Full of youthful energy, liberal politics and alternative lifestylers, fun-loving, eclectic Eugene is a vibrant stop along I-5. Also known as 'Tracktown,' the city is famous for its track-and-field champions – Nike was born here, after all. And while Eugene maintains a working-class base in timber and manufacturing, some of the state's most unconventional citizens live here too – ex-hippie activists, ecogreen anarchists, upscale entrepreneurs and high-tech heads.
Eugene offers a great art scene, exceptionally fine restaurants, boisterous festivals, miles of riverside paths and several lovely parks. Its location at the confluence of the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers, just west of the Cascades, means there's plenty of outdoor recreation on offer – especially around the McKenzie River region, the Three Sisters Wilderness and Willamette Pass.
The Oregon coast, just 60 miles west, is easily accessible via pretty Hwy 126. And Eugene's at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, which boasts several world-class wineries.