Eugene, Oregon is a college town known for the boisterous fans loyal to the University of Oregon Ducks -- but it's also a place that draws families looking for a high quality of life. Like many towns of its size -- about 159,000 as of 2013 -- Eugene has its fair share of shopping malls, after-school activities and a bounty of rivers and mountains for teens to explore. It also has a host of other activities that appeal to the teen crowd.
A Giant Skatepark
Skate parks containing half pipes, jumps and ramps are always a hit with active teens -- and in Eugene, teens have more access than in other cities. The country's largest covered outdoor skate park opened in 2014, under the Washington-Jefferson bridge near the city's downtown. The park isn't just for skateboarders, either. Trick bicyclists, bike polo players, rollerbladers and scooters enthusiasts are also welcome at the park. The park also offers basketball courts and horseshoe pits. Skate parks abound elsewhere in the city, including the Amazon Skate Park on Hilyard Avenue and the Cal Young Skate Park on the corner of Gilham Road and Crescent Avenue.
Like other cities in Oregon, Eugene's city-sponsored community centers offer a host of fun activities for the entire family. Outdoor activities are big in Eugene, and it's easy for teens to access the hiking on Spencer Butte south of the city, or to go for a swim in the McKenzie River that flows along the north side of town. For more structured activities, the city of Eugene offers a number of outdoor classes and clubs to accommodate that. The city's River House Outdoor Program teaches teens how to canoe, raft and kayak, as well as offering lessons in rock climbing, skateboarding, sailing and even tree climbing.
People in Eugene tend to be civic-minded and interested in community organizing -- and that holds true for its youth as well. Teens who are the artistic or community-minded types will find things to do at the city's recreation facilities. Formal groups for teens include the Youth 2 Make it Happen program, which provides resources for teens to create their own theatre productions, musical events or other special events. For teens looking to develop leadership skills, the city offers its Youth Action Board and the Teen Court program, offering teens a chance to act as judges, jurors and case presenters in cases involving teens who are in the juvenile justice system.
Downtown Eugene is a popular hangout spot for teens as well as entire families. On Saturdays in the spring and summer, the city's square on East Broadway becomes the home of the Saturday Market, where artisans sell handcrafted items, jugglers juggle and musicians play live on stage. The summer and fall months are also the time when the downtown area -- as well as numerous parks -- are home to the Summer in the City celebrations. Teens can take part in dodge ball competitions, check out a live band, or participate in skate competitions. Any time of year, the downtown area is a popular hangout for teens to grab a smoothie or ice cream, or just to gather near the city square.