique basalt columns that are quite popular with the local rock climbing crowd.

Website: http://www.eugene-or.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/Skinner-Butte-ParkRiverPlay-Discovery-Vi-45

12. Get Air Eugene Trampoline Park

Get AirOpened just this past spring, Get Air Eugene is a relatively new indoor attraction located on the western edge of Eugene. An indoor trampoline park, Get Air also features foam pits, a slackline, a slam ball court for bigger kids, and kiddie court for anyone under 46-inches tall.  When you visit for the first time, be prepared to purchase special reusable “grippy” socks for $2/pair. Get Air offers military discounts, discounts for checking on Instagram and Facebook, and a Monday Family Night where groups of up to seven people can jump for $35/hour.

Website: http://www.getaireugene.com/

New since this story was first published is DEFY Eugene: https://defy.com/locations/defy-eugene/

13. Skate World: BOO HOO ALSO CLOSED!

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of our entire summer was Stake World roller rink in Springfield near Gateway Mall. Skate rental is included with the price of admission, but you are welcome to bring your own equipment—my daughter insisted on wearing roller blades and she was not the only one trying to bridge the gap between the 80s and late 90s. Four disco balls spin over skaters circling to the beat of some of today’s most popular songs. If you are looking for an opportunity to hold hands on your secret crush, wait until the house lights go down and the black lights turn on. Note that lockers are available to rent for a quarter, the snack shop only takes cash*, and you’ll receive a voucher for four general admissions by signing up for the email list. *If you use the on-site ATM, look for a coupon for a free snow cone on the bottom of your printed receipt. Skate World also offers dodgeball at night. Anyone want to dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge with me?

Note: If you would rather ice skate, The Rink Exchange offers open skate times (with rentals). This venue is another one we hope to get too sooner than later.

RinkExchange

14. Level Up Arcade

Level UpIf your kids are tall enough to play air hockey, they will love Level Up Arcade at the corner of 13th and Oak in downtown Eugene. By far the largest arcade in the area, Level Up features vintage games (Donkey Kong, anyone?), a wall of pinball, and modern-day options like the multi-player Fast & Furious street racing game featured in the picture above. Open to minors until 9PM, Level Up serves adult beverages for mom and dad along with snacks for the kids (the deep fried ravioli bites receive two greasy thumbs up from our family). One nice thing about Level Up is that it just about occupies an entire city block; there’s plenty of room to spread out and enough games for everyone. Save your quarters and add this experience to your rainy day contingency plan!

Website: http://www.leveluparcade.com/

Note: We have also recently discovered the Blairalley Vintage Arcade in the Whiteaker Neighborhood (many families love taking their kids to Blairalley on Free Play Fridays). 

15. National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics

naag

National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics (everyone just says NAAG) is a fantastic option for rainy and cold weather. One of two gymnastics facilities in town (Bounce Eugene is the other and we have yet to frequent this location), NAAG offers different open play options for a variety of ages and abilities. We visited with our teen and pre-teens during an open play over the holiday break and the kids had a blast (opposite this photo is another massive space with trampolines, balance beams, mats, and foam pits). Best of all, if you kids are of a certain age, you can leave them at the facility while you run errands or walk on the nearby bike path.

Website: http://www.naag-gymnastics.org/

16. Everything Else

At some point I had to draw a line in the sand and just write this story. We’re still exploring, but here are a few other “general” suggestions:

We have enjoyed the many hiking trails within a few minutes drive of our home. Popular spots are Spencer’s Butte (now with easy-to-maneuver stairs leading up to the summit), Mount Pisgah (probably the most kid-friendly, and make sure and check out the swimming holes down by the river), and any of the other routes within the Ridgeline Trail system.

PisgahWalk a few blocks in any direction and chances are you’ll encounter a playground, pocket park, or specialty park. Our new favorites are the skate park behind Churchill High School in South Eugene or the tennis courts and disc golf course at Westmoreland City Park closer to 18th Street.

Skate ParksIf you have younger kids, check out the splash parks at Washington City Park, University Park, or Oakmont City Park. FWIW, the Eugene Water and Electricity Board (EWEB) fountain is a fun place for kids to pass the time while waiting for the Fourth of July fireworks display.

Note: Charnel Mulligan City Park near 17th Avenue and Charnelton Street will have a new splash pad opening sometime in 2017.

Washington ParkBeyond the above, we highly recommend the Eugene Public Library. Also on our list are exploring 5th Street and the many artsy-crafty businesses and boutiques thriving in this part of Eugene. We recently frequented the Lane County Historical Museum and enjoyed both the museum scavenger hunt and some of the more interactive and kid-friendly activities like dressing up in historical clothing and putting on a puppet show.

HIstoryMuseum

Another excellent source of information is Eugene, Cascades & Oregon Coast / Visit Lane County; visit either the Springfield and Eugene locations for pamphlets and suggestions galore.

But wait…there’s more (sorry, no free spatula in the next ten minutes)…

If you liked this story, consider reading these other suggestions. Lots of options for day trips in this list:

Hopefully this article was both informational and practical. Please send me an email at julie @ roadtripsforfamilies {dot} com if you have a suggestion, compliment, or constructive criticism.

Happy trails!


About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.