Oregon’s Willamette Valley

By Tracy Beard and Ron Engeldinger

Fed by waters from the Cascade Mountains and the Coast Range, the Willamette River carves a fertile valley through western Oregon as it flows north to the Columbia River. Winding its way north, the river passes small farming communities and large metropolitan areas. The southern section of the river is home to the cities of Eugene, Corvallis and Albany. With an abundance of modern meeting venues and a wealth of support services, these cities are worth considering as the site of your next meeting or event.

Eugene

Anchoring the southern Willamette Valley, Eugene displays a contemporary vitality that attracts meeting and event participants from all across the globe. The variety of nicknames from Track Town USA and the Emerald City to the Silicon Shire reflect the city’s growing international reputation as a first-class destination and the variety of experiences awaiting visitors. The great outdoors converges with a vibrant, contemporary metropolitan area offering a unique experience for every visitor.

“We are known for the quality of service we provide,” says Juanita Metzler, convention sales manager for Travel Lane County. She adds, “At Travel Lane County, we offer a tremendous array of complimentary services for meeting planners. We can help develop the perfect experience for your meeting participants.” Whether you need a high-speed fiber optic connection, a fun team-building challenge or you are looking for a dynamic keynote speaker, Eugene will meet your expectations.

MEET AND STAY

Eugene’s downtown is compact, walkable and the hub of the region’s activity. It boasts a variety of meeting and event spaces. “Our venues do a wonderful job of working with each other to accommodate the needs of any group,” explains Metzler.

With more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space, the Hilton Eugene offers a variety of options for large or small groups. The Playwright’s Hall that supports groups as large as 1,800 theater-style can be divided into as many as six spaces providing maximum flexibility. A variety of additional rooms offer attractive options for breakout sessions and can accommodate smaller groups. Perched on the 12th floor with sweeping views over the city, Vista Rooms I and II can accommodate as many as 180 guests. These rooms provide the perfect setting for a corporate retreat or an elegant banquet. The venue offers complimentary WiFi, full-service on-site catering and 269 guest rooms.

Adjacent to the Hilton, the Hult Center for the Performing Arts is the region’s premier performance venue. Seating 2,500, the Center’s modern Silva Concert Hall regularly hosts a full lineup of artistic presentations. With Northwest-themed décor and an abundance of public art, the Hult Center provides a variety of spaces for seminars, lectures and presentations. The Hult Center and Hilton Eugene have a strong collaboration giving groups maximum flexibility.

Nearby, the Downtown Athletic Club is located in the midst of Eugene’s central restaurant and shopping district. The historic building offers an elegant backdrop for a business meeting or social event. Groups of up to 300 can enjoy the modern audiovisual support, WiFi and comprehensive catering menu.

Additional downtown venues include Inn at the 5th and Home2 Suites by Hilton. Situated next to Eugene’s famous Fifth Street Public Market, Inn at the 5th offers 1,400 square feet of flexible meeting space and 69 luxury guest rooms in a boutique hotel setting. Located only a block from the Downtown Athletic Club, the Home2 Suites is Eugene’s newest hotel, providing 120 guest rooms and meeting facilities for up to 45 guests.

Scenically perched on the banks of the Willamette River, the Valley River Inn offers 257 guest rooms and more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space.

The wood and brick décor provides a resort-like ambience only minutes from downtown Eugene. The flexible Willamette Ballroom can accommodate as many as 800 in a theater-style setup. Additional meeting facilities offer a wide range of options for any size group. Breakout rooms provide views of the river and the picturesque landscape. The paved trail running along the river is ideal for a morning stroll or afternoon bike ride. “We want to help planners create something unique for their guests. We are open to anything that will make your event memorable,” says Natasha Herndon, director of sales and marketing. The Valley River Inn offers complimentary WiFi, free parking and easy access to all of Eugene’s shopping and dining in a comfortable setting.

With more than 250,000 square feet of meeting and event space, the University of Oregon Conference Services can support any size gathering. Ballrooms, lecture halls and meeting rooms accommodate groups from intimate board meetings to a 760-person conference. The modern 12,364 seat Matthew Knight Arena is a multi-purpose facility accommodating large performances. The University also has 4,500 residence hall rooms that are available when not in use by the students. They offer a cost-effective option for multi-day conferences. State-of-the-art audiovisual support, free WiFi and on-site catering will meet the needs of any group.

The Center for Meeting and Learning at Lane Community College, located on a wooded campus a short drive from the center of the city, has a variety of conference and meeting rooms. With a strong focus on sustainability, the Center has 14 meeting and conference rooms with high-tech audiovisual capabilities, complete support services, complimentary WiFi and free parking. The large Conference Room accommodates groups as large as 680, while additional rooms accommodate small-group meetings and breakout sessions. The fully-equipped kitchen classrooms are great for culinary-based team building sessions. 

Additional meeting venues include the Lane Events Center, home of the Lane County Fair. The Events Center offers more than 75,000 square feet of space in a variety of exhibit halls, auditoriums, performance halls and meeting rooms. The facility hosts large conferences and trade shows as well as meetings and seminars. A repurposed lumber mill is the site of Venue 252. The recently-opened venue offers meeting and event space for up to 945 guests.

OUT AND ABOUT

Eugene offers a variety of post-conference and team building activities to keep conference attendees busy and engaged. Groups can explore the burgeoning craft beverage scene by following the Eugene Ale Trail map available from Travel Lane County. Wine connoisseurs will want to play Pinot Bingo while exploring the regions many wineries.

Numerous outdoor activities are only a short drive from Eugene. The McKenzie River offers a wonderful whitewater rafting experience and the Willamette River is ideal for canoeing and kayaking. The town of Florence on the Oregon Coast is only an hour away. A day trip to the coast for a dune buggy ride, beachcombing and shopping in Florence’s historic old town can be a fun meeting add-on.

The lush forest at the edge of Eugene is the setting for the Spencer Butte Challenge Course. Operated by the city, the staff will design and facilitate a workshop that incorporates ground elements and tree-top challenges. The course is available for part-day, all-day or multi-day activities whether for team-building exercises or even just a few hours of active fun.

Eugene offers a variety of dining and nightlife opportunities. The Fifth Street Public Market in the center of the city is packed with restaurants, cafes and boutiques. The Whiteaker neighborhood, nicknamed “the Whit” by locals, is located just northwest of downtown. A variety of restaurants and craft breweries mingle on tree-lined streets in this artsy neighborhood.

Eugene is located on I-5 about two hours from Portland. The recently remodeled Eugene Airport offers daily non-stop service to cities throughout the West.

Albany

Nestled alongside the Willamette and Calapooia Rivers, Albany offers a variety of meeting and event options and outdoor activities. The recently renovated downtown area beckons walkers to get outside and explore the local history and boutique shops.

“There are great restaurants and attractions for meeting attendees during downtimes,” says Jimmie Lucht, executive director of the Albany Visitor’s Association. Farm-to-table dining is prevalent in this fertile valley. Two renowned chefs call this town home. Chef Cody Utzman, a two-time Food Network “Chopped” winner, bases his menu on local products. Chef Matt Bennett, nominated two times for the James Beard award, owns Sybaris, a downtown restaurant offering new menus every season.

Lucht invites people to “Visit the beautiful Carousel that has a menagerie of hand-carved and painted animals on a 100+ year-old carousel mechanism.” Both newly skilled and longtime artistically accomplished members of the community carve, paint, and help design animals for the carousel. 

MEET AND STAY

The Albany Historic Carousel doubles as a family fun center and a brand-new meeting space. The building accommodates a maximum of 400 guests, 50 in the conference room, 50 in the party room and 300 around the carousel. Meeting amenities include a preferred list of caterers, audiovisual equipment, complimentary WiFi and parking. The entire building is open for rent on Friday and Sunday evenings, and the conference and party rooms are available daily. Relive childhood memories riding the carousel and book events in this colorful, fun and exciting new venue. 

The Albany Golf and Event Center overlooks Spring Hill’s championship 18-hole golf course. Accommodating 400 guests, the upper floor overlooks the lush tree-lined fairways. Capacity for the lower floor is another 300 attendees with four extra breakout rooms and a boardroom. Outside space is open to additional activities. Choose from a list of preferred caterers or select a personal favorite to use the on-site kitchen. Event center prices satisfy both budget-conscious and high-end event planners, and a refreshing outdoor pool is accessible to guests along with complimentary WiFi and parking.

The centrally located Linn-Benton Community College is home to the LBCT Culinary Arts and Santiam Restaurant. The college offers lecture seating for 395 people, and the common dining hall accommodates up to 350 with four additional breakout rooms for smaller gatherings. A fully catered a la carte menu, complimentary WiFi and parking are available. The warm and inviting fireside room accommodate 75 guests and groups can hold outdoor events in the chic courtyard.

Renovations to the more than 100-year-old Flinn Block Hall took place in 2007. This elegant historic ballroom with numerous large windows gives the hall an outdoor feel bringing the scenery of each season inside while accommodating up to 226 guests. Appropriately selected décor alters the space from an elegant venue to a rustic one while maintaining its urban downtown feel. The prep room is available for caterers and the stylish 17-foot bar is the perfect place to serve food or appetizers. Free parking and complimentary WiFi are available.

Additional hotels in the area include the Best Western Plus Prairie Inn, with one meeting room accommodating 50, and the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, that also features a meeting room suitable for up to 50 people. These hotels are easy to find and rooms are large.

OUT AND ABOUT

Whether it’s a break for lunch or a free afternoon, Albany offers an abundance of activities and the opportunity to step back in time. Take a walk and discover the city’s 700 historic structures built in more than a dozen styles. This eclectic mix hosts a Gothic church with towering spires on one corner and a Colonial Revival or a Craftsman bungalow right next door or across the street.

Local residents have discovered the joy and art of producing wine, beer, mead and spirits. Tasting rooms abound in the area offering unique opportunities for visitors to imbibe in the local bounty.

Albany is located just east of Interstate 5 between Salem and Eugene and is situated 60 miles south of Portland, Oregon, giving easy access to city life while maintaining the tranquil feel of abundant woods and farmland.

Corvallis

Mary Pat Parker, executive director at Visit Corvallis, says, “Corvallis offers year-round culinary, cultural, and outdoor adventures making it the perfect place for your next meeting.” This college town, located 10 miles west of I-5, offers a plethora of outdoor activities including more than 60 miles of biking and hiking paths.

Hike to the top of Mary’s Peak for breathtaking views, or savor the sight of Alsea Falls. Walk through the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge where birds and wildlife flourish. The town’s local food scene booms while new breweries and wineries continue to emerge. 

MEET AND STAY

CH2M Hill Center and LaSells Stewart Center on the Oregon State University Campus embrace large groups of up to 1,200 guests in the Austin Auditorium and feature four breakout rooms with capacity for up to 84 guests. An additional 7,000 square feet of windowed space is available in the ballroom along with two boardrooms and several other multi-purpose areas. Parking passes are $10 per day and WiFi is complimentary. The venue provides a helpful list of preferred caterers.

Found in the heart of downtown is the state-of-the-art Majestic Theater. The mainstage accommodates up to 300 guests, and the rehearsal room fits another 129. Two breakrooms and two lobbies offer additional flexibility. For a treat, combine events at this venue with tickets to a show. Catering is available and street parking and WiFi is complimentary.

Overlooking the Willamette Valley Golf Course is the Inn at Diamond Woods. Rent the entire 6,000-square-foot lodge with three breakout rooms for 75 guests, or host events for up to 400 outside on the scenic terrace and property. The Inn offers four suites and the opportunity to enjoy 18 holes of golf nearby. This luxury Inn is the perfect place to escape for a day or weekend event. A preferred list of caterers is available. WiFi and parking are complimentary.

The Vue, centrally located downtown, exudes an urban chic vibe. Take in views of the Willamette Valley and Coast Range through vast windows. Revel in elegance in this stunning cosmopolitan space accommodating 80 people each on the 5th and 6th floors. Forks and Corks Catering offers a large menu. Parking is free and WiFi complimentary.

With a large dining room and a gorgeous patio, Adair Clubhouse and Valley Catering accommodate 150 guest inside and 150 guests outside. The dining area arranges easily for smaller groups. The garden patio is ideal for enjoying the sunshine or stars. Free parking and complimentary WiFi make this venue an easy choice.

“Trillium Family Services’ Old School Event Center is a completely renovated 1920s-era schoolhouse with modern amenities. An open floor plan with four rooms and a grand lobby make this center perfect for special events as well as conferences,” says Kierra Woekel, the Event Center’s community engagement manager. This is an all-in-one package facility offering delicious in-house catering. All audiovisual equipment is included, and the facility has four separate rooms, or two large combined rooms accommodating up to 100 people each. Free parking and complimentary WiFi are available. 

The Holiday Inn Express Corvallis On the River is a short walk to downtown restaurants and shops. The hotel offers breakfast, ample parking, an indoor pool, exercise room, free WiFi and 93 guest rooms. 

OUT AND ABOUT

The historic core of Corvallis is located between 1st and 5th Streets. Walk this area to discover a variety of boutique shops and historical buildings. Attendees desiring excitement should check out Cascadia Expeditions and paddle or raft the Willamette or Deschutes River.

Peavy Arboretum, located 15 minutes away off highway 99, is a forested area with well-marked trails. Get some exercise, learn about different local trees, and enjoy the outdoors. For sumptuous food, head to Block 15 for lunch, or reserve a table at Del Alma for a sophisticated Latin fusion culinary experience.

Visit Emerson Vineyards for wine tasting or, if attendees need to unwind, contact local resident Lainey Morse and join one of her unique “Yoga with Goats,” classes. Concerts, plays, and other events are available on evenings and weekends. Visit Corvallis for a variety of exciting events and activities. 

CONNECT

EUGENE

Travel Lane County
541-484-5307
eugenecascadescoast.org

Hilton Eugene

  • 269 guest rooms
  • 30,000 square feet of meeting space
  • 18 meeting rooms
  • 1,800 seated capacity in largest room Julie Saul, director of sales and marketing 541-342-6650 jsaul@hiltoneugene.com eugene.hilton.com

Fifth Street Public Market
541-484-0383
5stmarket.com

Inn at the 5th

  • 69 guest rooms
  • 3,000 square feet of meeting space
  • Two meeting rooms
  • 80 seated capacity in largest room Nicole Rosario, director of sales 541-743-0888 nroselio@innat5th.com innat5th.com

Hult Center for the Performing Arts
Vicki Infinito,sales & booking manager
541-682-5087
vicki.e.infinito@ci.eugene.or.us
hultcenter.org

Downtown Athletic Club

  • 9,000 square feet of meeting space
  • 7 meeting rooms
  • 300 seated capacity in largest room Margie Gillespie, sales & banquets manager 

541-484-4011 x225
mgillespie@downtownac.com
downtownac.com

Lane Events Center

  • 75,000 square feet of event space
  • Wide variety of meeting spaces
  • 2,500 seated capacity of largest room

Rachel Bivens, marketing manager/assistant fair manager
541-682-7395
rachel@laneeventscenter.org
laneeventscenter.org

Venue 252

  • 11,700 square feet of meeting space
  • Four meeting spaces
  • 770 seated capacity in largest room 

Kristin Everett, event manager
kristine@thevenue252.com
thevenue252.com

Spencer Butte Challenge Course
Robert Brack, course supervisor
541-682-5329
robert.j.brack@ci.eugene.or.us
eugene-or.gov/751/Challenge-Course

 

Home2 Suites by Hilton

  • 120 guest rooms
  • 600 square feet of meeting space
  • One meeting room
  • 45 seated capacity in largest room 

Ryan Torres, director of sales & marketing
541-342-3000
torres@hilton.com
home2suites3.hilton.com/en/hotels/oregon/home2-suites-by-hilton-eugene-downtown-university-area-EUGDOHT/index.html

Valley River Inn

  • 257 guest rooms
  • 15,000 square feet of meeting space
  • 13 meeting rooms
  • 800 seated capacity in largest room

Natasha Herndon, director of sales and marketing
541-341-3472
nherndon@valleyriverinn.com
valleyriverinn.com

University of Oregon Conference Services

  • 250,000 square feet of meeting spaces across campus
  • 760 seated capacity in largest room 

Stacie Irvin, conference sales coordinator
541-346-3882
irvin@uoregon.edu
conferences.uoregon.edu

ALBANY

Albany Visitors Association
541-928-0911
albanyvisitors.com

Albany Historic Carousel

  • Three meeting rooms
  • 300 seated capacity in largest room

541-791-3340
albanycarousel.com

Albany Golf and Events Center

  • Five event spaces
  • 300 seated capacity in largest room

Taylor Derrick, event coordinator
541-926-6059 x303
events@albany-golf.com
albany-golf.com

Linn-Benton Community College

  • Large variety of event spaces
  • 745 seated capacity in largest room

Amy Sadowsky, events and meetings coordinator
541-917-4385
linnbenton.edu

Flinn Block Hall

  • One meeting room
  • 226 seated capacity in largest room

Anni Manley
541-791-3900
anni@flinnblockhall.com
flinnblockhall.com

Best Western Plus Prairie Inn

  • 74 guest rooms
  • 600 square feet of meeting space
  • One meeting room
  • 50 seated capacity in largest room 

Sunny Singh, general manager
541-928-5050
saleschampion38166@hotel.bestwestern.com
albanybestwestern.com

Holiday Inn Express & Suites

  • 71 guest rooms
  • 2,090 square feet of meeting space
  • Four meeting rooms
  • 175 seated capacity in largest room 

Leigha Thomas, director of sales
541-928-8820
leighathomas@comcast.net
ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/albany/alnkb/hoteldetail/directions

CORVALLIS

Visit Corvallis
541-757-1544
visitcorvallis.com

Oregon State University
CH2M Hill Alumni Center

  • Large variety of meeting rooms
  • 40,000 square feet of meeting space
  • 500 seated capacity in largest room 

Richelle Hayes
541-737-7849
osualum@oregonstate.edu

Majestic Theater

  • 3,484 square feet of meeting space
  • Six meeting and event spaces
  • 300 seated capacity in largest room 

Christel Birdwell, business manager
541-758-7827
christel@majestic.org
majestic.org

Inn at Diamond Woods

  • Four guest rooms
  • Three event rooms
  • 50 seated capacity in largest room 

Liz Doyle, marketing manager
541-231-9116
innatdiamondwoods.com

The Vue

  • Two meeting spaces
  • 100 seated capacity in largest room 

Erah McMullen, manager
541-740-2340
events@vuecorvallis.com
vuecorvallis.com

Adair Clubhouse and Valley Catering

  • One meeting room
  • 150 seated capacity of largest room 

Mary Bentley, owner
541-745-7455
valleycateringoregon.com

Trillium Family Services Old School Event Center

  • Four meeting rooms
  • 100 seated capacity of largest room Kierra Woekel

541-758-5950
kwoekel@trilliumfamily.org
trilliumfamily.org

Holiday Inn Express Corvallis

  • 93 guest rooms
  • 725 square feet of meeting space
  • One meeting room
  • 65 seated capacity in largest room 

Greg Teune, general manager
541-752-0800
ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/corvallis/cvoor/hoteldetail