Springfield OR: 9 Things to See in This Charming Pacific Northwest Town

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Things to See in This Charming Pacific Northwest Town - eugene cascades coast
Downtown Springfield, Oregon offers cute cafes, breweries, shops, and a sense of community. Photo Credit: eugenecascadescoast.org

If you’re a fan of the long-running TV show The Simpsons, you’ve heard of Springfield. While there has been talk on the internet about exactly which Springfield the show is based on, Springfield, Oregon has something the others do not: a plaque in City Hall that designates the city as the “real” Springfield, signed by show creator Matt Groening.

Here in Springfield, you’ll find art galleries, bike paths, golf courses, parks, splash pads, performing arts, and other attractions to keep you busy. And who says you have to stay busy? There are plenty of places to rest your head and participate in some relaxing bird watching or absorbing the city’s cultural history with a book on a hammock.

I thought Springfield was absolutely charming, so take a look at this list of the top 9 things to do and see in Springfield, Oregon, and start dreaming of your next getaway.

Where in the World is Springfield OR?

Just east of Eugene, Oregon, and two hours south of Portland, Springfield is a small burg in the Southern Willamette Valley. Nestled along the Willamette River in Lane County, Springfield is a heavenly slice of America with an adorable downtown area. It’s just a hop and a skip from the University of Oregon (go Ducks!) and California is an easy three-hour highway drive.

From thePortland airport, rent a car and head south on Interstate 5; you’ll run right into the Eugene and Springfield area. Or, if you prefer, catch a connecting flight into the Eugene airport and a Lyft or Uber driver can get you to Springfield in 20 minutes.

1. Kick off a Lovely day with fresh juices and java

Downtown Springfield has a great vibe that is a combination of modern sensibilities and throwback allure. My friend Jenna Fribley co-owns an architecture firm right on Main Street called Campfire Collaborative, where she and her team dream up ways to beautify downtown Springfield and beyond. You can see her firm’s touches on the Rivett Building and others, and they know their way around the town.

That’s how I found out about Lovely, a local cafe next door to Jenna’s office. Lovely lives up to its name with warm, delightful comfort food. Start with homemade toasted bread with Oregon berry preserves, pack a classic turkey avocado sandwich (Lovely calls them sandos) for later, and grab a smoothie or juice to stroll down the street. Chai, kombucha, latte, black coffee… it’s all there and ready to get your day started with the first sip.

2. Explore Emerald Art Center

Springfield is a creative town, as evidenced by the 31 sidewalks and storm drain murals reminding visitors to avoid polluting local streams. There’s so much to see in this town, and nearby cities also boast a thriving cultural heartbeat; Eugene, for example, has art museums, a museum of natural and cultural history, and more.

After stopping at Lovely, take a walk down the street to the Emerald Art Center. This non-profit organization provides artists a place to display their work in a beautiful setting, and it’s open to all between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Three separate galleries display monthly member shows, exhibitions, and visiting artist’s shows, and pieces from young local artists are featured regularly as well. If you have time, sign up for one of the fun classes at the art center or check out the art library!

3. Have fun with The Simpsons

Artists from The Simpsons agreed to collaborate with the city of Springfield for some kind of art that would properly celebrate creator Matt Groening and his ties to the city. They came up with a large, colorful mural, and this labor of love was unveiled in 2014. Complete with all of the characters you know and love from the Simpsons family – Bart, Lisa, Marge, Homer, and Maggie – the mural is bright and cheery.

From there, you can easily go on a scavenger hunt to find all of the Simpsons characters painted on walls all over town, larger than life. My son particularly loved the “Spider-Pig” painting we happened upon, and as we explored the sidewalks of Springfield to find more.

This is a great opportunity to take a bike tour with Around Portland Tours to visit Groening’s former high school and check out all the murals around town. On this 14-mile tour, you’ll learn more about Springfield’s history and all that bike riding will earn you a taste of Homer’s favorite donuts (doh!).

4. Enjoy the local parks

From Springfield, you’ll have access to the Willamette National Forest to the east and Umpqua National Forest to the south. The beautiful Oregon coast and the Pacific Ocean are only an hour away, and the entire area is surrounded by wildlife and green foliage everywhere you look.

On the other side of the Willamette River, Alton Baker Park has been a fixture of the Springfield and Eugene area since 1959. There’s a dog park, disc golf course, fishing, restrooms, picnic tables, and exercise stations scattered throughout the park’s 373 acres, and it will take you less than 20 minutes to get there from downtown Springfield.

5. Visit Dorris Ranch

Oregon’s oldest working filbert (another name for hazelnut) farm is Dorris Ranch, which also earned the distinction of being the first commercial filbert orchard in the United States. This historic ranch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes a living history village that schools often visit with busloads of kids.

More than a century after it was established, over half of all the commercial filbert trees now growing in the U.S. originated from Dorris Ranch nursery stock. We enjoyed walking the 4.2-mile loop through the Filbert orchards and learning more about this crop. My son and husband are huge fans of hazelnuts and Nutella, so their mouths were watering the whole time.

6. Eat at one of these restaurants

Plank Town Brewery

Springfield is proud of its local hops and homegrown food, and Plank Town Brewery is a prime specimen. Don’t miss the delectable fried Brussels sprouts, which are tossed with a sweet mustard vinaigrette and topped with Oregon filberts (also known as hazelnuts). The blackened snapper strawberry salad is also delightful, as is the avocado burger. Wash it all down with a seasonal brew or hard cider.

Other nearby eateries include:

  • Public House– This building was originally a large church, complete with stained glass, ornate pews, and the works. Now it’s a gorgeous indoor/outdoor, dog-friendly food court that includes a beer hall, whiskey bar, and an outdoor area for live entertainment. The coconut butterfly shrimp from Moi Poki Grill was so good we ordered them a second time!
  • Tacovore – Everyone loves tacos, right? Tacovore in nearby Eugene has something for each person at your party. Start with chips and salsa, of course, and grab a bunch of different cups of the delicious dipping salsa to sample them all. I loved the carnitas taco and the mushroom taco is an unusual delight for the senses. Bonus: everything on the menu is gluten-free except for the tortas (sandwiches)!

7. Test out your axe-throwing prowess

You’ve never thrown an axe? Have no fear, Oregon Axe Springfield is ready to help you learn how and have fun in the process. Surprisingly satisfying and kind of like playing a darts game, axe-throwing is a lively activity for you and your friends or you and your family to try.

Oregon Axe first established its business in Springfield and expanded to Salem, Oregon. In the Springfield establishment, you’ll find three cubes, each with two lanes to practice and compete. Make sure you wear closed-toe shoes to your session or they won’t let you throw; it’s important to wear proper footwear there.

Also, psst… the owners of Oregon Axe also own Escape the Room Springfield, so check them both out.

Things to See in This Charming Pacific Northwest Town - Sisters Saloon and Ranch Grill
At the Sisters Saloon and Ranch Grill, you’ll find good food and feel like you’re back in the Old West. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

8. Day trip to Sisters

Only two hours from Springfield, Sisters is a mountain town that seems to bloom out of nowhere in the middle of the Deschutes National Forest. The entire drive features clear lakes, rushing streams, impressive rock formations, and more; it’s a lovely route you don’t want to miss while in the Springfield area.

We stopped at Sisters Coffee Company for a chai latte, which was swirled with oat milk. My husband is a black coffee aficionado, and he was a big fan of Sisters Coffee Company’s fresh roasted beans. The pastries also looked delicious, but we decided to save our appetite for dinner at Sisters Saloon and Ranch Grill. We ordered Brussels sprouts as an appetizer, which were crispy, sweet and delicious, followed by Nana’s chicken pot pie.

Things to See in This Charming Pacific Northwest Town - Dessert at the Sisters Saloon and Ranch Grill
Save room for dessert at the Sisters Saloon and Ranch Grill! Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

9. Get your Splash! on

Kids will love Splash! at Lively Park for the 94-degree kiddie pool, while grownups (and kids 16+) will appreciate a relaxing soak in the 101-degree spa pool. Those looking for water-based exercise can head for the six-lane lap pool or wave pool, and others seeking a relaxing chair can enjoy the sun deck.

Visit the concession stand for snacks and beverages; you’ll work up an appetite playing water basketball!

Things to See in This Charming Pacific Northwest Town - The historic Campbell House Inn
The historic Campbell House Inn in nearby Eugene was our home base for our adventures in Springfield and beyond. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Hotels Near Springfield

Of course, Springfield offers the usual selections of chain hotels like Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Suites, La Quina, and so on. However, I prefer to frequent locally owned places with personality.

We fell in love with the Campbell House Inn in nearby Eugene, Oregon (the next town over, just on the other side of the Willamette River) and based all of our travels from there. Built in 1892, the Campbell House Inn sits on a beautifully landscaped acre in the middle of the Eugene historic district. Here, we were spoiled with a glass of local wine when we arrived, and every morning the friendly and happy wait staff served us delicious breakfast treats like homemade scones and pancakes.

Things to See in This Charming Pacific Northwest Town - The homemade breakfast at The Campbell House Inn
The homemade breakfast at The Campbell House Inn is different every day, and it’s always a wonderful surprise. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

I especially liked that the Fifth Street Market (shopping, ice cream, food) was within walking distance from the Campbell House Inn, and several restaurants were a stroll away as well. Springfield is only 10 minutes from this lovely bed and breakfast, so it made everything easy.

North of Springfield, I’d recommend the McKenzie Orchards Bed and Breakfast Inn for its large, comfortable rooms and amiable hosts, Tom and Karen. Fly fishing fans will find a great place to toss in a line on the McKenzie River, or you could take a day trip to one of the local wineries or mountain towns. Or stay in and take a cooking class right on the property.

Things to See in This Charming Pacific Northwest Town - Land Rover.
Want to get around Oregon in style? Bring a Land Rover. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

What to Drive in Springfield, Oregon

Springfield is an adorable American town that pairs perfectly with a convertible with the top down as you cruise up Main Street. A Lexus LC 500h is one of my favorites, a glorious hybrid that goes 600 miles on one tank of gas!

If you want to go the all-electric route, Kia’s EV6 is a comfortable way to explore the area and can take on light dirt roads, too. Springfield has about 20 DC fast chargers, so you can replenish the battery in the EV6 in 20 minutes or less.

And for trekking across more rugged terrain in the Willamette Valley, engaging in outdoor activities, exploring hiking trails, or loading up on fresh foods from the farmers’ markets, I highly recommend a Land Rover Defender. It’s comfortable, capable, and ready to roll just about anywhere you want to take it.

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